When you hear the name Monaghan's Erin Rose (811 Conti St, 523-8619), you know right away that this French Quarter bar has got some Irish in its blood. In fact, its original owner and local legend, the late Jim Monaghan, was known for Irish pubs in the Quarter: Monaghan's Erin Rose and Molly's at the Market. But these days, the cozy neighborhood bar, located just steps from Bourbon Street, might best be described as a multicultural experience.
Since current owner Troy Koehlar inherited the business two years ago, Monaghan's Erin Rose has fused its Irish and local traditions with Koehlar's fondness for the sport of race car driving, a menu of Vietnamese and Pacific Rim foods and an unwavering philosophy that any excuse for a party will do.
"We're a pub-style bar," says Koehlar, who's originally from Kansas. "But we're also very diverse. We take an Irish flair, our French Quarter location, and my Kansas roots and blend them to create an atmosphere that makes everyone feel at home. We have a great clientele -- a mixture of older and younger people, tourists and locals."
"People are surprised when they see the combination of Vietnamese food with a New Orleans Irish pub," adds Koehlar's wife, Angie, who like her husband has worked in the bar for more than a decade. "But this is New Orleans; we celebrate everybody."
The interior of the bar is a testament to the claim. In addition to displaying several colorful murals of local scenery by artist Marc Marino, the walls are a busy collage of signs paying homage to everyone from the NOPD and NASCAR to an international array of beloved brews. The jukebox celebrates diversity as well; its thick catalog offers everything from Irish music to rock 'n' roll to local jazz and oldies. While the bar's special events run the gamut from slumber parties and luaus to football and race car parties (complete with games, drawings and prizes) to parades. Over the years, the Erin Rose has regularly taken part in the popular Halloween and St. Patrick's Day parades put on by Molly's At The Market. But this month, it also began its own tradition: presenting the first annual Shamrock Bowl Parade in honor of Sugar Bowl weekend.
Whatever the event, patrons can wet their whistles with something from the bar, which is open every day of the year, or satisfy their hunger with something from Mahaelani, the in-house kitchen, open every day except Monday.
Among the bar's most popular drinks are frozen and hot Irish coffees and the Irish Car Bomb, a mix of Guinness, Irish whiskey and Bailey's Irish Cream. Favorite food items, many of which can be prepared vegetarian-style, include Chef Scott Ngyuen's lightly fried spring rolls (the only fried item on the menu) and main dishes such as Long Rice, Hawaiian Style -- sauteed tapioca noodles with a choice of savory glazed pork, chicken or shrimp, sliced scallions, shiitake mushrooms and sweet soy sauce. Purists won't find Irish food here, but they will find an undeniably Irish spirit.
"We're known for our drinks, our juke box and our atmosphere," says Koehlar. "But we're best known for the good time you have when you get here."
Food Court Alternative
Byblos Lebanese Restaurant two weeks ago opened a new eatery in the food court at Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 830-7333).
It is the fourth Byblos location owner Gabriel Salibas has opened in the metropolitan area, including restaurants at 1501 Metairie Road, Metairie, 834-9773, and 3218 Magazine St., 894-1233, plus a deli-grocery at 2020 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 837-9777.
Mike DeBold, manager of Byblos Lakeside, says the new location features a condensed version of the menu at the other Byblos restaurants and focuses on express service and fresh, healthy Lebanese-Mediterranean cuisine.
"It's set up to be very fresh and it's cooked in front of you as you watch," DeBold says. "We'll have whole rotisserie chickens [cooking] all the time; as people are ordering, [Byblos servers] are putting fresh food into sandwiches. Most of the items are definitely healthier and fresher than what they're used to at fast-food places. It's a nice addition to the other food choices out here." -- Kandace Power Graves
New Orleans Tours is giving visitors and locals an easier way to explore Magazine Street without having to worry about parking or traffic: The Magazine Street Shopping Shuttle.
The shuttle travels continually from the U.S. Mint near the French Market to Audubon Zoo every half hour from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, picking up and dropping off passengers at seven other stops along the way. Other bus stop locations include Canal Place on N. Peters Street, the Riverwalk at the Hilton Hotel circle, the corner of Julia and Camp streets, the corner of Felicity Street and Sophie Wright Place, and on Magazine Street at Washington Avenue, Antoinine Street and Jefferson Avenue.
All-day passes cost $10 for adults and $5 for children and can be purchased from shuttle drivers. For more information, call New Orleans Tours at 592-0560. -- Graves
- Owners Troy and Angie Koehlar play on the diverse cultures of New Orleans to show customers a good time at Monaghan's Erin Rose in the French Quarter.