Searching for a Real New Orleans Experience in Houston
Generally, Nightfly doesn't see grown men order a drink simply by pointing at the menu, heads hung in shame. But from a rickety chair at Voodoo Queen (311 Milby) recently, we giggled in amusement at how often it was happening.
Photo by Angelica Leicht A different kind of voodoo queen beckons to the small East End bar's customers.
Gentlemen beware. The frothy pineapple goodness of the bar's cheeky "Penus Colada" may be emasculating, but it's worth point-ordering anyway. You don't have to tell anyone what it is, but they'll probably guess by the phallic fruit skewered by a glowing fleur de lis anyway.
The latest bar project of owner Brandon Young, the evil genius behind Moon Tower Inn, Voodoo is styled as a Vegas tiki bar meets N'awlins voodoo hut. The drink menu at the tiny Second Ward bar is heavy on both fresh fruit and pours, requiring your big-kid pants and a wallet to match.
Finding true New Orleans authenticity in Houston is fun, but it can be expensive. But then, you're lucky to find Voodoo Queen at all.
It's easy to pass by the place without giving it a second glance. Housed in the former Milby Washateria, Voodoo is sandwiched between the East End's ramshackle houses and historic buildings in the shadow of a towering coffee plant. Only about ten people were inside when we stumbled in, but it's not meant to hold many more patrons than that anyway. Between the stools lining the fishtank-themed bar and the rickety tables, there are about 18 total seats. Bonus points for the punk rock blaring from the epic old-school jukebox, too.
But as small as Voodoo's space may be, its drink menu is by no means sparse. The focus is on specialty cocktails with very heavy pours, aptly named concoctions like "The Undead." It's very NOLA of them.
Photo by Angelica Leicht The cocktails at Voodoo Queen are no joke
The names may be amusing, but the "heavy on the 151" warning labels are no joke. As our group wandered up to the bar, a guy who introduced himself only as Jeff had obviously not heeded said warning. One wobbly handshake and a side-hug later, he muttered something unintelligible and wandered outside into the cold night.
Although the neighborhood is rife with history and culture, it's still a bit rough in parts. The predominantly Hispanic area has come a long way in recent years, though, thanks to a focus on preservation and restoration. Second Ward is home to some true cultural gems -- Tlaquepaque Market and Bohemeo's, for example -- and investors have noticed. Navigation Boulevard looks nothing like it did a generation ago.
Voodoo Queen seems to have been aware of this gentrification and steered itself away from Navigation. It takes only a glance at owner Young's Facebook feed to know his cheeky attitude toward nightlife fads. He makes a point to remind followers that his bar is supposed to be nothing like the trendier Anvil or Pastry War, but that's not entirely true.
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