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Where Y'Eat: Fed Up With Football? TV-Free Havens From Super Bowl Hype

cure.jpg
Ian McNulty
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Cure on Freret Street is among the local spots that have traded high-def for high-style, providing TV-free atmosphere for casual outings.

The dispiriting Saints season skidded to a halt in December. But for diehards the pain continues, and this weekend in particular may feel like staring into the sun.

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and the NFL prepares to crown a new champion. It’s a fraught time for those Saints fans who fully expected our team to be in that number when the season began. The days ahead promise endless Super Bowl previews and predictions, profiles and punditry over team stats, player spats, deflate-gate and “beast quakes.”

For the forlorn Saints fan, or anyone just fed up with football, it can seem like the media world is just rubbing it in, even when we go out to eat.

The TV, and especially sports coverage, has become the centerpiece of many bars and has found its way into more and more restaurants. That means it’s easier than ever to catch a game over a meal, but the flip side holds that it’s harder than ever to tune it all out.

Generally speaking if you're going to plunk down for fine dining you're safe, though plenty of high-end places have added TVs in their bars too. It's the casual unscripted dinner out on the town that presents more problems, with some pizzerias, gastropubs, neighborhood cafés and more ambitious restaurants now flanked with screens.

One solution has emerged, however, in the growing niche of places that split the difference between upscale lounge, casual restaurant and bar. These are places that generally eschew sightlines and TVs for the sake of the style and ambiance.

A few examples: there’s Latitude 29, a newcomer in the French Quarter that’s cut from the classic tiki restaurant style, an all-encompassing mosaic of thatch and bamboo, sea glass, swizzles, soy sauce, dumplings, citrus and rum. Never mind just forgetting about the New Orleans Saints. This place can make you forget you're even in New Orleans.

The Freret Street cocktail lounge Cure had a TV for a short period, though it was never a permanent fixture, just something that was wheeled out for the occasional special request. But even that’s off the table here now, and on the table, or bar top, is a menu of rethought bar food, like country ham with hot biscuits and whipped cane syrup.

In the Bywater there’s Oxalis, on St. Charles Avenue the wine bar the Delachaise, Bouligny Tavern and Ivy, both on Magazine Street, Treo on Tulane Avenue in Mid-City and Oak Wine Bar in the Carrollton area — all are cut from the same cloth. While some of these are closed on Sunday, in the run-up to the game, during the days of escalating televised hype, they still offer Saints fans succor from the flat-screen, high-def reminders of what might have been.

They’re not anti-sports bars, per se, just not places where, with no TVs, you you’ll have to ponder the import of a Richard Sherman rant or Bill Belichick’s sweatshirt over your appetizer platter. None of these places are exactly cheap either. But then, freedom isn’t free, not even freedom from football.

Bouligny Tavern

3641 Magazine St., New Orleans, 504-891-1810; boulignytavern.com

Note: closed Sun.  

CellarDoor

916 Lafayette St., New Orleans, 504-383-5583; cellardoornola.com

Cure

4905 Freret St., New Orleans, 504-302-2357; curenola.com

The Delachaise

3442 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504-895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com

Ivy


5015 Magazine St., New Orleans, 504-899-1330; ivynola.com

 Note: closed Sun.  

Latitude 29

321 N. Peters St., New Orleans, 504-609-3811; latitude29nola.com

Oak Wine Bar

8118 Oak St., New Orleans, 504-302-1485; oaknola.com

Note: closed Sun.

Oxalis

3162 Dauphine St., New Orleans, 504-267-4776; oxalisbywater.com

Treo

3835 Tulane Ave., New Orleans, 504-304-4878; treonola.com

Note: closed Sun.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.

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