Once the dust has settled from Mardi Gras, New Orleans gets ready for the next reason to party. March Madness is on the horizon and there are plenty of great outdoor dining spots to watch the game and toast your team.
Bayou Beer Garden
Bayou Beer Garden and the sister spot next door Bayou Wine Garden are fantastic Mid-City watering holes to watch the game. The beer garden has more than 100 beers to choose from and they're conveniently organized by style to make it easier to find your favorites. Many of the bar snacks are distinctly NOLA including the spicy crawfish pie with remoulade and the mini crab cakes with cheese and jalapeño. Those looking for a more traditional game-day snack should try the Famous BBG Disco Fries smothered in gooey cheese and savory roast beef debris gravy. The TVs will be tuned into March Madness and, if the games are Thursday-Sunday guests can order a healthy helping of crawfish straight from the boiler.
Hurricane's Sports Bar and Grill
Hurricane's has 17 flatscreen TVs and subscriptions to all of the specialty sports channels making it the best place to catch the games that are blacked out on your home streaming services. The Facebook page lists monthly calendars with happy hour specials, games playing, and nights that are cover-free. Hurricane's has a classic sport's bar feel with its dim lighting, neon beer signage, a jukebox with great tunes, and pool tables. It's an affordable place to grab a pint without nonsense. The pizza and wings are great ways to soak up the beer and they are finger-licking good.
Cooter Brown's Tavern and Oyster Bar
Beloved Black Pearl institution, Cooter Brown's Tavern and Oyster Bar has been around for generations. The constantly rotating 84 beer taps keep each visit interesting but they also stock the standard domestics as well. Televisions are within view no matter where you sit and there's also a projector to screen the ultimate game day faceoffs. Enjoy your pint while perusing the "Beersoluem," walls covered in photos of deceased celebrities, a fun nostalgic draw to the tavern. Enjoy raw, Louisiana oysters shucked on the half shell (super fresh and extra delicious). Afterward order a po'boy with any number of exotic fillings like shrimp, fried oyster, catfish, and gator. Cooter Brown's is open from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily for dine-in and takeout.
Since it close to both campuses, Tulane and Loyola students frequent this Uptown staple to root on their classmates. Bruno's Tavern has been sitting on the corner of Hillary and Maple since 1934 and college sports are something of a religion there (Tulane's perfect season is commemorated on the walls). The 10 plasma screens are always tuned to the NCAA games. Chicken wings, both bone-in and boneless, come in portions of six or 12 with seven different sauces to choose between. The house specialty, red beans and rice, is a local comfort food and an excellent pick-me-up if your team takes a loss. There are 10 local brews on offer in addition to the standard domestics, wines, and hard seltzers. Brave the brain freeze and go for either the frozen mule or frozen Jack and coke.
Manning's Sports Bar and Grill
Manning's takes sports bars to the next level. There are more than 30 flatscreens showing the March Madness games and two 13-foot mega screens showing the bitterest college rivalries. The recliner dining area lets you relax and enjoy your meal like you're in your own living room (but fancier). There are 24 beers on tap and even more selections by the bottle. The burgers are the way to go at Manning's and there are several varieties. Try the breakfast burger with a fried egg and bacon or the chili burger slathered in house-made chili, three kinds of cheese, and fresh onion. Each burger has a four-ounce Angus double patty and is served with Zapp's potato chips. During halftime, check out the commissioned artwork by Louisiana native Terrance Osborne.
The Rusty Nail doesn't look like much on the outside, but those that venture inside will find a lush, patio garden. The hanging lights and greenery create a cozy and refined atmosphere to watch the games on the huge projector. The beer and shot combos are affordable ways to enjoy a brew paired with a whiskey, amaro, or tequila to up your buzz. The craft cocktail menu flips the classics on their head. Try the negroni sour made with the Rusty Nail's barrel-aged negroni, lemon, and a touch of simple syrup. The Manhattan variation includes rum, Cardamaro, and smoke and oak bitters. The whisk(e)y selection is huge and covers the global scope of the spirit. Sample bourbons from the U.S. or try more esoteric whiskies from Japan, France, and, of course, Scotland or Ireland.
Sidecar Patio Oyster Bar
The best place to go in the Warehouse district for thoughtfully curated cocktails, fresh seafood, and a TV to watch the game is Sidecar Patio Oyster Bar. (Hey, not everyone wants a rowdy sports bar atmosphere while watching March Madness.) The cocktails are sub-tropical and very creative. Rooting for Tulane? Get the "Tropical AF," a 22-ounce blend of rum, coconut, pineapple, lemon, and blue curaçao to match your team's colors. New Orlean's staple, the disco lemonade, features prominently on the menu and guests can customize their own four different ways. There are more than 15 different oysters on the menu from the Gulf, East, and West coasts available on the half shell served with mignonette, horseradish, and lemon. The Gulf fish ceviche and oyster calliope also showcase the bounty the Gulf of Mexico has to offer.