Well, I’m back! I spent a fabulous, yet exhausting, 3 days in New Orleans eating, drinking and carousing. We had some amazing food and some okay food, and a couple of drinks that are still hanging around in my belly. I’m gonna start my rather exhaustive recap/travelogue with the dives.
Willie Mae’s Scotch House
Our first stop upon reaching N’awlins was Willie Mae’s. My boyfriend had eaten there on his last trip, and was raving about the fried chicken. You may recognize the name from coverage on the Travel Channel and the Food Network, etc. Originally helmed by the now 97-year-old Willie Mae Seaton, and now run by her great-grandaughter, Willie Mae’s has become a New Orleans legend, and luckily was salvaged from near-ruin after Hurricane Katrina. We got in around 3:45, and there was a pretty long line to be seated. The place is only open 9-5, Monday-Friday, so if we wanted to eat there, it was now or never. After a 30 minute wait, and all of us almost slipping on the floor in there (I do believe the grease from the chicken has permeated every surface in the building), we were seated and ordered. There aren’t a lot of options: three pieces of fried chicken and one side is $10, or you could get a fried pork chop or smothered veal. That’s it. We all chose the chicken. Andy and I got butter beans and my friend got green beans with gravy.
The chicken itself was nicely seasoned, though if you are really sensitive to salt you might find it overly salty. The skin has more of a hush-puppy style batter on it than the drier, KFC style, which made for a nice change. It was crumbly and crisp, while the chicken inside was nicely cooked and very tender. My only complaint would be that the chicken was kind of dark on the outside, which more than likely has to do with the frying oil being old. That’s more our fault than anything, since we were the last table sat on the last day of the week. If you go to Willie Mae’s, which I highly suggest, I think going earlier on in the day is better. You can get to-go orders, so pick up some chicken, get out of the neighborhood, and go have a picnic. The sides were really nice as well. By the time we got there, they were out of red beans and rice, fries, potato salad, and Coke. Our options were limited. The butter beans were creamy and light. The green beans were actually kind of spicy! Overall, Willie Mae’s was a great experience. Ignore the scuzzy neighborhood it is in. You’ll be fine. Just watch your step inside, and go hungry! They had some delicious looking cheesecake too, but I just couldn’t fit anything else in the old tummy.
Across town from Willie Mae’s is Domilise’s Po-Boy. New Orleans must have some non-existent zoning laws, because both of these places were located in old, rather nondescript converted homes in otherwise residential neighborhoods. They are definitely off the beaten path. If you are staying in the French Quarter, I recommend taking Tchoupitoulas St. to get to Domilise’s, especially on a holiday weekend. We took St. Charles and it took nearly 45 minutes to go 3 miles because we got stuck behind rubberneckers watching the St. Patrick’s day parade on the opposite side of the street. Also, no one in NO can drive. No one. Unbelievable. Road rage aside, the po-boys at this joint are out of control. So it’s three little ladies who stand behind the counter and painstakingly put together each sandwich. They’re breaking about every health code in the book, but just go with it. It’s still cleaner than anywhere on Bourbon Street. We got there about 2 pm on Saturday, and the wait wouldn’t have been that long but there were about 15 frat boys waiting on a to go order. You place your order at the bar, and then wait for them to make the sandwiches. If you want a drink or beer, there is a separate counter across the room. The bartenders will drink with you. Sweet! Again proving that the bacteria in the Pontchartrain must have magical powers of youth, one of the three ladies still there making sandwiches is 97 year old Miss Dot. Watching her carefully place each oyster and each piece of shrimp just so on each po-boy was precious. They really load ’em up, too. We all ordered the same: half shrimp, half oyster with the works plus american cheese, mine with no pickles, natch. This is a big boy sandwich. If you get the half and half seafood, they only come in a larger, which is $16 but there is enough seafood on it to more than compensate for the hefty price tag. Plus, you could really split it between two people.
So that is THREE halves. I was able to make it through two. Fully loaded means: lettuce, pickles, hot sauce, a ketchupy remoulade, and mayo. The condiments were amazing, and generously smeared. They fry each batch of seafood to order, and my god, the oysters were HUGE. And delicious! They even brought us some extras because their credit card machine was on the fritz. My favorite part was the bread. Often times when you get a po-boy, they’ll toast it so that it’s almost hard to eat. These rolls were soft, yet still crisp enough on top to have some texture. They also were big enough to accommodate all that shrimp. Domilise’s has a pretty wide variety of sandwiches, and I don’t think you can go wrong. The roast beef looked really popular as well. If you go, don’t wuss out and order a shrimp po-boy with nothing on it, like I saw one girl do. As one of the sandwich ladies commented, “There’s nothing for the shrimp to hold onto!” Go for the works!