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Best of New Orleans 2014: Bars & Entertainment 

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Photo by Lyn Vicknair

BEST BAR FOR CRAFT COCKTAILS

1. Cure
4905 Freret St., (504) 302-2357; www.curenola.com @curenola

2. Bar Tonique
820 N. Rampart St., (504) 324-6045; www.bartonique.com @bartonique

3. Twelve Mile Limit
500 S. Telemachus St., (504) 488-8114; www.facebook.com/twelve.mile.limit @twelvemilelimit


BEST BAR TO MEET NEW PEOPLE

1. The Bulldog
5135 Canal Blvd., (504) 488-4191; 3236 Magazine St., (504) 891-1516; www.draftfreak.com

2. Carousel Bar & Lounge
Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St., (504) 523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone.com @hotelmonteleone

3. Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant
701 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 523-8995; www.lucysretiredsurfers.com/new-orleans @lucysneworleans


BEST BAR WHERE YOU CAN SMOKE

1. The Bulldog
5135 Canal Blvd., (504) 488-4191; 3236 Magazine St., (504) 891-1516; www.draftfreak.com

2. Finn McCool's Irish Pub
3701 Banks St., (504) 486-9080; www.finnmccools.com @finnmccoolspub

3. Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar
5535 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 891-8500; www.dosjefes.com @dosjefesbar Note: Finn's goes nonsmoking on Labor Day


BEST BEER SELECTION

1. The Bulldog
5135 Canal Blvd., (504) 488-4191; 3236 Magazine St., (504) 891-1516; www.draftfreak.com

2. The Avenue Pub
1732 St. Charles Ave., (504) 586-9243; www.theavenuepub.com @avenuepubnola

3. Cooter Brown's Tavern
509 S. Carrollton Ave., (504) 866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com


BEST CASINO

1. Harrah's New Orleans
228 Poydras St., (800) 427-7247; www.harrahsneworleans.com @harrahsnola

2. Boomtown Casino
4132 Peters Road, Harvey, (504) 366-7711; www.boomtownneworleans.com @boomtownnola

3. Treasure Chest Casino
5050 Williams Blvd., Kenner, (504) 443-8000; www.treasurechest.com @tchestcasino


BEST CLUB TO DANCE

click to enlarge Gold Mine Saloon - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Gold Mine Saloon

1. Gold Mine Saloon
701 Dauphine St., (504) 586-0745; www.goldminesaloon.net Sweat out a flaming Dr Pepper while a DJ spins hip-hop and forget how close to Bourbon Street you really are. It's small, it's smoky, it's crowded, but after a few grinds on the dance floor, it's also unforgettable.

2. Oz
800 Bourbon St., (504) 593-9491; www.ozneworleans.com @ozniteclub

3. The Metropolitan
301 Andrew Higgins Drive, (504) 568-1702; www.themetropolitannightclub.com @themetronola)


BEST COLLEGE BAR

1. The Boot Bar & Grill
1039 Broadway St., (504) 866-9008; www.thebootneworleans.com @thebootnola

2. Bruno's Tavern
7538 Maple St., (504) 861-7615; www.brunostavern.com

3. F&M Patio Bar
4841 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 895-6784; www.fandmpatiobar.com


BEST GENTLEMEN'S/STRIP

1. Rick's Cabaret
315 Bourbon St., (504) 524-4222; www.iknowrick.com @ricksnola

2. The Penthouse Club
727 Iberville St., (504) 524-4354; www.penhouseclubneworleans.com @penthousclubno

3. Visions Mens Club
4000 Downman Road, (504) 240-0069; www.visionsmensclub.com


BEST HAPPY HOUR

click to enlarge Domenica - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Domenica

1. Domenica
Roosevelt Hotel, 123 Baronne St., (504) 648-6020; www.domenicarestaurant.com @chefjohnbesh
If your idea of happy hour specials is after-work cocktail weenies, bar snacks and $1 off draft beer, let Domenica set you straight. First of all, its happy hour runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily (including weekends), and you can forget peanuts and pretzels: All pizzas, glasses of wine, beer and well drinks are half off. That means Chef Alon Shaya's margherita pizza is $6.50 for a family-sized pie, and a prosciutto pizza with fresh mozzarella and arugula is $7.50. This isn't really happy hour — it's some hitherto undiscovered fourth meal between lunch and dinner, an early-bird special that's really something special.

