98 Best Bars in New Orleans, Louisiana

Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits

Bywater Fodor's choice

In the far reaches of the Bywater, Bacchanal is part wineshop, part bar, part music club—and 100% neighborhood hangout. Enter the old building first, then beyond the wine racks you'll find a courtyard with seating and a spacious bar upstairs that serves beer and liquor. You can have a bottle uncorked on the premises or order by the glass. The kitchen supplies gourmet cheese plates and small, tasty dishes that go well with the wine selections—osso buco, mussels, and confit chicken leg are among the best. Local bands play seven nights a week.

Cane and Table

French Quarter Fodor's choice

With its elegant, understated Caribbean decor, dim lighting, and low volumes, this rum house is a refreshing relief from the general chaos of the neighborhood. The friendly barkeeps love making "ProtoTiki Cocktails" (specialty rum drinks with modern twists), but there's a sophisticated list of Spanish wines to choose from as well. The space offers a large marble bar, charming courtyard out back, and small tables for intimate dining. Come for the cocktails and atmosphere, but don't miss out on the food: the menu combines Caribbean and Southern culinary traditions, and the dishes are inventive and intensely flavorful.

Carousel Bar

French Quarter Fodor's choice

A favorite New Orleans drinking destination since 1949, the revolving bar has served the likes of Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and Ernest Hemingway. If the famed carousel bar is too crowded, there's a second (stationary) bar and a stage that hosts free shows by local musicians Wednesday through Saturday.

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Cat's Meow

French Quarter Fodor's choice

Before you see it, you'll hear this Bourbon Street landmark, New Orleans's most popular karaoke bar. Given an ideal corner location, the bar's tall doors and windows open onto two streets, luring undergrads, conventioneers, and bachelorette parties to hit the dance floor and grab the mic. High-energy MCs and DJs keep the night spinning along, but get on the sign-up sheet early if you want a chance at French Quarter fame.

Columns Hotel's Victorian Lounge Bar

Uptown Fodor's choice

One of New Orleans's most traditional drinking experiences, enjoy an old-fashioned or a Sazerac here on the expansive front porch, shaded by centuries-old oak trees and overlooking the St. Charles Avenue streetcar route. Built in 1883 as a private home, the Columns has been the scene of TV ads, movies, and plenty of weddings. The interior scenes of Louis Malle's Pretty Baby were filmed here. The Victorian Lounge, with its restored period decor and a fireplace, has a decaying elegance marred only by the television above the bar. There's a great happy hour, too, with live jazz combos playing Monday through Friday.


Uptown Fodor's choice

A long, slender room with plush banquettes in a charming sliver of a building on a busy stretch of St. Charles Avenue looks as if it were air-dropped straight from Paris. Offering a carefully chosen (and reasonably priced) selection of beer, spirits, and wines by the glass, the menu also includes upscale small plates, such as frog legs, frites fried in goose fat, and house-made paté.

French 75

French Quarter Fodor's choice

This is a must-visit for any who love to submerge themselves in old-time elegance. Adjoining Arnaud's, the classic New Orleans Creole restaurant, this dark-wood bar is complete with leather-backed chairs and imposing columns. The bartenders work magic with their encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails and arsenal of ingredients. Be sure to venture upstairs to the free Germaine Wells Mardi Gras Museum, a slightly bizarre showcase for memorabilia and ball gowns worn by the original owner's daughter.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

French Quarter Fodor's choice

Perhaps the most photographed building in the Quarter after St. Louis Cathedral, this 18th-century blacksmith shop was once a front for the eponymous pirate's less legitimate business ventures—or so says local legend. Today, it's an atmospheric piano bar with a rustic, candlelit interior and a small outdoor patio shaded by banana trees. Despite the addition of a few flat-screen TVs, a drink here just after sundown, under the soft glow of candles, lets you slip back in time for an hour or so. It's also known as the oldest bar in New Orleans as well as one of the most haunted.

