When people ask me where I’m from, I always respond, “New Orleans, LA.” Try as I might to say this with sincerity, there is always a hint of hesitation in my voice. This is because, while I certainly claim to be an adopted son of our fair city, I am lying.
The truth of my origin rests on the front side of my driver’s license. It reads Covington, Louisiana. To be more exact, Waldheim, a small little patch of woods between Covington and Abita Springs that features a northbound city limits sign, but no such sign for southbound. If the signage were true, Waldheim would either stretch forever north or be simply nonexistent to the south, but I digress.
The point is I come from the oft-underappreciated and in many ways inferior side of Lake Pontchartrain. While we certainly feature a sterling school system, low crime rates, and largely pothole-free roads, the Northshore pales in comparison to the Southshore in all forms of entertainment, unless your idea of fun consists of cruising through suburbia and carousing Wal-Mart’s inner intricacies.
When the time came for me to make the jump across the Causeway to New Orleans, I could not contain my joy. I believe my exact words were, “Finally Joh (Yes, in the third person. Forgive me, I was 18), you can get away from the drab and dull nature of the Northshore and find some fun!”
If only I had known then what I know now; if only I had been able to see that the Northshore does in fact feature not one, but two enjoyable haunts to quench my ever-burning epicurean fire.
Place: Ruby’s Roadhouse, 840 Lamarque St., Mandeville
Atmosphere: Calm and steady on weekdays; rowdy like a bad ’80s haircut on weekends
Drinks: Cheap. Nothing spectacular, but the beer is cold
Clientele: A mix of older barflies, service industry folk, and the occasional young whipper-snapper
Best Time to Go: Weekends. The music is rocking, there is room to dance, and they even have a hot dog cart outside most weekend nights
When approaching Ruby’s Roadhouse in Old Mandeville, you are immediately hit by how old it looks. Its bare green wood paneling and ramshackle roof do little to inspire confidence that it would hold up during a heavy rainstorm. On the whole of the door is painted a red-headed woman (presumably Ruby herself) in a seductive red dress.
Walking into Ruby’s is a little like stepping into an old Patrick Swayze movie. I was expecting a brawl to burst out at any moment for no other reason than because it felt like something that should happen in this place. Thankfully, given my stature and limited to nonexistent brawling ability, I received no blows upon entering and instead was greeted by a cheery group of bar flies and a friendly and helpful bartender.
After last week’s tab I was happy to find that the drinks here wouldn’t break the bank: $3 domestics, $5 wells, nothing out of the ordinary as far as purchasing prices are concerned.
Every drink was well made, although I will be honest; I avoided getting my beloved martini. It just didn’t feel appropriate given the atmosphere.
Scattered throughout the bar are a few lonesome tables, a couple of dart boards and a pool table, but as a whole I felt the place to be rather roomy, clearly more suitable for a packed house and live music than a slow and dreary Thursday. From what I have heard via word of mouth, Ruby’s is known to pack in tight on weekends for shows such as Honey Island Swamp Band and others acts of the same ilk. On Saturdays they even go smoke free for the evening, something the pure-lunged of this world can surely appreciate.
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