When players don their vests, squeeze the handle of their glowing pistol, and enter Laser Tag of Metairie’s neon-lit arena for the first time, one thing is clear: this place does not take laser tag lightly. Capable of hosting up to 44 players at once, the multi-level, futuristic battlefield sets combatants loose among ramps, tight corners, and shadowy corridors ideal for ambushing adversaries or learning to knit in the dark. Each game lasts seven minutes, and the arena’s officials keep a quick pace, making sure when one battle ends, another will soon begin.
The clatter of skee-ball machines drifts from the center’s arcade, mingling with strings of notes from Guitar Hero and sounds from other games. Each machine is equipped with a swipe-card system that tracks players’ credits electronically so they no longer have to measure their self-worth by how many tokens are in their pockets. In addition, guests can test their steering skills in the Spin Zone, a bumper-car area with one quite literal twist: there are two zones on the track that will send cars into a tailspin if drivers attempt to pass over them or park on them to exchange insurance information.
A warm breeze ruffles the bayou grasses that grow beside the Petite Amite River, pointing pontoons and passersby toward a tropical haven lined with glowing tiki torches. Known as Riverfront Tiki Hut, this getaway teems with the scents of house-made sausages and the sounds of bands from ports near and far. Guests devour slow-smoked pork ribs in an air-conditioned interior filled with long marble bars and exposed rafters, pausing to savor sports highlights on a flat-screen TV. Outside on the deck, bartenders pour shots of rum in an island-style hut as guests drink in views of the dock or line up for rides in the restaurant’s bathysphere. On Friday and Saturday evenings, guests can take part in a crayfish boil or grab a bucket of worms to practice for the bar’s next catfish rodeo.
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.
Phillips Bar & Restaurant features an upscale, elegant party environment made palatable by a menu of savory, house-made appetizers and pizzas. Backed by the tasteful din of eclectic musical beats, customers can begin their night by decorating fresh bread sticks with roasted-garlic hummus ($7) or coating tortilla chips in a creamy spinach and artichoke dip ($7). Then, before the kitchen clock strikes 9 (or 10 on weekends) and turns everyone's glass slippers into pumpkins, score a 16-inch pizza ($12) with a choice of pesto, alfredo, vodka, or marinara sauce and a dream team of toppings ($0.50 each). Pepperoni pizza slices ($2) are available until the kitchen runs out of slice shapes. Clients interested in honing their drinking skills may opt for Phillips’s mixer- and glassware-inclusive bottle service, contenting themselves until closing time with a Mandolin reisling ($26), a Piper Sonoma Champagne ($35), or 375 milliliters of Maker's Mark ($40), served without superfluous mariners rambling on about dead seagulls.
Bruno's Tavern occupies three corners of Maple and Hillary, just as it did when it opened in 1934. But thanks to a four-year-long rebuilding project, the pub's collection of Tulane and Saints memorabilia hangs on new walls alongside plasma TVs. While watching games, patrons can sip 20 types of draft beer and tuck into debris po’ boys, Crystal hot sauce burgers, and Boudreaux sweet-potato fries with blue cheese, pecans, and golden raisins.
Operating out of New Orleans’s Arts and Warehouse District, Creole Pubcrawl orchestrates 2.5-hour jaunts that let guests mingle with fellow pub-crawlers and experience new restaurants and bars. Each excursion features three or four stops at local eateries, breweries, and pubs that welcome guests with a complimentary craft brew or specialty cocktail. The outings can be ideal for friends and coworkers or provide sightseers with a better way to get to know the city than sifting through its mail.