New Orleans is known for many things: Mardi Gras, amazing food, decadent debauchery and much more. What many people are unaware of is New Orleans’ rich gay culture. Despite some popular misconceptions, this city has always been one in which everyone is welcome. Proof of that, we’re home to the longest continually running gay bar, Cafe Lafitte in Exile, which has been operating since 1933. Due to our overwhelming acceptance and the fact that LGBT culture is embraced here, gays can be found frequenting bars all over the city. Despite gays feeling at home throughout the city, gay bars still serve as an important space for the community. Figuring out which bars to go to can be the trickiest part if you aren’t familiar with the scene. Therefore, we decided to make it easy on you – with a list.
The Laid-Back Crowd
Phillips Bar: 733 Cherokee Street
Not up for the craziness of the Quarter, Phillip’s is the city’s only gay bar located Uptown. Technically, this bar doesn’t label itself as a gay establishment, but does draw a pretty big gay crowd on Friday nights. Other fun nights to check out are on Tuesdays for Trivia and Thursdays after 9 pm for Ladies’ Night. Lesbians, take note. Besides drinks that will loosen you up, they’ve got a great assortment of snacks to munch on if hunger should strike. Oh, and one more thing: if you’re thinking of wearing flip-flops and a tank top, think again. This bar is more upscale than the gay bars downtown.
Napoleon’s Itch: 734 Bourbon Street
Located on St. Ann and Bourbon, Napoleon’s Itch is a tiny bar that helps make up this eclectic mix of gay bars in one area. Unlike Oz and Pub, they don’t have a cover and aren’t crowded. If you’re here during Decadence or Pride, this is the perfect spot to pop in, grab a drink, and keep on going.
Cafe Lafitte in Exile: 901 Bourbon Street
Bars can be a history lesson, too! Cafe Lafitte is the longest continually operating gay bar in the United States. So, raise a glass and grab a drink and toast to the history of the LGBTQ community and you’re good sense to come here. And because it has a more relaxed atmosphere, you can chill and unwind and carry on a conversation without having to shout it. Also, head back here on Sundays for their “Love is in the Air” napkin toss and $12 bottomless mimosas from 1pm – 4pm. You should also mention the “Love is in the Air” napkin toss on Sundays.
The Dancing Crowd
Oz: 800 Bourbon Street
One of the hottest clubs in the city , Oz is New Orleans’ #1 dance club (and this is not just amongst gay bars). Whether a burlesque show, a strip tease, or just a good old fashioned drag show, Oz always has something fun going on, even mid-week. The typical crowd ranges from 18-50 with many Oz-goers dancing the night away or hanging out on the balcony people watching with a cocktail in hand. Best of all, most weeknights, the cover is only $5.
Bourbon Pub & Parade: 801 Bourbon Street
Simply referred to as Pub, Bourbon Pub & Parade is a cornerstone establishment for the best of LGBTQ nightlife in New Orleans. Located directly across from Oz, the two help form the most happening and gayest intersection in the city. The layout of the bar is similar to Oz, with strippers dancing on tables downstairs, and a more laid back balcony area upstairs. On certain days, you can catch a drag show upstairs and hopefully watch as a drag queen convinces some very drunk locals to get on stage and lip sync.
Looking To Be Entertained?
The Corner Pocket: 940 St. Louis Street
This unique dive bar, which is a little off the beaten path, caters to a different aged crowd than do some of the other gay bars – think 35 to 55 – and is a great place to hang if you’re into twinks and twunks dancing on the bar in their undies. The Corner Pocket has cheap drinks every night of the week. And the cover? Just $5. The two hot nights to head to The Corner Pocket would have to be Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night is “new meat night”. We’ll let that speak for itself. Saturday is the perfect time to catch a eyeful of hotness as you watch 15, highly flexible young men show off what their mama gave them.
The Country Club: 634 Louisa Street
The newly renovated Country Club is a hip hangout in the Bywater known for two things: an incredible drag brunch and its amazing, salt-water pool. Since the pool is no longer clothing optional, and drag culture has become more mainstream, the Country Club doesn’t draw as gay of a clientele as it used to, but it still holds fast to its gay roots. No matter what, their drag brunch is an experience you can’t miss. Each Saturday, the brunch features 4 drag queens that dance and perform to fun favorites that will put a smile on your face as much as the food. Be forewarned: If you want to go, make sure to book far enough in advance to get a table. Oh! And bring cash for tips because the show’s so incredible you’ll wanna drop some green, for sure.
