5 Happy Hours Nola Newbies Should Try

When you move to a new state, one of the hardest things is finding new friends. When I moved from Massachusetts to Missouri in the middle of fifth grade, my teacher set me up with a buddy in the classroom to show me where the bathroom was and how to get to the art room. She was also supposed to be my automatic friend since I was brand new. It turned out great because she introduced me to new friends in our fifth grade class, including my friend Anna, who will be in my wedding this June.

In the real world, it's not that easy. There are no elementary school teachers setting you up with potential pals, so you have to go find your own friends. In New Orleans, a good way to get to know new people is inviting them to happy hour. For instance, I'm friends with Carlie Kollath Wells, the girl behind NewInNola.com, another blog for New Orleans newcomers. A few months ago, Carlie sent me a message via Twitter saying we should get together and talk about being new in the city. We met for happy hour at The Velvet Cactus and found we had a lot in common. Now we still hang out or email each other when we hear of a cool event.

In the last year, I've been trying out different happy hours around the city, so I wanted to share my favorites with you. I am definitely not a cocktail or restaurant expert (you should go to our Happy Hour blog or Haute Plates blog for the expertise on that), but I am good at looking for bargains, especially a bargain that involves booze and good company.

So here are my favorite places for happy hour right now:

Salú’s happy hour special has two of my favorite things: pizza and sangria. The pizza is actually called “flatbread” and it’s only $8 at happy hour. Mussels are also $8 and you can add fries for $2. A glass of sangria is only $3 or you can share a pitcher with your new buddy for $10. The only downside is happy hour at Salú lasts from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., so if you work until 5:30 p.m. like me, you have to hustle to Magazine Street to make it in time. Salú is located at 3226 Magazine St.

Sainte Marie
This place has been getting a lot of buzz lately, but my favorite thing about Sainte Marie is happy hour lasts until 7 p.m. which gives you plenty of time to drive downtown, park and sit down. Happy hour starts at 4 p.m. and features wine and beer specials. They throw in cocktail specials sometimes, too. Sainte Marie is located at 930 Poydras St.

The Velvet Cactus
If you don’t feel like driving/parking downtown, I suggest The Velvet Cactus on Harrison Avenue. I love this place for the ambience and the patio. Happy hour lasts from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 2:30 until 6:30 p.m. on Friday. They have great beer and margarita specials, and some of the margarita specials last all day. (You can find the daily specials here.) The Velvet Cactus is on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Argonne Boulevard (the official address is 6300 Argonne Blvd.).

The Bulldog Mid-City
If Mid-City is your hood, I suggest The Bulldog Mid-City. It's another spot with a great patio. Happy hour lasts from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. and there are lots of specials including $1 off pitchers and half-priced wines. (Although, you should definitely get beer at The Bulldog because they have a great selection.) Dogs are allowed on the patio so feel free to bring your furry friend. The Bulldog is located at 5135 Canal St. There's another location Uptown, but I haven't been to that one yet.

The Rum House
The Rum House is my "lagniappe" selection because I haven't been to this place yet, but I've heard great things. I tried to go there once but there was a 90-minute wait, which defeated the purpose of going there for happy hour. But any restaurant with a line out the door has to be good so I'm going to try to go again and hope for a shorter wait. You can find The Rum House at 3128 Magazine St.

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