At first glance, Copper Monkey Grill (725 Conti St., 504-527-0869; www.coppermonkeygrill.com) looks like a tourist spot. Purple, green and gold lights hang on the walls; Mardi Gras beads dangle from a hook in the corner, and a light-up Bud Light sign decorated with a giant fleur de lis glows by the door.
On a recent Friday evening, a few out-of-towners gathered in the bar, which serves mostly American food, and checked out a courtyard snuggled between the bar and the kitchen.
But the crowd also included locals. That's because the bar's late hours, combined with a kitchen that serves food at wee hours in the morning, attracts local service industry workers, according to daytime bar manager Lorna Felton.
Those include bartenders, strippers, people who work on Bourbon Street and hotel employees who come to "decompress" after work with a drink and a meal, Felton says. Often, she adds, those workers will recommend the place to tourists, too, who are looking for spots "where the locals go."
"Pretty much, people who come here want to come back," says Felton, who has worked at Copper Monkey Grill for more than four years. "We get returning customers all the time."
The bar features more than 30 types of bottled beers, as well as a selection of absinthe. Copper Monkey also carries a rotating selection of four Southern draft beers. Right now, it features Timber Beast, made by the Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company — a brew Felton says is in demand.
"Most bars don't have it, so some people come in just for that," Felton says.
Combined with poker machines, a cigarette machine and courtyard seating, the bar has everything a French Quarter watering hole could need. But the thing that makes Copper Monkey stand out from other late-night places is its menu, which is fairly extensive for a bar, Felton says.
Options include classic pub-grub appetizers like jalapeno poppers, wings and mozzarella sticks. But items such as the crab-stuffed mushrooms and the Whitney Special, a dish with mashed potatoes, chicken strips, nacho cheese, butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon, are the most popular.
"It's comfort food," Felton says. "People come in and they want just that."
Copper Monkey Grill also serves jambalaya, gumbo, shrimp Creole, etouffee and red beans and rice, as well as steaks, triple-decker sandwiches, po-boys and burgers.
And that's what keeps customers coming back, Felton says.
"People like to come because the food is so good," she says. "We make everything in house. We've got some of the best food in the Quarter."