Feb 7, 2013

A French Quarter pub crawl potpourri

I’ve been meaning to blog myself out of my recent writer’s block, and what better cure than another New Orleans-themed post just in time for Mardi Gras weekend?   I wish I could be there for all the fun (along with many holdovers from the Super Bowl last weekend), but I’ll settle again for Soulard Mardi Gas in Saint Louis this year. 

So, if you happen to be in the Big Easy soon (and frankly, many of the best places to drink with the locals are best enjoyed outside of festival season), here are some images captured from my personal wayback machine to help you with your own personal pub crawl through the French Quarter.

I recently raved about both the food and drink at Coop’sPlace on Decatur Street across from the entrance to the French Market.  Right next door is Molly’s at the Market.  Notice how my friends Ken and Michelle love this place.

OK, maybe they were intimidated by the picture of the Pope over their shoulder.  But seriously, Molly’s is a great neighborhood bar that happens to be in a very famous neighborhood.  Get their signature frozen Irish coffee, enjoy the music on the juke box, and stare at the walls for a while.  You never know what you’ll see. 

And if you happen to be near the corner of Bourbon and Conti, walk toward Rampart half a block and check out their sister bar, the Erin Rose.  You’ll see the connection immediately.  Plus, from my experience, Erin Rose has an excellent boody mary.  It’s small but comfy.  The staff makes sure you don’t feel like a stranger at either place. 

Not far from Coop’s and Molly’s, on the corner of Dumaine and Chartres Street, is the appropriately named Harry’s Corner.  Harry’s is another no-frills neighborhood bar in a location that’s just a little off the path from all the madness elsewhere.  Again, you’ll find friendly bartenders and friendly patrons who don’t mind you crashing their local watering hole.  In fact, my friends and I made Harry’s our election night headquarters last November.  We took over a couple of tables, brought some cheese and crackers and spent most of the evening there.     

You know what else I like about Harry’s?  The drink menu behind the bar … and it’s a pretty well-stocked bar. 

Stumbling out of Harry’s and moving down Chartres Street, past Jackson Square and towards Canal Street, you’ll eventually find the Chart Room where Chartres intersects with Rue Bienville. Look for this sign:

Like Harry’s, the Chart Room always seems to have its hurricane doors and windows open (weather permitting), so you can grab a nearby table and watch the world go by … just like my friends and I did for most of an afternoon last November.

Again, trying to contain the excitement. 
The Chart Room also seems to have a never-ending flow of regulars stopping in for a couple of drinks.  Maybe it’s the friendly dive bar atmosphere.  Or maybe it’s because of one of the better local beer selections.  Or maybe it’s because they have some of the cheapest drink prices in the Quarter.  You decide.  

After the Chart Room, since you’re so close, you might as well pop into the Hotel Monteleone and visit their famous Carousel Bar, which I've mentioned in previous blog entries.  The bar recently underwent a major renovation, and in my humble opinion it looks better than ever. 

I was just as excited about my recent purchases at Louisiana Music Factory. 
Don’t stay too long, however, or you might forget the bar you’re sitting at is turning a full circle every 15 minutes. 

After leaving the Monteleone, turn left, then right at the corner of Royal and Iberville.  Cross Bourbon Street and check out the Alibi.  Whenever I want a break from Bourbon Street madness, I go in here for a good beer and some time to decompress.  Check out their beers of the world selection on the wall opposite to the bar – you have a comprehensive selection of more than 150 to choose from. 

Again, the drink prices are reasonable (especially compared to Bourbon Street’s tourist traps), and the staff and patrons are tourist-friendly.  And, sometimes you’ll find a good recommendation for their “Soup of the Day.”

The Alibi also has a nice menu of sandwiches, salads and appetizers to satisfy any hunger you’ve developed on your pub crawl.  My personal favorite is the BBQ shrimp po-boy.  I get one almost every time I’m here … they’re that good. 

The remnants of a BBQ shrimp po-boy
You’ll notice I've avoided Bourbon Street on this personal pub crawl through the French Quarter, and that’s intentional.  A night of debauchery on Bourbon is certainly a lot of fun and should definitely be experienced by any first-time visitor to New Orleans. But there are so many more interesting places with local flavor to enjoy elsewhere in the French Quarter.  So, if you ever find yourself in one of these great bars, give your favorite commoner a plug and tell them how you found them.

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