May 4, 2015

A commoner drinks at the Erin Rose, New Orleans

No matter where you choose to stay when visiting New Orleans, it seems like you’re never too far from a friendly neighborhood bar.  That holds true even in the city’s most famous neighborhood, the French Quarter.  And it’s one reason why I love to stay at the Prince Conti Hotel … because, despite being less than a block off of  Bourbon Street, you’ll find a couple of great neighborhood bars on the same city block as the hotel. 

In front of the Erin Rose on Conti Street

One of those bars is the Erin Rose.  And it has everything you’d want and expect in a classic Irish pub-themed dive bar.  The bartenders are personable – nobody’s a stranger for long.  The locals who hang out there are equally inviting, happy to share a round or two of shots with you, and often willing to provide pointers on their other favorite places to dine and drink in the city. 

And that’s exactly what happened on my most recent stop at the Erin Rose with The April last month.  So, to Fletcher and her son Webb, thank you again for the hospitality!

The shelves behind the bar are crammed full of spirits and glassware, indicative of a bar where the bartender is capable of making any drink you can imagine … and doing it quite well.  And speaking of drinks, the prices are affordable, and the daily specials are not to be missed – the Erin Rose’s daily “happy hour” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is a great way to start your day.   I consider their Bloody Marys to be among the best in the big Easy.  And the frozen Irish coffee is legendary. (They share the same bar lineage and signature drink as another one of my favorite New Orleans bars – Molly’s at the Market.)

The bar’s interior is long and narrow, leaving little room to sit except for at the bar itself, or perhaps stand and rest your beer along a rail.  A small back room has additional seating and features a back bar that serves as the home of Killer Po-boys, which are quickly earning a reputation as some of the best in town, focusing on local ingredients and unusual sandwich selections (e.g., roasted sweet potato and glazed pork belly).  Unfortunately for us, we chose the one day (Wednesday) to visit when the po-boy business was closed.  Not that I needed a reason to come back, but I think this is a good one.    

My favorite spot to sit at the Erin Rose, when available, is at the very end of the bar near the entrance. 

View outside the window at the Erin Rose
From this vantage point, the front window behind you is almost always open, providing a great view of the world going by on Conti Street. 

Don't let that plastic smack you in the face when entering :-)
Aside from the window, beams on sunlight struggle to get past the shreds of clear plastic that hang from the entrance and help keep the bar’s air conditioning from escaping.  Bars are supposed to be a little dark and dingy, after all.

For some reason, this newspaper review on the wall near my seat got my attention.
As for the décor, again it’s what you’d expect from a classic dive bar.  The photos, mementos, graffiti and other oddities lining the walls prove the Erin Rose has tons of character and stories to tell.  

Remember, ladies, you're only renting that Miller High Life.
The wall decorations are in fact so plentiful that they practically conceal the entrances to the two bathrooms.  The Miller High Life girl decorates the ladies’ restroom, if my memory serves me.  One word of caution:  the men’s restroom doesn't lock.  It’s a one-seater and chances are the patrons will know it’s occupied anyway, but if the door opens you’re likely to give the bar a free view of your business. 

That total lack of pretension is what makes the Erin Rose a classic dive bar in every sense.  But the word is getting out, especially since Esquire named it one of the Best Bars in America in 2014.  And why not?  You’ll find good crowds, excellent service and great drinks at affordable prices.  It’s a great refuge from the Bourbon Street tourist traps and one of the places I always try to make it to whenever I’m in New Orleans. 

Next time, I'm saving room for a Killer Po-boy.  

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