New Orleans, as students will find out soon enough, is a city of neighborhoods, so it's always good to learn how to mark your nightlife territory. While there's a cool place to check out on just about every corner, here's a guide to areas filled with happening bars and clubs.
Frenchmen Street/Faubourg Marigny
The three-block stretch from Esplanade Avenue to Royal Street features a string of bars, live-music venues and restaurants -- perfect for pub-crawling. Favored watering holes include D.B.A. (616 Frenchmen St., 942-3731; www.drinkgoodstuff.com), with its massive tap selection, top-shelf whiskeys and occasional live music; The R Bar (1431 Royal St., 948-7499), awash in funky decor (especially the upside-down skeletal rock band) and large beer selection; and the Hookah Cafe (1132 Decatur St., 566-7057), with its opium-den vibe and small-plate offerings in a classic "chill" environment.
Downtown is often where the action is in most cities, and New Orleans offers even more with some dance clubs conveniently located in the French Quarter. The hottest Quarter clubs include the newly revamped 735 Nightclub and Bar (735 Bourbon St., 581-6740), which features the hippest in hip-hop; Oz (800 Bourbon St., 593-9491); The Bourbon Pub/Parade (801 Bourbon St., 529-2107), which despite being known for their predominantly gay clientele nevertheless appeal to all dance mavens. House of Blues (225 Decatur St., 310-4999) follows live music acts with late-night dance parties on Thursday (hip-hop), Friday (Latin dance) and Saturday (house, hip-hop, dancehall). The recently opened PopBar (533 Toulouse St., 568-1940) is a mod lounge with all kinds of dance nights as well as a college night Thursdays. Utopia (227 Bourbon St., 523-3800) plays the latest dance music Fridays and Saturdays. The French Quarter is also flooded with bars, and Bourbon Street alone would take a book, so we'll suggest polar opposites: the karaoke staple, Cat's Meow (701 Bourbon St., 523-1157), and the rotating Carousel Lounge (Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St., 523-3341), perfect for a romantic date. Holding up either side of the nearby CBD are two dance clubs with twists. Ampersand (1100 Tulane Ave., 587-3737; www.clubampersand.com) features a wide range of guest DJs, specialty dance nights, and is the home of the famous Fat Black Pussycat-theme parties. Club 360 and its neighboring Halo (atop the World Trade Center, 522-9795) offer night-clubbing with an awesome, panoramic view of the city. The newly opened Halo section is a 12,000-square-foot space that is multifunctional, offering rooms for everything from hip-hop to jazz. Dominic's (291 Carondelet St., 566-1876) has something for everyone, from hip-hop on Wednesdays to '80s music on Fridays. For more sedate moods, there are the upscale sister hotel bars Loa (221 Camp St., 553-9550) and Loft 523 (523 Gravier St., 200-6523), the latter of which offers tango lessons and dancing on Tuesdays.
This area, which overlaps downtown and Uptown, features two of the most popular dance clubs in town, most notably the massive, three-room club, The Metropolitan (310 Andrew Higgins Drive, 568-1700), which on Saturday nights features three DJs and five bars for its valet-happy crowd. TwiRoPa Mills (1544 Tchoupitoulas St., 598-3721) is in one of the most charmingly gentrified warehouse spaces in town with equally spacious rooms, one of the popular retro '80s nights (Thursday) and Saturday's equally hot Latin night. The Red Eye Grill (825 S. Peters St., 593-9393) is more sweaty and funky, as the aroma of char-grilled burgers hovers over the dance floor thumping with Top-40 and hip-hop tunes.
We could spend all day traveling up and down one of New Orleans' hippest stretches of roads, and one reason is the bars, starting with the wine- (and dog-) friendly Bridge Lounge (1201 Magazine St., 299-1888); Balcony Bar and Cafe (3201 Magazine St., 895-1600/891-2800); The Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; www.draftfreak.com), which features the most impressive tap selection in town. Lionel Milton Gallery (1818 Magazine St., 522-6966) not only features art by one of New Orleans' up-and-coming artists but also hip-hop and soul grooves by DJ Dave Soul, DJ Real, DJ Maxmillian and others. Lucy's Uptown (5961 Magazine St., 895-0240) features DJs on Friday and Saturday as well.
The two neighboring private schools don't just share common real estate; they also are close to some of the more popular college hangouts in the city (natch), including the two big dogs: The Boot (1039 Broadway St., 866-9008), the quintessential college bar, and Cooter Brown's Tavern (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104), with yet another large tap selection. Not far away is Shiloh (4529 Tchoupitoulas St., 895-1456), which offers a more eclectic, neighborhood scene with DJs spinning underneath its low-slung ceiling.
Mid-City/Lakeview UNO and Delgado students flock to the Mid-City Bulldog (5153 Canal Blvd., 488-2500) for its extensive beer selection and vast outdoor patio, while Xavier and Dillard students have adopted Daiquiri Island (7908 Earhart Blvd., 866-9711) for its tap and daiquiri selection along with video poker and pool tables for gaming fun. Parlay's Pub (870 Harrison Ave., 482-4700) spins "high energy" dance music Thursday through Saturday nights.
- Cheryl Gerber
- Loft 523 offers a relaxing take on New Orleans' see-and-be-seen scene.