When someone says, “New Orleans,” what pops into your head? Music, right? Mardi Gras for sure. Oh, and gumbo—don’t forget the gumbo. But besides Creole stew and partying, New Orleans is world famous for its jazz and blues, and no one should visit this lively city without taking in at least one show at a local bar.
If you don’t feel up to dealing with the inevitable crush of tourists on Bourbon Street, opt to hang out with the locals instead. Drive over to Frenchmen Street, where you don’t have to be male or French to listen to some of the best tunes in New Orleans. We checked out “The Big Easy’s” music venues looking for the best vibes, atmosphere, frequency of live shows, and came up with what we think are the six best places along Frenchman Street for live music.
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro at 626 Frenchmen Street
Get your jazz journey started with a visit to a longtime resident of Frenchmen Street: Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. This hot spot has been around for decades, but the building it’s located in is even older—the storefront dates back to the 1800s. Stop in for the famous Snug Harbor Gumbo and stick around for a glass of wine and some great jazz in the venue’s intimate music room.
Spotted Cat Music Club at 623 Frenchmen Street
We can’t mention Frenchmen Street music and not direct you to the Spotted Cat. “The Cat,” located across the street from “The Harbor,” has been a community mainstay for years, and it’s frequented by locals and tourists alike. No matter what day you visit, you’ll see up to three live bands. The place doesn’t serve food—drinks only, guys!—but it’s near a ton of restaurants, so make sure you get your grub on before hanging out with this kitty.
Apple Barrel at 609 Frenchmen Street
Sshh. This place isn’t exactly a secret, but it’s also not high on the lists of most visitors. This hole-in-the-wall gem is right next door to The Cat, just underneath Adolfo’s, a popular seafood restaurant. A good number of Apple Barrel patrons hang out here until they can sample the delicious food upstairs, but this little nook is quite popular on its own. It’s a small venue: a stage, a bar, and a few places to sit. In other words, it’s the perfect place to make some new friends while listening to an acoustic set.
Three Muses at 536 Frenchmen Street
If you’re planning on amusing yourself at Three Muses, stop reading right now and give them a call: You need a reservation for this place, which is about a minute south of Apple Barrel. It’s well worth the time you’ll spend on the phone, as Three Muses offers several vegan and gluten-free options to go with its Two Run Farms Lamb Sliders and Steak & Cake. Food is served tapas-style, so don’t expect an overflowing feast on each plate; instead, order several dishes, kick back, and enjoy some of the best live music in New Orleans.
Bamboula’s at 514 Frenchmen Street
One of the newer entrants to the Frenchmen District of New Orleans is Bamboula’s, located south of the Three Muses. It resides in what was once an old print shop, and even if you’re not a fan of jazz (but you’re in New Orleans, my friend—give it a try!), you’ll have plenty to look at, from the beautiful tin-pressed ceilings to the eclectic décor. If you’re hungry, try a spicy meat pie while watching a show at the Frenchmen Theater, located on the first floor.
Maison at 508 Frenchmen Street
Still not done with your Frenchmen Street musical pub crawl? We’ve got one more place you’ve got to pay a visit to. Wander a little farther south to Maison, where you can snack to your heart’s content while listening to outstanding live jazz. The restaurant area is directly in front of the main stage, so the music is as it’s meant to be—right in your face, sweat droplets and all. Try the crawfish bites or alligator bites paired with a refreshing cocktail for a real taste of Louisiana.
No matter how long you’re in town, no trip to is complete without some live tunes. Stop by one of these venues and kick up your feet for a while—or let us know in the comments where you’ve been instead!
Header image via Flickr/Gene Jackson
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