For a city that is only the 46th largest in the United States, New Orleans carries far more cultural clout than its size would suggest. After all, countless novels, movies and songs are devoted to the Crescent City in a way that, say, Atlanta or Minneapolis could never dream of.
There’s an aura that soaks through the city suggesting that New Orleans is not in America — that the place was put together by otherworldly beings that wanted a place to call their own among the concrete expanses like Chicago or New York City or Dallas. From the food to the music to the molasses drawl of its citizens, New Orleans is wholly independent from the rest of the United States.
As you walk around The Quarter, you quickly discover that the two stories hold so many nooks and crannies that you could easily visit 10 times and never get the same experience.
It’s an almost impossible mission to replicate the experience elsewhere; there’s simply too much to try and pack up and move, and things inevitably get lost along the way. That hasn’t stopped plenty of bars from trying to capture that mystery and danger that seems to lurk just under the surface of New Orleans.
As with anything, certain bars are more successful than others in their attempts. Places like Twilite Lounge in Deep Ellum do a commendable job of bringing a small slice of the city, but in Dallas, nowhere is closer to the real thing than The Quarter on McKinney Avenue.
The Quarter is the little brother to Bread Winners Cafe and Bakery next door in name only. This labyrinthine drinkery seems straightforward enough at first glance before you notice the small room to the left of the main bar.
As you walk around, you quickly discover that the two stories hold so many nooks and crannies that you could easily visit 10 times and never get the same experience.
It’s a bar that encourages exploration in a way that is hard to find elsewhere. And it’s not just a matter of moving from one table to another. You can relax on a couch in a side room with a handful of friends, or hang out on the enclosed patio downstairs with its wrought iron fixtures, bare brick walls and drooping trees, and you might actually mistake it for the French Quarter.
Which is the point, after all. And though The Quarter is as susceptible to the hordes as any Uptown bar, it’s entirely possible to be there during peak hours and not even notice. Of course, it’s a much more enjoyable experience to abscond to a corner just because you want to, not because you have to.
If you get tired of the dark, sensual interior of lush wood and burgundy walls — a necessity for any New Orleans-style bar — the large patio upstairs is there to remind you that you’re still in Dallas.
It’s still an excellent patio, particularly during this time of year, when the weather is perfect on a late afternoon. In fact, it’s entirely acceptable to cut out of work early for some patio action before moving inside when the sun sets and the chill comes in.
The Quarter can’t fully capture everything that New Orleans offers. It’s a Sisyphean task to try and contain the multitudes of the city. But in each quiet corner of The Quarter, there is a small whisper of the city that brought us such icons as Ignatius J. Reilly, House of the Rising Sun and All Dogs Go To Heaven.
And, after a night at The Quarter, you might just start to believe you're in a place that was put on McKinney Avenue as an oasis from the concrete expanse of Uptown.