When you are a 100-year-old restaurant, the presumption is that you will stick with what you know and not try anything new. How nice that Galatoire’s ignored this paean in 2013 and opened Galatoire’s 33, an oasis of class and comfort in the middle of gaudy, crass Bourbon Street. Unlike its sister restaurant, whose upstairs bar is usually crowded with folks waiting for a table, this bar really almost a lounge is happy to accommodate patrons who are looking for a drink (or three), and who may not want a bite at all. The cocktail menu reflects the steakhouse theme: classics, classics, classics. Old Fashioneds and Sazeracs perfectly suit the formal yet comfortable decor. You can also get a delicious traditional daiquiri, a nice contrast to the frozen sugar bombs pouring out of venues all up and down the street. And just because Galatoire’s 33 is a place with tradition doesn’t mean it is stuffy. Even if you are in a t-shirt and shorts, you can pop in here and enjoy a taste of history. GOLDEN LANTERN (A.K.A. TUBBY’S GOLDEN LANTERN)
Elegant digs at Galatoire’s 33
Early on in my New Orleans tenure, I was out late in the Quarter with my roommate. We were tipsy and hungry, so I suggested we visit a Chinese restaurant I had recently noticed called the Golden Lantern. He quickly disabused me of that notion. The only thing you are taking out of the Golden Lantern is a delicious Bloody Mary.
Though the name may speak otherwise, there’s no chinoiserie in the Golden Lantern. Instead of silk dragons and paper screens, the decor is typical French Quarter bar: exposed brick, dim lighting, and a worn, wooden bar top. Though the Golden Lantern is definitely a gay bar, it is also a neighborhood bar. It’s typical to see folks who live nearby stop in for an after work cocktail, visit with the bartender, and bemoan the rising Airbnb presence in the Quarter (or similar local problems). The bar can get hopping on the weekends, especially during drag shows and Saints games, which have more in common than most believe. If you are around before a drag show, you should definitely arm yourself with plenty of dollar bills to tip the talent. The shows are unforgettable, no matter how hard you try. The Golden Lantern attracts some of the more senior queens, few of whom ever bother to memorize the words to the songs they’re lip-synching. Instead, they choose to do what a friend calls eat pudding, which is just moving your lips in time with the music. No one is fooled but everyone is entertained. Golden Lantern drag shows are best chased with a whiskey, neat.