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Food & Drink

Late Night NOLA: The French Quarter

As a local, I spend the majority of my late-night outings at Uptown and Mid-City dive bars. But when I have friends in town or there’s some other reason I want to really celebrate, I head down to Bourbon Street. To help you navigate through the famous French Quarter bars, here are my top six bars for Bourbon Street. And, like I always say, if you’re not having fun on Bourbon, you’re doing something wrong.

lafittes blacksmith
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a great place to start, otherwise known as the oldest bar in America. This historic building dates back to 1772 and provides the perfect backdrop for getting a feel of old New Orleans. At Lafitte’s, the idea of modern day lighting is a no-no, so the entire bar is lit by candle light. Romantic or creepy, you decide.

The Old Absinthe House, located right on Bourbon Street, is a relaxed, casual and locals-favorite bar. It’s across the street from the famed Galatoire’s, so don’t be surprised if you see people in pearls and diamonds mingling with those in cut-off jeans.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. (Photo: Zack Smith)

Preservation Hall is an experience you simply can’t afford to miss. There’s no bar here, which makes it the perfect place to take a little rest from drinking and just enjoy the music.

Pat O’Brien’s, the legendary bar located on St. Peters and Bourbon, made famous by their Hurricanes. Grab a seat outside in the courtyard bar or head inside to the Piano Bar to hear classic tunes played by dueling pianos. And, here’s a tip, bring your glass back to the bar and they’ll give you $3.00, or take it home as a souvenir.

Cats Meow. (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Cats Meow is the best stop for karaoke. Even if you don’t want to sing, it is always entertaining to watch others belt out the lyrics to great songs. The two-story bar has 32 oz. drinks, a great balcony overlooking Bourbon, and some of the best entertainment you’ll find in New Orleans.

Gold Mine Saloon, located on Orleans Avenue and Dauphine streets, this late-night dive offers dancing, drinking and flaming shots. Don’t be surprised if, at all hours of the night, there is a line waiting outside — this place gets packed!

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