New Orleans is a great place for drinking. With actual bike tours dedicated to the craft of cocktails, we take our alcohol pretty seriously. While there’s no shortage of high-brow bars around town, with their award-winning mixologists and vintage liquor cabinets, sometimes you just want simple. So for those craving an authentic local New Orleans experience with some cheap beer and great conversation with some real New Orleans characters, we’ve rounded up the top neighborhood dives, from Uptown to Downtown.

Brother’s III Lounge on Magazine Street  (Photo by Paul Broussard)

College Town, N.O. LA: Top College Bars in New Orleans

I live in a part of New Orleans that I lovingly refer to as “college town,” spitting distance from both Loyola University and Tulane University. The best part about living in this area, besides the people watching, is the plethora of bars within walking distance from each other and from my house.

While I admit that some of the bars I am about to list are ones that I don’t frequent on a regular basis (I do have a full-time job these days) I also know that they are some of the top college bars in the country and home to some of the best drink specials in the city of New Orleans.

Photo by Hannah Kitziger from Flickr

1. The Boot (1039 Broadway Street) was named the #1 College Bar in New Orleans by Gambit and is home to some of the best drink specials a college student could ask for. Besides their famous Friday Happy Hours, The Boot hosts “50 cent” night  every Tuesday. I’m sure you can guess what that means, for a $5.00 cover from 9:00 pm-1:00 am, single well drinks are just 50 cents and double wells are just $1.00. If the drink specials aren’t enough for you, The Boot is also rumored to be a regular hang out for both Darren Sharper and Roman Harper (among other players) of the New Orleans Saints, Jemmye and Knight from The Real World and it’s hosted cast members of MTV’s Jersey Shore.

2. Phillips (733 Cherokee Street) is swankier than any of these other college bars, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good prices. Phillips, which is covered in plush and swanky seating, candles and hard-wood floors, has a different drink special for just about everyday of the week. Most notably (in my opinion) are the half-off wine and bubbly with free cheese plates on Tuesday and ladies night on Thursdays. They also host a late-night happy hour on Friday from 2:00 am – close as well as a gay happy hour from 4:00 pm- 8:00 pm on Fridays.

3. Bruno’s (7538 Maple Street) is, I will admit, one of my favorite bars in New Orleans. I like the food, the beer, the TV’s and the games. Bruno’s is undoubtedly preppier than any of the other bars on this list, but don’t discount it on that. Bruno’s is a great place for gathering with friends to play games (including shuffle board, darts and pool) as well as a great place for finding food and drink specials. Plus, their daily happy hour, M-F 5:00 pm – 6:00 offers half-priced appetizers and $2.00 drinks. Their late-night specials change and are, what they call, “innovative pricing after dark.”

4. The Palms (7130 Freret Street) is one of those quintessential college bars. Their most noteable drink special is “Flip for it Friday.” Every Friday, you can flip for your drink and, if you call the coin, drinks are on the house. You can flip for anything — drinks, shots, even bottles. They also host “80′s Night/80′s Prices” on Wednesday. As you can guess from the name, it’s an ode to the great 80′s decade complete with cheaper-than-normal booze.

So, those are my top four College Town, N.O. LA bars. Next time you and your frat buddies pile into a car for a road trip, be sure to add these to your list of spots to hit.

Originally posted on

Eternal Flame at Lafitte’s in Exile
15 available @11x17

Café Lafitte in Exile is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States. 

“The story behind the eternal flame, like much of the history of the bar—indeed, New Orleans herself—is shrouded in mystery and mythology. One common story claims the flame is a memorial to the original regular crowd’s (and by extension, future generations of drinking gays) status as ‘exiles… .’ It makes for a nice story. In the early years, the flame also served as a fountain but that function ceased when drunken barflies began using it as a urinal. A later owner of the bar declared the flame was a tribute to arson—arson that enabled him and his lover to buy Café Lafitte’s. The story goes that they set fire to their former business in another state and used the insurance money to buy Lafitte’s.” 

Both Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote used to frequent the bar.  “One evening I saw Truman Capote sitting at the bar talking with someone. I approached him and said, ‘I don’t mean to come on to you but I’ve always admired your work. My I buy you a drink?’ And he responded, ‘Only if you sit and have one with us.’ He was so sweet, not at all bitchy like some have said. He even signed a beverage napkin for me. Another time I saw Tennessee Williams standing by the flame. As I neared him I could see he was very, very drunk but I introduced myself anyway. He gave me a very limp handshake, like a dead fish, and mumbled something incoherently, which kind of grossed me out, and almost fell down in the process.” 

Robert Kinney mentions the bar in his classic 1942 book The Bachelor in New Orleans suggesting, ‘If the bartender is passed out, go behind the bar and mix your own drink!’” - 

Quotes taken from here. From the book “ In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar”

I enjoyed meeting this waitress in New Orleans recently at a bar named Port of Call - A local place on the edge of the French Quarter. A mix of tourists and locals can be found sucking in air-conditioning, $3 ice cold bottles of Abita, and eating one of their giant burgers that comes with a baked potato, instead of fries.

I believe her name was Connie, and she’d been working at Port of Call for over 40 years. Impressive. She was very sweet and let me take this portrait of her.

Im wearing my Rumors shirt and ended up in a New Orleans bar and @margaret_louise and @bychloesue are here in spirit but I’m really needing them here physically 🌙🌙🌙 (at Dozen Street)