Cabarets, Nightclubs & Live Entertainment
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Cabaret Articles

After Dark: From Elegant Cabarets to Raucous Bars, Nightlife in the French Quarter Suits Every Mood
Pool & Spa News, Oct 3, 2003 by Paul A. Greenberg

There's plenty to see and do in New Orleans by day, but the city truly comes alive after dark, The French Quarter is still the heart of the city's nightlife, with comfortable lounges, oyster bars, dance bars, gentlemen's clubs and cabarets in a concentrated 15-square block area affectionately known as the Vieux Carre. A stroll down any of the main streets in the Quarter will result in a number of entertainment options, but for the uninitiated, here are some of the best of the best nightspots in the City that Care Forgot:

* The Bombay Club

Fun factor: 115 varieties of martinis.

The scoop: Whoever said a martini is just a martini had clearly never been to the clubby, chic Bombay Club. Bombay bills itself as a "restaurant and martini bistro," and that it is. Go ahead, be adventurous and try a local favorite, the Cajun King Martini (Absolut, pepper and citron with dry vermouth, spiced Tabasco sauce and olives.) Need something a bit sweeter? Go for the Breathless (Skyy vodka with white crime de cacao, Godiva liqueur, all presented in a chocolate-rimmed glass). Aaahhhh.

Where: 830 Conti St.; (504) 586-0972

Cost: $$

* The Carousel Bar

Fun factor: The bar actually rotates, but not too fast!

The scoop: Tourists mix easily with the regulars mound this circular carousel-themed bar. With a great view of historic Royal St., an adjacent piano bar and great bar food, this place is a treasure. The Times-Picayune said of this bar, "You can be sure that if the walls of the Carousel Bar could talk, they would tell us some incredible tales." Those tales would no doubt include stories of some of the regulars, such as the late great Tennessee Williams.

Where: Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St.; (504) 523-3341

Cost: $$

* Cats Meow

Fun factor: Find your hidden Britney or Justin side here.

The scoop: Picture this: You're on Bourbon St., you've had a few cocktails and you have an undeniable urge to belt out your favorite Sheryl Crow tune. But where? This is the place, where karaoke rules and you can be your own greatest fantasy. There's no cover charge and no charge to get up on stage and sing. If you wondered whatever happened to three-for-one happy hours, this is your place!

Where: 701 Bourbon St.; (504) 2788

Cost: $$

* Chris Owens' Club

Fun factor: One-woman Vegas-style revue.

The scoop: Ask any local to name the top five entertainers in the city, and Chris Owens is way up there on the list. For decades, the venerable entertainer has rocked her corner of Bourbon St. with a lively, high-energy mix of Vegas and salsa-style singing and dancing--and don't be a bit surprised if you end up on stage with her! That's all part of the routine. Sometimes the whole crowd ends up on its feet in a massive conga line that winds up out on Bourbon St, This is one of those "if-you. miss-it-you-will-regret-it" experiences.

Where: 500 Bourbon St.; (504) 523-6400]

Cost: $$

* Club 360

Fun Factor: Can a nightclub be all about the view?

The scoop: It can if it's located on the 33rd floor of a building just on the edge of the Quarter and adjacent to the downtown business district. Because it bills itself as the world's largest revolving nightclub, there's the added attraction (or distraction) of movement. Throw in some live light rock and jazz music and you have one of the swankiest nightspots in town. Dress up and bring plenty of plastic.

Where: 2 Canal St.; (504) 522-9795

Cost: $$$

* Dominic's

Fun factor: See-and-be-seen downtown hotspot.

The scoop: Located in the heart of the central business district, Dominic's claims to have the largest drink selection in town, Plasma screen TVs and a sleek concrete bar add to the upscale atmosphere. The music is great and you can still hear yourself talk. Just steps from the Quarter.

Where: 219 Carondelet St.; (504) 566-1876

Cost: $$

* French Quarter Bar

Fun factor: Sophisticated song styling and chic cocktails.

The scoop: If you've done Bourbon St., had a few drinks spilled on you and gotten tired of the hoopla, find your way to the Ritz-Carlton hotel. FQB is sophisticated and the site of some great nightly live jazz. Insider's tip: Try to get to FQB on a night when crooner/trumpeter Jeremy Davenport is performing.

Where: Ritz Carlton Hotel, 921 Canal St.; (504), 524-1331

Cost: $$$

* Funky Butt

Fun factor: Some of the best live jazz in town.

