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Top 10 Tailgating Alternatives In New Orleans

By Brian Cullen
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Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

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The date was January 24th, 2013, and I had just gotten off the plane in New Orleans. Having come from frigid New York, the warm, musty air was more than welcome. But the weather was the last thing on my mind. After all, I was here to report in live from a Super Bowl tailgate!

I was thrilled. Obviously, I’ve already had the chance to report in live from a Giants game and a Jets game, but this was the big enchilada, mostly because neither of those lousy teams even made the playoffs. Especially Victor Cruz and that stupid salsa dance with the-

Where was I? Oh yeah! I was thinking about the big game when the relative lack of a crowd gave me a hunch that something might be amiss. Now, if you look closely at that picture up there, you’ll notice the date on that banner reads “February 3,” meaning:

1. I was a week early for the Super Bowl.

Not only that, but this prompted me to do a little research. And that’s when I found out:

2. The Super Bowl outlawed tailgating six years ago.

In the tailgating journalism game, this is what we call “a bit of a setback.”

BUT! The good news is, we’re tailgaters! We can find a good tailgate anywhere. Who cares if we’re legally barred from entering a parking lot? If you think this is going to stop us from eating and drinking our faces off while jamming out to some pregame music, you’re sorely mistaken, Mr. Goodell!

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

So if you’re headed to New Orleans this weekend, we’ve got some tips on how you can MacGyver a good tailgate, even without a car or a parking lot. Here are our top 10 alternatives to tailgating in the Big Easy.

10. Visit Bourbon Street

You should visit Bourbon Street because it’s famous in the same way that Times Square and 6th Street in Austin are. Here, you can find some wonderfully tacky, tourist-targeting bars that will sell you novelty-sized cups of Everclear-infused hooch for a nominal fee. Now, I have a couple caveats here. Go early in the afternoon, and there’s a good chance that you can take advantage of the “3-for-1 happy hour” that I unwittingly bought into. BUT! Don’t go too early — vendors hose down the entire street every morning, and the smell of musty air, the warm sun and the wet fumes of whatever they’re washing off is a terrible, vom-worthy combination (“vombination”).

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

9. Visit Everything Besides Bourbon Street

Like I said above, Bourbon Street is the Times Square of New Orleans. And that makes it a compelling cultural destination, but also a major tourist trap. So, it shouldn’t be your only stop when you’re down there. In fact, this visit to New Orleans was my third. The first two times, I only visited Bourbon Street. This time, I wanted to go back in time and get drunk with President Taft kick my own ass. This is truly one of the most fun, vibrant cities I’ve ever visited. If you restrict yourself to just one street, you’re cheating yourself. So where to go, instead? Well…

8. Check Out Jackson Square

Jackson Square would be a prime tourist destination, even if you weren’t in town for the Super Bowl. After all, it was the original center of New Orleans. A visit to the Square’s St. Louis Cathedral and a few photos of the statue of Andrew Jackson are customary for any traveler. But this is especially true for the Super Bowl. By the by, seems the media has completely taken over the place. That means there’s bound to be some awesome football goings-on around here this weekend. Oh, and while you’re there…

Cafe Du Monde (Photo Credit: Brian Cullen)

Cafe du Monde (Photo Credit: Brian Cullen)

7. Grab a Beignet from Cafe du Monde

Across the street from Jackson Square is the world famous Cafe du Monde. If you’ve never heard of a beignet, and you don’t know what Cafe du Monde is, let me explain: it is a fried donut plastered with fine powdered sugar that sponges alcohol up like a damn ShamWow. And, though no sweet tooth am I, I can tell you from experience that the drunker you are, the better this tastes. Besides, with all that fried dough? You’re just building a base to help yourself keep going, so you can continue your faux-tailgate all morning (or night — it’s open 24 hours). Speaking of food…

6. Get a Muffuletta from Central Grocery

Located down the street from Jackson Square and Cafe du Monde is Central Grocery — the birthplace of the muffuletta sandwich. Now, if you’ve never had a muffuletta before, just imagine all the best Italian deli meats covered in all sorts of pickled vegetables on a delicious, gigantic, abdomen-sized piece of bread. In other words, even if you can’t officially tailgate, this would make for some mighty fine tailgate fare. For reference, by the way, this is a half sandwich in the picture here. Also note that I have gigantic man hands.

