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Stretching a Budget 

With New Orleans' vast entertainment options, it's easy to spend too much on a good meal or a night out, especially considering a coed's tight budget. Fun doesn't always have to cost a bundle. What follows is a day-by-day entertainment-specials cheat sheet, designed to get you around the town without breaking the bank.

Sunday

Bring your laptop and start the day with a cup of coffee and a slice of banana bread at Rue de la Course (1140 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-4343), where you can take advantage of free Wi-Fi and surf the net for hours. Afterwards, head to Friar Tuck's Bar and Grill (5130 Freret St., 891-4080, www.friartucksbar.com) to catch an afternoon football game on one of 12 TVs, including two big screens, and load up on free hot dogs and chili. Stay into the evening because there's usually live music once football ends. If you're not into sports, go to Tipitina's Uptown (501 Napoleon Ave, 895-TIPS, www.tipitinas.com) for a free workshop with local musicians at 12:30 p.m. Only students with instruments can get on stage, but anyone can listen and enjoy the talent. In the evening, sit in on open-mic night at the Neutral Ground Coffee House (5110 Daneel St., 891-3381, www.neutralground.org), and sip a hot beverage while aspiring folk artists and singer/songwriters entertain.

Monday

Take a walk around Audubon Park (it's always free), and bring a Frisbee because you're sure to spot a good grassy area to hang out, catch some sun and toss the disc. Once it's time for a meal, check out Saltwater Grill (340 S. Carrollton Ave, 324-6640). With its 25-cent oyster special on Monday nights, you can get a dozen on the half-shell for just three bucks. For folks who shy away from shellfish, Joey K's Restaurant and Bar (3001 Magazine St., 891-0997; www.joeyksrestaurant.com) has daily soul food lunch and dinner specials for around $8. On Monday, try the white beans and rice with a pork chop. When it gets dark, take in some classic New Orleans jazz for only $5 at d.b.a. (618 Frenchman St., 942-3731; www.drinkgoodstuff.com), where drummer Bob French and his band play starting at 9 p.m. Also, Balcony Bar and CafŽ (3201 Magazine St., 895-1600) has $1.25 Red Stripe bottles and $2 well mixed drinks on special.

Tuesday

Spend a morning browsing through fresh offerings at the Crescent City Farmer's Market in the Uptown Square parking lot (200 Broadway St., 861-5898). Produce is reasonably priced and you can get gourmet food to go too. If you're hungry for good Italian food, just a short walk from Loyola or Tulane is CafŽ Nino (1510 S. Carrollton Ave., 865-9200), where it's easy to get a huge lasagna and breadstick lunch for about $8. Reginelli's Pizzeria (citywide, www.reginellis.com) offers $2 pitchers of Abita Amber Tuesdays, and you can always get a pizza to share for about $15. It's acoustic open-mic night at Carrollton Station (8140 Willow St., 293-6651; www.carrolltonstation.com), where new local talent shows the crowd what they're made of. Also, Lucy's Retired Surfer's Bar (701 Tchoupitoulas St., 523-8995; www.lucysretiredsurfers.com) features Taco Tuesday, with $1 tacos from 4 p.m. until close. Conveniently, happy-hour drink prices overlap, so try one of Lucy's many colorful concoctions. If you want to take in some music with a free meal, the Spotted Cat (623 Frenchmen St., 943-3887) offers potluck free food with the purchase of a drink starting at 6 p.m., with varying local live music acts following later in the evening.

