This street is a tourist destination for a reason. That a thoroughfare with an utterly fascinating history, residence to few of the oldest bars, family-run restaurants and also gay to chat districts in the country. In short, when there’s lot of to discover off that Bourbon, there’s a lot come discover on the top street as well that might surprise you.

You are watching: French quarter bourbon street new orleans

Calle de Borbón by Cheryl Gerber

Let’s start, appropriately enough, through the background of one of the oldest streets in north America. First, regardless of popular rumor to the contrary, Bourbon was not called for bourbon. That details iteration of brown liquor had actually not also been developed when the street was laid out in 1721 through Adrian de Pauger. The street, then situated in the colony of new France, was named for the French royal home of Bourbon (which bourbon, the drink, was at some point named for).

Like much of the French Quarter, Bourbon Street’s historic architecture owes far more to Spain 보다 France; most of the street’s French structures were ruined in the good New orleans Fire the 1788, when the city was a Spanish colony. For many of that is history, Bourbon was a usual residential street, occupied by a mix the Creoles (New Orleanians that Franco-Spanish descent) and the successive waves of immigrants that have settled the French Quarter.

Bourbon began morphing right into an entertainment piece in the so late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the Red Light district of Storyville was established a few blocks away on basin Street. Bleed-over from the Red Light ar begot a shift in the Quarter, which ended up being less residential and an ext entertainment-oriented. The earliest “jass” (i.e. Jazz) artists weren’t headlining festivals in Montreal or Switzerland — they played because that customers that patronized Basin and also Bourbon Street’s sweaty brothels and music halls (on a side note, those music venues quit being fairly as sweaty when they started installing round-the-clock air-conditioning about half a century later — few of the very first nightlife point out in the people to take that step).


Ironically, the shuttering of Storyville’s brothels in 1917 likely accelerated the French Quarter’s popularity together a location to party. At the time, market Martin Behrman said, “You deserve to make the illegal, however you can’t make it unpopular,” and while the “it” he referred to was prostitution, the legal nightlife that surrounding that practice conveniently filled the Red irradiate vacuum.

In the Quarter, the entertainment focus shifted come live music, gambling, burlesque shows, and drinking establishments, dozens of which opened up on Bourbon. By the post-World war II period, Bourbon Street was comparable in character, if not appearance, to the Bourbon Street of today, back live music was more heavily emphasized back in the day. The Meters played here, together did Dr. John and Louis Prima, amongst dozens of various other acts the have defined successive generations the American music.

While there are still live music clubs on Bourbon, those venues have tended to spread into other parts of the city. ~ above the other hand, Bourbon stays a nightlife epicenter for the new Orleans LGBTQ scene, which created a presence here in the early 20th century, once the area had (more the an) “anything goes” reputation. In the current day, while LGBTQ culture is thankfully accepted throughout the city, the “Lavender Line” on Bourbon and St. Ann Street still marks among the country’s most fabled happy nightlife blocks.

The geography of Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street runs 13 blocks with the love of the French Quarter, native Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue; it i do not care Carondelet Street previous Canal, and also Pauger Street previous Esplanade. If you were looking at a map, Bourbon runs follow me a diagonal; confusingly to visitors, the “southern” component of Bourbon (near Canal Street) is top Bourbon, if the “northern” end (near Esplanade) is lower Bourbon. In brand-new Orleans parlance, Upper and Lower describe the upriver and downriver circulation of the Mississippi. If all of the over is confusing, don’t issue — it’s an ext interesting trivia than vital geographic knowledge.

Upper Bourbon is the area best known to travellers — the floor of several neon, roaming bachelor and bachelorette parties, strip clubs, and enormous drinks offered in souvenir cups. Reduced Bourbon has actually most of the above, but not in such intense concentration; it contains the LGBTQ blocks of Bourbon. Below are some of our favorite hangouts ~ above Bourbon Street, running from Canal come Esplanade.

