The Red Door Lounge

The Red Door Lounge is described to me as having “Mid-City charm.”  Online reviews, as well as the bar’s homepage, consistently use the same adjective.  The bar’s bio states that it is “a cozy place for regulars and an inviting space for newcomers.” Not being overly familiar with Mid-City, I wanted  to see what about the bar gave it such obvious Mid-City charm.  Then I hoped to discover what Mid-City charm even meant – the term seems to be used and understood by locals with some frequency, as if there were a particular qualifying criteria for such a description.  

The front door of the bar is angled in such a way that if viewed in isolation, it would appear to be a corner lot. However, it is not.  It is positioned between Taqueria Guerrero and a discount mattress and futon store.  Charming.  Inside it is narrow, long, dark, and last night, hot; the air conditioning had gone out earlier that day.  The walls are lined with a mix of (reproduction?) nostalgia, Saints stuff, some acrylic art, photos from the flood, and bar events promotion boards.  There will be free food for next weekend’s Saint’s game.  The Red Door also offers a variety of activities, other than drinking.  One can gamble using video poker machines, play Wii, darts, pool, or watch TV.  It also appears that you could have a dance party.  There is a disco ball all the way in back by the pool table.

The crowd seemed almost entirely regulars and many service industry workers. This could be in part because the Red Door offers a discount for industry people.  The bartender was very friendly and the drinks were extremely cheap.  Though I did not order a $10 bucket of beer or a $5 pitcher, if I had it would have been served with a bag of ice floating to maintain drinking temperature.

The Red Door during a Saint's game

I understand that the bar was originally opened in 1940, but after Katrina, was bought and renovated by its current owner.  I have come across reviewers that long for the old Red Door, saying that the new one is “straight out of suburbia.” There are others, though, that feel it is the “perfect neighborhood bar.”  One such blogger goes so far as the have specific requirements for earning this title, requirements worth reading as they paint a vivid picture of the Red Door – http://millyonair.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/new-orleans-part-iii-the-red-door/ .  Despite the heat and the 90’s pop grunge playing last night (later changed to Erykah Badu, which was great) and the sports-bar-feel of the Red Door, I was charmed.  There was an odd assortment of effects that did this; street car going by, holiday string lights, the fact that the bar decorum makes it seem as if they are always hosting a party, and that Restaurant Row and the Red Door Lounge have a slightly dilapidated look and feel to them.  It feels like a neighborhood here, maybe that is “Mid-City charm.”.

4 thoughts on “The Red Door Lounge

  1. Hi there! Thanks for the linking to my blog–I’m glad you enjoyed my list of requirements for a neighborhood bar. You wouldn’t think they’d be difficult to satisfy, but sadly, I’ve not found the (old) Red Door’s equal. Nevertheless, I am glad to hear it still retains some of its former charm; though I’ve been back to NOLa a handful of times since the hurricane, I stayed away from the the new Red Door because I was worried that the newness and sports-barsy-ness might make me cry.

    Great blog, exciting project! I look forward to reading more!

    Milly

    • I wish I had had the opportunity to visit the old Red Door. I would have liked the comparison. I have found the sports bar decorum to be slightly at odds with the clientele, but I have not been at the bar while a game was on – I imagine the sports bar vibe would dwarf the odd dive-bar vibe.

      The perfect bar is elusive, you are right. There are a few places in the bywater that come close, but even then I like to visit them on rotation to meet all my bar needs. You should explore the 9th ward dives next time youre in the city, I think you might like them.

      Thanks for reading!
      Julia

  2. Great Post!! After reading this (and forcing my friends to come out for some “research”) it dawned on me that I almost never park directly on the row, but instead park on some side street and walk to the Row because I enjoy the feel of being there. The charm seems enhanced by walking through the neighborhood, a feeling I did not notice or accredit to the place, but most certainly will now!

    Defining a neighborhood (or community) can be difficult and elusive, but I think this speaks to that really well. I am now curious if the feel of it is the same for those who travel to the Row from other parts of the city as compared to those who live near enough to use the public transportation, bike, or walking trails.

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