Carmens de la Calle on Thursday nights is the next best thing to being in the French Quarter every night because Thursday nights are jazz nights. The restaurant, located at the corner of Flores and Salinas streets, is a hotspot on Fridays due to their multiple lively Flamenco evening shows. But Thursday nights are where it’s at for jazz lovers. And from the lack of attendees the night we were there, the jazz lovers are apparently not yet aware of this.
The entirety of the interior is draped in red velvet and the corresponding appropriate accoutrements. It is this interior that sets the stage for the evening’s festivities. The staff that greets you at the door and behind the full bar are at once warm and friendly, so much so that they effuse, and quite sincerely so, the ideal family that you never realized you had left behind.
Like that ideal family, they are ready to place a very tasty beverage in your hand. And who are you to argue with them? Martini, please.
With drink in hand, attention turns to finding the best seat in the house, and you’ll have your pick. From dark, romantic corners to stage-side and any variation in between, the setting is decidedly intimate and inviting.
Around 7:30 p.m. – technically showtime, but in reality, signifying the beginning of warm-up for the band – head to the bar to order some well-priced nourishments from the kitchen. The European meat and cheese plate comes highly recommended from previous guests familiar with the offerings. Personally, we’ll be back for the borracho steak and empanadas.
The most recent night we were there, the stage was shared by sax, bass and drummer — simple, concise, and all that was needed. For the sound that emanated was slow and melodic, with the ability to move the soul as only jazz can.
About that jazz … Anyone who has attended a musical event in a small venue will be familiar with the following statement: the music is loud. While that may seem laughably obvious, you may be tempted to share this event with old friends that you haven’t seen in a while, because this does seem like that kind of experience. However, once the show begins, there will be no catching up beyond the “What did you say’s” and the “How’s thats." So do yourself the favor and invite your fellow jazz lovers and come … for the music, and only the music. Do your visiting before or after the performance.
Find the Richard Oppenheim Trio at Carmens de la Calle this Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and check their website for additional shows. Street parking is convenient – and free after 6 p.m. – at the corner of Flores and Salinas. Entry cover is a reasonable $10 per person.
320 N. Flores St., (210) 281-4349.