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.
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.
In 1977, Professor Longhair didn't have long to live. As a human bridge connecting early 20th century blues, traditional Big Easy jazz, and Cuban funk, the now legendary musician changed the soundtrack to the city, paving the way for acts such as Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. Perhaps most notably, he penned the ubiquitous carnival anthem "Mardi Gras in New Orleans." But when it looked like his time was up, the NOLA community wasn't going to let him fade away. A group of fans, dubbed "The Fabulous Fo'teen," sought out a spot for the "Fess" to play at until his dying day. And that's exactly what he did at Tipitina's. They even named the place after one of his songs.
Proof that a former gambling parlor and cathouse can change its ways, Tipitina's century-old building has earned a reputation as one of New Orleans's finest music venues. Within its hallowed walls, many famous Crescent City acts have launched to stardom, from funk collectives such as The Neville Brothers and The Meters to rockers like Better than Ezra and the Radiators. All of these names grace the outdoor Walk of Fame, and the club also attracts national artists such as Wilco and Nine Inch Nails. However, the venue's immersion in the musical community goes beyond just shows—it also hosts music lessons for kids, weekly Cajun dance parties, and a retirement home for senior citizen horns. But as much as Tipitina's has expanded over time, it pays respect to the Longhair of its namesake every year with the appropriately punned "Fess Jazztival."