Deja Vu Bar and Grill
400 Dauphine Street at the corner of Conti
New Orleans, LA 70112
August 3, 2015, 7:30 PM
What a find! A fabulous dive bar, neighborhood hangout, and food emporium that serves comfort food any damn time you feel like it. The concierge at my hotel across the street hesitated to tell me about it. Other places she recommended nearby have fancier décor, more lavish menus, and prices to match. I made a beeline for the place.
It’s not glitzy. The paint around the front door is worn thin, the brass door plate is in need of polish but once you get inside, you’re in a genuine piece of the French Quarter. The jukebox bounces between funk, rock, ballads, some decent rap and a tad of classic country. The rest of the soundscape is filled with hearty laughter by a couple of guys at the bar and three women and a man having an animated talk about the travails of the day over their drinks. Couples in the booths, dressed casually T-shirts and shorts, act like they’ve been here before.
A bunch of sturdy red straight back chairs and tan and black topped tables for two and four fill the center, three fire engine red booths line the other wall. Framed posters of Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt and Fats Domino cover the walls. The place is totally unpretentious. It could be a neighborhood diner and watering hole anywhere. If you look hard enough, there are handfuls of these small hangouts all over the French Quarter.
“You doin’ OK, hon?” the tall waitress with the tattooed arms asks me as I check the menu, which I think tops out around $15.
My $8.99 bowl of seafood gumbo, served with a little island of rice in the center and a hunk of French bread, had just the right pinch of cayenne and pepper, and is loaded with shrimp, shreds of crab and crawfish and just enough okra to give it a velvety consistency.
The Deja Vu Bar and Grill is open 24 hours a day. It still bears some of the easy going attitude of one of its first iterations as a store front in the red light district in the 1850s. Honestly, I’ve walked right by that place dozens of time in previous visits. Now I’m hooked - and on the lookout for other gems like it. And I’ll be back.
Photos taken next day, August 4, 2016, make the place look less gritty but the local vibe is the same, welcoming and way down to earth - by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.