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GoNOLA Find: Maple Leaf Bar

The legendary bar is your reward after an eventful day along Oak Street.

The tin ceilings are all part of the Maple Leaf's low-key charm. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Maple Leaf is an all-night bar. Repeat: All. Night. You don’t have to stay up until the wee hours, but if you do, you’ll be rewarded with live performances from local New Orleans musicians who rock and roll all the way ’til sunup. Stop in for a drink, and admire the bar’s delightfully dive-y details — the tin ceilings, the framed portraits of vintage Mardi Gras kings and queens. Keep an eye out for NOLA painter Frenchy, who might be working on a new masterpiece inside the bar. And if you hear the music queue up, you’ll probably want stay awhile. Maybe even all night.

Before You Cozy Up to the Bar…

It just so happens that the Maple Leaf Bar is tucked into one of the cutest little enclaves in New Orleans: Oak Street. You could spend a full day browsing the neighborhood, and you should, especially on a Tuesday when Rebirth Brass Band is at the end of the tunnel. Here’s a Tuesday Oak Street-area itinerary before you hit the bar.

Get breakfast to-go at Breads on Oak

breads on oak pastries
Pastries from Breads on Oak. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

I’m partial to the pain au chocolat and a cappuccino — sweet, vaguely European, and expertly made. Pastry in hand, stroll down to the riverfront and walk along the levee with your cup of coffee. If a sit-down breakfast complete with live music is more your style, Live Oak Cafe features live jazz from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Work in a little shopping

There are so many unique, local shops on Oak Street — make it your job to pop into each and every one. A few ideas? Browse NOBS and plan your next bicycle cruise (check out our guide here); pet the resident shop cat, Kitty Meow, at Blue Cypress Books, or admire the handmade blades at Coutelier NOLA.

Oak Street bicycle shop NOBS. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
Oak Street bicycle shop NOBS. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

Lunch break!

Adorable shops are just one half of the Oak Street equation. Restaurants comprise the very delicious other half. For lunch, head to Cowbell at the far end of Oak Street, and definitely order the mac ‘n’ cheese. Also worth your Taco Tuesday is the new location of La Casita Taqueria, serving up the same savory, Latin items in a space five times bigger than its original locale in the Warehouse District.

Browse Frenchy’s studio and gallery

You might find a masterpiece to take home — plus, it’s good to get a feel for the artist’s work just in case he’s not live-painting inside the Maple Leaf later in the evening.

Near the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street, pay a visit to the studio and gallery of Frenchy, a prolific painter of New Orleans musicians and culture. You may have seen some of his work as a regular artist of the official yearly New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival poster, or perhaps you'll see him painting live at the Maple Leaf or a New Orleans festival. (Photo: Paul Broussard)
The studio and gallery of Frenchy, a prolific painter of New Orleans musicians and culture. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

You’re probably thirsty after all that walking, right? Try Ale on Oak or its slightly more sophisticated sister, Oak Wine Bar for a happy hour treat.

Oak Wine Bar new orleans
Oak Wine Bar has 30 wines by the glass, craft cocktails, and delicious bar snacks and small plates. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Dinnertime 

Keep it casual with burgers, fries, and shakes at TRUBurger — it’s Susan Spicer’s favorite place to eat. Elsewhere on Oak Street, there’s the Creole charm of Jacques-Imo’s or sushi and sake at Chiba NOLA; or, you could just stay put at Oak Wine Bar, which also serves a variety of small plates.

TRUBurger is prime (Angus) real estate for a quick and casual dinner on Oak Street. (Photo: Paul Broussard)
TRUBurger is prime (Angus) real estate for a quick and casual dinner on Oak Street. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

…And finally, the Maple Leaf Bar

Head to Maple Leaf for Rebirth Brass Band at 10:30 p.m. Doors are at 10 p.m., giving you enough time to order a drink and find a prime viewing spot. Check out our photos from a recent Tuesday all-nighter (when Rebirth Brass Band beckons with its weekly residency) below.

Need a mid-day tipple? The Maple Leaf is a great spot for a beer or quick cocktail on your Oak Street stroll. It's more famous as the night-time hot spot for amazing live music -- having been the go-to performance spot for legendary musicians in residency such as James Booker, Jon Cleary, and currently (when they're in town) the Tuesday night home to Rebirth Brass Band.
Maple Leaf is the night-time hot spot for amazing live music, having been the go-to performance spot for legendary musicians such as James Booker, Jon Cleary, and currently (when they’re in town) the Tuesday night home to Rebirth Brass Band. (Photo: Paul Broussard)
The exterior of the Maple Leaf. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
The exterior of the Maple Leaf. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
Cool and cozy inside the Maple Leaf. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
Cool and cozy inside the Maple Leaf. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
A namesake maple leaf adorns the wall. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
A namesake maple leaf adorns the wall. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
The tin ceilings are all part of the Maple Leaf's low-key charm. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
The tin ceilings are all part of the Maple Leaf’s low-key charm. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
Rebirth Brass Band. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
Focused, buoyant sound is a matter of course for Rebirth Brass Band. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)
rebirth
Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf Bar. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

All photos by Rebecca Ratliff unless otherwise noted

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