J&J’s Sports Lounge

New Orleans, Louisiana

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

The Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans is home to some of the country’s best dive bars, and though there are more rustic options nearby, J&J’s Sports Lounge walks a well-tuned line between the dive bar with the Blatz sign above the door and the neighborhood bar with the freshly updated interior. Vintage bar lights intermingle with fresh neon beer signs, a visual microcosm of J&J’s Sports Lounge amid the neighborhood that surrounds it.

Field Rating

7

out of 10

I mean, they had a betting pool for the spelling bee.

Field Note

Dive bars aren’t customarily known for the quality of their web sites, but the J&J Sports Lounge web site is a true exception, a testament to the dive bar’s supremely interesting location in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans. The first statement on their web site proclaims that J&J Sports Lounge is “Nonstop Swinging Space Age Fun” and if that’s not a commercial to drink a beer, I’m not entirely sure what is. Add in that the site features a Kitty Kat Hall of Fame, with Cheddar Bob earning top placement, and there’s something noteworthy cooking in the Bywater.

As is the case with other Bywater dives like Bar Redux and Vaughan’s, the neighborhood is as big a part of the story as the building itself. Quite literally around the bend from the French Quarter, one curve of the Mississippi and suddenly the tourist hordes fade away in favor of a New Orleans neighborhood that has seen just about everything. The bars here are made for neighbors, not tourists, and have mercifully endured without the sweeping gentrification that can sometimes take over near-tourist areas like this one.

Outside, the clear star is the bar sign, inscribed with the name of the bar in a font smaller than the word “Blatz” above it, a testament to a beer that has probably been served in a dive bar more than any other location.

Outside, the clear star is the bar sign, inscribed with the name of the bar in a font smaller than the word “Blatz” above it, a testament to a beer that has probably been served in a dive bar more than any other location. The faded blue exterior of the building fits in well with the neighborhood around it, feeling like an organic extension of the area. A couple of stools and a makeshift patio that juts into the street completes the sparse exterior view. Not to leave the Blatz sign on its own, a “PABST” sign can be seen from the outside window.

The vibe is a little less rustic inside, the faded paint outside giving way to a more refined interior that feels a little more ‘bar’ than ‘dive.’ J&J’s Sports Lounge is not, however, lacking in visual appeal, as the walls, ceiling, bar area and everything in between is covered in thick layers of beer signs, oversized fishin lures, old bar lights, flags and pennants. The combination of fresh neon signage and classic Pabst lamps is a great symbol of the dive bar itself, a combination of a faded and classic dive bar with just enough updating throughout to show off a little polish.

The bar trays in particular that hang above the pool table feel like just the right kind of vintage to balance out the TouchTunes machine a few feet away.

The space is small, but not cramped, the bar dominating most of J&J’s main room leaving only a thin layer of hightop seating along the opposite wall. A right turn reveals a second room almost hidden at first glance, home to the bar’s pool table, New Orleans standard issue video poker machines and an additional 1500 layers of wall decoration. The bar trays in particular that hang above the pool table feel like just the right kind of vintage to balance out the TouchTunes machine a few feet away.

The Bywater neighborhood is home to more rustic dive bars, for sure, but J&J’s Sports Lounge walks a refined line that honors the dive bar feeling of the neighborhood with a handful of improvements here and there. That the dive bar features a “Blatz” sign above the door is probably reason enough to give it a shot, the visual appeal inside making it worth sticking around.

Photos

The Basics

800 France St
New Orleans, LA 70117

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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