I will mourn the Dixie mural always.
Magazine Street in New Orleans is the kind of street that transforms into about five different things, doing so as it curves gently through the Garden District. Just as this particular stretch of Magazine Street starts to transform into more neighborhood than commercial corridor, Ms. Mae’s The Club (or The Club Ms. Mae’s, depending on the source) pops up as a corner neighborhood bar at one of the few real intersections along the way.
And before we go any further, know that Ms. Mae’s, despite sitting removed from the more densely packed French Quarter and existing on the other end of the beautifully-named Garden District, this is a dive bar of a dive bar. The drinks are cheap, the floors are dirty, the bathrooms at times can smell (use the Prince bathroom, much better). A casual review of Yelp ratings (never a good idea) shows that the bulk of complaints come from those wanting a dive bar but not really accepting that Ms. Mae’s is, after all, a dive bar.
Open 24-hours-a-day and cash only, Ms. Mae’s lives up to everything those two terms conjure up. The bare floors inside are matched only by the aging ceiling above it, molded tiles that have certainly soaked up a few decades worth of nonstop drinking. The front room is dominated by the bar itself, a long mirrored structure with elevated liquor bottles and a Budweiser Clydesdale light about it. A handful of seats can be found in the main area, giving way to a game room in back that includes a pool table and air hockey. Built-in wooden booths line the rear room.
Outside, what was once a faded green and white façade is now freshly painted in purple, emblematic of the bar’s journey from closed dive bar during the 2020 pandemic to feel good reopening under fresh ownership shortly after. Particularly disappointing is the death of a Dixie Beer emblem inscribed on one of the outside surfaces, a casualty to the paint job that was no doubt needed. Fresh windows and high top seating has also been added in an effort to maximize the street corner location.
The dive bar’s refresh has a set of other perks as well, an expanded beer selection for one, and mercifully the red neon above the door remains unchanged. And that makes the reopening of Ms. Mae’s a bit of a complicated story, part revision, part tribute, the paint job a particularly concerning choice. But inside, the bones are all still there, and the ownership, despite its overhaul, has the credibility to preserve the dive bar vibe inside. The same owners run fellow New Orleans dive bar Igor’s Lounge & Gameroom, as strong a calling card as there is in the city.
At the end of the day, though the paint is fresh and some of the decorations around the space have been “streamlined,” this is as dive bar as a dive bar gets. And for the Uptown area, where there are certainly more superfluous places to overpay for a drink, Ms. Mae’s The Club provides a true service, dive bar heart to a neighborhood corner along one of the real arteries of New Orleans.