Maple Leaf

Carrollton-Riverbend Fodor's choice

The phrase "New Orleans institution" gets thrown around a lot, but this place deserves the title. It's wonderfully atmospheric, with pressed-tin walls and a lush tropical-themed patio, and it's also one of the city's best venues for blues, New Orleans–style R&B, funk, zydeco, and jazz. On Sunday afternoons, the bar hosts the South's longest-running poetry reading. Rebirth Brass Band's standing Tuesday gig is a show everyone should see, and Joe Krown starts his set around 10:30 pm. It's a long haul from the French Quarter, but worth the trip, especially if combined with a visit to one of the restaurants clustered near this commercial stretch of Oak Street.

Napoleon House Bar and Café

French Quarter Fodor's choice

It's a living shrine to what may be called the semiofficial New Orleans school of decor: faded grandeur. Chipped wall paint, diffused light, and a tiny courtyard with a trickling fountain and lush banana trees create a timeless escapist mood. The house specialty is a Pimm's Cup (here they top Pimm's No. 1 with lemonade and 7-Up). This vintage restaurant and watering hole has long been popular with writers, artists, and other free spirits, although today most customers are tourists. But even locals who don't venture often into the French Quarter will make an exception for Napoleon House.

Preservation Hall

Fodor's choice

At this cultural landmark founded in 1961, a cadre of distinguished New Orleans musicians, most of whom were schooled by an ever-dwindling group of elder statesmen, nurture the jazz tradition that flowered in the 1920s. There is limited seating on benches—many patrons end up squatting on the floor or standing in back—and no beverages are served, nor are there restrooms. Nonetheless, legions of satisfied music lovers regard an evening at this all-ages venue as an essential New Orleans experience. You must buy a ticket online in advance (nothing is old at the door any longer), and you are asked to arrive 20 minutes before the performance.

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The Spotted Cat

Faubourg Marigny Fodor's choice

Jazz, old-time, and swing bands perform nightly at this rustic club right in the thick of the Frenchmen Street action. Sets start at 2 pm and the music continues until at least midnight. Drinks cost a little more at this cash-only destination, but there's never a cover charge and the entertainment is great—from the popular bands to the cadres of young, rock-step swing dancers.


Fodor's choice

Rub the bust of legendary New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair (aka "Fess") inside this Uptown landmark named for one of the late musician's popular songs. The old concert posters on the walls read like an honor roll of musical legends, both local and national. The midsize venue boasts an eclectic and well-curated calendar, particularly during the weeks of Jazz Fest. The long-running Sunday afternoon Cajun dance party still packs the floor. Although the neighborhood isn't dangerous, it's far enough out of the way to require a cab trip.

AllWays Lounge & Theatre

Faubourg Marigny

This lounge-theater combo has become one of the centerpieces of the local indie, avant-garde, and art scenes. Evoking 1930s Berlin, the lounge has a black-and-red color scheme and frayed-at-the-edges art deco aesthetic. Musicians, burlesque dancers, clowns, artists, and jacks-of-all-trades take to the stage here most nights of the week. Meanwhile, in the back of the house, the 100-seat AllWays Theatre hosts weekend plays and other performances.

Banks Street Bar and Grill


This comfortable Mid-City nightspot has become one of the city's most reliable venues for local music, with live shows—sometimes several a night—every day of the week. The bill of fare leans toward blues and funk. There is no cover charge for music.

Bar Frances

This bar's casual elegance is readily apparent during its popular happy hour, when Francophiles can enjoy pork rillette, chicken liver mousse, and Chartreuse cocktails. A small patio of bistro tables looks out onto Freret Street.

Bar Marilou

Central Business District
An evening at this dimly-lit venue begins with an aperitif hour and ends with burlesque, a jazz trio, or other entertaiment appropriate for a place that is part intimate library and part Parisian club. The food here is fittingly European, with grazing options like almonds, olives, and anchovies; seared scallops in white miso dressing and a satisfying pub burger are among more substantial choices. If you're looking for atmosphere and romance served alongside your expertly crafted cocktails, this is your spot.
544 Carondelet St., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130, USA

Bar Tonique

French Quarter

An eclectic spot on North Rampart Street, this brick-walled room with private nooks and intimate corner booths looks like a cross between a dive and a lounge on the Riviera. The book-length drinks menu, with everything from pre-Prohibition classics to modern creations, practically recounts the history of the cocktail. The talented staff can turn out any of those offerings with aplomb.