2. American Sector
945 Magazine St., (504) 528-1940; www.nationalww2museum.org/american-sector @wwIImuseum

3. TIE: Luke
333 St. Charles Ave., (504) 378-2840; www.lukeneworleans.com @chefjohnbesh

3. TIE: Superior Grill
3636 St. Charles Ave., (504) 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com @superiorgrill


BEST GAY BAR

1. Oz
800 Bourbon St., (504) 593-9491; www.ozneworleans.com @ozniteclub

2. Bourbon Pub & Parade
801 Bourbon St., (504) 529-2107; www.bourbonpub.com@thebourbonpub

3. Good Friends Bar
740 Dauphine St., (504) 566-7191; www.goodfriendsbar.com


BEST LOCAL THEATER PERFORMER

1. Becky Allen

2. Bryan Batt @bryan_batt

3. TIE: John "Spud" McConnell

3. TIE: Ricky Graham


BEST MOVIE THEATER

1. The Theatres at Canal Place
The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., third floor, (504) 493-6535; www.thetheatres.com @thetheatres

2. Prytania Theatre
5339 Prytania St., (504) 891-2787; www.prytaniatheatreneworleans.com @prytaniatheatre

3. AMC Elmwood Palace
201200 Elmwood Park Blvd., Harahan, (888)-262-4386; www.amctheatres.com@amctheatres


BEST PLACE TO GET A MARTINI

1. Bombay Club
830 Conti St., (504) 586-0972; www.thebombayclub.com @bombayclub
Note: Bombay Club moves to the Chateau LeMoyne Hotel, 301 Dauphine St. Sept. 1.

2. Commander's Palace
1403 Washington Ave., (504) 899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com @commanders_nola

3. Cure
4905 Freret St., (504) 302-2357; www.curenola.com @curenola


BEST LIVE THEATER VENUE

click to enlarge Saenger Theatre - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Saenger Theatre

1. Saenger Theatre
1111 Canal St., (504) 525-1052; www.saengernola.com
The Saenger Theatre reopened in September 2013 and quickly resumed its place as a top local venue for touring Broadway shows, concerts and more. The historic theater underwent a $52 million renovation to remedy post-Hurricane Katrina flood damages and it features a classically inspired look in the theater and expanded backstage space, enabling it to host large-scale Broadway shows. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld reopened the theater, followed by performances from D.L. Hughley, Kristin Chenoweth, Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Tony-award winning blockbuster

The Book of Mormon. In the past year, the theater has hosted performances including Jack White, Bonnie Raitt and Diana Ross and an all-star tribute to Dr. John with cameos by Bruce Springsteen and John Fogerty. It's also hosted comedian Bill Maher, A Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor, the Moscow Ballet and Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium.

2. Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre
616 St. Peter St., (504) 522-2081; www.lepetittheatre.com@lepetitnola

3. Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts
1419 Basin St., (504) 287-0350; www.mahaliajacksontheater.com@mahalianola


BEST LOCALLY BREWED BEER

click to enlarge NOLA Blonde - PHOTO BY JEANIE RIESS
  • Photo by Jeanie Riess
  • NOLA Blonde

1. NOLA Blonde
www.nolabrewing.com
@nolabrewing
Topping the list for the first time ever, and knocking out perennial winner Abita, is NOLA Brewing Company's blonde ale, brewed on Tchoupitoulas Street. Kirk Coco and Peter Caddoo founded NOLA — or "New Orleans Lager & Ale" — in 2008 and have expanded its brews beyond its brown and blonde ales with Hopitoulas IPA, 7th Street Wheat, Irish Channel Stout and others.

2. Abita Amber
www.abita.com @theabitabeer

3. Abita Strawberry
www.abita.com @theabitabeer


BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR

click to enlarge Pal's Lounge - PHOTO BY JEANIE RIESS
  • Photo by Jeanie Riess
  • Pal's Lounge

1. Pal's Lounge
949 N. Rendon St., (504) 488-7257; www.palslounge.com @palslounge
First, you have to find it — tucked into a residential neighborhood near Bayou St. John. Then you have to be buzzed in by the bartender. But once you're in the long, skinny sanctuary known as Pal's, you'll find a friendly crowd of all ages (older during the day, younger at night), strong drinks, a pinball machine, an air hockey table and sometimes even a pop-up restaurant. The must-have drink is a gingerita (ginger margarita; get a double, served in a blue plastic go-cup), and be sure to check out the bathrooms. The women's is in the most inconvenient place ever, up a couple of stairs in full view of the bar, while the men's is wallpapered in what seems to be every page from a 1969 edition of

Playboy. 1970s music on the jukebox and naked-lady paintings help make this one of the most comfortable dives in New Orleans.

