Here are five hangouts anyone headed to New Orleans should know about, whether going for the Super Bowl or Mardi Gras this month, in April for Jazz Fest, or just any old time.
PARASOL’S BAR AND RESTAURANT
This slice-of-life landmark probably serves the best po'boy sandwiches in town. It also serves up only-in-New-Orleans-caliber conversation, particularly in the bar area. Tulane students, locals and tourists all flock to Parasol’s for lunch. Not far off the St. Charles streetcar route, but probably best to take a cab.
2533 Constance St.; (504) 302-1543; www.parasolsbarandrestaurant.com
Most of these other places look like they’re falling down. Not the Columns, located in a converted Thomas Sully mansion, circa 1883. Notable as the shooting location for the movie “Pretty Baby,” it now draws the wealthy sons and daughters of the Garden District for evening cocktails on the veranda. But you should go too, either for drinks or for its famed Sunday brunch. Take the St. Charles streetcar.
3811 St. Charles Ave.; (800) 445-9303; www.thecolumns.com
On the edge of the Quarter, this divey joint serves some of the best Cajun food in town, including a rich rabbit jambalaya. For a real New Orleans sampler, order the Taste Plate, which features gumbo, red beans, jambalaya and chicken ($12.95). Service can be a little quirky and colorful. Just remember, this isn’t America; it’s the French Quarter.
1109 Decatur St.; (504) 525-9053; www.coopsplace.net
This landmark among landmarks has been in the heart of the French Quarter since 1797. A former mayor offered Napoleon refuge here during his exile. Napoleon never arrived, but the name stuck. It remains a local favorite, as much for its ambience as its food. Sip a Pimm’s Cup and listen to the classical music coming over the sound system. The Napoleon House is truly timeless.
500 Chartres St.; (504) 522-4152; www.napoleonhouse.com
LAFITTE’S BLACKSMITH SHOP
Cozy piano bar in the quieter end of the French Quarter. Built in the early 1700s, Lafitte’s is purportedly the oldest tavern in the nation. Fireplace and candles. You’ll quickly see why Tennessee Williams used to hang out here while writing “Streetcar Named Desire.”
941 Bourbon St.; (504) 593-9761; www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com
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