Apolline (4729 Magazine St., 504-894-8869; www.apollinerestaurant.com) — Six college grads technically ate for free during a recent happy hour (5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday). Their secret? With the $2 saved off each specialty cocktail (and half-price beer and wine), they bought up every happy hour plate, including a $2 white bean hummus, $4 fries with romesco sauce and $6 shrimp and grits. "They were looking at it like dinner," head bartender Mark Schettler says. "They had a real party, and left well-fed."
Barcadia (601 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-335-1740; www.barcadianeworleans.com) — This gamer's go-to hosts a fun brunch, featuring the $9 PBR and eggs, with a choice of breakfast meat, hash browns or grits, toast or scratch-made biscuit, two eggs any style, and a pint of PBR. After work, bring the gang for cheese- or meat-loaded fries and fried PB&J sandwiches from the shareable grub menu, which is half-off 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Wednesday nights, look for 75-cent Asian-seasoned wings (chef Nick Hufft says he's adding Thai satay).
Borgne (601 Loyola Ave., 504-613-3860; www.borgnerestaurant.com) — Chef Brian Landry's $10 weekday lunch plates are among the city's least known values – daily rotating dishes include pork ropa vieja with chorizo and garbanzo beans, as well as rabbit ragout over pasta (add a canned craft beer for as little as $5.50). During happy hour 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily, make a meal of $5 tapas like crabmeat croquettes, fried turkey necks or a catfish slider trio. Champagne tastes? Try a glass of brut anytime for $20 (includes six raw oysters).
Chicken Sue's (203 W. Harrison Ave., 504-371-5546; www.chickensues.com) — This West End eatery has Southern-fried steals throughout the menu, including a fried catfish po-boy (full French loaf, two fillets) for $9.95, plus daily hot plate specials for $8.99. Even the sides are hearty: a small mac and cheese ($4.95) weighs in at 1 pound, and a dozen 4-inch tamales ($8.95) could easily make a meal. Most things are made in-house, says owner Sue Tiblier, who provides free soda refills, free Wi-Fi and free faxes.
Felipe's (301 N. Peters St., 504-288-8226; www.felipestaqueria.com) — "A bean super burrito ($5.50) will definitely fill you up," says bartender/manager Nathan Dalton, especially with free add-ons like cheese and pico de gallo. Late-night appetites go for the bacon-wrapped hot dog loaded with refried beans, salsa verde and crema ($7 after 11 p.m. Wednesday and after midnight Friday and Saturday). The taqueria bar is best known for frozen margaritas, but on Tuesday the bargain is a pint of house-made red sangria, punched up with brandy and triple sec ($3.50).
Fulton Alley (600 Fulton St., 504-208-5569; www.fultonalley.com) — "What sets us apart during happy hour is a free half-hour of bowling and free shoe rental," says Fulton Alley general manager Ken McGarrie. Follow through with half-off select small plates (deviled eggs are $2) and $6 select drinks (bourbon-based French 75) during happy hour 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday. Live bluegrass/rock and a homegrown barbecue roll out for Friday lunch, including a smoked meat-pretzel bun sandwich with fries or slaw, for less than $10.
GG's Dine-O-Rama (3100 Magazine St., 504-373-6579; www.ggsneworleans.com) — Embracing its retro vibe, this Garden District diner is now offering $12 meals on metal TV trays — rotating entrees include baked spaghetti and pork chops, joined on the sectioned tray by several sides (like mac and cheese, smashed potatoes), and desserts (recently, passion fruit-strawberry shortcake). Weekday drinks specials from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. include $2 Tito's vodka cocktails (Tuesday), and half-priced bourbon cocktails (Friday).
Herbsaint (701 St. Charles Ave., 504-524-4114; www.herbsaint.com) — At chef Donald Link's flagship restaurant, eat for a bargain on the margins — 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays — when the bistro menu comes out. Pork or duck rillettes are $10 (includes bread and salad); round it out with a mound of hand-cut fries ($6). Anytime wine flights — three glasses of 2-ounce pours — rotate different grapes, regions or producers, general manager Joe Briand says. Red and white flights are $14, and there's a just-added sherry lineup for $10.
- Photo by Cheryl Gerber
- Sean Murphy is among comics who perform at Lost Love Lounge on Tuesdays, when there is no cover charge and you can get a Tecate for $2.