2. St. Joe's Bar
5535 Magazine St., (504) 899-3744; www.stjoesbar.com

3. Finn McCool's Irish Pub
3701 Banks St., (504) 486-9080; www.finnmccools.com @finnmccoolspub


BEST CAJUN/ZYDECO BAND/ARTIST

1. Rockin' Dopsie Jr.

2. Amanda Shaw

3. Lost Bayou Ramblers


BEST PLACE TO SEE COMEDY

1. La Nuit Theater
5039 Freret St., (504) 231-7011; www.nolacomedy.com @nolacomedy

2. The New Movement
2706 St. Claude Ave., (504) 302-8264; www.newmovementtheater.com/new-orleans @tnm_nola

3. Saenger Theatre
1111 Canal St., (504) 525-1052; www.saengernola.com @saengernola


BEST LOCAL COMEDIAN

1. Chris Champagne

2. Chris Trew @christrew

3. Jodi Borrello @jodicborrello


BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE NEW YEAR'S EVE

1. Jax Brewery
620 Decatur St., (504) 333-6671; www.jacksonbrewery.com

2. Jackson Square

3. Riverwalk/Spanish Plaza


BEST PLACE TO GET A BLOODY MARY

1. Atchafalaya
901 Louisiana Ave., (504) 891-9626; www.atchafalayarestaurant.com @atchafalayafood

2. Superdome
Sugar Bowl Drive, (504) 587-3663; www.superdome.com @mbsuperdome

3. Pat O'Brien's
718 St. Peter St., (504) 525-4823; www.patobriens.com @patobriensbar


BEST PLACE TO GET A MARGARITA

1. Superior Grill
3636 St. Charles Ave., (504) 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com @superiorgrill

2. El Gato Negro
81 French Market Place, (504) 525-9752; 300 Harrison Ave., (504) 488-0107; 3001 Ormond Blvd., Suite 1, Destrehan, (985) 307-0460; www.elgatonegronola.com

3. Juan's Flying Burrito
2018 Magazine St., (504) 569-0000; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave., (504) 486-9950; www.juansflyingburrito.com@juansnola


BEST PLACE TO GET WINE BY THE GLASS

click to enlarge The Delachaise - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • The Delachaise

1. The Delachaise
3442 St. Charles Ave., (504) 895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com @thedelachaise
Since it opened, Delachaise has been known for its selection of wines available by the glass, delivered in miniature carafes. The list typically draws from familiar French regions as well as Spanish, Austrian, Italian and California bottlings. There's usually more than 20 to choose from, including several sparkling wines. (There also is a good selection of imported and American craft beers.) The long row of booths and high cocktail tables fill the building's narrow boxcar shape, and there's seating on a small fenced-in patio overlooking St. Charles Avenue. Delachaise also has kept customers happy with a menu of charcuterie and small plates, but locals have had no problem pairing fine wine with fries fried in duck or goose fat and served with aioli and spicy dipping sauces. The bar strikes a happy medium between refined and relaxed, and it's not been hard to keep its cozy space filled with locals.

2. W.I.N.O.
610 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 324-8000; www.winoschool.com @winoschool

3. Bacchanal
600 Poland Ave., (504) 948-9111; www.bacchanawinel.com @bacchanalwine


BEST SPORTS BAR

1. Walk-Ons Bistreaux & Bar
1009 Poydras St., (504) 309-6530; www.walk-ons.com @walk_ons

2. Markey's Bar
640 Louisa St., (504) 943-0785; www.facebook.com/markeysbarnola

3. Cooter Brown's Tavern
509 S. Carrollton Ave., (504) 866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com @cooterbrowns504


BEST JAZZ FEST PERFORMANCE FROM 2014

1. Bruce Springsteen

2. Arcade Fire

3. Eric Clapton


BEST LOCAL BRASS BAND

click to enlarge Rebirth Brass Band - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Rebirth Brass Band

1. Rebirth Brass Band
In its more than 30 years of existence, Rebirth Brass Band has been at the forefront of incorporating R&B, soul and funk into contemporary brass band music; it's logged a lot of miles at local second-line parades and touring the U.S. and Europe; and it's put in a lot of late nights at its nearly two-decade-old Tuesday night residency at the Maple Leaf Bar. The dedication and experience paid off in 2012 in the form of a Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Music Album for

Rebirth of New Orleans. In April, as it previewed its latest album Move Your Body, NOLA Brewing Company released Rebirth Pale Ale, proceeds of which benefit Rebirth drummer Derrick Tabb's Roots of Music program. The band established itself as such an institution in New Orleans music and second-line parade scenes that Tulane University anthropologist Matt Sakakeeny used it as the focus of his 2013 book about brass band culture, Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans (Duke University Press). The band's become synonymous with contemporary brass band music and is Gambit readers' favorite.

