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Great Jones Cafe is repulsive

Before I forget, I need to report to my fellow hounds about my first (and last) experience at Great Jones Cafe (yeah, I should have known they were jerks for suing Jonez over infringment and forcing them to change their name to "41 Greenwich Avenue!").

I read reviews of the place online (sadly, not here) and ALL of them were superb. So I dragged a few of my friends. We were supposed to be 4 of us, and the 4th was coming in from class so he'd be late. Anyhow, with barely anyone in the place (on a Saturday night), they refused to give us a table for 4. They gave us the table, instead, right to the left of the door--yes, the one where the guy on the end is basically right in the doorway! Awful start.

The woman was very mean about it all; and finally when my friend did come we scooted over to the next table. We ordered the BBQ Chicken, the Blacked Catfish, the Jalapeno Cornbread/Chile, and something else I cannot even remember. Save the chile, it was TERRIBLE! The catfish was awfully-tasting, the bbq chicken was the worst I'd ever had (Heinz BBQ Sauce would have been better), and the coke's given to us were some odd brand (making the diet coke literally undrinkable). It was an awful experience -- 3 people, $80, no alcohol or dessert.

PLEASE don't go here. OK, I'm done ranting!

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  1. I've never been a big fan of Great Jones. Much prefer ACME across the street.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jdmetz

      Me too--the folks at ACME are much nicer too. At Great Jones, it's southern comfort cooking with a side of attitude, but at ACME they really go out of their way to make sure you're enjoying everything. Fantastic mashed potatoes and po'boys to boot.

    2. I haven't been there in over 10 years. They used to have great fried okra & jalapeno cornbread, but it was always so cramped and noisy. I guess a place like this can make money without having to worry about quality. I've never been a big fan of Acme. I don't think there has been a really good N.O. restaurant in NY since the demise of Bon Temps Rouler in the late 80s.


      1. i love great jones.

        i've been going there off and on for 11 years and i admit it's completely inconsistent. sometimes the food is delicious and sometime's it's just mediocre and very occassionally it's not that good at all. i like the small space and i think the staff is nice and fun. i love drinking shaggies and hanging out there. the brunch is the most consistently good food, though they do manage a solid burger, good sweet potato pies and yummy bittersweet chocolate pudding.

        anyway, i go for the vibe, which i think is great, and i'm often very pleased with the food.

        1. Yeah, I'm actually really sorry that I had such a terrible experience there. I wanted to love it. But I can't bear to go there anymore.

          1. Sorry to hear about it man. Great Jones is one of my faves in the whole city. Maybe it was an off night.

            1. Love the vibe, great drinks, decent food. Didn't think the food at Acme was up to snuff.

              1. ACME and Great Jones are still around? I used to visit them often 15-20 years ago. Can't believe they haven't been swallowed up in the upscalization of that area.

                1. Always excellent bartenders, beer selection, great jukebox, and terrible food, with the exception of the astonishingly delicious cornbread. The Jones was always of the sour cream and melty cheese plates of slop school.

                  1. +1 on the juke box and beer!

                    1. Although I have only been for brunch, I have to disagree with your view on this consistently good cafe. Great Jones serves a yummy, wholesome, and well-seasoned cajun brunch and I have never seen the quality waver. The bloody marys are spicy and delicious. I can’t remember ever having mediocre service either. They have always been friendly and add cheese to my grits when I ask. I hope you give it another try and I will certainly venture there for dinner some time soon.

                      1. Ahh, you have to take it for what it is...a gritty, somewhat legend-y, New Orleans diner with a New York attitude. It's okay and if you go in knowing that, you can have a great time.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Jill

                          aside from a pavement-alum at the bar, i much prefer acme...though i havent been to either place in a few years.

                        2. of course they refused to give you a table for 4 on saturday night before your entire party arrived! no surprises there. even if they weren't busy yet, that place fills up on a dime.

                          and the food there is good, sometimes very good. maybe not every dish every night, but i'd take their burgers, side salads, andouille po-boys, cornbread, drinks, desserts and jukebox over acme (home of some of the worst cornbread i've ever had) any day of the week. and i've been to both many many times.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: etowernyc

                            The place was empty, not full. The waitress was inexcusably rude. The "cola" tasted like something from god-knows-where, and the food (catfish and chicken, mind you) was really bad. What else can I say?

                          2. I happened to stumble into Great Jones Cafe this past Saturday night with a group of six without reservations looking for a table around 9 p.m. I'm a native Louisianian, was visiting NYC for a conference, and admit I wasn't fired up at first about having my last meal in town at what looked like a dive, doing some rendition of southern food. But, as folks here have said, the neighborhood vibe is terrific, and my initial skepticism was allayed once I got inside and saw the Saturn Bar (Ninth Ward dive) calendar on the wall. Food was good: red beans & rice tasted pretty authentic (if not the best I've ever had), fried oysters were tasty & perfectly cooked, wings had a vaguely vindaloo-esque sauce that I liked, my Yankee meat loaf hit the spot in all the best ways, and the collards were nicely cooked, al dente. I didn't taste the gumbo (that's one dish I almost never order outside of Louisiana), but it looked & sounded good & by all reports, it satisfied. We were a group of old friends, now far-flung, happy to be together--and we had a great time at Great Jones.

