1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email

The Best Gay Bars in New Orleans

Plus Several Gay-Friendly Restaurants and Cafés

By

One of the world's great party destinations, it's not exactly shocking that New Orleans - with its liberal attitudes about everything from sexuality to cocktails - is a top destination for gay and lesbian clubbing and bar-hopping. Many of the city's top GLBT hangouts are right in the tourist-centric French Quarter (near popular hotels and gay-friendly B&Bs), with other, smaller neighborhood hangouts mostly downriver a short distance in the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods. But as New Orleans has become more mixed and eclectic in recent years, a number of mostly hetero bars Uptown and elsewhere in the city have developed a somewhat gay following. You'll also find some great cafes and restaurants around the city that act as social hubs for the LGBT community and the city's many gay visitors. Here's an alphabetical guide of the best bars and nightclubs, from gay icons to mixed hipster bars, plus a few of these gay-popular restaurants and cafés, in New Orleans.

New Orleans Gay Bar Guide - continued on Page 2

New Orleans Gay Bar Guide - continued on Page 3

1. Bourbon Pub and Parade - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
The definitive New Orleans gay nightclub, Bourbon Pub and Parade (801 Bourbon St., 504-529-2107) has been pulsing and thumping since 1974 at the most famous intersection in the city for gay revelers, Bourbon and St. Ann streets. This is really the must-see of Big Easy gay clubs - it's open 24/7, and it has two distinct sections: Bourbon Pub, downstairs, with its central bar; and Parade, the upstairs dance floor with doors opening onto a balcony overlooking the colorful action below as well as fellow revelers on the upper-level balcony across the street, at rival nightclub Oz. Although it's the largest gay club in the city, it's still not an enormous place - nothing in the historic French Quarter is. And that's part of its appeal - it's always packed with gay guys and quite a few lesbians (especially for Girl Bar Tuesdays at Parade), but it's not so enormous a place that it ever feels overwhelming. Bourbon Pub and Parade always have different themes, depending on the night, such as retro videos on Sundays and showtunes on Wednesday down in Bourbon Pub; and Boys on Parade on Fridays and Sunday Tea Dance upstairs at Parade. The club is 18-and-over (21 to drink, of course), and it never closes.

2. Cafe Lafitte in Exile - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
Named for the swashbuckling Gulf Coast pirate of yore, Cafe Lafitte in Exile (901 Bourbon St., 504-522-8397) has an appropriately rich and raffish history. It claims - quite convincingly - to be the oldest continuous gay bar in the country, and it's been a favorite haunt of all sorts of gay New Orleans characters, from Tennessee Williams to Truman Capote. It's a fixture along the "pink" stretch of Bourbon Street, just a block beyond Oz and Bourbon Pub, and right across from the saucy and sassy diner, Clover Grill. Like some of the other favorites in the neighborhood, it's a two-story space in a historic building, with a lovely wraparound balcony around the exterior of the upper level. It's long had a bit more of a bear-leather vibe than other gay bars in this part of the Quarter, but really the crowd is quite diverse, and seems to have become only more so over the years, especially as plenty of tourists pop in here (even some straight ones) simply to partake of Lafitte's rich history (just down the street is another ancient and historic nightlife landmark, the unrelated Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, which is mainstream but gay-friendly and also helps make this block a bonafide tourist attraction). On the ground floor at Cafe Lafitte, the bar has some great wallet-busting happy hour drink specials, and there are videos playing, a small dance floor, karaoke on Wednesdays, retro music on Thursdays, and movie night on Mondays. Upstairs, you can shoot pool, play pinball, or grab a breath of fresh air out on the balcony.

3. Club Fusions - gay bar

One of the only New Orleans gay bars outside of the French Quarter/Faubourg Marigny area, Club Fusions (2004 A P Tureaud Ave., 504-301-5121), a 10-minute cab ride north (toward the lake) of the Quarter in the historic Seventh Ward neighborhood. This spacious dance club with an upper catwalk is extremely popular with the Big Easy's sizable LGBT African-American community, and it has one of the largest dance floors (and some of the best music) of any gay club in town. It's also home to some very energetic and fun drag shows on Monday nights.

