YYR’s Guide to the Seedy Underbelly: New Orleans

To all our guests from near and afar:

Thanks for coming to 2 Broke 4 the Worlds and welcome to our fine city. The Big Easy, The Crescent City, The City Sobriety Forgot, The Dirty Dirty. We call it many things, but most of all, we call it home. We are stoked to have you here in our city, on our sofas, and thrashing our streets. Hospitality is what we do and we are glad to host and want this to be an awesome time for everyone. Let us know if you have unanswered questions, or need anything. It can probably be arranged, no matter how depraved or illegal it is. Remember, New Orleanians love having guests, but we hate tourists. So have fun, mind your P’s & Q’s, and be a good guest, not an obnoxious tourist.

If you are still reading this we assume that you are not a local so, let us start by saying how much we appreciate you traveling to participate in the first (annual?) 2 Broke 4 The Worlds! As you know we aren’t your mom and we aren’t your lawyer. Even if we are friends we’d rather not have to bail you out of jail, visit you in the hospital, or hold your hair out of the toilet so here is the quick 411 on how to do things right down here.

Riding in New Orleans
As you are all certainly aware, if you leave your bike out of your eyesight without the benefit of being locked, up it’s a gamble as to whether or not you will see it again. Your have better odds beating the house at any of our fine gambling establishments, than on avoiding our prolific bike thieves. Most people do not bother locking wheels, as thieves are generally too lazy or dumb to yoink them here. Bike thieves here are also ignorant on the subject of fine bicycles, and tend to go for easy steals rather than big profits.
We use this term very loosely, as you will see. Many of our roads are new and smooth and beautiful. Most are rubbish. Potholes, sinkholes, patch jobs involving gravel etc. are the norm. The constant drinking and broken glass in the streets doesn’t help anything either. A big trick to navigating the city well is knowing what sections of what streets are conducive to fast riding, and which are conducive to flats and broken spokes. To traverse the river areas quickly, there is no one street that is best, or even good the entire way. For optimal road conditions you may have to jump to a parallel street. This map from JoeyBike is fairly conservative, but can give you a good idea what the best streets are. I highly advise you peep this hot map action.
Don’t call it a trolley! They are streetcars. They run in both directions from the Riverbend (The end of Carrollton Ave where it meets St. Charles, at the far West end of Uptown and Orleans Parish) along St. Charles Avenue to Canal Street, downtown. A second line runs up Canal from Downtown to Beauregard Circle, where Esplanade meets City Park. The tracks are dangerous, especially when wet. Many run in the same direction as traffic, try to take them at as close to a perpendicular angle as possible when crossing.
Obviously it’s the law to obey all traffic signals and pretend you are a car, but we have yet to see a crackdown on cyclists for anything other than lights in New Orleans.”No cop, no stop” is the advice from New Orleans sole Bike Messenger.
 Further advice from our lone(ly?) messenger, Christopher Snider…
“The drivers down here are pretty reckless and do not give a
shit. You know those videos of lab animals going outside for the first time in their life? Thats how it seems some drivers act when they encounter someone on a bike. Downtown’s not so bad, but further out it gets weird. I highly encourage helmets.
Also, it’s completely flat here. Some parts are even below sea level. So if you want to change to a stiffer gearing there’s no hills to worry about.
Decently bright lights are good to have especially out of the Downtown area. Lots of streetlights don’t work.
Be aware of your surroundings. Some neighborhoods you can go two blocks and instantly be in a sketchy area. Really though, people can and have been mugged in any area at any time. I just don’t want y’all’s shit stolen, so be aware.”
Now what you’ve all been waiting for…
The city of New Orleans is not required to close its bars at any particular time. This means that a bar may stay open around-the-clock, 24 hours a day, and many in the French Quarter do just that. Not all bars serve all night, many close at 2 a.m., 4 a.m. or 6 a.m., or simply whenever the last customer finally staggers home. Most bars enforce an “18 to enter, 21 to drink” law at the door, although many choose to require all patrons to be 21 to enter. Each particular establishment reserves the right to close whenever they choose, and refuse service to those underage or already intoxicated.

As native New Orleanians know, asking for a “go-cup” anywhere else in the country simply produces blank stares. Here, getting a go-cup and transferring your drink from glass to plastic to take it outside on the way to the next bar is a ritual and a tradition. We take great pride in our open container laws. Alcohol may be consumed outside of a bar as long as it is in an unbreakable container, but BEWARE – YOU ARE NOT IN DISNEY WORLD! Public drunkenness is an easy way to go to jail in New Orleans if you can’t keep it together.

