University of New Orleans / Tulane University

Pat O’Briens
April 2004
by Marc B. Zawel

Pat O’Brien’s has been a French Quarter staple — and favorite among Tulane and University of New Orleans students — since it first opened its doors in 1933. Today there are Pat O’s in San Antonio, Memphis, Orlando and Cancun, Mexico, but for an authentic Irish experience, a trip to Big Easy headquarters (with its signature “hurricanes” and famous green-jacketed waiters) is a must.

The Scene: “The atmosphere is great, the bartenders are the best and the drinks are strong,” said Shelly O’Brien, daughter of Pat, the bar’s founder. “What more could you ask for?” The building itself dates back to 1791, and Pat O’s different lounges are historic relics: There’s the main bar (usually crowded with locals), the patio bar with its famous flaming fountain, the candlelit couples-only restaurant bar and the piano bar. Although it’s 15 minutes away from the UNO and Tulane campuses, students take the trek by the carload. “There’s no other place like this,” said Aaron, a sophomore majoring in business at Tulane. “It’s more than worth making the trip downtown.” Pat O’s virgins should make it a point to see Eddie Gabriel, the piano bar’s 60-year veteran entertainer. Every night Eddie takes his place on stage between two dueling pianists and plays an aluminum tray with thimbles on his fingers — yeah, you probably have to see it to believe it.

Chicks at Pat O’s: “The ladies run the gamut here, from sorority girls to locals,” said John, a senior at UNO majoring in biology. With more than a million annual visitors to the bar, including a substantial percentage of coeds, chances are good you’ll find whatever kind of woman you’re looking for.

When to Go: During Mardi Gras, the lines are long and the bar is packed, but the women are everywhere — a respectable tradeoff for most guys. The rest of the year, the biggest college crowds are on the weekends.

Dress Code: Just because your waiter is wearing a jacket doesn’t mean you have to. Jeans and button down shirts are the norm for guys, although shorts and sandals are okay during the warm summer months. Ladies can get away with just about anything.

At the Bar: When you first sidle up to the bar, make sure you order one of Pat O’s legendary hurricanes. “It’s about 60 percent of the drinks ordered,” Shelly explains. Also popular are typhoons (vodka, peach and raspberry schnapps, cranberry and pineapple juice), mint juleps and rainbows (a blend of grenadine, vodka, blue curaçao and sweet and sour mix).

Where It’s At: 718 St. Peter Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

Hours: Sunday thru Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 a.m.

Phone: (504) 525-4823

Website: www.patobriens.com

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