Where to organize meetups during ONA19

One of the best parts of our annual conference is the opportunity to catch up with all your amazing journalism industry friends IRL. This year in New Orleans, we’re lucky to be in the proximity of many great group hangout spots within walking distance or a short ride from the programming at the Sheraton and Intercontinental hotels in the Central Business District. And since quite a few of them aren’t stops on the main tourist routes, they should have plenty of room for small- to medium-sized groups. 

If you’re looking to organize a meetup with old and new friends, here are five potential spots to check out:

The Rusty Nail 

This casual neighborhood bar on the outskirts of the Warehouse District is a popular watering hole for locals and regular visitors to the city, mainly because of the large patio, generous pours and laid-back atmosphere. Great for those seeking a more local experience and a comfortable setting to get to know one another. There’s usually a food truck or two parked nearby for those looking to graze. No reservations, but parking is a bit tricky so consider a taxi or rideshare if you’re going from the conference.

Ace Hotel lobby bar and Josephine Estelle restaurant

For a more upscale meeting spot, the Ace Hotel in the Warehouse District has a French-Deco inspired lobby bar with couch seats and creative cocktails perfect for the ‘gram. Just as gorgeous is the hotel restaurant, Josephine Estelle, which serves Southern-influenced Italian food. If you’re dining at Josephine Estelle with a group of more than 10, make a reservation in advance.

Black Duck Bar at the Palace Cafe 

The Black Duck Bar is a specialty rum bar with high ceilings and a classic New Orleans feel located in the upstairs area of the Palace Cafe. Run by Dickie Brennan (of the famous Brennan restaurant family), the bar can host larger groups and has a $7 happy hour from 3 – 7 p.m. on weekdays. Bonus: It’s just a little over a block away from the Sheraton. Call ahead if your group has more than 15 people.

St. James Cheese Company

For groups that prefer lighter meal options, St. James Cheese Company is a great spot for a gathering around a good cheese board. This specialty sandwich shop in the Warehouse District also has terrific salads, bomb macaroni and cheese, a curated craft beer and wine list and outdoor seating. The restaurant closes by 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; call ahead for reservations. 

Molly’s at the Market 

Located on the other side of the French Quarter, Molly’s at the Market is the dive bar of choice for local journalists going back several years. It’s not as large as the other meetup spots, but the drink prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is chill and the service is great.  Begin (or end — the bar’s open until 6 a.m.) your Frenchmen Street pub crawl here with a Frozen Irish Coffee. 

Diya Chacko is an Audience Engagement Editor for the Los Angeles Times. A New Orleans native, Diya graduated with a dual master’s degree from Columbia University’s Earth and Environmental Science Journalism program in 2010. She tends to geek out over dogs, horror movies and journalists learning to code.