An Ode to Nola's Late Night Bars

16:00 April 10, 2015

The festivals are looming which always makes me want to party. Sure, it may be rumored in other parts of the country that nothing good happens after 2 a.m., but this is New Orleans. It doesn't matter what time it is. Just remember when deciding where to tie one on that there are people in Alabama who endure last call at 1:30. Some spirited partygoers won't even be able to find a bar open on Christmas at all. It is our duty as New Orleanians, to exercise our late night privileges with experience, gratitude and privy. For those of you whose late night knowledge has been clouded by one too many hard ciders, allow me to review a few of the legendary places NOLA has to offer.

Mimi's in the Marigny, 3 p.m. - 4-5 a.m.: The nice thing about Mimi's is it can be the perfect first or last stop when you're down to get three sheets. If you don't live in Marigny or the Bywater you may find the swarms of hipsters, vegan tapas options and eclectic artwork intimidating ... but you shouldn't! A little beard is nothing to be afraid of. There are many events to partake in like Paint Nite every Tuesday at 7 p.m. The kitchen which serves up gourmet food (vegetarian and carnivorous) is open until 2 am on the weekdays and 4 a.m. on the weekends. Try the Goat Cheese Croquettas, Patatas Bravas, or Coffee Kahlua Glazed Salmon to satisfy your drunchies. Way better than Wendys.

Kajun's, 24 hours: Next stop on our late night tour is just right around the corner at Kajun's for some good old fashioned karaoke. With an anything goes atmosphere and liquored up characters belting classics like "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Sweet Caroline," Kajun's brings neighborhood karaoke to a new level. They have over 50k songs to choose from plus you can search and sign up from your phone. The jukebox is also accessible from a smart phone which helps keep the right jams going all night. Not drunk enough to sing? A $1 Everclear jello shot could do the trick. Also, don't forget SIN (service industry night) is every Monday with 2-4-1 drinking specials on wells, Highlife and Jaeger.

Hi-Ho Lounge, 6 p.m. - 3 a.m.: Hi-Ho Lounge is this spot bustin' out live alternative and underground jams nightly, but DJ Soul Sister has relocated her Saturday night HUSTLE (no cover) which remains the talk of the town. Spinning only the funkiest, bounce-a-delic beats, Saturday night movers and shakers can get down, get down, get down just like KC and the Sunshine Band intended. And just in case you left your dancing shoes at home, Hi-Ho Lounge also features an open-mic comedy hour Sundays and Songwriter Showdown on Tuesdays. The cherry on top of Hi-Ho is that they churn out some delicious tacos like Chili-Lime Chicken, Veggie and Chorizo all with queso fresco. 

Buffas, 24 hours: Your night on Frenchman is winding down. Actually, it's not really winding down at all but it seems like days since you were scarffing empanadas at Mimi's and wondering how that hipster squeezed into his pants. You've really worked up an appetite singing "All I want For Christmas is You," dancing and being generally belligerent. Where to next? It has to be Buffa's. Known for their stellar late night bar food, Buffa's has free music in their back room (also non-smoking), and an extensive menu that is available all night long. Stop in and rejuvenate with some late night breakfast, chat it up with some out-of-towners and peep their events calendar which has included Monday night football, comedy, HBO show screenings and open-mic.

Backspace Bar and Kitchen, 24 hours: Knowing that some of the world's best writers and artists were alcoholics always helps rationalize "one more drink." Backspace Bar and Kitchen has taken this theme one step further. Their mid-20th century literary themed bar features drinks like Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon (champagne and absinth) and Faulkner's own Mint Julep recipe. If sophistication is your game, Backspace might be your spot. 

Avenue Pub, 24 hours: Late night doesn't always have to mean a sweaty smoky dive that only manifests itself in your nightmares. The proof? Avenue pub. Where late night meets gourmet, Avenue Pub knows their stuff, especially beer wise. The self proclaimed leaders in New Orleans craft beer, Avenue Pub carries 46+ draft selections including rare drafts that you won't be able to find anywhere else. Plus, for those of you who have some knowledge of your own, all of the Avenue Pub servers are Cicerone Certified which means they take drinking and serving brew seriously. While the pub does stress that it is a bar not a restaurant, their kitchen stays open from 11 a.m. - 4 a.m. on the weekends serving bar food that even foodies can appreciate like the Foie Gras Burger featuring local ingredients or To Die For Fries with bechamel sauce, roasted pork, and grilled onions. If you can swing it, try one of their specialty ales when you are still sober enough to remember it.