A note on the French Quarter
The French Quarter is pretty cool, I guess. This 12×6 block area used to be the ENTIRE city of New Orleans. Unfortunately it has been pimped out to tourists, and is now a bit of a tramp. Bourbon Street is a spectacle, and is something to be witnessed, but no locals go there. It is just drunk tourists flashing and harassing each other. If you want to do things like a local, stray from the Quarter and head into the Marigny. Frenchmen Street is lined with lots of awesome music clubs and is a much more authentic party scene for the city. Unfortunately, it is becoming less and less underground, and may one day be the new Bourbon. Across Elysian Fields Ave, and several blocks south of Frenchmen is St. Claude. It is rapidly blooming as a rad new area, with lots of cool bars. Peep these spots if you want to keep it real, and of course hunt around for dive bar gems to keep it gritty.

Lay of the Land
The city was born along the Mississippi River and moved North toward Lake Pontchartrain over time. North/South differentiations are frequently made with the terms “lakeside” and “riverside”. The oldest parts of the city, and possibly the worst streets, therefore, are found in the river areas. From East to West, the Bywater, Marigny, French Quarter, CBD, Warehouse District, Garden District, Irish Channel, Uptown, and Carrolton line the river. These areas can be more generally divided into Downtown (Bywater to CBD/Warehouse District) and  Uptown (Garden District – Carrolton), with the Interstate overpass being the dividing line. Uptown is upriver of Downtown, and vice verse. Because of the way the river bends, streets that run “parallel” to the river are shorter the closer you get to Mid-City and City Park. This means, oftentimes the fastest way to get somewhere is to cut back in (north below Mid-City, South above) towards the center of the city to take a shorter East-West course to your desired North-South thoroughfare.

To clarify, we are using “Arts Distric” and “Warehouse District” interchangably. We have lumped Treme and Esplanade Ridge into Mid-City, although they are technically their own areas. Irish Channel is not shown, but it is between Garden District and Uptown, along the river

I think of the city as being much like a dartboard or a wagonwheel. City Park (2nd biggest park in the US, after Central Park!) is the bull’s eye, or the hub of the wheel. At the South side of the park is Mid-City. Bayou St. John begins (or ends?) at the base of Jefferson Davis Parkway, and meanders North towards the lake, winding its way down the East side of the park, until it connects to Lake Pontchartrain. From Mid-City, any other area of the city is accessible in a very short ride. North-South(Roughly) thoroughfares such as Esplanade, Orleans, Jefferson Davis and Carrollton connect the park and Mid-City to different sections along the river.

North of Mid-City, surrounding the park and lining the lakefront are the lake neighborhoods. This area is largely residential. While it boasts some really gorgeous views, there is not much going on out here besides seafood restaurants and the University of New Orleans.

Event Locations
Half Moon – 1125 St Mary St  New Orleans, LA 70130. Half Moon is in the Lower Garden District, where Magazine Street collides with (or tears itself away from) Camp Street and becomes one-way. It is on St. Mary, 1 block on the lakeside (North) of Magazine, 1 block East of the split. Half Moon has Skeeball and a kitchen open really late, plus a nice patio.

Jackson Square/St. Louis Cathedral is a frequent starting point for alleycats. The Square is located on Decatur Street (700 block), across from the River in the middle (East-West) of the French Quarter. Bikes are not allowed in the Square or the streets adjacent to it. Alleycats often start between the Cathedral and the Square, or in Pirate’s Alley or one of the other alleyways connecting the pedestrian thoroughfares to regular streets. Occasionally the cops will hassle you for being on a bike in these pedestrian areas, and at an alleycat last Fall, scooter cops attempted to stop racers on their way out of the Square. Good try, fellas.

R-Bar – 1431 Royal St  New Orleans, LA 70116 -On the corner of Royal and Kerlerec, R-Bar is the only bar I know of where you can also get a haircut ($10 gets you a shot and a haircut. Score!). A couple blocks south of the madness of Frenchmen, this place is open way late, has a well stocked bar, and is frequented by a good crowd. They are always playing really freaky movies, so if you’re not feeling really chatty just get weird with the TV. Across the street there is a sweet porch-plus-stoop affair on a house that is well kept, but permanently uninhabited. With the Esplanade Mini-Mart right down the street, this is one of my favorite brown bag spots.

Tools of the Trade
Need some spare tubes? Want a new frame to take home as a souvenir? Whatever it is, you can find it at one of these bike shops, our top choices in their respective areas.

Bicycle Michael’s – 10:00-18:00OPEN ALL WEEKEND! Closed Wednesdays
622 Frenchmen St  New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 945-9505
This is one of my favorite shops in the city and this year they are celebrating their 30th anniversary. I went to high school with Michael’s daughter and have been going here for a long time. These guys are always down to sponsor alleycats, etc for YYR, including Friday night’s Goldsprints at Half Moon (Thanks guys!). This is where I go to buy (or order) STUFF. They have tons of parts and accessories, literally anything you could want, across a lot of brands and price points. On top of that they employ a solid bay of mechanics.

