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Need Jacques Imo's Advice

Hi fellow Chowhounds. I'll be in NO for a conference this weekend - first trip in a long time. Thinking of eating at Jacques Imo's but wondering how long I should expect to wait on a Saturday night? Is this place worth the effort to wait in line (and get across town)? Would appreciate any input.

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  1. I wouldn't be daunted by the wait. We were there this past Saturday night. Arrived around 7 and told the wait would be about 40 minutes. Didn't mind a bit given the festive atmosphere out on the sidewalk with our cocktails. Jack showed up and posed for a photo with us. You can even go to the nearby Maple Leaf bar for a drink and they'll track you down there when the table is ready. Are you going via taxi? If so, we had no problem finding a return after dinner. Cabs go via freeway, so not a long ride.

    1. Get there when they open and there should not be any wait. I think it is fun and worth going to. They have an eggplant wild mushroom appetizer that is rich and delicious. I find I do better ordering appetizers rather than appetizer and entre. Too much food.

      1. I would definitely go - 45 min to 1 hour probably for the wait, maybe less since its not high season right now. Order the savory cheesecake appetizer if they have it. And save room (somehow) for dessert.

        1. i like jacques imo's - but Dick & Jenny's is much better. there's no reservations at either and both are not that bad of a wait (due to cocktails and friendly conversation amongst the waiting droves) - but the food at D&J's is superior.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dtud

            I love Jacques Imo's...I love it because it is good, and it is fun...but it is way out of the Quarter, and will take a cab to get there, and back, which should not be a problem if necessary. I am just thinking that there are some fabulous places in the Quarter or closer that may be just as much fun...and will not suggest, as my last few visits have been spent Uptown. No doubt much love and devotion for many for Jacques Imo's fans, I being one......but I always have enough friends of son to be able to make a reservation.

          2. Definitely go! I've been several times over the past few years, most recently in November 2006. I find that they often seem to overestimate the actual wait. But it's usually a fun wait, as others have said. It's a party feeling all the time and right next door is one of the most happening clubs (although nothing much happens until well past 10 p.m.) in NO. Do yourself a favor and order the shrimp and alligator cheesecake appetizer. It's one of the best things to eat in New Orleans.

            1. gumbo ... etoufeee .. godzilla ... once you go, you know and then you go back as often as your budgt and waistline alllow!

              1. Not to say you shouldn't go, because there's so much good about it that it outweighs this. But you should be aware of this and no one ever seems to mention it. The noise level in the dining area is amazingly loud. That shouldn't keep you away because the food is outstanding. But when you're seated and dining, it's more like a loud bar than a restaurant. (I should mention I have only eaten there once. The noise may have been an aberration but I got the impression that it was normal.) Still I would go there again. But if you're sensitive to noise, you should be aware what to expect.

                1. You are going to have to wait...but they never turn anyone away. And like everyone said, it is a good time! Last time we were there (right before Chrismas) Jaques was there and he was a little (er, a lot) drunk and was dancing around in a Santa hat with a Christmas tree singing Jingle Bells to all the tables and the people waiting. We even took my 85-yr-old Grandma there and she had a blast. It is loud though...but you ain't going there for church, you're going there to have awesome food and a good time!

                  1. Thanks everyone! I'll give it a go!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: baconjen

                      I see you made it to Stella...did you make it to Jacques Imo's? I am pretty sure my student will be celebrating a 21st birthday there in just a few days!

                      1. re: Jesdamala

                        Yes! Made it there too and was so glad I went! Really fun and the cheesecake appetizer and fried green tomatoes were delicious. To be honest, the entrees were just okay, but by then we had a bunch of drinks so it didn't matter. On my next trip, I'll probably just order all appetizers because they are absolutely huge. I think I'll post a summary of my whole trip when it's done (still here).

                    2. You should definitely go. Why? Because everything is great on the menu. I mean it! Those in the know ask for a piece of the fried chicken on the side of any entree. The original cook who made the fried chicken was always in the top ten in the nation. Unfortunately he passed soon after Katrina, maybe due to the stress. I recommend the Escolar, some confuse it with sea bass, it is an oily fish that is very dificult to cook well, but Jacques Imo's figured it out. So good it tastes like candy. A couple of years ago, I happened to be walking on the westside of Manhattan and saw a Jacques Imo's sign. My friend and I just about freaked. We walked in and saw Jack. They were getting ready to open in a couple of days, finally Jack was sharing his gift with the outside world, what better place than New York. I recently saw Jack in the Maple Leaf while we were waiting to be seated and asked him how the restaurant was doing in Manhattan. He told me he had to close it. The restaurant business is tough in both cities, and Jack said business was down about 30% in New Orleans after the storm. He said he closed in New York to concentrate on New Orleans. Just another reason you should definitely go. We always try to arrive before 6 as there is no wait. It is definitely loud though, and not because of loud music. Maybe because they really pack you in. Be ready to have 2 or 3 tables move so you can get to yours. If your wait becomes long, you will get free appetizers and desserts, and if Jack is half in the bag, you will get free drinks.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ozzie

                        The "original cook" you're referring to was Austin Leslie, one of the legends of Creole cooking. The year before Katrina, he was back running his own kitchen at Pampy's.

                        Leslie died shortly after a harrowing escape (stranded on his roof, days in the Superdome). One of the many cultural treasures we lost.

                      2. Beware of escolar, although yummy, for a few of us it can have a not so pleasant side effect. But you have to try it to know.