How To Drink & See Live Music (Without Going To Bourbon Street) In New Orleans guide image


How To Drink & See Live Music (Without Going To Bourbon Street) In New Orleans

Five places for an unforgettable, fun night in NOLA.

New Orleans is an elite town for partying and seeing live music. There’s the madness of Frenchmen Street, where you’ll find 10-piece brass bands wailing on the sidewalk. And in The Marigny, you can stumble into any neighborhood bar and you’ll probably see a band performing that Spotify will put on your For You playlist in six months. Not to mention you can literally drink a beer (or a hurricane) in public and nobody will bother you—in fact, they’re probably drinking a cold one, too.

But for all these reasons, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed about where, exactly, you should see a tuba solo—especially without having to hit up Bourbon Street. Here’s how to have a fun, live music-filled night in New Orleans. Use this guide if you’re in town for Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras, an unhinged birthday or bachelorette party, or simply because liking gumbo and guitar solos is your personality.


Bacchanal Wine imageoverride image

Bacchanal Wine


600 Poland Ave, New Orleans
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Start your night by hitting up Bacchanal Wine, a combo bottle shop and live music spot with a great backyard. Any of the multiple fridges have excellent selections of chilled reds, crisp roses, and bottles from small vineyards in Austria. Make your choice, then head outside if it’s nice out—which may vary, since you’re in the swamp—or get settled in a room upstairs. 

The last time we were here, we saw a free-flowing jazz quartet that featured a lot of upright bass solos, mind-bending piano riffs, and even a guest appearance from an audience member who brought his guitar. It’s best to come here on the early side—they close at 11pm on weekends, and the live music ends even before that.


Before you really get into your big night, you’ve got to eat. And while Bacchanal has some great small plates and snacks, you’re going to need something more substantial. Take a 25-minute walk (or short cab ride) through the Bywater to N7. This Japanese-French spot feels like you’ve stumbled upon some secret Parisian garden forest fantasy that just so happens to be in New Orleans, and the food is extremely good.

They do French classics that sometimes have a Japanese twist, like escargot bubbling in nori butter, sake-cured salmon tartines, and some of the crunchiest frites you’ll ever have. The backyard is huge, but the inside is also very cute with lots of French art, candlelit tables, and an intimate bar. The best part is you won’t find any drunk idiots from Bourbon Street here—save those run-ins for later.


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Walk about 10 minutes east on St. Claude Ave from N7 and you’ll run into Siberia, a small bar and live music venue that usually has local bands every night for a small cover fee—around $10, or $5 if the door person likes your vibe. We found this place randomly on a recent trip, but the bands were a highlight—we saw an act from New Orleans called Chicken Milk that we would describe as a combo of Vulfpeck and Dr. Dog.

Stick to the basics here (White Claws, beers, vodka sodas), and know the live music is all going to be quality, and probably a band you’ve never heard of unless you live here. There’s plenty of space to sit, especially if you come on a weekday, with some comfy couches in the back and tables right to the side of the stage.


You’re in New Orleans and you want to see some trombone solos, trumpets belting out funk staples, and perhaps a combination of the two. The best place to do that is Frenchman Street, which is a stretch of bars and venues that happen to be just a 10-minute walk from Siberia. You could probably go to any of these spots and have the time of your life, but the Blue Nile is a classic. 

The bigger brass bands come on later in the night, and might even start an hour later than they’re supposed to, but occupy some time with a surprisingly delicious frozen mango margarita. The sets are long and the crowd is fun—you’ll definitely feel like you did New Orleans right if you spend an hour or two here.


Have you heard of Bourbon Street? Of course you have, especially if you’re the one planning a trip to New Orleans. While we appreciate its existence, you’ll have a better time elsewhere. Bar Tonique has a pretty similar energy to what you’d find at a Bourbon Street bar, but it’s not on Bourbon Street—it’s three blocks away, and if you’re walking from Blue Nile, you can get close to see what’s up without actually getting sucked in.

Assuming you’re coming here later (they’re open until 2am), you’ll find people occasionally yelling, couples sneaking off to the small bathrooms, and people just sitting in the corner talking to the bartender and drinking one of their daily $6 cocktails. They do quality cocktails like a solid paloma or Pimm’s cup for far less than most places around town.

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Suggested Reading

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The 14 best places to eat and drink in the Marigny and Bywater.

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