Wednesday

If you happen to be downtown after 4 p.m., stop by Pat O'Brien's (518 St. Peter St., 588-2744; www.patobriens.com) for a $3 mojito, and sit in on the dueling piano show at the bar. For cheap food and drinks Uptown, stop by Phillip's Bar (733 Cherokee St., 865-1155; www.phillipsbar.com). For $5 you can get in on the all-you-can-eat bar food buffet, and house martinis in every conceivable flavor are just $3. Afterwards, put on your dancing (or bowling) shoes and head to Mid City Lanes Rock 'N' Bowl (4133 S. Carrollton Ave., 482-3133, www.rockandbowl.com) for Swing Night. The big band will get you on your feet dancing, and you might squeeze in a few bowling games too. Best of all, the cover is only $5, and bowling is $18 per lane per hour, only $3 a person if you come with a group of six. A trip to the Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516, www.bulldog.draftfreak.com) is another Wednesday-night option for the thrifty college crowd. The beer is still full price, but you can collect pint glasses to take home. While you're there, get a Bulldog punch card and join the bars around the world club. You'll get a free T-shirt when you've sampled all 50 of the beers on tap.

Thursday

Check out the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (925 Camp St., 539-9600) in the daytime. It's only $8 for students with an ID, free for University of New Orleans students, faculty and staff. Afterwards, walk around the corner to the Circle Bar (1032 St. Charles Ave., 588-2616) for happy hour to sip a half-price drink and sample some free bar snacks. Stick around after happy hour ends because there's usually live music starting around 10:30 p.m. If hunger pains set in the evening, go for free red beans and rice at 45 Tchoup (4529 Tchoupitoulas St., 891-9066), and also enjoy one of the bar's many beers on tap. After a few drinks, catch the Soul Rebels Brass Band for free at Le Bon Temps Roule (4801 Magazine St., 897-3448) at 11 p.m. Also on Magazine St. is Storyville (1416 Magazine St., 299-8963), where Thursday night is ladies' night. Female patrons drink free all night long. While you're there, it's worth checking out the old photographs on the walls. They're original depictions of New Orleans' historic red light district.

Friday

Spend an afternoon in City Park. The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is free, and Louisiana residents (or students with a Louisiana college ID) also get complimentary admission to the New Orleans Museum of Art (1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, 658-4100; www.noma.org). Another option is to hit the Columns Hotel (3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308) for its Preservation Hall Happy Hour. There's jazz on the porch from 5 to 7 p.m., and drinks are discounted. If you don't feel like traveling far for drink specials, just a step off Tulane's campus is The Boot (1039 Broadway St., 866-9008), where Friday happy hour is a weekly tradition for many students and staff. Select longnecks are three for one, with triple-shot mixed drinks too. At night, head to Frenchmen Street in the Marigny. The Apple Barrel (609 Frenchmen St., 949-9399) and CafŽ Negril (606 Frenchmen St., 944-4744) always have live music on Friday nights, and there's never a cover charge, just a one-drink minimum.

Saturday

Saturdays are perfect for picnics. At both New Orleans Sav-A-Center locations, students get 10 percent off their total purchases on Saturday, which means you can pick up discounted supplies and head to a park for a day in the sun. For indoor entertainment, a matinee at the remodeled Prytania Theatre (5339 Prytania St., 891-2787; www.theprytania.com) only costs $5.25 for everyone before 6 p.m. After dark, head to Jimmy's Music Club (8200 Willow St., 861-8200, www.jimmysmusicclub.com) for $1 night, when practically all drinks are just a buck each. If it's the first Saturday of the month and you're feeling artsy, walk down Magazine or Julia Streets to check out the artwork. Galleries hold opening receptions from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and many locations offer finger foods and pour free wine for patrons. The Rivershack Tavern (3449 River Road, Jefferson, 834-4938; www.therivershackttavern.com) usually has live music on Saturday nights with no cover. With almost everything on the menu less than $10, you can get cheap late-night food while you enjoy the show. If you don't want to go home before sunrise, check out Igor's (2133 St. Charles Ave., 568-9811) early-morning drink specials. From 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Sundays, their famous Bloody Marys are two for one, and from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., mimosas are only $2.

click to enlarge Students head to the Spotted Cat in the Marigny for the - funky vibe and local jazz - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Students head to the Spotted Cat in the Marigny for the funky vibe and local jazz
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