Lost Love Lounge (2529 Dauphine St., 504-949-2009; www.lostlovelounge.com) — Employees say this boho Bywater bar has an under- rated wine selection. Glasses of wine are typically $5 to $6, and there's always a $15 bottle available. The Lounge hosts live stand-up acts on Tuesday nights, with no cover charge and no drink minimum, plus Tecates are $2. Take in the show with a Vietnamese dinner, like an 8-inch banh mi or rice noodle-pickled vegetable plate with a choice of chicken, pork, beef or tofu, each less than $10.
NOLA Brewing (3001 Tchoupitoulas, St., 504-301-0117; www.nolabrewing.com) — Suds up at the brewery's on-premise tap room, which has draft specialty brews you won't find anywhere else (at the moment there are a mint-chocolate stout, blueberry IPA and maple NOLA Brown), for $4 (10 ounces) and $6 (full pint). Regular, year-round beers are $3 (10 ounces), $5 (full pint) and free on Friday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday afternoons also feature rotating food trucks La Cocinita and McClure's Barbecue.
Palace Cafe (605 Canal St., 504-523-1661; www.palacecafe.com — The "Temperature Lunch" weekday special is back in season (the price is based on the previous day's high temperature, so 80 degrees translates to $8). Also on weekdays, "$5 after 5 p.m." specials include duck-Brie spring rolls, fried and sugared eggplant strips and grilled ciabatta tumbled with Buffalo-style oysters and blue cheese. Weekday drink specials after 5 p.m. include $5 house mixers (your choice of 1.5 ounces well booze, plus mixer, on the rocks) and $5 liqueur-spiked coffee.
RioMar (800 S. Peters St., 504-525-3474; www.riomarseafood.com) — Lush ceviche (Gulf shrimp with roasted tomatoes, mango-papaya drum or scallops and octopus with rolling-heat rocoto peppers) are $5 each during happy hour 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Also on the happy hour tapas menu are empanadas and grilled jumbo shrimp ($5 each), while classic cocktails (Negronis, caipirinhas) are $4.50, and sangria (red, white, mango or sparkling) is $4 a glass. On the regular menu, platters "are meant to share," co-owner Nick Bazan says.
SoBou (310 Chartres St., 504-552-4095; www.sobounola.com) — Take flight with this chic saloon's "Trouble Tree," a festive iron stand of $1 shots. Each glass holds 2 ounces of the day's punch (recently, bar chef Abigail Gullo's Campari-melon vodka cooler); larger parties can customize the tree with samples of specific cocktails. Sip them with generous happy hour offerings 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily, including a pulled pork taco ($4), a pair of alligator corndogs ($5) and a cup of gumbo ladled over potato salad ($6).
Twelve Mile Limit (500 S. Telemachus St., 504-488-8114; www.facebook.com/twelve.mile.limit) — The trick to a $5 dinner-and-drink combo at this craft cocktail hangout is to arrive at 6:45 p.m. on a Monday, just before happy hour ends and Chris Shortall's free dinners (ranging from pork tacos to lasagna) begin. Even beyond happy hour, owner/bartender Cole Newton's inventive cocktails are never more than $8. During Shortall's brunch, build your own burrito or biscuit for as little as $5. Dessert anytime is a shot and DoBite for $5 (try rye whiskey and a bitty Elvis doberge).
Victory Bar (339 Baronne St., 504-522-8664; www.victorynola.com) — Co-owner and WDSU-TV anchor Camille Whitworth says "Every hour is happy hour" at this luxe lounge, where bartenders offer a free 7-ounce sample of the daily cocktail (recently, honeyed whiskey and grapefruit juice) into the night. In a nod to barman Daniel Victory's edible cocktails, the kitchen created "Pontchartrain Ceviche" — served in a martini glass. The ceviche ($12) is loaded with 13 ounces of Louisiana redfish and shrimp, and there's a little Tito's vodka in the bloody mary marinade.
More New Orleans Cheap Thrills:
• City Park on the cheap • 24 cheap eats in 24 hours • 10 restaurants where you can BYOB • Fine dining super-bargains • Happy hours • Bargains at museums • How to see movies for free • Five $10 road trips near New Orleans • Free and cheap live storytelling events • Low-cost dental care