Featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Rivershack Tavern's historic 100+ year-old edifice envelops daring pub dishes and cold drinks served within a dart's throw of the Mississippi River. Classically trained chef Mike Baskind executes a robust menu that jump-starts waning taste buds with its snack-a-tizers such as fried green tomatoes ($6.75) and fierce alligator sausage ($6) that isn't afraid to talk back to mouths. Heaping sandwiches have playful monikers to delight diners and to conceal the meaty operatives' real names, such as the pastrami-filled Ben D. Rules sandwich ($9.25). A seven-sandwich-deep po' boy lineup includes crunchy delights such as a fried oyster po' boy ($11.75). The historic, worn-in setting surrounds patrons in classic wood-paneled tavern décor and entertains with its rotating calendar of live music.
Clouds of fog roll through darkened halls, concealing mercenaries tracking their target’s movement. Before their trap can be sprung, the unthinkable happens: their vests begin to vibrate as a giggling child yells, "Got you!"Laser Tag of Baton Rouge's family-friendly laser-tag sessions thrust players aged 7 and older into similar faux combat, peppered with flashing lights and thumping music. Players race through a 7,500-square-foot multilevel arena brandishing Gen 6 laser-tag weapons that dole out precise shots and automated score updates. Special scenarios challenge players to work cooperatively toward a shared goal; for instance, in the Fugitive mission, one or two targets must escape a group intent on their capture.
Between bouts inside the arena, players can test their gaming skills at the center's arcade, which is filled with contemporary and classic machines. Each game is outfitted with the Power Play system, a swipe-card-and-sensor combo that tracks remaining game credits, relieving players from the hassle of endlessly fishing for quarters. The arcade also leads to an observation deck that looks onto the laser-tag arena, giving spectators a giant's-eye view of the combat below.
For more than 25 years, Melius Bar & Cafe has been dishing out comfort fare and boozy beverages in a casual sports-bar atmosphere with 10 flat-screen televisions for taking in local teams. With a straightforward menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items, early birds can munch on traditional cuisine, including the Bucktown special made with two eggs any style, two sausages or three bacon slices, and two slice of texas toast ($3.50), and afternooners can dig into a specialty, such as a burger ($6.25), salad ($2.75+), or fries ($1.75+). Regular happy hours keep parched patrons hydrated with bubbly drinks, and weekly lunch specials remind palates why they choose to go into tasting instead of accounting. With pool tables, shuffleboard, darts, and video poker, bar-room game sharks can hone their sporting skills in a random game play or join a league to show off proper thumb-stretching techniques.
With its imposing, slate-gray façade, the 170-year-old U.S. Custom House may be the last building in which you’d expect to hear the delighted squeals of children. But behind the steely columns, the building erupts into 23,000 square feet of colorful displays and fluttering, scuttling insects, courtesy of the Audubon Society and Insectarium. In the Asian garden, hundreds of butterflies dodge shafts of sunlight to alight on tropical ferns and the shoulders of young visitors. And at the Insects of New Orleans gallery, visitors can ogle the pink katydids, cockroaches, and lovebugs that contribute to the city’s heritage.
These bug-filled displays are all part of the insectarium’s mission to conserve Louisiana’s indigenous species and inspire stewardship in its visitors. While adults can sate their curiosity with the vast array of exotic species, curators gear many displays toward young guests by making them lighthearted and interactive: the Field Camp’s entomologist answers questions about how to collect bugs or break up flea-circus strikes, and at Bug Appétit, chefs dole out insect-filled delicacies to adventurous palates.
Though its name implies a quick chug or hurried meal, most customers tend to linger at Down the Hatch. That’s because the bar and grill offers scads of activities and creative Cajun-inspired bites to keep loungers happy long into the night. Most evenings here start at a dining room table, where alligator po-boys, smoky pulled pork, and Angus beef burgers are some of the menu’s biggest crowd-pleasers. As the food disappears from plates and more drinks get ordered, crowds diverge onto the brick patio or linger around the bar or jukebox. Amid the festive groups, there are even folks getting work done courtesy of the free Wi-Fi and the belief that the best writers are inspired by whiskey.
As chefs simmer authentic New Orleans shrimp étouffée and watch gulf shrimp blacken, chicken and andouille-sausage gumbo bubbles in a pot nearby, filling the kitchen with a spicy aroma. Marigny Brasserie’s menu earned a "good to very good rating" across the board from Zagat, thanks in part to its menu of creole favorites and its wine list. Diners at the bar can peer over at a stained-glass inset of the Marigny Triangle, while those who choose to eat outside can catch a glimpse of Frenchmen Street in person. On some nights, guests can taste spicy shrimp while listening to musicians tune guitars and fill their maracas with fresh bees.