A Drinking Tour of NOLA’s Most Bizarre Bars

Don’t be fooled—the deepest, most compelling bars in New Orleans can’t be found in any pamphlet or viewed during a ghost tour through the French Quarter. These bars represent the depths—and occasionally, the underbelly—of a city so complex and nuanced that it can support 50-year-old juke joints and 100-year-old gilded cocktail bars with equal ease. From hole-in-the-wall lounges housed in lavender buildings to clothing-optional swimming pools with outdoor bars, the deepest cuts in New Orleans’ bar scene can’t be replicated. —Sarah Baird

  • 1

    Bullet’s Sports Bar

    This locals only, cash-only hangout deep in the heart of the 7th Ward is light on seating and heavy on a deep rooted neighborhood vibe. On Tuesdays, legendary bluesman Kermit Ruffins plays a set beginning around 7 p.m., and brings the whole bar to its feet for serious booty shaking.  

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • sports
    • bar food
    • dancing
  • 2

    Candlelight Lounge

    The Treme stalwart is often packed after a featured roll on the HBO series Treme, but it doesn’t detract from any of its low-key charm. A minimal cover charge includes a bowl of red beans and rice, and when the Treme Brass Band is playing on Wednesday nights, don’t expect to stay in your seat for too long.  

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • bar food
    • dancing
  • 3

    Crown and Anchor

    Located on New Orleans’ Westbank in historic Algiers Point, this quasi-English pub is well worth the scenic ferry ride. Home to a strong scotch selection and some fairly competitive dart tournaments, this perfectly quaint spot (featuring a telephone booth as a door) will make you consider spending more time on the opposite side of the river.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • craft beer
    • sports
    • oysters
    • games
    • lots of whiskey
  • 4

    Kajun's Pub

    Without a doubt the best karaoke bar in the city of New Orleans, Kajun’s is a 24-hour thrill-a-minute journey of hipsters belting out Cranberries songs and aspiring songbirds hitting the high notes of Whitney Houston standards. It’s a smoke-filled, sardine-packed spot that doesn’t really get jumping until the clock strikes midnight, but continues into the wee hours of the morning.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • karaoke
    • cheap date
    • live music
    • games
    • singles scene
    • lots of whiskey
  • 5

    Martine's

    Located in the Old Metairie suburbs more known for ice cream socials than craft cocktails, this hidden gem is worth seeking out for the ambiance alone. A jukebox full of 1970s hits, a classic film noir constantly on the television and a stunning glass backsplash behind the bar are just the beginning of this watering hole’s charms. Popcorn is frequently passed around as a bar snack, and you can be sure to find at least one puppy napping beside the bar.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • jukebox
    • cheap date
    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
  • 6

    Roaring 20s

    There’s a Twin Peaks-style, red ambient glow in this divey “cocktail lounge” deep on the Westbank, where patrons are buzzed in like they’re entering into a (seriously laid back) secret society. A core group of old timers and regulars hold down the fort, but welcome new guests into their retro, vinyl-clad lair with open arms. If you’re an “unescorted lady” (read: a gal by herself) you get your second drink for free.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • dancing
    • jukebox
  • 7

    Sandpiper Lounge

    A serious hole-in-the-wall spot, be prepared for a cast of middle-aged regulars to swivel their heads when you walk in. Boasting one of the best mid-century neon signs in the city and located off of a main drag in (often dicey) Central City, this lavender building is smack dab in the middle of Sunday Second Line celebrations, and is a hub for community activity year-round.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • historic
    • live music
  • 8

    The Country Club

    Located in a stately Bywater mansion, The Country Club is an experience unlike any other—part swimming pool and sauna, part restaurant and constantly flowing with booze, especially during drag brunch on the first Sunday of every month. Sadly, once a clothing-optional venue, the Country Club has had to nix this policy because of a few, fussy bureaucrats. But no matter, it's still one of the weirdest haunts in NOLA, and deserves a visit.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • cheap date
    • full menu
    • craft beer
    • craft cocktails
    • day drinking
    • games
    • singles scene
    • outdoor / patio

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