Claiming you’ve got the country’s “best fried chicken” is a dangerous thing to do. It’s like, how many times have you actually had something that was supposed to be THE BEST and it was anything more than average? I had high expectations going into Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans…I’d heard all the things. I was fully prepared for crushing disappointment.
But, you guys, the greatest thing happened. It actually, truly, unequivocally was The Best Fried Chicken I’ve Ever Had. It’s hard to articulate what makes one plate of fried chicken so much better than another but Willie Mae’s stuff was ridiculously juicy, the crust literally shattered at the teeth, and it had this unidentifiable but just-hot-enough spice to it that made it different than, say, Popeye’s. It was one of the most fulfilling travel/food experiences I’ve had to date, and that’s saying something.
Willie Mae’s is only made better by its amazing backstory: it was rebuilt after Katrina by devastated neighbors and a handful of James Beard award-winning chefs (obviously.) It’s in THE SKETCHIEST neighborhood in NOLA – so sketchy, in fact, that we had to take a cab the 1.2 miles from the French Quarter. I am not joking when I tell you a concerned gentleman with the most impressive gold grill I’d ever seen stopped me on the way out to tell me it wasn’t safe to walk. What a nice guy he was.
So thank you Willie Mae’s Scotch House. Thank you for being everything you were supposed to be. Thank you for being worth the cab ride and the so-full-I’m-sick feeling and thank you, even, for not having great sides so I could concentrate on that chicken. If I could give you a hug, I would. I can’t because…you’re a restaurant. If you’re ever in New Orleans, make this place a priority. It won’t be there forever.