Originally opened in 1969, this New Orleans Secret Bar was only known through word of mouth before Google. Even today, with GPS, this haunt is not easy to find. If you find yourself in Nola late at night on the prowl for a drink, an adventure, and maybe even a vampire, then The Dungeon is waiting for you!
We found this bar the old fashioned way, a warning from our local ghost-tour guide advising us to “beware the vampire bar on Toulouse.” Craving a thrill and a kitschy themed establishment we took the plunge. The Dungeon doesn’t open until 9pm (and this is recent as originally it didn’t open until midnight). To find the place, take a stroll down Toulouse and find a tiny entranceway of a dark, very narrow, eerie alleyway; above the prision cell door there is a sign that states “The Quarter’s Most Unique Night Spot.”
If you aren’t spooked yet, tiptoe down the alley where at the end you will find a red emblazoned axe inscribed “The Dungeon.” This is the entrance to the bar and the last place you can take photos. We weren’t sure if it was because of the vampire lore, for added special effect, or shady business happening, but do not ask questions, and do NOT take pictures inside the bar. This is the only place we have been thus far that has had this rule, and it did elevate the intensity of the experience, so I can appreciate that.
Of the two of us, I will admit to my affinity for vampire history and I was quite impressed with the place. My partner however was uneasy at first, but we have since returned with friends and now enjoy the extremity of the theme together. Bathed in red light, everything has a gothic, sinister feel to it. There are two levels of the bar. The first floor, where you enter, is pretty standard besides the horror décor. Upstairs is another story. The staircase leading to the next level is even tighter than the alleyway. On arrival you are met with the sight of shackles hanging from the walls, heavily pierced and tattooed bouncers, and people sitting in elevated wooden cages, each drinking their libation of choice.
Drinks are of standard dive bar quality, but also much cheaper than our usual secret places! We ordered Gin & Tonics which happened to glow eerily in the light of the bar.
We climbed up and sat in one of the minuscule cages and watched the people pass below hoping something weird would happen, but nothing did. Be warned over the bathrooms though, when we were there, there was only one bathroom and it did not have a lock, so take a partner with you.
We can honestly say we have never been to a bar as themed, as guarded, or as spooky as The Dungeon. This is either a place you will really love, or a place that will make you feel very uncomfortable (which is why we rated it 3.5 for atmosphere because it is not for everyone!).
Vampire lore is truly believed in New Orleans, and vampires are known to frequent this establishment. It was not with sarcasm that our guide told us to stay away, she even asked that we text her when we returned safely to our hotel that night. We were also told that the vampires no longer suck blood, but energy, to survive. So if you visit The Dungeon and begin to feel tired or weak, it just might be time to leave…
Your adventure seeking PLIs(visited Nov. 2016 & Jan. 2018)
A little history: A news segment from 1991 is worth a watch on their website