I’m getting married in New Orleans, so every wedding planning visit is an opportunity to explore the city’s amazing food. And I am, one might say, a complete sucker for fried chicken.
So I had to make the pilgrimage to Willie Mae’s, which serves up some of the city’s (and the country’s) best fried chicken. The restaurant is on a nondescript corner of Treme, the neighborhood on which David Simon spent a few television seasons. At times the line can get pretty long, but it’s worth every bit of the wait. If you’re a smaller group, like we were, there are seats at the bar as well, where we watched all the to-go orders come out of the kitchen.It’s not the cleanest of restaurants, to be honest, but what it lacked in nicety, it more than made up for in hospitality. Even while we waited, the place was humming with Southern politesse and thank-you-ma’ams and yes-sirs. Growing up in Kentucky makes you miss those small things when you dwell in New York, and even more so in uncouth Shanghai.
The batter is supremely crispy, slightly sweet. It’s different than the breaded crunch of, say, Popeye’s – Willie Mae’s batter is light, thin, flaky, almost airy. It’s the wet batter. The chicken itself is tender, brined in Coca-Cola and seasoned with a bunch of secret nonsense.There are some old-fashioned side options – mac’n’cheese, peas, cornbread, beans, cornbread, potato salad, etc. etc. They are really just afterthoughts, pleasant background notes to a chorus of succulent chicken. Willie Mae’s Scotch House
2401 St Ann St
New Orleans, LA 70119