The rambunctious city of New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures, flavors and possibly regrettable decisions if you order one too many Hurricanes. The famous Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter attracts crowds looking to play a part in the city’s boisterous story, but one can only handle so many Hand Grenades. Catty-corner to Bourbon Street lies another vibrant “rue” with the same boozy spectacle, but with a little more sophistication and soul mixed in.
That “rue” is Frenchmen Street, and it offers an authentic look to the artistic, music and culinary scene that shines so vibrantly in New Orleans. The main street of the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood is close-knit enough that a simple wander up and down the street will easily lead to an interesting venue, but for a more set agenda, be sure to hit these three stops.
The Frenchmen Street Art Market
Frenchmen Street is as much an artistic haven as it is a nightlife scene, and the Frenchmen Street Art Market appeals to both crowds. The market starts at 7 p.m. during weekends and ends at 1 a.m., allowing for an easy transition between bar hopping and souvenir shopping. Underneath a curtain of string lights and enclosed by colorfully bizarre murals sit tightly packed vendor tables covered in artistic items. The fare ranges from intricately beaded jewelry to graphic prints and handpainted canvases. Even if you don’t leave with a souvenir, the artistic ambiance is a pleasant side-stop on the way to the next bar or music club.
Local Live Music
Although the music of Bourbon Street plays loudly, the music of Frenchmen rings clearer thanks to its continual patronage of local musicians. Depending on which Frenchmen Street club you hop into, the sound could be calming music you can casually sip an Abita beer to, or a swinging brass band you can get up and dance to. There are over 30 clubs on the street to experience, with the Spotted Cat being one of the most popular. For a more intimate experience, seek out the Apple Barrel, a small hole-in-the-wall joint where the menu serves up apple-themed drinks, the tables are old apple barrels and the music area is closer to you than the bartender is.
Tachos at 13
After a night of drinking and dancing, a large plate of something fried usually sounds pretty good, no discerning palate needed. But if you want your late night bar food to have a touch of innovation, stop into 13, where the topping varieties of nachos are combined with the warm, starchy magic of tater tots—Tater Tachos. Beginners can start with the simple “Cheese Tots” or you can venture out into spicier territory with the “Srirachos,” which are covered in chicken, cheddar cheese, jalapenos, cilantro and Sriracha ranch dressing. The “Debris” tachos take it to the next level, combining roast beef and gravy, mozzarella, Swiss cheese and homemade bread and butter pickles on top of little fried potatoes. No matter how late you stay out partying, 13 stays open until 4 a.m., giving you plenty of time to work up an appetite for this mouthwatering invention.