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Curbed Cup 1st Round: (3) Irish Channel vs. (6) St. Roch

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The Curbed Cup 2013, our award to the New Orleans Neighborhood of the Year, is kicking off this week with eight 'hoods battling it out for the honor of a prestigious fake trophy and obviously, bragging rights. Voting for each match-up ends 24 hours after it begins. We'll showcase a neighborhood face-off per day through the week with results and the full tourney bracket reviewed on Friday. Let the eliminations begin!

Today the bursting-at-the-seams Irish Channel goes up against the up-and-coming St. Roch neighborhood. Both places were once regular working class neighborhoods (the St. Roch still mostly holds that title) flying under the radar, and both are seeing an influx of newbies (let's save the gentrification talk for another day). Another thing they both have in common — the residents of these 'hoods are fiercely loyal.

First up is the number three seed, the Irish Channel, located right across Magazine Street from the Garden District and nestled in next to the Lower Garden District. If mind boggling asking prices and rentals that seemed to pop up out of nowhere are any indication of a hot neighborhood, then the IC is straight-up on fire. Definitely not lacking on the food and bev front, a Curbed NOLA reader notes, "Let's be real, everything south of Magazine [ed.note: that means toward the river, for non-direction using New Orleanians] from Jackson to Louisiana is always going on. There really isn't a reason to go anywhere else. Here are your daily choices - Dinner: Rum House, Golden Dragon, Charcoals, Basin, Salu, Dat Dog, Smashburger (beyond last resort), Amici (4-6 happy hour, seriously, can't go wrong especially with the high-quality beers they have on tap), Tracey's (equally good spot for food and boozing)." He lists boozing options as "Balcony Bar, the Bulldog (plus decent food options), Rendezvous (for the real people), and then stumble home the three blocks you live from all of these places." The Rum House owners are opening Red Dog Diner next door to their Magazine Street spot, NOLA Brewing opened their taproom on Tchoup this year, and Amici brought their pizza to Byblo's old location. Several readers hit up the tipline to boast about the wonderful conveniences of living in the Irish Channel (close to St. Charles Avenue for parades, the multitude of clothing stores and antique shops) but some don't want the "secret" out: "I love the Irish Channel and have lived here six years but don't tell people how this is the best place, it's changing too much for my taste." Um, too late?

Across town there's the number six seed, the St. Roch neighborhood, located on the other side of St. Claude Avenue from the Marigny. While there are a slew of bars and restaurants within walking distance in the neighboring 'hoods, St. Roch doesn't have a long list of its own (hi, St. Roch Tavern and Rally's). Two readers shared the exact same sentiments — that the downtown neighborhood is reminiscent of Bywater's good ole' days. "The most vibrant part of town these days is definitely St. Roch. It is like what the Bywater used to be, with real people living there, not just old rich people with part-time homes." The historic St. Roch Market just wrapped up its $3.7-million makeover and at least one group, the St. Roch Community Partners, is interested in getting things back up and running there. Real estate is still affordable, homes are being renovated, and one Curbed reader wrote, "St. Roch is neighborhood of the year because it's one of the only places where people are proper and still say hello to each other on the streets."

What neighborhood will it be?
Poll results

· Curbed Cup 2013 coverage [Curbed NOLA]
· 2,500-sq. ft. Irish Channel home asks just under half-a-million [Curbed NOLA]
· Totally renovated Irish Channel home shoots for $520,000 [Curbed NOLA]
· One-bedroom Irish Channel rental boldly asks $2,050/month [Curbed NOLA]
· Rum House owners opening Red Dog diner on Magazine [Eater NOLA]
· NOLA Brewing's new taproom ready for Saints season [Eater NOLA]
· Amici icehouse, pizzeria headed to former Byblos space [Eater NOLA]
· St. Roch Market coverage [Curbed NOLA]