Allways Lounge and Cabaret: 2240 St. Claude Ave.
If you’re looking for something a little different than your traditional gay bar, there’s no better place to head than the Allways Lounge. Some of their non-mainstream events include: strip roulette, jockstrap lube wrestling (this gets quite messy), and local comedy shows. Heading over here is also a great excuse to check out in one of the city’s most hip neighborhoods, the St. Claude Corridor.
The Leather Crowd
RawHide 2010: 740 Burgundy Street
One of New Orleans’ raunchier bars, RawHide is quite a different experience than some other bars on this list. You might be thinking it’s too stereotypical to walk into a leather bar and see a bunch of older bears sporting leather chaps, but that’s what you’re likely to encounter here. So be prepared to experience a little more of the wild side of New Orleans’ gay scene when you’re there. Known for its monthly “blackout” party the second Thursday of the month, RawHide goes completely dark and anything goes, especially in the bathroom.
Phoenix Bar: 941 Elysian Fields Ave
One of two leather bars in the city, this bar has everything, even for those who consider themselves vanilla. The downstairs bar is a little more conventional, meaning you might see some guys in leather, or even a bear crowd. Overall, it’s a pretty PG experience. What makes this bar extra fun, they boast the most beers on tap of any gay bar in the city, and there’s no cover – ever! If you’re looking for something a little more raunchy, head upstairs to the The Eagle. And just so no selfies get randomly posted, we suggest leaving your smartphone at home.
The Local Crowd
The Golden Lantern: 1239 Royal Street
The Golden Lantern is a popular dive bar located in the French Quarter, just a stone’s throw from the Marigny. With affordable drinks, especially during happy hour, (which, by the way, is daily from 8 am – 8 pm including weekends) this small but bustling space has amazing drag shows every Friday and Saturday night at 10 pm and every Sunday night at 5 pm. So, grab your feather boa and get out to The Golden Lantern if you’re looking for a little razzle dazzle with your cocktail.
Big Daddy’s: 2513 Royal Street
Big Daddy’s is one of the city’s few gay bars not located in the French Quarter. Yet, that’s not the only reason it stands out from the others. This Marigny hotspot is a late night, neighborhood hangout that draws a crowd ranging from lesbian and gay to straight and bi-sexual. So, if you’re going to make the most of your Big Daddy’s experience, you have to check out the bar from 2 am – 8 am when it’s really hopping (happy hour from 4 am to 8 am). Not a night owl? No sweat. Big Daddy’s is also known for their happy hour specials ($3 wine and well drinks) also from 4 pm to 8 pm Monday through Friday. And for all you lesbian lovers out there, you have to go to Big Daddy’s on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month for their “Deep Lez” dance party – two nights a month dedicated to the fairer sex.
700 Club: 700 Burgundy Street
This bar is one of the city’s go-tos. Popular not only among locals but also tourists in the know. And on Friday and Saturday night, you’re bound to meet a long lost best friend you haven’t met yet. And if you’re one of those people who likes to be out until the wee hours of the morning – or, just want to hang for a drink or two – this bar is the perfect place to kick off your night. Cheap drinks. Quick, tasty bites. And music videos that will take you on a trip down memory lane. If you’re in town on Sunday, head over here for their “Drink and Drown”, where $10 gets you unlimited well drinks and domestic beer.
Good Friends: 740 Dauphine Street
Located a block from Bourbon, this two-bars-rolled-into-one draws a lot of tourists while still giving that off-the-beaten-path local vibe we all love. Good Friends, downstairs draws a laidback tourist crowd. Whereas Queens Head Pub, located upstairs, is where all the locals meet to grab a tasty beverage and catch up. Not to mention, if you’re into pool, get your cue ready because downstairs there’s bound to be a game or two waiting to be played. In addition, the balcony upstairs is literally the perfect place for people watching -. If you’re looking to find cute boys in their 20s and 30s this is the place to go.
Some of our other favorites that aren’t all gay:
- Lafitte’s blacksmith shop – be sure to grab a purple drink
- Bourbon Cowboy
- Pat O’briens