Vaughn's, New Orleans
Look at the picture. Would you go in here?
Well, you should if it's a Thursday! Thursday night is when local trumpeter Kermit Ruffin sets Vaughn's on fire. Kermit started playing at Vaughn's in the 90's and neighbors eventually tried to shut it down for lack of a live music license. This being New Orleans, Vaughn's ended up getting a special dispensation to have live music only one night a week -- for Kermit and his BBQ Swingers.
There's no doubt that Vaughn's is a dive. But it's an authentic one that caters to the waiters, barmaids and taxi drivers that work in the French Quater. The crowd is about 1/3 black, 1/3 white and 1/3 tourists that have managed to find their way here. Arriving around 1:30 am I had missed the Swingers' trademark barbecue -- they travel with a grill in their pickup -- but not the giant pots of red beans and rice sitting in the window. Now this was New Orleans cooking! And of course it's free. Kermit wants you to have a good time.
The swingers finished their last set around 2:30 the night I was there so I only got an hour's worth of music but it was exactly the gutsy modern grandchild of the Preservation Hall style that I had wanted to see. I was satisfied, knowing that New Orleans Jazz is alive and well, rambunctious and sassy in the hands of the latest generation.
Notes: live music on Thursdays only, $10 cover, free food
If you're into the likes of Kermit Ruffin's, don't miss this popular place.
Actually, the place is mostly about him, I think.
Dress Code: The least of your worries.