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Where Y’Eat: A New Bar with an Old Soul for the French Quarter

Fives is a bar and raw bar on Jackson Square
Photo by Ian McNulty
Fives is a bar and raw bar on Jackson Square

It was an August day when the rain finally came after an intense dearth, and I found myself in the French Quarter walking toward Jackson Square. The streets were largely empty but, maybe because of the relief of the rain and the shine it had left on the pavement, it all felt more evocative than forlorn.

I was in this mood when I found the entrance to Fives. This is a new bar and raw bar on Jackson Square, and the visit lifted my spirits in a more lasting way.

Fives is the sort of place I’d be happy to find anywhere — great cocktails, the kind of food I want to eat with drinks, a setting that feels like it’s always been there and has progressed through the eras. But finding it on Jackson Square inside the Lower Pontalba Building was downright thrilling.

It joins a short but encouraging list such places in the French Quarter, like Manolito, Jewel of the South, Cane & Table, Bar Tonique, Effervescence and the Will and the Way, to name a few more.

These are spots that connect the historic fabric of the past with the style and appetites of today, that relationship with time that is the allure of the French Quarter. In the middle of tourist central, Fives is a place that feels like a magnet for locals, and the Quarter needs more of that, badly.

Fives is a sister property to the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue. It’s more bar than restaurant, but its tiny galley kitchen fields a short menu of beautifully composed plates – raw oysters, crudo, shrimp cocktail, crab claws, beef tartare.

The scale is appealing. This isn’t a place for a bachelor party, but to go with one or two other people, order a few things, and watch the light come through the front windows and play against the walls.

Start with a martini, stirred to a statuesque, balanced beauty, or maybe a hurricane that shows what this drink can be with fresh juices and good rum.

Fives is the kind of place you would hope to find when you travel, even if these days that means just out of your own New Orleans neighborhood. And it’s a bar the French Quarter deserves.

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