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

5. Pay a Visit to the French Market

The French Market is technically bookended by the Cafe du Monde, and runs upriver for quite a ways. While there are a number of stores, souvenir shops and places to indulge your sweet tooth, my favorite area was the flea market. Here, you can browse and shop for outdoor wares, as well as get some tasty food at any number of vendors. If I wasn’t stuffed full of muffuletta, I would have tried the $5 alligator on a stick. $5! To eat an animal I’ve never eaten before! This is especially a draw for proponents of the FSU Alligator Roast.

4. Check Out the Music on Frenchmen Street

You’d expect to hear your alma mater’s fight song at a college football tailgate. So for a tailgate in New Orleans, you’ll want to hunt down some New Orleans jazz. And there’s no better place for jazz than Frenchmen street. Now, there are plenty of clubs here, and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. But we recommend d.b.a., The Spotted Cat and Maison. But really, you should just wander on in to any bar that’s blaring solid music — they’re all good.

3. Oh, What the Hell. Hit up Harrah’s and Try to Win Back Your Plane Ticket

Whereas in lousy, good-for-nothing Connecticut, where you need to go way the heck out of the way to get to a casino, Harrah’s is right by the French Quarter and surrounded by plenty of hotels. So long as those jerk-faces won’t let you into the parking lot for a tailgate, you may as well show them all what’s what by winning back all your plane ticket money on the craps table. Here’s me trying to earn $100 on a hot hand of slots.

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

2. Go See Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers

Gather ‘round, folks, and I’ll spin you a yarn. My senior year of college, I went to New Orleans for spring break, and I happened upon the best live show I’d ever seen. It was played by a man named Dwayne Dopsie (pronounced DOOP-sie), and I’ve never seen such a love affair between an audience and a band. For seven years — seven years — my college roommate and I have been talking about this show. So when I knew I was going to New Orleans, I knew I had to track him down. As luck would have it, he was playing a show on Friday afternoon.

Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers (Photo Credit: Brian Cullen)

Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers (Photo Credit: Brian Cullen)

I walked into the bar (Krazy Korner, on Bourbon Street), and I was told they weren’t open yet. I asked the door guy if they had anyone playing that day (just in case my information was wrong), and I was greeted with a wide-eyed, low-spoken, reverential “aw… yeah man… Dwayne DOOPsie… ZYdeco music…”

This man was in awe. And I knew that he’d grab every bit of the magic I saw on my trip seven years ago.

All I have for you is a picture, but if you’re in town, and you want high-energy music to kick your mobile tailgate to the next level (much like my typical Andrew WK suggestions): consider seeing Dwayne Dopsie live. Here’s his schedule.

1. Tailgate Everywhere: With the Go Cup

No no, not the “to go” cup. The Go Cup. They are very specific about this in New Orleans. What is it, you might ask? Why, it’s the linchpin of your entire mobile tailgating plan. See, in New Orleans, you can drink anywhere, so long as your beverage in a can or a plastic cup. No glass. BUT THAT DOESN’T MATTER. You can walk into any bar and get a beer ON THE FLY. Do you see what this means!? New Orleans has bested the very notion of the tailgate! Now, you don’t even need a sanctioned parking lot and a car because the entire city is your tailgate.

This entry is #1, but it probably should have been #10. Not because it ranked lowly (quite the contrary, actually), but because I want you to now review everything above and imagine experiencing it with an ice cold beer in your hands (you know, just like I did). Do this, and your Super Bowl weekend will be an unparalleled success.

So here’s to you, New Orleans: the city that rendered tailgating obsolete. Cheers.

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

Photo Credit: Brian Cullen

As a side note, this is my last article of the season, ladies and gents. This has truly been a blast. I can only hope you’ve had as good a time reading this as I have writing it. Remember to practice your grilling in the off-season. After all, the preseason is only seven months away.

Check out more Tailgating Top 10s.

Stop in at the Man Cave Daily, where the women are hot and the beer is cold.

Brian Cullen was heartbroken to come back to 30-degree weather after a weekend full of 72-and-sunny days in New Orleans. Follow him on Twitter @bucketcullen.

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