The scoop: Despite its rather dubious name, Funky Butt is a hot nightspot that features the best authentic live New Orleans jazz available. Get this: If you wear a Catholic school uniform, you'll get a discount--it's an only-in-New Orleans thing. As Mayor Ray Nagin once asked, "What other city can say it has a funky butt?" Jazz shows nightly, 10:00 and midnight.

Where: 714 N. Rampart St.; (504) 558-0872

Cost: $$

* House of Blues

Fun factor: Name and local acts.

The scoop: What separates the New Orleans House of Blues from its counterparts in other cities? Well, the blues were actually born here. That means local musicians mix easily wwith the national acts, and patrons get the best of both. Want something to really write home about? Plan to go to the Sunday Gospel brunch.

Where: 225 Decatur St.; (504) 529-2583

Cost: $$$

* Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville

Fun factor: The Caribbean side of the French Quarter.

The scoop: If you've wondered what wasting away in Margaritaville is really all about, this is your place. Buffett's chain has found its way around the world, but only here does it rock with a "Nawlins" flair. From bluegrass, acoustic blues and rock to solid jazz and R&B, this is a dependable, fun nightspot. Try the "spicy, creamy crawfish dip" with nacho chips. Whew!

Where: 1104 Decatur St.; (504) 592-2565

Cost: $$

* Kelsto Club

Fun factor: Owned by the original, notorious FOB.

The scoop: Remember the one and only Gennifer Flowers? Uh-huh, that Gennifer Flowers. Well, Miss F has landed in New Orleans and opened a surprisingly upscale, chic cabaret in the Quarter. This is a clubby, comfortable place to hear the proprietor sing blues and jazz standards, and to enjoy a quiet cocktail with your significant other. Go for happy hour and don't be surprised if you stay till the wee hours.

Where: 720 St. Louis St.; (504) 524-1111

Cost: $$$

* Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

Fun factor: Where the uninhibited land after a night of bar-hopping.

The scoop: Said to be the oldest existing building in the entire Mississippi Valley, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is a dark, cozy hole in the wall in the center of the French Quarter. On the outside it may look like it's leaning a bit, ready to collapse, but inside the party atmosphere continues through the night until sunrise.

Where: 941 Bourbon St.; (504) 523-0066

Cost: $$

* The Original Dungeon

Fun factor: The dark side of the Crescent City.

The scoop: You owe yourself at least one trip to the Dungeon, the flagship of the city's underground, late-night club scene. It's down a dark alley (don't worry--it's safe) and it doesn't open until midnight. Try one of the house specialty drinks, either a Dragon's Blood or a Witch's Brew, and see what "Goth" is all about. Oh, and about the dance music? Britney Spears it's not!

Where: 738 Toulouse St.; (504) 523-5530

Cost: $$

* Oz

Fun factor: All-night dancing and a world-class sound system.

The scoop: The mostly gay and gay-friendly crowd welcomes you with open arms every night. Insider's tip: Those open arms may belong to a drag queen. Details magazine ranked Oz in its top 50 dance clubs in the country, and once you're there, you'll know why. A two-story disco with an outstanding sound system creates a party atmosphere every night.

Where: 800 Bourbon St.; (504) 593-9491

Cost: $$

* Palm Court Jazz Cafe

Fun factor: Hot jazz and spicy food.

The scoop: You know a place is really worth going to when it's filled with loyal local jazz enthusiasts. The elegant mahogany bar, old-timey mosaic tile floor and oversize pictures of jazz musicians lining the walls make this place just what you thought New Orleans would be. Best of all, the food is second to none. But leave your shorts and T-shirts in the suitcase: casual elegance rules here.

Where: 1204 Decatur St.; (504) 525-0200

Cost: $$$

* Pat O'Brien's

Fun factor:. Birthplace of the Hurricane cocktail.

The scoop: No visit to this town is complete without a stop here. Set in the thick of the party, just off Bourbon St., you may have to wait in line to get in, but it's worth it. The complex has four bars, a great courtyard and fountain, and if you're hungry, they'll feed you. If you've had your fill of Hurricanes (rum, orange and pineapple juice with grenadine), try a Typhoon--that's vodka, peach and raspberry schnapps, and cranberry and pineapple juice. Ask for an extra-tall Pat O's souvenir glass.

Where: 718 St. Peter St.; (504) 525-4823

Cost: $$

* Preservation Hall

Fun factor: Serious, authentic New Orleans jazz.