It smells like smoke inside Burn of Covington — in the best way possible. The half-cigar shop, half-smoking lounge invites visitors to kick back, watch some TV, and enjoy a cigar plucked from some 350 different labels. To keep such a robust selection on-hand, and to avoid having to grow its cigars at an off-site farm, Burn of Covington features a 300-square foot walk-in humidor stocked with all of its products. Visitors can browse brands such as Alec Bradley, Padron, Ashton, and more.
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.
Claiming a wealth of celebrities among their past clientele, The World Famous Cats Meow gives songbirds and wannabe rock stars a chance to work their vocal cords and stocks a full bar with a varied roster of liquid courage. The Bourbon Street bar plunks casual crooners into the center of attention by placing them on a glossy wooden stage, separating them from the throngs of new fans and Ed Sullivan booking agents with a low yellow barricade. Vocalists pull songs from a chart-topping list that reaches back to the 1950s before bypassing lines and leaping right on stage with their Head of the Line pass. Between tune-bending sessions, sing-along stars can rehydrate parched throats by knocking back one of 15 Jello shots or one of seven drinks from the well-stocked bar, such as a bubbly Abita beer, a premium cocktail, or a fruity 32-ounce hurricane. An included DVD of the event lets singers watch, critique, and improve their performances in much the same way boxers watch match tapes to hone their jabs or the Kool-Aid Man watches his own commercials to master his wall-smashing skills.
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.
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.
To learn a new style, take in a performance, apply to a festival, or learn how to pitch one's work, a comic need only spend some time at La Nuit Comedy Theater. La Nuit not only houses a ComedySportz training center and troupe, but runs its own, unaffiliated conservatory, whose curriculum includes improv and writing. The laughter hub's blog tracks the shows that cycle past the stage's chalkboard wall, along with the workshops, open mic nights, and festivals that help launch NOLA comics toward their goals. Two full-service bars and private comedy shows help make events–from birthdays to bachelor parties to Flat Earth Society meetings–more memorable.
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.