Bayou Bicycles – 10:00-18:00 Closed Sunday
3530 Toulouse St  New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 488-1946
This is where I take my bikes to get work done on them. Consistently awesome service by really nice guys. We ride with a few guys from this shop all the time, and we know that they know their shit. You can get anything you need here, but because they are a Specialized dealer, the majority of the inventory is Specialized stuff. Lots of really high end machinery to ogle if you’re into that sort of thing.

The Bike Shop New Orleans – 10:00-18:00 Closed Sundays
4711 Freret St. New Orleans, LA 70115
An extremely approachable bike shop staff, and generous sponsors of YYR’s last alleycat. When people tell me they are looking to buy a bike, I send them here. Outside of Craigslist, I think this is the best place to shop used bikes. This shop is pretty new and while they stock all the essentials, inventory here is hit or miss. Being a used bike shop on the outskirts of a college campus means this shop caters to more casual cyclists not looking to break the bank, so no really fancy stuff here.

Plan B: The New Orleans Community Bike Project
Mon 17:00-21:00 Th 16:00-20:00 Sat 11:00-15:00 (Fri = Ladies, trans, sissy only 17:00-20:00)
Plan B is a community bike shop.  You can go here and use their stands and tools to wrench on your bike. This is free, although donations are always cool. They also have a motley assortment of parts for sale. Many a good bargain can be found, although many of the parts fall into the beater range of the quality scale.

Yeah there are a zillion bars in the city. Many are cool, some are not. Every city has cool bars, and we’ll share our favorites, but what we really can boast the most is our open container laws. You can drink ANYWHERE in public, ANY TIME. So hit the corner store, brown bag it, and keep moving. After all, how much of the city can you see with your buns on a barstool?
Frenchmen Deli & Grocery – 602 Frenchmen St. – Great location, mediocre selection. They do have S. Pellegrino Limonata though.
Esplanade Mini-Mart – 839 Esplanade (Corner of Dauphine) – Good selection of beer, walking distance from Frenchmen/Quarter
Sidney’s Wine Cellar – 917 Decatur (At the east split of Decatur, right across from the golden statue of Joan of Arc) – Awesome beer selection, make your own sixers, best brownbag stock-up spot in the quarter.
The Quartermaster Deli – 1100 Bourbon – Ok so this one’s not about beer exclusively. But these sandos are the bomb.org. You must eat one. You’ll have plenty of chances because the joint is open 24 hours a day. Get ripped at the bar, stumble over, order some grub, and polish of another cold one while you wait.
Ideal Discount – 3340 Orleans Ave – Right across Bayou St. John from Bayou Bicycles, at the foot of Orleans Ave, Ideal is our pick based primarily on the first rule of real estate: location, location, location. This may be the most centrally located store in the city. Also, it’s a supermercado, so it has that spicy Latino snack section going on. Any Ideal in the city is a cool spot to grab comida and cervezas.
Stein’s Deli – 2207 Magazine St (Uptown from corner of Jackson) – Stein’s isn’t really a bodega. It’s a deli with salacious sammiches and surly Jewish guys imported direct from NYC, and most notably an awesome beer selection. Oh, and killer pickles.
We could go on and on telling you what to eat and where to drink, but we want you guys to discover some of that for yourselves. Ask anybody anything. You’ll get more recommendations than you can swing a U-lock at. We hope this was helpful, and that all your wildest dreams come true. See your beautiful mugs this weekend, ladies and gentlemen.
Yeah You Ride!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Ryan Fowler says:

    City Park is actually larger than Central park. Neither are even close to the biggest. (Although Bayou Sauvage comes in third.) City Park has 1,300 Acres. Central Park has 840 Acres. Here are three sources.

    There is some disagreement where the 2 rank on the list, but all have the acreage the same, and all have City beating Central. Didn’t want to give our brothers to the north something else to brag about! Thanks.

    Ryan Fowler

    1. yeahyouride says:

      Ryan, that is news to me, I had no idea City Park was bigger than Central. But who has time to fact check things they hear anymorek right? Yes, Sauvage is bigger, but it is a Natural Wildife Reserve, not a city/municipal park. I’ll still stand behind my assertion that City Park is a chart topper for public parks inside a city. A different class altogether from State and National Parks + Rec Areas

  2. Nice breakdown. I’m doing a piece for Travel Channel in New Orleans very soon. Could I pick your brain? Hit me up, maybe you can even help with the co-hosting or production.

    1. yeahyouride says:

      Hey Shane, glad you enjoyed. We like to help where we can, so get in touch with us at yeahyouride@gmail.com and let us know what you are trying to put together. Some brain picking, etc. may be in order. Cheers!

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