Escape valve for any boring New Orleans conference.
Rare is the dive bar that pulls in non-drinkers looking for some legit gumbo, but such is the case for Corporation Bar, where on this reviewer’s most recent visit, a line of families, tourists, convention center zombies and locals streamed in looking for the kitchen in back. New Orleans is obviously the perfect city for a confluence of dive bar drinking and po boy eating, Corporation Bar an outpost near the New Orleans Convention Center providing both as if some kind of drinking oasis.
The neighborhood isn’t necessarily in the middle of nowhere given the close proximity to the World War II Museum, convention center, Sugar Mill event space and other attractions, but does feel a little “in between.” Corporation Bar is sandwiched between the French Quarter tourist zone to the north and the Garden District and all points south and west. And that makes the experience a unique one, a simple sign above the door all that indicates that one of New Orleans’ better dive bars is nearby.
Cinder blocks line the outside of Corporate Bar, a good sign for the right kind of dive bar, the sign jutting out from the corner of the building with an up-turned overhang. The sign reads “World Famous Corporation Bar” which is difficult to argue with, an institution at this same corner since 1984. Simple paint scheme, bars on the doors and a few outdoor tables completes the look.
Inside, the space is a shotgun, a long skinny room stretching back to the kitchen. A long bar runs the length of one wall, tables opposite. Resembling the adult video room at a 1980s VHS rental store, a video poker room with swinging doors holds down the corner just inside the front entrance. The ceiling exposes the beams above, dotted with a handful of local flags (LSU, state of Louisiana among them). Behind the bar, a lighted liquor display is hovered over by a profoundly creepy clown painting and an array of displayed antlers.
Just beyond the bar a short counter provides access to Corporation Bar’s food offerings, ranging from a selection of po boys to a gumbo with strong reviews. And best of all, because this is New Orleans, food and liquor can both be purchased for a little walking around day drinking, or squeezing in one more Bloody Mary before heading back to the convention center.
Corporation Bar is the perfect duck-in dive bar. It lives in a part of town that is more on the way to something rather than destination, save lucky New Orleans convention attendees, and the vibe fits well with the location. Grab a po boy and a beer to go, or take it down behind swinging saloon doors in the video poker parlor, whatever suits the day. Embedded into the neighborhood with a prominent corner location, Corporation Bar provides a great dive bar hub for quick, good food or cheap, strong drinks (or both.)