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.
The bartenders at Tracey's Original Irish Channel Bar pour draft beers and drinks for patrons munching on local pub grub and po boys amid exposed-brick walls spangled with vintage signs and pennants. Several television sets broadcast sports games and the thoughts of nearby patrons, as bar-goers drench glasses and pitchers in Blue Moon ($4.50/pint, $14/pitcher), Guinness ($5 for a pint), Abita Amber, and Smithwicks. After partaking of the full bar and games of billiards, visitors refuel with 8-inch po boys filled with roast beef ($9), catfish ($9.50) and pan-seared fleur-de-lis. Snap jaws around a snack, or kick off a meal, by rolling fried boudin balls down gullets ($5) or tucking into a heap of gravy cheese fries ($5).
It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon on the outdoor patio at Poppy's Time Out Sports Bar & Grill sipping on strawberry daiquiris, marveling at the vast Mississippi River, and watching sightseers as they make their way across the Spanish Plaza. Servers dart about and replace empty glasses with frozen daiquiris, potent hurricanes, and 17 varieties of local and international beers. Others duck into the kitchen to reemerge with plates of fiery wings, juicy specialty burgers, and crispy-seafood po' boys. Twenty-nine television sets hang from both the exterior and interior walls of the lively pub where they showcase thrilling sports games and inspiring commercials in which inquisitive dolphins learn about the importance of car insurance.
The District dovetails classic New Orleans cuisine with modern entertainment in its dining room, stacked with on-screen entertainment and rustic wood furnishings. Exposed-brick walls harbor the aromas of freshly piled poboy sandwiches and plates of jambalaya with red rice and beans. Behind the wraparound bar and its small skyline of spirited beverages, bartenders augment the creole-tinged eats with wine, bottled beer, and 11 draft beers. A massive 82-inch TV flickers amid seven smaller 55-inch flat-screen TVs, chattering sports stats in unison like Snow White and her dwarfs explaining basketball to Dopey. In addition to televised entertainment, The District's quiz show, aptly named Jeoparty!, lavishes winners with prizes every Tuesday night.
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.
The Cajun kitchen at Dry Dock Café unleashes an extensive menu of authentic New Orleans cuisine, including po boys, crawfish, and oyster entrees. A free, nearby ferry from the French Quarter transports hollow legs to a location within steps of a plate of grilled alligator and pork sausage paired with honey-mustard dressing ($7.25). Crispy crawfish tails doused in a creamy parmesan sauce enlist in a pasta tug-of-war in the crawfish maureeenica plate ($12.95), and brazen red beans transform a mound of fluffy rice into New Orleans’ classic piquant dish ($6.95). Hungry fingers choose from eight po boy sandwiches, including three varieties of sea candy: oysters ($10.95), shrimp ($9.95), or catfish ($8.95)—each brushed with mayonnaise and guarded with Cajun potato spears.