How Jacques-Imo’s Is New Orleans’s Most Famous Underground Restaurant

Jacques-Imo’s has a contradictory reputation for being the city’s most famous “off the beaten path” spot serving authentic “Nawlins” food that nobody knows about.

Jacques Imo's
FACEBOOK Jacques Imo’s

Tucked neatly away from the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter, sits a vibrant but modest-looking restaurant on Oak Street. Coined “off-the-beaten-path” by Anthony Bourdain, despite its recluse location, Jacques-Imo’s is highly regarded. Locals and well-connected travelers have been coming here religiously since 1996 to have a drink and eat off of the concise but quirky menu. Take note, should you decide to show up for a meal with a party of less than five, expect a long wait.

We arrived around 7 p.m., expecting to have just missed the dinner rush. Unfortunately, as promised, we encountered a wait time of one hour and thirty minutes. All ravenously hungry from a long day out in the blazing sun, we swallowed our pride and decided to wait it out. Oak street offers several options for killing time, we decided on a trivia night at Oak Street Brewery where we learned just how little we knew about Irish pop culture and enjoyed sipping on a few frozen beers. After what might have been an hour and thirty but felt like five hours, we received the notification that our table was ready. Given only ten minutes to claim it, we dropped our frosted glasses at the counter and all but sprinted up the street. This place seemed like a lot of work and I was wondering: for what reward.

Jacques Imo's
FACEBOOK Jacques Imo’s

We were seated in an eclectically designed, low-lit, crowded dining room. A group of rowdy men graciously provided an atmosphere of screaming which was literally impossible to talk over, however, we somehow managed to discuss the menu and order, all landing on the Eggplant Pirogue entree with Boudin Balls Arancini to start. Despite its brevity, the menu consisted of some very unique dishes. Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Chessecake,” Grilled Grouper, Stuffed Catfish, Cajun Bouillabaiese, and Paneed Rabbit were just some of the attention-grabbing entrees.

Jacques Imo's
PHOTO Delaney Beaudoin

The service was impeccable, our waiters were equal parts lighthearted and sassy, even bringing us a free plate of fried green tomatoes to compensate for our loud neighbors. When the Eggplant Priogue arrived, despite filling up on two appetizers and some delicious grilled cornbread, we all dug in. A seafood medley consisting of scallops, shrimp, and other buttery smooth ocean fare was literally swimming in a lemon parmesan cream sauce, all placed in a dug-out fried eggplant. It was pure perfection and we couldn’t stop fawning over the dish with every rich spoonful.

Jacques Imo's
FACEBOOK Jacques Imo’s

As far as pricing goes, around $13 for an appetizer and then anywhere from $25 to $40 on an entree. The price was justified in the portion sizes, a large entree and choice of two sides, we were all walking away with leftovers. I do, however, also consider our trip to Jacques-Imo’s an experience – an authentic New Orleans charm without being too fabricated or “touristy.” Even our run-in with rowdy neighbors ended on a happy note when we learned, rather ironically, that they too were from Massachusetts.

There were several points during our excursion to Jacques-Imo’s where we almost threw in the towel. The longer street-car ride and then a considerable walk down Oak Street met with an insanely long table wait time – all on empty stomach felt like cruel and unusual punishment. Once finished dining, I realized that this is exactly the charm of Jacques-Imo’s, it doesn’t try to over compensate, what you see is what you get and if you have the patience and adaptability to recognize this, you won’t leave disappointed.

Delaney Beaudoin

Content Creator & FB Manager

Having grown up in a non-traditional family of intersecting identities, Delaney takes pride in her blank-slate, open-minded perception of the world. Her interests in writing, politics, and travel converge perfectly to fuel her intense passion for journalism and the pursuit of truth in modern media. Delaney values her tendency towards impulsivity and loves the unprecedented circumstances that come with traveling.

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