4. Club New Orleans - gay bathhouse

photo by Andrew Collins
The city's gay bathhouse, in a larger historic warehouse smack in the middle of the French Quarter, is Club New Orleans (515 Toulouse St., 504-581-2402), a long-running establishment that's part of the nationally known "Clubs" family - there are other branches in Dallas, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Indianapolis, Columbus, and St. Louis. For more on this impressive and very popular facility, check out the full profile of Club New Orleans.

5. Club Tribute (in Metairie) - lesbian bar

photo by Andrew Collins
Tucked down a side street behind Lakeside Shopping Center in suburban Metairie, a 15-minute drive or cab ride from the French Quarter, Club Tribute (3202 N. Arnoult Rd., 504-455-1311) is the largest lesbian dance club in the metro New Orleans area. There's a large dance floor, several pool tables, Foosball, and a large central bar. As there isn't much gay nightlife in the Metairie/Kenner area, Tribute actually draws quite a few guys, too, depending on the evening - it's a handy option if you're staying at one of the several chain hotels near Lakeside Shopping Center or at an airport hotel in nearby Kenner.

6. Corner Pocket - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
Known for its stable of toned and quite spirited strippers as well as its wet underwear contests, the Corner Pocket (940 St. Louis St., 504-568-9829) has had a popular following since it opened back in the '80s. The young-ish dancers strut their stuff on the bar every night, and on weekends there are special events, like Sunday "booty" contests and Friday amateur strip competitions.

7. Good Friends Bar/Queens Head Pub - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
Just a block from the wild all-night partying of the Bourbon Pub and Oz gay clubs, Good Friends Bar (740 Dauphine St., 504-566-7191) has been a landmark GLBT hangout in the Quarter for decades. This friendly corner space with a cozy upstairs section known as Queens Head Pub is a relatively calm alternative to the clubs nearby - a good place to catch your breath, shoot a game of pool, listen to music, watch videos (or sporting events), and chat with locals before you go dancing down the block. The bar itself, cut from dark mahogany, is beautiful, giving this space an inviting vibe. It's popular with guys of all ages, and it also draws a relatively mixed gay/lesbian crowd, and even quite a few straight folks. Queen's Head is a great spot for listening to piano on Sunday nights, and it opens to a balcony with nice views of neighboring historic buildings. Tuesday night's karaoke events always draw plenty of talented songbirds.

8. Golden Lantern - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
The only gay hangout in the French Quarter that's along charming and busy Royal Street, the Golden Lantern (1239 Royal St., 504-529-2860) is the sister bar to Tubby's in Fort Myers, Florida. Because of its aforementioned central location, this easygoing and friendly neighborhood bar pulls in quite a few out-of-towners (gay and straight); it's also known for its bloody Mary cocktails. Drag shows are staged on Saturday nights.

9. JohnPaul's Bar - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
There's no consistently better place in New Orleans to catch extremely rowdy, funny, and bawdy drag shows than JohnPaul's (941 Elysian Fields Ave., 504-948-1888), a festive show bar along one of Faubourg Marigny's main thoroughfares - it's just across the street from the Phoenix leather bar, and a few blocks up from the gay-popular restaurants and jazz clubs of Frenchmen Street. The drag scene here really comes alive during the weekends - the rest of the week, there's a good variety of fun theme events, including Monday trivia, Tuesday and Thursday country-western line dancing, and Wednesday live music. JohnPaul's is friendly and dishy, an easy place to strike up a conversation, and the crowd is a real cross-section of the city's LGBT community.

10. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar - mixed bar

photo by Andrew Collins
To be clear, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon St., 504-593-9761) is a gay bar. But it is one of the most famous watering holes in New Orleans, and it's steps from such iconic gay spots as Cafe Lafitte in Exile, Bourbon Pub, and Oz, and thus draws in quite a few gay guys and lesbians, particular out-of-towners curious to see this fabled bar that's set in circa-1730s building, making it quite possibly the oldest building in the United States currently housing a bar. Supposedly, the colorful privateer and pirate Jean Lafitte and his brother Pierre smuggled contraband out of the building in the late 18th century. These days, you'll a cozy though often crowded space a brick fireplace, exposed brick and plaster walls, and lots of character. It's fun, gay-welcoming stopping in here for a cocktail before moving on to the several gay bars in the area.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.