Oct 14, 2014

Random day drinking in New Orleans: Flanagan’s Pub, Buffa’s Lounge and Bamboula’s

This blog post could have been about one of several specific things; but, as random as things often happen in New Orleans, it turns out to be about nothing in particular … or, to be more accurate, several experiences thrown together.  But then again, who needs an itinerary?

A Tuesday afternoon in between Jazz Fest weekends is as good a time as any to explore watering holes in and around the French Quarter I had never been to before.  Trust me when I say that is a relatively short list.  I let my friends Sue, Terry, Ken and Don lead the way. 

The bar at Flanagan's Pub
First on the list was Flanagan’s Pub.  It’s actually not very Irish, but it is very much a dive. 

Part of what makes it a fine dive are a lively crowd of locals and the fact that it’s open 24/7.   

It’s also the starting point for one of the Big Easy’s celebrated ghost tours. 

Who says i have difficulty making friends?
The photo opportunities abound, even in the daytime.

I guess what turned me off a little bit was getting over-charged for a round of drinks.  Tourist tax, perhaps?  But, we eventually got the tab settled correctly, and all was well.

You could say we were pretty laid back.
However, based on my experience, combined with other reviews, I can see why Flanagan’s days are supposedly numbered.  Still, you could have – and I have – done a lot worse in the French Quarter.  It’s worth checking out for one drink anyway, while it’s still around.

After Flanagan’s we took a somewhat deliberate and blurry stroll through the more residential part of the French Quarter.  Our destination was Buffa’s Lounge at the corner of Esplanade and Burgundy. 

You may recall from an earlier post our visit to Turtle Bay.  The bartender there recommended that if we did not return to Turtle Bay for a late lunch/early dinner, we should try Buffa's.  We decided to see for ourselves. 

Buffa’s is another dive bar/restaurant/neighborhood institution, also open 24/7, and known for live music six out of seven nights a week (although according to its website at the time of this post, at least one neighbor isn’t too pleased about the volume of said music).  It seems to offer something for everyone. 

Given our late afternoon arrival, we had our choice of seating in the back room.  Just a few regulars occupied the room’s bar area.  We shared an appetizer of gator balls, which I recall being quite delicious …

Buffa's bratwurst jambalaya
… and for the main entrée, I couldn't resist trying the bratwurst jambalaya.  And I thought I had tried every kind of jambalaya imaginable.  But frankly, beer-soaked brat bites work very well in this dish, and Buffa’s nailed it.  I guess it stands to reason that you don’t survive in New Orleans since 1939 without knowing how to excel at making all the traditional dishes the city’s known for. 

From Buffa’s we walked to Frenchmen Street in hope of catching some free live music at the Louisiana Music Factory’s new location.  The record store, which is known for its impressive selection of albums by local and regional artists, is just as well known for holding free concerts during Jazz Fest.  

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the place was so packed, and the afternoon’s humidity had set in, that even the hardiest music buffs (like me, Ken and Terry) gave up.  We found refuge, and much appreciated air conditioning, in one of the newer clubs on Frenchmen – Bamboula’s.   

Alabama Slim performs at Bamboula's
We also got our live music fix – hot electric blues, to be exact – from Alabama Slim.  It was an outstanding show, one which I felt very fortunate to quite literally stumble upon, and a fitting finale to an eventful Tuesday afternoon. 

Sometimes the sum of a day’s experiences truly is better than the individual parts.  That pretty much describes this day, and a lot of days in New Orleans. 

While I'm on the subject of New Orleans-themed posts, I've been waiting for Halloween season to post about one of my all-time favorite haunts (and one of New Orleans' most famous haunted places).  Stay tuned. 

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