Once an exciting addition to a resurgence of bars and restaurants in downtown New Orleans, five-year-old Portside Lounge is the latest to close in the neighborhood, owner Danny Nick announced this week. The tropical dive bar with a punk twist will come out with a big final weekend of live music, culminating with a 4th of July party.
Nick tells Eater that Portside has been able to weather the COVID storm for the most part, but that “until New Orleans can heal from the wounds inflicted upon it, a northern Caribbean fantasy like the Portside Lounge will not cannot functionally exist. He is referring to what he perceives as a recent spike in crime in the city, which he says is “chasing people away at a high rate”. Nick, who was born less than a mile from Portside Lounge, says he’s unsure about his next move but hopes to ‘revisit’ Portside again: “It’s been a big passion for me and I’m deeply saddened to let her go,” says Nick.
Nick, a bassist in a local metal band at the time, opened Portside Lounge with his then-wife in 2017 as a laid-back venue featuring Caribbean cocktails and funky decor that would occasionally host pop-ups and live music. It joined a bustling row of new restaurants and bars in Central City at the time, anchored by Cafe Reconcile on Oretha Castle and accelerated by the opening of Casa Borrega in 2013. A year later, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum has opened, at points serving as the home of two different restaurants, one by chef Isaac Toups (it closed in 2019 and a new restaurant never moved in, though the museum hosts chef dinners and pops -ups).
Portside was an instant favorite with locals after it opened, offering something just different enough (tiki inspired) while still feeling familiar (dive bar). While open, Portside delivered on its promise to host emerging food pop-ups and helped introduce a number of now-loved cuisines to New Orleans bar-goers. More recently, it was the longtime home of Queen Trini Lisa’s kitchen, which has since become a permanent restaurant in Mid City.
Portside also opened not far from two Central City food hubs with a mission, Dryades Public Market and the Roux Carre food incubator, both of which have since closed (and Casa Borrega just closed recently, in May). However, there have been some big openings in the neighborhood in recent years, including a nightclub by restaurateur Larry Morrow, Treehouse and Margaret Place, a chic boutique hotel that hosted semi-finalist emerging chef Serigne Mbaye’s dinner series of the James Beard Award, and owns a restaurant. in the works.
Portside’s last day is Monday, July 4, so come and bid farewell at 3000 Dryades Street from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.