I met my friend Erica at Handsome Willy’s the other day, and when we arrived, we admitted to each other that we had each gotten lost en route. This is because neither of us had ever driven to Handsome Willy’s. We had only gone when we were already stumbling out of a cab. I mention this because Handsome Willy’s is not easy to get to by car. Though its hand-painted sign, which covers an entire exterior wall, acts as a beacon that can be seen from Interstate 10, once you start navigating the dead ends and one ways of downtown, you may wonder if you will ever get there.
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Handsome Willy’s is the closest bar to the Tulane Avenue Medical Complex, which encompasses several hospitals and schools, and at 6 p.m. the bar was full of folks in scrubs, sipping an after-work beer. It was a strictly local crowd, and Handsome Willy’s seems a mostly local bar. They even run tabs for privileged customers, including the man who acts as their delivery guy during lunch. Tonight he ordered a beer with promises to pay for it soon, and we watched Victoria (a truly charming bartender who has been behind the stick at Handsome Willy’s since 2013) hang his tab on a small clothesline strung behind the bar. I’m sure this happens in other bars, but I can’t tell you where. Also of note is the 10 percent discount offered for folks willing to pay by cash instead of by credit card.
The bar is chill and cozy, but we take our drinks to the patio, joining the other folks for some afterwork winding down. Handsome Willy’s has DJs most nights and crawfish boils on Saturdays when they are in season. The joint fills up on Sundays when the Saints play at home the surrounding parking lots are filled with fans instead of medical professionals.