Decatur Street is not pronounced like a French word. It is named after Stephen Decatur, a commodore in the U.S. Navy. Lower Decatur Street is the the stretch between Esplanade Avenue and Ursulines Street. It is its own ecosystem within the larger French Quarter. People who do not frequent this part of the Quarter do not think of it as particularly distinct. The people who do frequent this stretch, who work in it and live in it, inhabit it, are a part of of it, they call it Lower D and they know where they mean. It is the part of New Olreans where the twenty-four hour bars are. I have been to a few of them. Some are cleaner than others. They are dive bars, film set-worthy. You know what I mean. Lower Decatur Street is scruffy, if not exactly down on its luck.
Lower Decatur Street is the French Quarter distilled. I think that is a good way to put it. It is full of places inhabited by locals and regulars in a tightly-knit community, everyone knowing and relying on each other. It is very nice to see. People do not think the Quarter is a neighborhood. It is. It has a supermarket and I don’t know how many drug stores. People who live in the French Quarter rarely leave the French Quarter. They like it. That is why they live there.
Aside from the dive bars, the best Chinese restaurant in New Orleans is on Lower Decatur Street. It is called Dian X’in. Frau Schmitt lived in China to teach English. She loves it at Dian X’in. Since this restaurant opened, she will not eat Chinese food anywhere else. The soup dumplings are delicious. I often share an order with a friend.
The most authentic Italian restaurant in New Orleans is also on Lower Decatur Street. That is called the Italian Barrel.
Allow me to clarify: The best Italian-American restaurant in New Orleans is Vincent’s on St. Charles Avenue. The best Creole Italian restaurant is a tie between Mandina’s and Liuzza’s. Those two are only a few blocks apart on the Canal streetcar line. You can compare and contrast. They are similar but different.
The best Italian-Italian restaurant in New Orleans is on Lower Decatur Street. I lived in Naples (Italy, not Florida) for three years. When I want to remember those days when I was I young and full of vim and vigor, I go to the Italian Barrel. Mama mia! Dats’ Italian!
There are two witchcraft stores, a head shop, a Lebanese restaurant called the Lebanon Grill, which is surprisingly nice inside. You should go for the ambience, if nothing else.
There re various other stores that come and go. There is another head shop, an art market, a convenience store, other things. Life is a parade on Lower Decatur Street. You should come discover it for yourself.
I know where you should stay and I know where you should go when you are here. You should visit Lower D, at least for a few hours to soak up the local color. In the old days, when French was the lingua franca in New Orleans, Decatur Street was called Rue de la levée. I don’t know why they changed it. People are just funny that way. This is New Orleans.
We look forward to sharing our part of New Orleans with you.