2. Hot 8 Brass Band

3. Soul Rebels


BEST LOCAL FUNK/R&B BAND/ARTIST

click to enlarge Trombone Shorty - PHOTO BY JONATHAN MANNION
  • Photo by Jonathan Mannion
  • Trombone Shorty

1. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue have been on a tear since the band released Backatown in 2010. It followed up with For True in 2011 and Say That to Say This in September 2013. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival anointed Troy Andrews and the group to take over the festival closing spot from the Neville Brothers, and the band has stood out at other festivals, including Coachella and Lollapalooza, where it recently turned in a trombone-heavy cover of Green Day's "Brain Stew," drawing raves from Rolling Stone. Andrews has become the first-call ambassador of New Orleans jazz, funk and R&B, making guest appearances on stage with Prince at Essence Music Festival and representing the city (along with Dr. John) in the all-star lineup of half-time entertainment at the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans in February.

2. Galactic

3. Big Sam's Funky Nation


BEST LIVE MUSIC SHOW IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS

click to enlarge Prince
  • Prince

1. Prince at Essence Festival
The 20th anniversary Essence Festival booked one of the biggest acts to perform at a local festival in the last year: Prince. He launched his show with "Let's Go Crazy," which had already been played that night by Janelle Monae, with Prince making a brief appearance to contribute a guitar solo. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Purple Rain, but he saved the title track until his final encore. The rest of the set was filled with his early hits: "Kiss," "Raspberry Beret," "Little Red Corvette," "1999" and "When Doves Cry." Other early songs included "U Got the Look" and "Sign O' the Times," and Prince played "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" in tribute to Michael Jackson. Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews came onstage for a few songs. Prince also previewed 3RDEYEGIRL material, but even if he never writes another tune, he's got more than enough old favorites to please audiences at another big Essence anniversary.

2. Beyonce and Jay-Z Superdome, July 20

3. Bruno Mars Smoothie King Center, June 7


BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE

click to enlarge Tipitina's - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Tipitina's

1. Tipitina's
501 Napoleon Ave., (504) 895-8477; www.tipitinas.com
This legendary but low-frills music hall is both a home to top local funk, rock and R&B bands, including George Porter Jr., the funky Meters, Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, Anders Osborne, Big Sam's Funky Nation (pictured) and others, and a prime venue for touring acts, including Questlove, Shovels & Rope, Maceo Parker, Taj Mahal and many others. Not much has changed over the years in the main music room, with its small stage, bars along both side walls and high ceiling offering room for second floor balcony views. But Tip's is an institution, named for Professor Longhair's 1953 tune, and a bust of Fess still greets patrons at the front of the club. Tip's also hosts the weekly Sunday fais do-do Cajun dancing parties and mentoring sessions for young musicians. Its namesake foundation supports music programs in local schools through fundraisers such as Instruments A Comin'. The club keeps a busy calendar and it helps nourish the roots of New Orleans music, making it a favorite among locals.

2. House of Blues
225 Decatur St., (504) 310-4999; www.hob.com @hobnola

3. One Eyed Jacks
615 Toulouse St., (504) 569-8361; www.oneeyedjacks.net @oejnola


BEST LOCAL BOUNCE/HIP-HOP/RAP ARTIST

1. Big Freedia

2. Katey Red

3. 5th Ward Weebie


BEST LOCAL JAZZ BAND/ARTIST

1. TIE: Kermit Ruffins

1. TIE: Irvin Mayfield Jr.

2. Preservation Hall Jazz Band

3. Jeremy Davenport


BEST LOCAL ROCK BAND/ARTIST

1. Better Than Ezra

2. Cowboy Mouth

3. The Topcats


BEST LOCAL DJ

1. DJ Soul Sister

2. DJ Jubilee

3. DJ Brice Nice

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