The most intense five day stretch of the year in New Orleans is upon us. If you are looking for a place to set up camp or just need a bit of respite from the streets, I have suggestions.

Following a comprehensive renovation and restoration by hotelier Jayson Seidman that managed to retain a wisp of the vague air of funkiness that endears it to locals, Columns Hotel is once again the primo spot for watching parades without getting into the thick of the bead-grasping masses (of which I am a member).

The Restored Mahogany Staircase At Columns
Photo provided by the Columns

The property was originally designed by celebrated New Orleans architect Thomas Sully and is one of the only remaining examples of a large group of Italianate houses he devised. Originally built in 1883 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, under Seidman’s careful renovation many of the building’s original architectural details were preserved and restored—including the dramatic mahogany stairwell that rises to meet a domed stained-glass skylight with an elaborate sunburst motif.  New features were also integrated including the expanded garden, second floor event and dining spaces, a guest lounge, a roof-deck and a new bar and restaurant with a menu created by Chef Mike Stolzfus of Coquette and executed by Executive Chef Paul Terrebonne. The Columns Burger is a sure bet with bacon marmalade, arugula, and provolone, are the Roasted Oysters with Parmesan, lemon and Swiss chard and the Hanger Steak with caramelized onions and a classic Bordelaise sauce. The kitchen is open from 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

The Revamped Bar At Columns Montagard 61 1536x1024
Photo provided by the Columns

Through Mardi Gras a limited number of wristbands are available for unlimited access to the property for $25 per day. Reserved tables for six or eight are also available for a price, otherwise seating is available first come, first served. The full menu will be available from the kitchen. All details and dates for day passes can be found on Resy, here.

Sipping on the veranda 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.

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Bayou Bar | Photo by Sam Hanna

Also on The Avenue and located on the ground floor of the Pontchartrain Hotel, the Bayou Bar offers soothing respite from the crowds outside. The intimate, tavern-style bar opens early for day parades and offers fun canned cocktails, champagne splits, and daily specialty cocktails. Revelers can enjoy a rotating menu of classics like red beans with pork belly, jambalaya with duck wings, and shrimp etouffee Bayou Bar will open Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. -midnight and 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Mardi Gras Day and the Silver Whistle Café will open from 7a.m. – 11 a.m. to accommodate those seeking coffee of breakfast for Zulu.

Tujagues Mardi Gras Smash Photo Credit Sam Hanna
Tujague’s Mardi Gras Smash Photo Credit Sam Hanna

If you are seeking shelter in the French Quarter Tujague’s is running multiple satellite bars with festive libations. The featured cocktails are Hurricanes, Gin Palomas, Strawberry Margaritas, Cucumber Mint Moscow Mules, and the Mardi Gras Smash made with bourbon, blackberry syrup, blackberry liquor, and lemon juice. Select beers will be available for $5 including Gnarly Barley Jucifer, Port Orleans Bacchus Blonde Ale, Paradise Park and Michelob Ultra. The satellite bars will be open tomorrow through Mardi Gras 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.


Happy Mardi Gras, everyone. Stay safe.