New Orleans’ bars can stay open around the clock, which makes it possible to completely rearrange your schedule to whatever suits your night-owl soul. Only problem is, while the drinks keep flowing, most restaurants close at 10pm. If you’re likely to experience an undeniable hunger sometime past midnight, it’s a good idea to commit the following late-night eateries to memory.
In New Orleans, you can grab local specialties like po' boys at all hours © kcline / Getty Images
French Quarter – 1201 Burgundy St; mains $5-10; 4pm-2am Mon & Tue, to 5am Wed & Thu, 2pm-5am Fri & Sat, 2pm-2an Sun
Unlike so many bars in the Quarter, Cosimo’s is a genuine neighborhood place, where you’ll rub elbows with more locals than tourists. While this is first and foremost a bar, the attached kitchen cranks out some mean grub, from sandwiches to bowls of fried green beans to finger-licking chicken wings. Have a seat outside and you can watch a good crowd of Quarter characters stumble on by.
French Quarter – 900 Bourbon St; meals $3-8; 24hr
You don’t have to be gay to eat at the Clover Grill – much of the clientele base is loyal straight folk who live around the corner – but there is a gay customer base thanks to nearby gay bars. It’s all slightly surreal, given this place otherwise resembles a ’50s diner, but out on the street there’s usually a 21st-century gay dance party kicking off, either on the pavement itself, or in the bars that line this rainbow flag heavy end of Bourbon St. The food is solid diner fare like burger and eggs and chicken fried steak and strong cups of coffee: just what you need to soak up the activities of the evening.
Coop's Place serves up hearty New Orleans favorites like jambalaya © KaraGrubis / Getty Images
French Quarter – 1109 Decatur St; mains $8-17.50; 11am-whenever
Coop’s gets all credit for maintaining high standards in the midst of the Quarter, where restaurants know they can get away with serving tourists pap. This could almost be an authentic Cajun dive, but more rocked out. Make no mistake: it’s a grotty, chaotic place, and the layout is annoying. But it’s worth it for the food: rabbit jambalaya, chicken with shrimp and tasso (in a cream sauce – there’s no such thing as ‘too heavy’ in New Orleans). This is rural, rustic and rich food served at an honest price. Coop’s closes when it wants to.
Garden, Lower Garden & Central City – 1923 St Charles Ave; meals $5-12; 24hr
When last we stopped in at this 24-hour diner – in the wee hours, of course – we were called about every variation of ‘baby,’ ‘darling,’ ‘sweetie,’ ‘honeychile’ and ‘sugar’ out there. We only regret we didn’t propose to that waiter after our meal, which was a very hefty mushroom and Swiss burger. This sort of food isn’t particularly original (although it is very good), but hey sweetie-honeychile-sugarplum-darlin’-gooeycheeks, who’s complaining when the service is this friendly?
Breakfast hours in New Orleans cater to the city's night-owl crowd © Adam Karlin / Lonely Planet
Cooter Brown’s Tavern & Oyster Bar
Uptown & Riverbend – 509 S Carrollton Ave; mains $5-13; 11am-1am
Cooter’s is open late, does mean cheese fries, whips out a killer chili cheese dog and has one of the best beer selections in the city. But our long, lingering romance with Mr C Brown is attributable to his oyster bar. The boys are shucked to order here, plump and cold, and at $8 for a dozen are an absolute steal.
Uptown & Riverbend – 1732 St Charles Ave; mains $5-11; 8am-midnight Sun-Thu, to 2am Fri & Sat
There’s a joking crew of inked-up line cooks behind the counter at Camellia, but they all dress in tux shirts and black bow-ties, as if this place couldn’t be any wonderfully weirder. There’s plenty of good diner fare, all cooked with waaay too much butter, which is to say, with just the right amount of butter. This spot has been packing in folks for late-night grub since 1946, so they’re clearly doing something right.
Uptown & Riverbend – 3442 St Charles Ave; small plates $7-18; 4pm-1am Mon-Thu, noon-2am Fri & Sat, noon-1am Sun
A suave, hip place to spot pretty people and also indulge yourself in some very fine wine and cheese. On the latter note, we’re in love with the cheese menu at Delachaise – the pictograms that explain ‘stinky,’ ‘strong’ etc are super cute. The small plates are all great in their own indulgent way, especially the ridiculously over-the-top grilled cheese sandwich. If it’s late at night, you’re hungry and you need something a little more refined than a burger, head here. Hours are a little fungible.
Mimi's in the Marigny is a standout dive in a city that knows from dive bars © Adam Karlin / Lonely Planet
Mimi’s in the Marigny
Faubourg Marigny & Bywater – 2601 Royal St; tapas $5-14; kitchen 1pm-late
One of the better drinking holes in a city that really does good drinking holes, Mimi’s also has a fantastic kitchen that cranks out a great range of tapas, from the vegetarian (mushroom manchego toast) to the carnivorous (duck poutine). There’s always a chef’s special ‘Trust Me’ on the menu, which you should order. Trust us. The kitchen stays open until whenever it decides to close.
The Avenue Pub
Garden, Lower Garden & Central City – 1732 St Charles Ave; mains $6-11; 24 hrs
The Avenue boasts an enormous, well-curated beer menu, and adjacent to the bar is a kitchen cranking out some truly delicious, innovative pub grub, from currywurst to braised pork to an extensive slew of vegan choices, including homemade hummus and tempura oyster mushrooms. Keep in mind the menu changes based off what the chefs think is special. This is a 24 hour spot, so there’s good food available any hour of the evening.
French Quarter – 1201 Royal St; sandwiches $7-15; 24 hrs
You can’t pull up a chair at Verti Martie, but sometimes, when the night is late and you need to stuff your face, what you want is a sandwich. Verti provides po’boys at all hours – we recommend the ridiculously decadent All That Jazz, which drips with meat, grease and other things that will hopefully stave off any potential hangovers.
This article was originally published in 2011 and updated in 2018.