Most visitors to the French Quarter tend to forget that it is an actual neighborhood: a place that has two schools, grocery stores, a post office, and people who live there. Visitors tend to overlook this because their experience is usually confined to the more touristy areas of the Quarter, especially that part of the Quarter bounded by Canal, St. Ann, Decatur, and Bourbon Streets. But if you are willing to step away from that well-beaten path, you can mingle with plenty of people who call America’s playground their home. One of the best places to do that is at Cosimo’s.
Cosimo’s is located in the most residential quadrant of the Quarter. Don’t come looking for a praline shop or a plastic alligator souvenir here. It is also the only bar for several blocks in any direction, a notable fact given the high density of bars in other parts of the neighborhood. Its presence at this end of Burgundy is a welcome surprise for folks who are just meandering around and stumble upon it. Cosimo’s is open late and also has a pretty late kitchen, and unlike most French Quarter bars, it is full of locals. Some of them are headed to work (there’s lots of service industry folks here) and some have just finished up their day. There may be some tourists, but they probably arrived here by accident or because they are sleeping at an Airbnb nearby.
Cosimo’s opened in 1934, right after the repeal of Prohibition, and it’s remained a beloved watering hole since then. Their weekly crawfish boils (when they are in season) always draw a crowd, and you will often find just as many people standing outside the bar visiting as you may find inside. The interior hasn’t changed much since the 1930s. The mahogany bar has been worn down by thousands of arms leaning over to grab a beer. The long mirror behind it and the numerous beaded pendant lights bring soft illumination to the dimness. There’s a pool table and dartboard for folks in the mood to play, but my favorite touch is the sconce lamp that hangs above the center of the bar’s mirror. It reminds me of a porch light, and it’s always on. I like to think of Cosimo’s as the kind of place that is always there, leaving the light on for its neighbors to come in for a drink.