Want to dive into New Orleans’ storied nightlife? You’ve got a head start at the Prince Conti Hotel. The Bombay Club, the hotel’s swank in-house bar and restaurant, is just steps away from your room.
Start your evening at one of the club’s nightly music showcases, where you can sip a perfect martini from the largest martini selection in town while listening to the smooth jazz stylings of Banu Gibson or the lively Latin beats of Tres Amigos. The musical menu changes nightly, so the Bombay is always a good launching pad for hitting the streets at other legendary New Orleans venues.
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro (626 Frenchmen St.)
Jazz mavens make a beeline for Snug, the city’s premier showcase for contemporary jazz. Nightly shows at 8 and 10 feature New Orleans icons like Ellis Marsalis, patriarch of the city’s first family of jazz, whose son Delfeayo also draws big crowds for his weekly Uptown Jazz Orchestra gig. Other regulars include master keyboardist David Torkanowsky and the always-inventive Astral Project, along with world-class visiting artists like the Mahmoud Chouki International String Trio.
Balcony Music Club (1331 Decatur)
You never know what kind of music you’ll find at BMC, as the locals call it, and that’s all part of the fun. Creole Funk, Legends Brass, and Dapper Dandies are among the dozens of bands featured nightly, when as many as five acts play. And since there’s never a cover, you can always dip in and dip out, after fortifying yourself with the daily drink and shot specials. Conveniently located on the Esplanade edge of the Quarter, it’s a good pit stop before or after hitting the lively Frenchmen St. scene.
Chris Owens Club & Balcony (500 Bourbon St.)
Bourbon St. isn’t all loud cover bands and lethal Hurricanes. The seemingly ageless Chris Owens, a French Quarter legend, is an only-in-New-Orleans phenom who truly must be seen to be believed. She’s a high voltage perpetual motion machine who belts out songs, dances like everyone’s watching and makes the audience part of her show. You might just find yourself sharing the spotlight with her onstage at one of her two weekly 9 p.m. shows, which happen most Friday and Saturday nights. Go for it!
Blue Nile (532 Frenchmen St.)
Hailed as the “premiere live music venue in the city” by Where Y’at magazine, the Blue Nile hosts a stellar roster of New Orleans artists every night on both the main stage and in the club’s upstairs Balcony Room, from Cyril Neville and Big Sam’s Funky Nation to Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers. It’s also a must-stop venue for national touring acts. Shows start early and go late, so it’s a great place to cap off the night in a high-energy environment where the collective force field can be contagious.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon St.)
Ready to wind down but don’t want to go to bed? Lafitte’s is just what the doctor ordered. Founded in the early 18th century, and housed in a historic building reputed to have served as the New Orleans headquarters for the infamous pirate and smuggler Jean Lafitte, the candlelit bar exudes exactly the kind of spooky ambiance you’d expect to find in New Orleans. Piano man Dave Hood, the latest in a series of keyboard legends, plays classics like “Marie Laveau” deep into the wee hours at Lafitte’s, which serves a potent menu of nightcaps.