New green growth and resurgent flowers are bursting everywhere. The ranks of live oaks around town are so vivid as they glitter in the sun they look decorated. The winter days of letting our faucets drip, draping our outdoor plants and toasting our frozen fingers over space heaters feel far away, yet the oppressive stickiness of summer is still a ways off. In short, the weather is perfect.
This is how things must have felt in Eden before the Fall, or maybe in San Diego any old day. In any event, I’d say it calls for a drink, preferably one outside. What follows are a few suggestions for places to perch outdoors and perhaps watch the early evening fade into night.
5135 Canal Blvd., 488-4191; or 3236 Magazine St., 891-1516
Both local outposts of this growing tavern chain have full-fledged beer gardens. The one Uptown feels like an extension of the street, with good people-watching opportunities along the Magazine Street sidewalk. The Bulldog courtyard over on Canal Boulevard is much larger and more sequestered, with tables so long an entire crew team could sit down together for a round. Well-behaved dogs are welcome, which is good for those who might feel guilty about leaving their pets cooped up on a beautiful afternoon.
St. Joe’s Bar
5537 Magazine St., 899-3744
The former home of the Club, which years ago relocated a dozen blocks down Magazine, this long, narrow Uptown watering hole is now adorned with enough crosses, mirrors and recycled church pews to send a vampire scampering for the nearest coffin. But just past all of that, you’ll find a rear courtyard that ranks as one of the most seductive in town with a design falling somewhere between Asian temple and a caravansary.
The Columns Hotel
3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308
The stunningly ornate barroom and parlors in the lounge of this historic hotel once stood in for the set of a Storyville bordello in the film Pretty Baby. Sitting on the building’s deep, covered veranda, though, it’s hard to picture the place being anywhere else than Uptown New Orleans, with its broad lawn leading to a frame of live oaks and the periodic clatter of streetcars glowing along their route.
600 Poland Ave., 948-9111
The wild, weedy, randomly-furnished backyard of this wine shop at the bottom of the Bywater has long been known for its Sunday evening events, where chefs cook, bands perform and patrons sip from bottles they buy inside. The schedule here has been greatly expanded more recently, however, and now you can pull up a patio table on most nights and find a band performing, a chef cooking and a prodigious cheese plates available.