                            1. Yeah, I would avoid both Great Jones Cafe, and Acme.
                              The best thing there is the corn bread. The strange thing is I have had the experience of ordering a drink and cornbread, so as not to waste my money on junky food only to watch them bring out amazing looking blackened catfish, and massive burgers from heaven. Then I made a point of going back to try one of those dream burgers, and ended up being served subpar crappy diner quality food. I would never go back now, but when I hear people rave about it, now I know why. They're just lucky with the draw. If you get good food at Great Jones, immediately go buy as many lottery tickets as you can afford !

                              (Does anyone know the scoop on Acme? Aren't they owned by the Gonzalezy Gonzalez, Rodeo Bar people?)

                              1. Was there today... had a great lamb sausage po' boy... fries were good too. Po' boy had some high falutin capers on it and a bitter herb... all for $8.95. Some locals were drinking at the bar and I listened to an aging hipster brag about this and that while one of the honchos had the hood up on the jukebox to add a 45... Professor Longhair or James Booker I reckon. Back out on the street, I heard a voice behind me and it was the darling little waitress bringing me my forgotten hat. Yeah, this place sucks, just like NY of old.

                                1. This place is what NY is all about. I have been going there for the last 10 years, and it is still my fav restaurant. Partly for the food (creole wings and sweet potato fries are divine), the drinks (yummy shaggy and a damn good margarita), the juke box, the familiar waitress who has been there for at least 10 years...

                                  I never order the chicken or the catfish. It's just not that good. The gumbo is very good, but smallish portion. The salad that comes with every entree is very good, and so are the burgers and the po-boys. And I always get a slice of pecan pie, yum!

                                  Every time I bring out of towners, they rave about their experience, cause it's so perfectly NY. I understand the original poster for not enjoying her meal so much. If your expectation is all about food, it may not deliver... But you might have enjoyed your experience a bit more with some hard liquor, which just seems to be the obvious beverage for this establishment...

                                  1. Great Jones has the best burgers in town. The meat is always fresh. A burger done rare with melted american cheese and a 6 point IPA accompanied by the soulful music on the iconic jukebox are all I need to make my night great.
                                    But you guys who are hating on it, stay away! We don't need you anyway.

                                    1. I always found the food to be pretty great. But since I started eating brunch there about 4 years ago I haven't had dinner. I love their brunch. I remember the burgers and the jumbalaya being good. That's what I ate back then.

                                      Now I sit at the bar on weekend mornings and scarf the eggs tulum with cheese grits. Good stuff.

                                      1. Great Jones is sort of junky and endearing and they serve a perfectly serviceable brunch. Not sure what the poster here was expecting.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: foodmonk

                                          I went to Great Jones this past Saturday for the first time in a very long time and I feel like I re-discovered an old friend. I used to go there a lot in the 1980s when I was much younger and still lived in the East Village and I loved it then. I've been living in Brooklyn for many years now and kind of forgot about Great Jones. But Saturday, I was going to the theatre in the Village and, for some reason, out of the blue, I developed a craving to go back to Great Jones. So, we went there for an after-theatre supper. I think we were both slightly anxious that it wouldn't be as good as our good memories of the place. But it was. It was a flash to the past. And we will be back. I'm putting it back on my list of go-to places in Manhattan. I work in Chelsea so it is on the way home to Brooklyn!

                                          We got there around 10 on Saturday evening and the place was full. We put our name on the list and had about a 20 minute wait to get a table. No big deal and to be expected on Saturday night in a place this small. There are a couple of benches right outside the door if you're not waiting at the bar. It was worth the short wait. The service was good and very friendly from both the woman who took our name and the waitress. We didn't sit at the bar this time (because there was no room at the bar), so I can't comment on the bartender (other than to say that he made a good drink), but I'd be surprised if he wasn't just as friendly. We joked, we laughed, we got exactly what we ordered, we got another round of drinks when we wanted them, she checked back to make sure everything was okay and to see whether we needed anything else. We were not rushed at all in spite of the small space and limited number of tables.

                                          The whole place had a very good vibe, no doubt helped by the good margaritas and the good juke box and friendly service. And the food.

                                          We both had blacked catfish which was what we went there specifically craving. We both loved it. It was nice and black with flavor. I hate it when blackened fish is barely blackened. I want it very black and spicy and Great Jones made it that way. The house salad that comes with all entrees was basic and fine. Besides the salad, one other side comes with the entree. The side choice was jambalaya, sauteed kale, garlic mashed potatoes, french fries or sweet potato fries. One of us got the jambalaya and the other the sweet potato fries and we both liked both of them. We also got some of the jalapeno cornbread which was yummy. The people at the table next to us got a Cajun fried oyster appetizer which we both vowed to try next time.

                                          The portions were generous, the food was good, the prices were very reasonable, the vibe was friendly and did I mention that the margaritas were good? Who knew this kind of down-to-earth inexpensive place would still be alive and kicking in that location after all these years of real estate development in Manhattan?

                                          I wonder what people who are disappointed in it were expecting. It was just like I remembered it. And I can't wait to go back now that I've re-discovered it.