Igor’s Lounge & Gameroom

New Orleans, Louisiana

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

Along the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line in New Orleans’ Garden District, Igor’s Lounge & Gameroom is a perfect dive bar, diner, casino, pool hall, laundromat mashup. Bathed in red, from the painted exterior to the relentless red lighting inside, Igor’s is a warm, inviting neighborhood haunt that just happens to be open 24 hours a day and has the early morning drink specials to punctuate that fact.

Field Rating

8

out of 10

Clean clothes and a Bloody Mary.

Field Note

Past Bourbon Street and into the Garden District, New Orleans transforms from tourist hive into a regal southern city in the span of about five blocks. Magazine Street and the streetcar-lined St. Charles Avenue provide the two main arteries to the area, shifting profoundly as they stretch south and west. The portion of St. Charles closest to downtown provides fertile ground for dive bars, diners and yes, overpriced brunch spots, and Igor’s Lounge & Gameroom holds court among it all.

Igor’s is not hard to find, an explosion of red that flows inside and out, from the prominent red umbrellas along St. Charles to the neon sign over the door. Of course, there’s not just one neon sign, a second sign jutting out from the building provides really all of the information needed to fully understand Igor’s: “Food. Drinks. Igor’s. Open 24 Hours. Gameroom & Laundromat.”

America has a storied tradition in mining the intersection between drinking and doing laundry.

America has a storied tradition in mining the intersection between drinking and doing laundry. This reviewer has visited a handful of laundromats crossed with dive bars, an amazingly cyclical business model that makes waiting for a dryer to free up both profitable and enjoyable. Igor’s is the New Orleans entry in the genre, a line of washers and dryers taking up the rear of the space, just off the pool tables.

Inside, the space is bathed in red light, from the hanging shades above the bar to the Budweiser signs that dot the walls. A small sitting area holds down the area just inside the front door, a collection of short tables under a license plate display. The immediate eye grabber is perhaps the nicest video poker setup among New Orleans dive bars, a ritzy, lit-up, mirrored platform with three machines under a tinsel and neon-infused indoor awning.

The gambling alcove sits opposite the bar that runs about half the length of the long interior footprint, winding from the front door to a small flat top used to crank out a handful of food items. Divided into mirrored sections, the bar itself is an impressive specimen, punctuated by a carved wooden mermaid emerging from one of the junctures between sections. As the space transforms from dive bar into gameroom, a set of pool tables can be found in back, one downstairs and one up a flight, flanking the dive bar’s bathrooms.

Signage throughout Igor’s proclaims specialties of multiple varieties, and this reviewer can attest to the welcomed and delicious potency of the bar’s Bloody Mary offering.

Signage throughout Igor’s proclaims specialties of multiple varieties, and this reviewer can attest to the welcomed and delicious potency of the bar’s Bloody Mary offering. Keep an eye out for drink specials as well, though with 24 hours to play with, happy hour doesn’t always hover around 4 PM (think, say, 5 AM or so instead). The burger receives rave reviews, a hard selection to argue with at a laundromat slash dive bar.

Bias aside, I love Igor’s. Just off the streetcar line, this is a neighborhood bar in one of the most pleasant areas in New Orleans without any hint of pretention or polish. Maybe I’ve been brainwashed by the red paint, red awning, red lights and red neon, but Igor’s has always felt to me like a warm, comfortable, sit-here-for-six-hours kind of place, and by the look of the locals on my visits there, six hours may not be a noteworthy accomplishment. My advice, bring some laundry, grab a Bloody Mary, drink at Igor’s.

Photos

The Basics

2133 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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