New Orleans is a sports hub, hosting the Sugar Bowl annually as well as regular stops for the Final Four and Super Bowl. It's no secret that New Orleanians bleed black and gold. If you are ever tempted to drive the wrong way on a one way street, take your shot during a Saints game - there is never anybody on the road. And it's not just the Saints that draw a crowd, the Pelicans, Hornets and LSU Tigers are all well supported.
There are plenty of vibrant sports bars that draw locals as well as visitors, and these 10 are at the top of the list. And you don't have to worry about bars discriminating against other teams - because this is a tourist city and there are pockets of transplants from all over, you'll find sports fans of all stripes.
Most of these spots serve food (Chuck's is the exception), from typical pub grub to very tasty local fare. Drinks are generally strong and pours hefty, a key ingredient to keeping the crowds cheering loudly and often. Most of these spots are close to the French Quarter, with a few uptown exceptions if you really want to rub elbows with the locals. Just get to the bar of your choice early if you want a seat.
Bruno's has been an institution in New Orleans since the days of Prohibition. This friendly pub caters to students and is a stellar choice for watching any sporting event. Great moments in local sports history, from Tulane's perfect season to the Saint's first division title, are immortalized on the walls. There are TVs for watching and games of shuffleboard, darts or pool to be played. Choose from 20 drafts and plenty more bottled beer along with some of the best bartenders in town. Besides the usual pub fare, try the Boudreaux fries - they sound weird (sweet potato fries topped with roast beef debris, bleu cheese crumbles, sugar and spice pecans and golden raisins) but the combo is tasty good.
Huck Finn's is a locally owned and operated sports bar and restaurant close to Canal Street on busy Decatur. With a menu filled with Creole dishes and exposed brick walls lined with flat screens, Huck Finn's is a solid destination for the hungry sport's enthusiast. Located just steps from the Mississippi River, Huck's dishes mighty fine grub, from Pain Perdu (a New Orleans style French toast), to the BBQ Shrimp & Grits to crawfish etouffee. The bread pudding is baked to order and served with a signature whiskey cream sauce. Ask about the special "Black & Gold" shots served during Saints games.
Gordon Biersch is a large restaurant/sports bar on Poydras in the heart of the New Orleans CBD. Sit indoors or out, with TVs tuned to the game offering a hubbub of activity and a sporty soundtrack. Enjoy up close views of the brewery where the beer making goes down. You can really make a day out of Biersch's by planning a brewery tour for before or after the sporting event you plan to watch. The place can accommodate a crowd of up to 375, so it's also a top spot for convention groups, with private dining available. The food is a cut above the usual pub, with dishes like veggie sliders, goat cheese and spinach salad and Cajun pasta with shrimp, chicken and Andouille sausage on the menu.
Although it looks like a ramshackle cottage on the outside, walk in and an oasis of food, brews and sports awaits. Inside you'll find a nice bar, a window to order food and then a door that leads to a multi-level patio that is one of the best places to watch the game, hang with friends and nibble on some excellent grub. There are fans and heaters - in use depending on the weather, and live music is often featured outside. Besides the usual burgers and wraps, there's something called disco fries, fresh fried potatoes covered in gravy and roast beef debris, which must be experienced. The kitchen stays open 'til 1 am on the weekends.
Finn McCool's is a Mid-City sports bar that embodies fan culture. There are six screens for viewing, including a 50" HD plasma and an 8' projector screen showing primarily soccer and rugby matches. At the forefront of the sports bar scene since 2002, Finn's is a familiar winner of accolades like "Best Neighborhood Bar" and "Best Bartender." Competition isn't just on the screen at this popular neighborhood spot. At Finn's you can play against fellow patrons in trivia, billiards, darts or even Scrabble depending on the night of the week. The place is even open for breakfast - try the breakfast burrito with a bloody Mary, delish.
You can't miss The Bulldog, what with their giant beer tap fountain facing Magazine Street passersby. The Garden District watering hole is a favorite among beer enthusiasts, with more than 50 beers on tap and 100 different bottled selections. The Bulldog also does bar food extremely well, with their burgers receiving high praise. Have your dog with you? The Bulldog is pet friendly, so bring Sparky along and grab your favorite pint of beer that you've likely never heard of. If you know you're going to be in town on your birthday, register online to become a Bulldog member online and receive a free beer on your special day.
Tracey's was the original bar in the Irish Channel, opened in 1949 with new fangled comforts like air conditioning - a rarity back in the day. Also the first in the 'hood with color TV, Tracey's drew local crowds from the start. Its current location is on Magazine Street, and although it had been shuttered for some time, Jeffery Carreras reopened in 2010, bringing his famous recipe for roast beef po'boys to the bar along with a great beer list. Potent drink specials and 20 TVs tuned to the game makes Tracey's a top stop for visitors wanting to catch their home team while on the road for business or pleasure.
Cooter Brown's is fanatically adored by sports fans in Uptown New Orleans and it has been for 40 years. Expect fans on the vocal and rowdy side, all in good fun. Stop number 43 on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar, Cooter Brown's is loaded with flat screens, offering views of the game from all vantage points. The Snooty Cooter is a new craft beer bar located at the back offering more than 40 unique drafts in addition to the 30-plus drafts up front. In the middle of the bar is picnic style seating for eating freshly shucked oysters, fried seafood and dressed half-pound burgers.
It's no accident that Manning's at Harrah's is followed by the subtitle Eat Drink Cheer. This is one of the best sports bar/restaurants in New Orleans, a partnership between the casino and former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning, who spent 12 years playing at the Superdome. The restaurant is heaven for any fan of the Manning family, with all kinds of memorabilia from Archie Manning's playing career, and that of his sons, Peyton and Eli. The sports theme at the 210 seat restaurant is driven home by 30 flat screens always tuned to one game or another. There's even a giant screen in a section called the End Zone. As for the menu, it's an intersection between Mississippi Delta and Creole, with specialties like shrimp and grits and local red fish.
Open damn near 24 hours. That's what's on the tired looking awning outside of Chuck's Sports Bar, a solid dive bar located on a quiet street less than a mile from the Superdome. Cheap, strong drinks, a mostly local clientele, including plenty of bartenders late night makes Chuck's a gritty gem. There's a pool table and a digital jukebox, but don't come hungry. No chow is served but you are welcome to bring something in if you like. You won't confuse this place for the Polo Lounge at the five-star Windsor Court Hotel two blocks away, but Chuck's is a keeper.