Lifestyle

The Best Louisiana Honky Tonks, Juke Joints, and Dance Halls You Can Drive to From New Orleans

Published On 03/24/2016 Published On 03/24/2016
Man playing keyboard at NOLA dance hall
Courtesy of Blue Moon Drawer

As hard as it is for many dyed-in-the-wool New Orleanians to believe, the entire state of Louisiana isn’t located in the 504. There’s a whole world out there beyond the Crescent City, and that world is just filled with excellent places to eat, drink, and boogie your heart out. Whether you’re on the lookout for gritty blues, swamp pop, or the unmistakable sounds of zydeco, you’ll be able to find all of them within a short drive of NOLA.

Flickr/LJ Hopkinson

Whiskey River Landing

Breaux Bridge
In a town known as the “crawfish capital of the world,” you’d best believe there will be some good old-fashioned Cajun two-stepping going on to pair with those hot mudbugs. Whiskey River, which prides itself on hospitality, is the place to find both. It has a “Not a local? Not a problem!” attitude toward visitors from out of town (or from out of continent, for that matter).
 

Teddy's Juke Joint

Zachary
Like the infamous Snake & Jake’s Lounge in New Orleans, Teddy’s offers Christmas light decor 365 days a year in Zachary, LA. Better still, it serves up some of the best blues in a state known more for country, folk, and zydeco. Hosted by Lloyd “Teddy” Johnson himself (in the house he grew up in, no less), Teddy spins down-home blues and R&B between live acts. This spot proudly describes itself as a time warp to 1979, the year it was founded. In this case, that’s a good thing.

Blue Moon Saloon

Blue Moon Saloon & Guesthouse

Lafayette
Possibly one of the best aspects of Blue Moon -- aside from the consistently great live Louisiana roots music -- is the fact that it’s also a small boarding house, which means that you can drive over from New Orleans, whoop it up all night, and then stumble into your room without worrying about the drive to a hotel (or worse still, back to the city).
 

Roy Carrier's Offshore Lounge

Latwell
Roy Carrier’s lies deep in the heart of Cajun country, near Opelousas (where you’ll find all the best boudin and cracklins). If you were making a film and needed the type of bar that Louisiana oil industry workers and their cohorts would frequent, this would be your ideal pick. The eponymous founder of the place was actually an “offshore driller, tool pusher, and roughneck,” as he put it. Sounds like our kind of place: you’ll find Roy here on Thursday nights, alongside a revolving cast of zydeco musicians, many of whom cut their teeth on its stage with the man himself.

Infrogmation of New Orleans

Ruby's Roadhouse

Mandeville
It might look like an old Southern blues joint, what with its quintessential tin roof and ramshackle roadhouse decor, but Ruby’s showcases both country and city. Just north of Lake Pontchartrain, a trip here will afford you NOLA-style brass and funk, as well as boogie and Cajun music born on the bayou. The place is a living history lesson, too: the 125-year-old building has served as a popular venue for African-American performers since the 1930s. A weekend evening there will be hot, both on the stage and off -- guaranteed.
 

Roque's Blues Hall

Natchitoches
First off, a pronunciation lesson for all y’all non-Louisiana natives out there: It’s “NACK-uh-dish,” home of our state’s official meat pie (no kidding), among other things -- including this killer blues club. Roque’s is equal parts music venue, grocery store, pool hall, and local gathering spot. If you want to get to the root of Louisiana roots music -- especially the Cajun-twinged genre known there as “swamp blues” -- Roque’s is where you need to be headed. You’ll also find R&B, “swamp pop,” bluegrass and, naturally, zydeco, as well.

Flickr/Derek Bridges

The Jolly Inn

Houma
Great Cajun food, music, and dancing on worn wooden floors: these are the hallmarks of the Jolly Inn, which is a perfect spot to visit if you want the best a Louisiana roadhouse has to offer. If you want some great Louisiana grub and family-friendly music and dancing, this is your best bet, mes amis.
 

Fred's Lounge

Mamou
Fred’s, which is one of the best places to hear Cajun music in all of Louisiana, is open a total of six hours a week: on Saturday mornings from 8am to 2pm. You’d better believe that the drinking and dancing starts promptly when the doors swing open. Beer and zydeco for breakfast... this is one of the few events we’ll set a weekend alarm (or stay up all night) for.