820 N. Rampart St., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70116, USA

Bayou Beer and Wine Garden


Claim a seat on the sprawling multilevel outdoor patio at this low-key neighborhood pub and sip a pint from the great selection of beers. Multiple TVs show the big game, and the bar occasionally hosts live music. Next door, and sharing an adjoining courtyard, a slightly more sophisticated sister property has opened as a wine garden. The wine garden offers gourmet meat and cheese boards and popular wines on tap.

326 N. Jefferson Davis Pkwy., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70119, USA

BJ's Lounge


This gritty corner bar is a beloved neighborhood joint. Most weekends it hosts music, like Little Freddie King, who blows the top off the place.

4301 Burgundy St., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70117, USA
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Blue Nile

Faubourg Marigny
Soul Rebels, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers, and Corey Henry & The Tremé Funktet are among the talented local acts that regularly grace the stage at this long-standing, bare-bones music club. You're likely to catch a free act during the week; on weekends, tickets range from $15–$20 and can be purchased at the door or online in advance for most shows. Price is higher than some of the other clubs, but performance quality is consistent as it's a true Frenchmen Street institution.

Bombay Club

French Quarter

A rather swanky lounge for the French Quarter, with leather chairs and dark paneling, covers cocktail history with an encyclopedic menu that starts with drinks from the mid-19th century, and boasts the largest selection of martinis in town. Tucked away from the street in the Prince Conti Hotel, it also hosts piano players and jazz combos nightly.

Bourbon Pub

French Quarter

It's impossible to miss this 24-hour video bar at the corner of St. Ann and Bourbon streets, especially in early evenings, when the doors are open and the dance crowd spills into the street. There's usually a cover charge on Friday and Saturday nights after 10 pm; Sunday afternoon is devoted to vintage videos by assorted gay icons.

Brieux Carré

Faubourg Marigny
This pint-sized, colorful microbrewery is making a name for itself as having some of the best local beer in the area. There are around nine beers on tap at any given time, often exotic varieties with locally inspired names. A large beer garden and outdoor patio in the back is the brewery's best feature.


Faubourg Marigny
This simple neighborhood spot has been popular for live music and festive vibes since 1939. The burgers are famous in their own right, as are the Bloody Marys and other to-go drinks. There is live music in Buffa's backroom each night (keep an eye out for Walter "Wolfman" Washington's sets), and a fun traditional jazz brunch on Sundays.

Bullet's Sports Bar


For a real taste of New Orleans, drop by on a Thursday night, when Kermit Ruffins is playing. Not just the soul of the city, but the soul food, too, emerges as Kermit and friends serve up their famous barbecue and fixin's in between sets. Featured in the HBO series Treme, Bullet's has become something of a New Orleans hot spot, but remember that if the neighborhood around the bar looks a little scary, that's because it is a little scary. Use caution when traveling here, but be prepared for a warm and welcoming musical experience when you arrive.

Café Lafitte in Exile

French Quarter

This Bourbon Street stalwart attracts a somewhat older and very casual group of gay men. The second floor has a pool table, pinball machine, and wraparound balcony with a bird's-eye view of the lively street scene below. Sunday afternoon, when the oldies spin and the paper-napkin confetti flies, is especially popular.

901 Bourbon St., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70116, USA

Candlelight Lounge


This small, old-school joint draws a crowd on Monday for jazz by Corey Henry and Friends (and free red beans and rice), and local brass bands most other nights of the week. Uncle Lionel Batiste, a club fixture of legendary proportions, has sadly passed away, but the lively music and local atmosphere are still the same. We recommend taking a cab out here.

Carrollton Station


This cozy neighborhood bar keeps unfolding the farther back you go—from the front bar to the stage to the backyard. The regular schedule of live music emphasizes local roots, rock, and acoustic acts. It's two blocks off the Carrollton streetcar line and close to the Oak Street commercial district.

Cellar Door

Central Business District
Travel through the narrow doors of this cocktail bar to rooms full of wood-panelled walls and exposed brick, dimly lit chandeliers, and a general atmosphere that is a quiet, refreshing escape from the more corporate surroundings outside. Located within a historic mansion, curl up in one of the many romantic nooks and crannies for a cocktail or two; the cocktail menu favors the classics.