Everyone has a favorite place to hang out, have a few drinks, visit with friends and perhaps watch a sporting event on TV or observe the array of patrons who make up the city's vibrant nightlife. The reasons these places become favorites are as varied as the people who make them so. Selecting the best New Orleans area bars from the thousands of choices available is a daunting task and one that elicits much discussion and even arguments.

The Gambit Weekly staff picked our Top 50, but we also asked readers to give us their input by visiting www.bestofneworleans.com and voting for their favorites. Some of our readers' choices jive with our favorites, while others didn't make it onto our list. Over the next year we'll be keeping tabs on the bars on both lists to determine which ones maintain their charm, which rise to another level and which fall off the 'best bar" barometer.

Here are our readers' Top 8 choices:

1. Ohm Lounge (135 St. Charles Ave., 587-1330; www.ohm-lounge.com)

2. Bruno's Tavern (7601 Maple St., 861-7615; www.brunostavern.com)

3. W.I.N.O (610 Tchoupitoulas St., 324-8000; www.winoschool.com)

4. Swizzle Stick Bar (Café Adelaide, Loews New Orleans Hotel, 300 Poydras St., 595-3305; www.cafeadelaide.com)

5. Jiggers (1645 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 828-3555)

6. Attiki Bar (230 Decatur St., 587-3756; www.attikineworleans.com)

7. Ernst Café (600 S. Peters St., 525-8544 ; www.ernstcafe.net)

8. Whiskey Blue (W Hotel, 333 Poydras St., 207-5016; www.starwoodhotels.com)