Magnolia Cafe

Magnolia Café

St Francisville
During the day, the Magnolia is a homey café and sandwich shop. But at night, it’s all about the music, featuring a solid list of Cajun, folk, and bluegrass acts you don’t want to miss if you’re anywhere near St. Francisville... which just might be the most picture-perfect Cajun town in Louisiana. The Mag draws people out here from far and wide, and you just have to experience it to understand and appreciate why they’d make the journey.
  

Richard Sale Barn

Abbeville
Strangely enough, this music venue used to be a cattle auction house dating back to 1937. The history of the place is pretty fascinating, too -- after closing the cow business, the owners were inspired by the tunes of a singing hobo, and decided to open the barn up as a music joint. Its atypical origin story aside, this spot is the place to be if you’re looking for an Acadian music fix that’s smoke-free.

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Scott Gold is a writer in New Orleans who learned the Cajun two-step in sixth grade like any good South Louisianan should. Follow him on Twitter @scottgold (and make sure to let him lead).

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Whiskey River Landing , Breaux Bridge, LA 70517

Looking for drinks and some good old-fashioned Cajun two-stepping? Head on over to Whiskey River, a place that prides itself on their atmosphere and hospitality. In a town known as the “crawfish capital of the world,” you’d best believe that there will be some good old-fashioned live Cajun and Zydeco music dancehall. Their “Not a local? Not a problem!” attitude even attracts visitors from out of town (or the continent, for that matter).

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Teddy’s Juke Joint 16823 Old Scenic Hwy, Zachary, LA 70791

Like the infamous Snake and Jake’s Lounge in New Orleans, Teddy’s offers Christmas light decor all year long in Zachary, LA. It has been ranked among the top 10 music venues in Baton Rouge by the Baton Rouge Advocate several times, serving up some of the best blues in the state. Hosted by Lloyd “Teddy” Johnson himself (in the house he grew up in, no less), Teddy spins down-home blues and R&B between live acts. This spot proudly describes itself as a time machine to 1979, the year it was founded.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Blue Moon Guest House & Saloon 215 E Convent St, Lafayette, LA 70501

No designated driver? No problem. Blue Moon offers consistently great live Louisiana roots music, and also has a small boarding house which means that you can drive over from New Orleans, whoop it up all night, and then stumble into your room without worrying about the drive. This major perk makes the hot spot so much more than a venue, but rather, a destination.

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4. Ruby’s Roadhouse 840 Lamarque St, Mandeville, LA 70448

Don't judge a book by its cover. Ruby's might look like an old southern blues joint, what with its quintessential tin roof and ramshackle roadhouse decor, but it showcases both country and city. Just north of Lake Pontchartrain, a trip here will afford you NOLA-style brass and funk, as well as Cajun music born on the bayou. The building is over 100 years old, and has been known as a popular venue for African-American performers since the 1930's.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Jolly Inn 1507 Barrow Street, Houma, LA 70360

Great Cajun food, music, and dancing on worn wooden floors: these are the hallmarks of the Jolly Inn. This is the perfect family friendly roadhouse Louisiana has to offer. Come by on a Thursday night when there will be live music, and rock out in the lounge. And don't worry about having to watch the kids, because as they say at the Jolly Inn, "everyone is family." Cajun Cooking, Dance Hall, Lounge, Catering, Building Rental, and LIVE MUSIC!

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6. Fred’s Lounge 420 6th St, Mamou, LA 70554

Every Saturday morning from 8am to 2pm, Fred's is where the party's at. Given that it's only open those six hours a week, they go big. You’d better believe that the drinking and dancing starts promptly when the doors swing open. Beer and zydeco for breakfast... this is one of the few events we’ll set a weekend alarm (or stay up all night) for.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Magnolia Cafe 5689 Commerce Street, Saint Francisville, LA 70775

During the day, the Magnolia is a cute cafe and sandwich shop, but at night, it’s all about the music. They feature a solid list of Cajun, folk, and bluegrass acts you don’t want to miss if you’re anywhere near St. Francisville... which just might be the most picturesque Cajun town in all of Louisiana. People come out here from all over, and you just have to experience it to understand and appreciate why they’d make the journey.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Richard Sale Barn 1500 Pumping Plant Rd, Abbeville, LA 70510

Oddly enough, this music venue used to be a cattle auction house dating back to 1937. Once a month on the third Saturday of the month, the Le Bayou Legendaire Concert Series takes place, which has featured concerts by Baton Rouge bluesman Henry Gray, Cajun great Hadley Castille and the Nouveau String Band, to name a few. The amphitheater seating rises up from the wood floor and gets crowded quickly, so be sure to get your tickets!

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