The 100 Block of Bourbon Street

Bourbon House (144 Bourbon Street)The Bourbon house is one of the city’s cool dame, old-school seafood houses. Operation by the Brennan family restaurant empire, castle serve fantastic raw oysters, decadent “swamp pig” pasta (crawfish tails and also smoked pork belly in white wine cream sauce) and also one of the truly great iterations the barbeque shrimp; their version is cooked in a buttery sauce the is balanced by a generous help of rosemary.

 Photo courtesy that Galatoire’s ~ above Facebook

The 200 Block the Bourbon Street

Olde Nola Cookery (205 Bourbon Street)If you’re in the market for something straightforward and noticeably new Orleans, and you’re wandering approximately the 200 block that Bourbon, Olde Nola Cookery is a great choice. Us basically always have time for barbeque shrimp, which is not grilled or smoked, but rather cook in a lemon butter and also pepper sauce. Lot of of gumbo and Cajun pasta bowl round out the food selection — the latter group includes some delicious fare like crawfish tails served over fettuccini alfredo and a shrimp and alligator jambalaya, likewise tossed with fettuccini.

Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon Street)Stepping right into Galatoire’s is stepping back in time; the restaurant opened its doors in 1905, and not lot seems come have readjusted since (our understanding is they just started accepting credit transaction cards in the ‘90s). The cooking is old-school, hefty Creole standards — chicken clemenceau and crabmeat sardou — yet folks come because that the scene as much as the food. On Fridays, the oldest of old-school brand-new Orleans households line up about the block (or pay human being to wait in line because that them) and engage in daylong drinking and also dining sessions. The a spectacle for sure.

Galatoire’s “33” Bar and also Steak (215 Bourbon Street)For decades, nothing changed at Galatoire’s, one of the grandest that old brand-new Orleans restaurants. Then they began accepting credit transaction cards, and a couple of years ago, Galatoire’s “33” has actually opened. The times room a-changing, but “33” has actually the initial Galatoire’s charm — and it also happens to have some very fine steaks.

Old Absinthe House (240 Bourbon Street)It’s always a an excellent idea to sidle as much as the standard copper bar, and also you won’t be the first to carry out so: The Absinthe House dates to 1806, making it older than most American states, and has organized Franklin Roosevelt and also Oscar Wilde, among other patrons. That can acquire crowded, but when the bar is (relatively) quiet, we prefer to order the signature absinthe and also dream that boozy job (and famed patrons) past.

Musical Legends Park by Cheryl Gerber

The 300 Block that Bourbon Street

The Jazz Playhouse (300 Bourbon Street)This is a legitimately beloved music venue in the love of Bourbon Street. The lineup is directly unadulterated jazz, and also the Playhouse hosts few of the many talented and also exciting plot in the country.

New orleans Musical Legends Park (311 Bourbon Street)Life-size statues of local musical legends heat this park, which is a (sort of) quiet respite indigenous the noise and also thrum the lines this section of Bourbon.

The 400 Block the Bourbon Street

The Tequila House (417 Bourbon Street)This Tequila residence is laid ago and has a deep to make reservation of fantastic agave-derived spirits. Leaving the lemon wedge and salt at home.

chris Owens club by Cheryl Gerber

The 500 Block the Bourbon Street

Chris Owens Club (500 Bourbon Street)Club owner, singer, burlesque dancer, and also all about iconic new Orleanian chris Owens is quiet going strong. She live revue is equal components playfully naughty and also a showcase of a life legend. It’s one of the longest-running developed shows in brand-new Orleans, and comes highly recommended.

Tropical Isle by Cheryl Gerber

The 600 Block the Bourbon Street

Tropical Isle (600 Bourbon Street)Besides the Hurricane, the Isle’s signature Hand Grenade is the most famed drink in the French Quarter. Castle taste choose candy, however they are very potent.

Old Opera House (601 Bourbon Street)This live music venue was a French-style opera house back in the day.

Maison Bourbon (641 Bourbon Street)The sign external the door says, “Dedicated come the conservation of jazz,” and also Maison Bourbon does not disappoint in this for — that a great spot because that a live show. It also has a lover courtyard and also a big balcony.