The Metropolitan, 10 p.m. - 4 a.m.: Okay, so late night isn't always associated with sophistication. But if you're straight up classy that doesn't mean you have nowhere to go. Every Saturday night (only) The Metro's exclusive warehouse turns into a Vegas style affair with valet parking, covered walkways,, DJs, a coat check and, obviously, bottle service. Nice.

F&M's Patio Bar, 7 p.m. - 5:30 a.m.: You've had 5 - 7 Blueberry Mojitos at St. Joes, somehow made it to catch The Soul Rebels at Le Bon Temps and just when you thought it was time to turn in, someone (there is always someone) suggests F&M's. Someone else says "cheese fries," another person says "I just want to dance," and the rest is a blur. You black back in on a pool table as J-Kwon's "Tipsy"starts blaring and a guy wearing a suspiciously deep v-neck asks if you want to go to his place to watch a movie (ahem, not that I have any memories like this). The best nights of my life aside, if you ask anyone, F&M's is the only of its kind Uptown. This debaucherous late night spot has been open since 1905 and became a "dance hall" in the 1930s. True to its origins, it is still the only place to cut a rug a-top a pool table on this side of Napoleon Avenue.

The Saint, 8 p.m. - 6 a.m.: Did somebody say dance party? Often the center piece of barhopping aficionados and cool kids, this Lower Garden District hot spot starts heating up right around the time you're liquored up enough to twerk-it. Something about The Saint makes it okay to pop-lock-and-drop, swap sweat with your neighbor and order drinks like the "Fruity Penis." But alas, cutting a rug isn't for everyone. Take your fruity penis to the patio or the photobooth to switch it up. Or attempt to take the madness down a level and try Tikioke Tuesday (free karaoke), Fine Diving Thursday (cheap cocktails) and Free Jukebox Sunday.

Brothers III Lounge, 24 hours: Where can you go when you want a $3 rocks beverage with a $2 Highlife back to sip in-between games of video poker and stoically scorning the fall of humanity? A yellow-brick box of no nonsense boozing: Brothers III Lounge. This is where the Marlboro man drinks. Stop in and take a deep refreshing breath of stale air amidst the jaunty bustle of Magazine Street. The low ceilings and bright fluorescents of Brothers are a comfort to any late night lover looking for a more subdued option. 

Ms. Mae's, 24 hours: Ah yes, Ms. Mae's. Nestled between the crucial eateries Dat Dog and New York Pizza, this 24 hour haven is the place to be if you're ballin' on a budget. With $2 well drinks and $3 doubles, hit up Ms. Mae's when it's your turn to buy a round, but be warned, they don't take cards so you might need to dump your piggy bank first. You honestly won't need much, especially since they also offer a variety of late night drink specials like $1 Rolling Rocks and $2 Fireball shots from 1 am til' dawn. Monday night is TWAT (Tanks Wild Air hockey Tournament: Prizes, shots, spankings, humiliation and a whole lot of trash talking!) followed by $1 PBRs and $2 Jaeger shots. Tuesday night means a shot of tequila and a Corona for $4 (until 5 p.m.) and sometimes on Sunday people go shirtless. If getting hammered for next to nothing doesn't wet your whistle, Ms. Maes also has a jukebox, pool table, and foosball. But the piece de resistance is The Club Ms. Mae's Wall of Shame. A curation of undignified showmanship, the Wall of Shame features photos of recent debauchery. 

Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge, 7 p.m. - 8 a.m.: There's nothing I can say about Snake and Jakes that you don't already know. To me, Snakes isn't just a dive bar, it's "the" dive bar. This notorious basement-esque shack in the heart of Uptown is the crown jewel of NOLA late night and if you don't believe me just ask Anthony Bourdain or the Rolling Stones. Open until 8 a.m., Snake's is a dimly lit piece of paradise radiating nostalgia and questionable choices perfect for the holidays. Year round, it's a place where the Christmas lights never come down, the Highlife ($2.50) is always flowin, and the street car is just a stumble away. It doesn't really matter who you ask when your dance moves start to resemble Miley Cyrus's VMA performance, and you can't stop chain smoking cigarettes, it's time to go to Snakes. Sure you might see the occasional naked person, and someone did get shot there once, but that's all part of the charm. Although especially recognized for the late night camaraderie of industry workers, musicians, students, and transients, Snake's also fires up the tube for Saints games, hosts pop-ups, slangs happy hour drinks from 7-11, plays movies and just kicks ass in general. If you don't remember it, it probably happened at Snake and Jake's. Long live the Christmas Club Lounge and R.I.P Jake the kitty.

And there you have it. From the Marigny to East Carrolton, NOLA's never sorry for partying. Tis' the season after all.

Photo by Lisa Cates

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