For a relatively short stretch of road, the blocks from Napoleon Avenue to Lee Circle are teeming with bars and restaurants perfectly suited for Mardi Gras revelers. These hangouts run the gamut from classic, such as Cannon’s and Emeril’s Delmonico, to casual, leaving revelers with choices as eclectic as the festival itself. Grab an umbrella or handkerchief, it’s time second-line down St. Charles Avenue! Note: All addresses are located on St. Charles Avenue.
Napoleon to Louisiana
We begin our adventurous jaunt where the parades first touch St. Charles Avenue on Napoleon Avenue. Here, one of the city’s most popular Uptown Mardi Gras hangouts sits almost on the corner next to the now-closed Copeland’s restaurant.
Fat Harry’s (4330) bursts during Carnival with tourists and locals alike. If you’re playing hooky, tread carefully – this bar is where you’ll find Nola.com’s live-streaming Mardi Gras camera.
Like many of the Mardi Gras hangouts along the parade route, Fat Harry’s doesn’t keep set hours during Carnival. “[We] stay open until everybody goes home for the next parade,” owner Carl Huling says.
Fat Harry’s is a good place to stop for a quick refuel between floats. They sell munchies such as burgers, sandwiches and red beans and rice.
Shuffling down the road, we come to another neighborhood classic, Cannon’s restaurant (4141). At Cannon’s patrons can experience a variety of menu options, including burgers and New Orleans’ classics such as gumbo and redfish. Try for a seat by the window, Cannon’s also has a lovely view of the parade route.
Just down the road we find another classy establishment, the Column’s Hotel (3811). The front porch is a dynamite place to watch the parades. It is first come, first serve (except Mardi Gras day), so show up early for a good seat.
If the Columns is more upscale than you’re looking for, there’s always a party at Superior Bar and Grill (3636). This southwest-style restaurant limits its menu to keep up with large crowds during Carnival but you can still enjoy some tasty vittles.
Our last stop on this leg of the tour is The Delachaise (3442), a small but snazzy bar that serves fantastic food by New Orleans Magazine’s 2007 Best New Chef Chris DeBarr. Though space is very limited, it’s a good hideout for a Mardi Gras hipster.
Louisiana to Jackson
Take time along this stretch to enjoy the beautiful local architecture and bead-tinseled trees, as there really aren’t too many businesses on this leg of the trip. There is one neighborhood favorite, The Grocery (2854).
During Carnival, the store operates curbside-ordering windows that speedily serve patrons snacks such as hamburgers, muffulettas, and hot sausage and Cuban sandwiches. The Grocery also sells the ever-popular big, big beers and Irish coffees for those cold evenings.
Don’t forget to check out the parade platform on the other side of Washington Avenue – it’s a private thing but the people that build the structure are nice guys. When the parades aren’t going by they play music and offer food to the local police. This may also be a good place to find an ever-elusive port-o-potty.
Just as a note on that subject, proper potty spots are a key to Mardi Gras enjoyment. Make friends with a family that has a port-o-potty, or you may end up making some new friends at NOPD.
Jackson to Lee Circle
Further down the avenue, bars and businesses begin to pack the streets. On the corner of Jackson and St. Charles avenues, you’ll see William’s Supermarket (2139), a great place to get fixin’s for mix-it-yourself mimosas. They sell basic convenience store wares, including orange juice and splits of champagne.
Right next door you’ll find Igor’s Lounge (2133). This Mardi Gras hotspot is most known for its Bloody Marys. Since this bar doesn’t close, it’s popular with early birds and late-late-night owls alike. Igor’s also has a laundry facility, so if you don’t want to go home between Orpheus and Rex, get naked and send your duds through the spin cycle – it’s Mardi Gras, people might not notice. Igor’s partner business, Buster’s Soul Food (2135), serves tasty eats such as pork chops, jambalaya, poor boys, alligator sausage and ribs.
Down the block you’ll find The Avenue Pub (1732). Home of the muy delicioso mini-taco, this parade hangout serves great bar food and stays open 24 hours a day during Mardi Gras.
The Avenue Pub has a balcony for patrons to enjoy (when it’s not booked for a private party) and a row of windows facing the street that are opened for parades. “A lot of krewes that pass by try to throw beads right through the windows,” bartender Claudia Gehrke says.
Lucky’s Bar and Grill (1625) has a similar vibe but has a front porch with tables and chairs, and they make their own Bloody Mary mix. The bar and kitchen will have a limited menu for Mardi Gras, though they’ll be open 24-7.
The West Indies Café (1600) serves Latin-Caribbean cuisine, including seafood, steak, cazuela (island boullabaise) and meat pies with dough made with yucca in place of flour. Owner (and the artist behind the restaurant’s décor) Hernan Caro says he should have a full bar up and running by Mardi Gras.
The next restaurant on our tour is Slice Pizzeria (1513). Slice sells pizza whole and by the slice, salads (half or whole size), calzones, poor boys and an array of appetizers. The prices are reasonable, too – a slice of cheese pizza is $2.15, (add $.55 per topping) and a slice of a specialty pizza is only $3.25, General Manager Ian Moberly says. Slice does have a bar, and as an added bonus, Slice carries Italian ice and gelato from Brocato’s!
Adding to the list of 24-hour oases we have the St. Charles Tavern (1433). This hangout is unique because it offers breakfast, lunch and dinner 24 hours a day (nothing says Mardi Gras like chicken and andouille hash at 4 a.m.)!
The last restaurant/parade watching spot on this leg of the stroll sits just before the craziness of Lee Circle. Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico (1300) is amongst New Orleans’ finest restaurants.
Though the restaurant will be closed Feb. 4 and 5, Delmonico will be having “Bacchus on the Avenue” on Sunday, Feb. 3. For $75 per person, guests can enjoy an open buffet from 4 p.m. until the end of the parade, with each diner receiving a wristband so they can enter and exit the restaurant as they please.
Leaving the quiet elegance of Delmonico’s, our second-line stroll takes us into the Carnival chaos of Lee Circle. Vendors abound in this area, selling everything from cotton candy to beer.
Just a few businesses reside along this route, the first of which is the Circle Bar (1032). It’s a neat little place but its small size promises a packed house during parades (for this reason, you’re likely to have to pay a $5-$10 cover).
There are many more places of interest on the route ahead but I leave you happy revelers here at Lee Circle. Truly hearty souls, trek on, Canal Street, the French Quarter, and all the craziness you can handle, lie ahead.