Sep 8, 2014

Pub crawling into Turtle Bay, New Orleans

As difficult as it may seem for many who know me to believe, every once in a while I discover someplace interesting in New Orleans I have never been to before.  And, thanks to my travelling companions, I enjoyed several previously undiscovered drinking establishments during my trip last spring.  One of these – Turtle Bay on Decatur Street – we discovered quite accidentally after a morning stroll through the French Market. 

Frankly, I blame Sue Hupp, who I believe uttered the phrase as we almost walked past turtle Bay’s entrance, “This place looks as good a place as any to get a cocktail.”  As usual, she was right.  Sue has always had a reputation for knowing a good bar when she sees one.

Like many New Orleans bars, window-side service ... or at least a window-side view.

The heat and humidity had been steadily rising all morning, so we resisted the urge to try the sidewalk seating and service.  Plus, the window view and breezy flow from the air conditioning was all the extra coaxing we needed. 

There, that’s more like it.  Decent liquor selection.  A little locals sports bar vibe thrown in.  And what made it even more inviting was the service from the friendly bartender.  For a bunch of tourists who just walked into the place just before lunch, she seemed genuinely happy to see us and talked us through the selection of beers on tap.

I was sold on the Covington Brewhouse Strawberry Ale, which as it turned out compared well with Abita’s Strawberry Harvest.  Granted, I’m not converted from Abita, but it was a pleasant change of pace.   

As it turned out, Turtle Bay was a fine choice for a brief stopover on our walk back through the French Quarter.  As far as dive bar factor goes, it was comfortably messy, and you could get a sense of the place’s fun personality as you sat there and took it all in. 

Need any more evidence that Turtle Bay belongs on your pub crawl of French Quarter dive bars?  The sign on the bathroom door says it all.  I appreciated their sense of humor. 

Turtle Bay is also open 24 hours and has a full kitchen, two factors that really help it fit right into the New Orleans dive bar scene.  We were even too early for lunch, but I have to admit the $15.75 ribeye steak special caught my eye, and a little research into reviews for Turtle Bay show it must be worth every penny.  In fact, most of the traditional bar food – especially the pizza – gets consistently high marks. 

A few reviewers even mentioned they discovered this place after trying to get into Coop’s Place, but the wait was too long.  It’s a good sign when you “settle” for a second choice and leave satisfied and willing to go back.

I also learned this Turtle Bay is associated with the bar on Bourbon Street formerly known as Turtle Bay that became Spirits after being featured on the Spike TV show “Bar Rescue.”  Don’t let that dissuade you from trying the Decatur Street establishment.  I could see why Turtle Bay may have struggled to stand out on Bourbon Street with the other tourist traps, but that’s not what you’re coming to Turtle Bay on Decatur for.  I came away from it with the impression that Turtle Bay was a fun place to have a couple drinks with friends, grab some tasty pub grub and chill out for a while.  I’m looking forward to going back there on my next trip.    

Turtle Bay is located at 1119 Decatur Street, by the French Market and only a few doors down from Coop’s Place.  Check it out.  

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