Exclusive | New Orleans: Where to Play/Meet
By Joe Okonkwo | AN OUTTRAVELER.COM EXCLUSIVE
Anytime is a good time to sit on or above (look for balconies) the rue (street) and watch the colorful scene pass by. Drinking on the street is legal and prevalent, and carrying your drink from one bar to another in a plastic to-go cup is acceptable.
OZ (800 Bourbon St.; 504-593-9491) and The Bourbon Pub/Parade (801 Bourbon St.; 504-529-2107) face each other across Bourbon Street and continually cross-pollinate with drunken party boys and a sprinkling of lesbians holding plastic cups of booze. Both have crowded balconies upstairs for checking out the "greener grass" across the street. At the same intersection of Bourbon (in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, see STAY) is Napoleon's Itch (734 Bourbon St.; 504-371-5450), a friendly, smoke-free lounge popular with locals that is perfect for whiling away an evening with conversation and martinis.
One of the nation's oldest continuously operating gay bars, Caf? Lafitte in-Exile (901 Bourbon St.; 504-522-8397), established in the early '30s, is worth a trip for such a distinction if nothing else.
The casual crowd is mostly men, in their 30s to 50s. Good Friends (740 Dauphine St.; 504-566-7191) is a welcoming place with an upstairs balcony area called Queen's Head Pub.
Rawhide 2010 (740 Burgundy; 504-525-8106) is the popular French Quarter leather/Levi's cruise bar for men, especially very late at night.
Small, laid-back bars populated with locals dot the Marigny, like Big Daddy's (2513 Royal St.; 504-581-7167) and The Friendly Bar (2301 Chartres St, 504-943-8929), where the motto is "be nice or leave."
Snug Harbor (626 Frenchmen St.; 504-949-0696) is a great, gay-friendly spot for listening to live music and enjoying local cuisine, including grilled specialties and hamburgers.
When NOLA's temperatures heat up, make a beeline for The Country Club (634 Louisa St.; 504-945-0742), a local gay hideaway in the neighborhood next to the Marigny. The charming property houses a clothing-optional pool/gay bar/restaurant that gets really festive during holiday weekends.