OK, y’all. I’m just about to disclose a secret. It’s my favorite bar and my favorite restaurant. I hesitate to do this cuz I think there are places that only locals should know about and should be reserved for them.
A couple years ago some national magazine was rating the best bars in the United States. This place took top honors.
OK. Here it is: The Napoleon House.
Fortunately, the place looks like hell on the outside, like some seedy, run-down French Quarter joint that hasn’t been painted in years so tourists walking by, unless they are in the know, think it’s just some dilapidated, dingy kind of place that decent people wouldn’t patronize. Let’s just keep it that way.
We wouldn’t want it to be discovered and overrun with tourists. (Not that there’s anything wrong with tourists, mind you.) I’ll take that back. We wouldn’t want it overrun with crass, insensitive tourists.
I love Napoleon House. I love that this 1797 house was offered by the mayor of New Orleans to the deposed great Emperor Napoleon to live out his final days. Alas, he died before he could get here.
But why do I love the Napoleon House so much? I love it’s decadence, the faded paint on the walls multicolored by decay and a generous neglect; the waiters in black and white and bow-tie; the perennial classical music playing in the background; the Pimms cups (ya gotta have a Pimms cup); the patio with the palm trees and the long elegant staircase.
There is a Caribbean-ness about it and yet and old-world feel. It exudes class, culture, history and charm. It’s the perfect place to take a date or a visiting friend or family member. The decor seems dingy yet the place is alive, open, fresh and most of all authentic. And yes you can take your kids here too.
And the food? Oh my gosh. They have some of the best red beans and rice anywhere, po-boys, gumbo, jambalaya, salads. And it’s cheap. My favorite place to sit is the patio, just to lounge out there and not be in a hurry and enjoy the ambience which this place has in spades.
Can you imagine if Napoleon had actually moved into that house and died in New Orleans? Wow! Just think of the colorful Napoleon stories that would have now been floating around New Orleans. It boggles the mind to think how his actually living here would have affected the history of this city. But unfortunately, I think we wouldn’t have the Napoleon House bar/restaurant.
My secret favorite place would now probably be a museum.
I think history turned out just perfectly.
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