It may be housed in one of the French Quarter's most historic properties, but Bourbon Heat is far from old fashioned. Inside its Carriage Way bar, a lighted bar stretches along one wall, big-screen TVs above it broadcasting the evening's sporting events. After, revelers can visit Club Heat where colorful LED lights revolve around the space, illuminating the dance floor as the DJ pulses house music and rhythmic beats.
But, if you're paying attention, you'll notice the crystal chandeliers and exposed-brick walls that hint at the more traditional vibe found outside. There, at the Courtyard Bar & Grill, wrought-iron tables are scattered across a flagstone patio where Bourbon Street's jazz musicians are often overheard. In this allegedly haunted space, servers ferry colorful cocktails from the carved wooden bar and traditional New Orleanian dishes such as jambalaya and po' boys. Inside, guests can kick back and listen to live tunes or watch live sporting events on one of its LED screens.
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.
Owning a bar was not Patrick Sullivan's primary life goal. "Archaeologist" claimed that title, but after three years of kneeling in the dirt digging holes and finding nothing but Martian bones, he decided that wasn't the life for him. When he came to his parents with his idea of opening a bar, he was in for a shock: instead of scolding him for throwing away a good career, his parents approved. His mother even volunteered to be his business partner. A second shock came when three months before Patrick was set to have all the money he needed, his mother was killed in an accident. To honor her wishes, Patrick's father took on her responsibilities to the business, and in 2005, Government Street Grocery opened to the public.
The welcoming vibe beyond the bar's neon-splashed front doors is a fitting tribute to Patrick's mother, as local art lines the walls and live bands regularly fill the space with the danceable rhythms of blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, and rock tunes. As guests take in the entertainment, they can savor a plethora of hearty bar food ranging from 100% Angus burgers to massive muffuletta sandwiches to vegetarian options such as veggie burgers and falafel wraps. And then, of course, there's the beer. An ever-changing lineup of craft brews from Rogue, Abita, New Belgium, and other producers pour into pint glasses, while those of a more spirited persuasion sip cocktails mixed from premium spirits at the full bar.
Sitting cabaret style around the stage, cutting rugs on the dance floor, or singing along at the bar, visitors to Columbia Street Rock N Blues Cafe are as thoroughly entertained as they are well-fed. Live entertainment lights up the venue almost every night, while a menu of sandwiches, salads, and burgers ignites palates with customizable classics. Whether a DJ is spinning records or a rocker is smashing his guitar case full of jelly, a night at Rock N Blues is sure to be memorable.
Situated amid the willows, stone bridges, and mirror-calm waters of Louis Armstrong Park stands the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Named after a history-making gospel singer and civil-rights activist, the three-tiered auditorium was built in 1973 and hosted concerts, comedians, and other entertainment straight through 2005, when it was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, a known enemy of the arts. In 2009, the theater reopened thanks to the dedicated work of Mayor Ray Nagin, the New Orleans City Council, and hundreds of workers and artists.
Every week, New Orleans's longest-running improv comedy troupe, Brown Improv Comedy, crafts one-of-a-kind hilarity based on the suggestions of theatergoers and bar patrons. The group runs with the suggested topic, creating skits and interactive games to tickle guffaws out of the audience. Having just celebrated their 18th year of performing, the team is well versed in turning out the funny and has outgrown the angst-ridden eye rolls of their 16th and 17th years of performing.