The St. Charles Avenue area features fancy and relaxed ambience for students especially if you consider the campus-friendly hangs just a few blocks off the street, including The Boot (1039 Broadway St., 866-9008) and Cooter Brown's Tavern (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104) in Riverbend. But there's also fun to be had at the wine bar Delachaise (3445 St. Charles Ave., 895-0858), as well as at the famous Columns Hotel (3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308), where the movie Pretty Baby was filmed.
There are stretches of Magazine Street that offer a non-stop array of bars, restaurants and galleries, both with a neighborhood-dive feel and a touch of class. The true grit can be found at the dually named The Club/Ms. Mae's (4336 Magazine St., 895-9401), one of the few 24-hour joints outside the French Quarter with the reputation that goes along with it. Bridge Lounge (1201 Magazine St., 299-1888) boasts a large wine glass and dog-friendly nights. One block of Magazine alone features a pub crawler's delight including Balcony Bar and Cafe (3201 Magazine St., 895-1600/891-2800) and The Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; www.draftfreak.net) and its massive tap selection. Late-nighters merge on The Saint (961 St. Mary St., 523-0500) with its '70s decor and metal-friendly jukebox.
Students in other parts of town, though, never feel left out of the nightlife scene. Students at UNO and Delgado frequent the Mid-City version of The Bulldog (5153 Canal Blvd., 488-2500) with its huge tap selection; Dillard and Xavier students chill out with the eponymous beverage (and plenty of dance music) at Daiquiri Island (7908 Earhart Blvd., 866-9711) and New Orleans Original Daiquiris (301 N. Carrollton Ave., 486-9938).
For the truly adventurous, reserve just one Sunday evening and head out to Slidell's Salt Bayou Lounge (38323 Salt Bayou Road, Slidell, 985-643-8120) for the weekly "Chicken Drop Bingo," which is about as self-explanatory as it gets. The Salt Bayou Boys cover band provides the musical accompaniment, while the owner selects one lucky female to blow in the chicken's butt for good luck.
WHAT YOU'LL BE TESTED ON
The downtown scene puts every nightcrawler to the test, starting with the French Quarter and CBD. Perhaps it's best to just go ahead and scream and embolden yourself by joining the most popular karaoke party at Cat's Meow (701 Bourbon St., 523-2788); recent addition King Bolden's (820 N. Rampart St., 523-2379), which boasts a speakeasy vibe but also hosts some of the cooler DJs in town; the holy trinity of dance clubs for the gay and gay-friendly crowd is Oz (800 Bourbon St., 681-9491), The Bourbon Pub/Parade (801 Bourbon St., 529-2107) and Cafe Lafitte in Exile (901 Bourbon St., 522-8397; www.lafittes.com), all of which feature DJs, dancers up on the bar and a sea of humanity. (Oz's "Drag Bingo" night is not to be missed.) Dance clubs of all stripes can be found in the area, though, including Ampersand (1100 Tulane Ave., 587-3737; www.clubampersand.com), whose special dance nights and themed parties helped win a nod from Nightclub & Bar Magazine as one of the U.S.'s Top 100 spots, and Altitude 33 (2 Canal St., World Trade Center, 33rd floor, 595-8900), which is as heady as its title suggests, because the club formerly called Club 360 still features a spin around the city while the DJ spins dance tunes.
One of the ideal places for planned pub crawls invariably has to be the three-block stretch of Frenchmen Street that leads nightcrawlers up into the French Quarter. D.B.A. (616 Frenchmen St., 942-3731; www.drinkgoodstuff.com) provides high-quality whiskeys and one of the best tap selections this side of the Quarter; Mimi's in the Marigny (2601 Royal St., 942-0690) provides a less intense vibe and the last outpost before heading into Bywater, its open windows offering refreshing breezes for non-smokers; the Hookah Cafe (1132 Decatur St., 566-7057), with its dim lighting and aforementioned accoutrements, is the closest thing to a non-opium opium den you'll find in town, augmented by mood-appropriate live music, tapas and belly dancing.
Those searching for the not-so-typical can find them in areas as different as the Warehouse District and the Mid-City/Lakeview neighborhoods. In the WD, it's easy to see why The Metropolitan (310 Andrew Higgins Drive, 568-1700) is so popular as it's only open on Saturday nights but draws its fair share of power brokers and fashionistas who are fine with the no-jeans policy; The Wine Loft (752 Tchoupitoulas St., 561-0116; www.thewineloft.net) is equally spiffy but with an amazing array of wines and appetizers; the more relaxed WD crowd loves the happy hour vibe at such haunts as Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant (701 Tchoupitoulas St., 523-8995; www.lucysretiredsurfersbar.com), probably because of its famed Bloody Mary; the Red Eye Grill (852 S. Peters St., 593-9393; www.redeyegrill.com), that rare place to combine huge grilled burgers with a popular, sweaty dance floor.