Back when European powers loved nothing better than playing hot potato with ownership of the faraway Louisiana colony, a group of Frenchmen in Nouvelle Orleans led an uprising against Spanish rule, which won them two things: 1) execution and 2) enduring local fame. And since the only thing New Orleanians love better than celebrating their history is just plain celebrating, it's fitting that today locals' favorite place to have a good time is the street honoring these men: Frenchmen Street.
Ready to see--or hear--the real New Orleans? Skip Bourbon and skip on down to Frenchmen for the highest concentration of New Orleans' best live music. Don't let the lack of neon lights fool you; behind those plain wooden signs and dark windows dotting the 500 and 600 blocks of Frenchman, you'll find some of New Orleans' most storied music venues alongside dashing up-and-comers.
Places you can't go wrong:
The Grand Dames: Blue Nile, Spotted Cat, Apple Barrel
Intimate, iconic and individual, these clubs have hosted the authentic sounds of the streets for as long as anyone can remember. And they look it--so don't look at the buildings; listen to the sounds.
The Famous and Famous-er: d.b.a.
Rub shoulders with New Orleans' biggest names in music in a club as comfortable as your living room while enjoying Frenchmen's best beer selection. Rising stars play with established names at this longtime musicians' favorite. Catch folks like John Boutté (of HBO's "Treme" fame), Walter Wolfman Washington and Glen David Andrews for a mere $5 to $10.
The Delightful Debutante: Three Muses
Is it the swinging sounds of the Pfister Sisters that have crowds packing Three Muses? The artisanal cocktails? The chic yet affordable small plates? Any way you swing it, Three Muses is the newest darling of Frenchmen, and its funky, friendly vibe feels right at home.
BONUS Tip: Forget the clubs. You can--and locals do--spend your entire Frenchmen visit in the street itself. Any given night you'll find poem-writing hipsters, Hula-Hoop troops, traveling brass bands and Uncle Lionel Batiste making his rounds. Your final tip? Sound like a real New Orleanian by ordering tachos, a tater tots-meets-nachos combo, from 13 when late-night munchies hit.