Photo courtesy that Cat’s Meow ~ above Facebook

The 700 Block that Bourbon Street

Cat’s Meow (701 Bourbon Street)You’ve never heard “Sweet home Alabama” till it’s belted the end by a group at the Meow. We have to offer this spot credit: that was an early adopter the karaoke, ago when people sneered in ~ the idea of karaoke in a bar. The Meow’s massive popularity is proof of the success the a then-risky business idea.

Pat O’Brien’s (718 St Peter Street/600 block that Bourbon Street)While the deal with for play O’s is technically top top St. Peter Street, friend can go into the bar complex in the middle of the 600 block, right next to Willie’s Chicken Shack. Inside, you’ll uncover one that the many attractive courtyards and also bars in the French Quarter, which is a pleasant surprised for a most visitors. There are additionally dueling pianos. Take it a seat, gain the dry ambiance, and also order a specialty drink — the Hurricane, the course. The drinks may be sweet, but we’re no going come sugarcoat this next bit of advice: beware the Hurricane hangover.

Bourbon Street Honky Tonk (727 Bourbon Street)One of the five locations that the dry Isle chain through potent drink and, as you can have guessed indigenous the name, live nation music.

Bourbon “O” (730 Bourbon Street)“Bourbon Street” and also “quiet bar that serves craft cocktails” aren’t two ideas that seem to jive, yet Bourbon “O” manages to pull it off. OK, probably it’s not constantly quiet, but the drinks are gorgeous and also well prepared, which is a welcome advancement at this stage during our Bourbon Street stroll.

Fritzel’s europe Jazz Club (733 Bourbon Street)Fritzel’s is a great spot for live jazz; lock regularly attribute plenty of old-school Dixieland. The calm and laid ago in almost inverse proportion to much of the remainder of Bourbon Street — a an excellent stop if you’re feeling overwhelmed by every the crowds, or if you just want to listen to some an excellent music.

Marie Laveau house of Voodoo (739 Bourbon Street)This is just one of our favourite tourist voodoo shops. The walls are adorned with masks, gris-gris bags, order candles, and all kinds of other cool miracle paraphernalia. Inspect out the handmade voodoo dolls fashioned indigenous Spanish moss, and have yourself a consultation — this folks room true believers.

Bourbon Pub & Parade by Cheryl Gerber

The 800 Block of Bourbon Street

Oz (800 Bourbon Street)The corner of Bourbon and St. Ann roads is recognized as the Lavender Line, which marks the beginning of the LGBTQ section of Bourbon Street (you may likewise be subtly tipped turn off by the enormous rainbow flags). Oz is among the an ext popular happy dance clubs in the city; expect drag queens, shirtless dancers, and all the rest.

Bourbon Pub & Parade (801 Bourbon Street)A 24/7 nightclub v two balconies, run floors, do not wear shirts folks top top the bar, traction queens, and also a most unsa-unsa.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop by Cheryl Gerber

The 900 Block that Bourbon Street

Clover Grill (900 Bourbon Street)The Clover is among our favourite 24-hour diners in brand-new Orleans (on a next note, over there aren’t a ton the 24-hour diners in this city, i m sorry is a shame). The food is great, but we really come for the atmosphere, a mix of drag queens, off-work servers, bartenders, hotel staff, tourists, and also musicians every hunkering down for burgers and also scrambled eggs at 3 in the morning.

Cafe Lafitte in Exile (901 Bourbon Street)The self-proclaimed oldest gay bar in the nation is open 24/7, and also features karaoke nights, disco parties and also a large wraparound bar and balcony. It’s a little more laid back than Oz and the Pub & Parade.

See more: Emily Van Camp And Joshua Bowman, Emily Vancamp And Josh Bowman Welcome First Baby

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon Street)One that our favourite Bourbon Street haunts, Lafitte’s (not come be perplexed with Lafitte in Exile, above) operates the end of the oldest structure that has actually served together a bar in the country. The looks the part, too; the walls room all moldering stone and wood, although the step is quite modern: there’s a piano bar and the signature “purple drank,” a frozen daiquiri the can conveniently end her night (or get it started).