The Best Places to Drink and Dine Outdoors This Weekend
Unlike the hours-long little teaser that dropped us into the 70s a few weeks ago, a bonafied days-long cool front offering evening lows in the 60s and daily highs in the 70s has settled upon our sweaty city. The time has come to turn off the chugging air conditioner, open your doors and windows to welcome the fresh air, and get out and enjoy the atmospheric bliss.
Here are some of my top spots for relaxing with friends outdoors.
Audubon Clubhouse Cafe (Audubon Clubhouse Cafe (6500 Magazine St, 507-1899, audubonnatureinstitute.org) has both a deep wrap-around porch and a ground-level patio set with thickly-cushioned furniture. Both spaces afford glorious views into the verdant park. The experience here is served to background soundtrack of singing birds in the canopy of moss-draped oak trees. There is a lengthy list of wines by the glass at very reasonable prices. Large pours of The Four Graces Pinot Gris, and La Crema Pinot Noir will each set you back less than $10.
Late last summer Chef Eric Cook opened restaurant Gris Gris (1800 Magazine St., 272.0241, grisgrisnola.com) in the triangular-shaped building at Magazine and Felicity. It’s a sweet spot for sure but the real estate came with the rare, tantalizing bonus of outdoor seating on the deep, graceful, climate-controlled second floor balcony. If people watching and a long hang with friends on a beautiful day is your jam then this is your spot. Bonus: Gris-Gris recently started serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Look for specials like Blueberry Bourbon Pain Perdu, Chicken Gizzard Omelet, and Chicken Biscuits and Gravy. Several cocktails are offered by the carafe including mimosas, poinsettias, grapefruit mimosas, Bloody Marys, Bloody Marias and a specialty cocktail carafe rotating weekly.
I was recently drawn to the push, comfortable outdoor space at Copper Vine (1001 Poydras St., 504. 208.9535, coppervinewine.com) where a lush hanging garden and climbing wisteria vines separate the intimate space from the bustle of Poydras Street. Gorgeous both inside and out, Copper Vine was opened last year by hospitality veteran Kyle Brechtel to serve as a neighborhood gathering spot for downtown residents like him. Brechtel chose a graceful building on the National Register of Historic Places that once housed the legendary Maylie’s, then restored the original bar inside to serve as a destination offering 30 aromatic and flavorful wines on tap. Chef Mike Brewer’s menu pairs and shares easily: deviled eggs showered with jumbo lump crabmeat, flatbreads topped with selections of Serrano ham, duck confit, fig and goat cheese, or grilled vegetables, and Crispy Chicken Fricassee with crawfish boil peanuts and boudin rice.
Sipping cocktails on the veranda at The Columns Hotel (3811 St. Charles Ave., 899.9308, thecolumns.com) while observing the rumbling streetcar making its way down the tracks under a canopy of oaks has the power to fulfill everyone’s Moonlight and Magnolias vision of our hometown. The tranquil, languorous beauty of the space will compel you to linger and reconnect with the more graceful aspects of our city. A daily 5 to 7 happy hour and free live local music nightly at 8 p.m. make this a pretty sweet destination.
Have a great weekend, everyone. It is going to be a beauty, use it to celebrate the people and the community you love.