Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken (or, This Is Why I’m Moving to New Orleans)

Food & Drink
February 25, 2012 7:42 pm

There’s fried chicken, and then there’s fried chicken. Willie Mae’s Scotch House serves the latter.

Willie Mae's Treme New Orleanswillie mae's fried chicken, green beans, butter beans, french fries, new orleans tremewillie mae's new orleans fried chickenwillie mae's fried chicken new orleansWillie Mae's New orleans fried chickenwillie mae's fried chicken new orleans
Willie Mae's Treme New Orleans

Outside Willie Mae's in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans

willie mae's fried chicken, green beans, butter beans, french fries, new orleans treme

3 pc fried chicken and sides of french fries, green beans and butter beans

willie mae's new orleans fried chicken

Willie Mae's no-frills front dining room

willie mae's fried chicken new orleans

3 pc Fried Chicken: Before

Willie Mae's New orleans fried chicken

3 pc Fried Chicken: After

willie mae's fried chicken new orleans

Rachel Hobson's first bites of Willie Mae's fried chicken. (Pure ecstacy on her face, in case you didn't notice.)

You will find things like chicken-fried pork chops and some kind of veal on the menu, but that’s not why you came. You came to Willie Mae’s for the fried chicken, and you’re going to order:

  • 3 pieces of fried chicken
  • a side that comes with your order of fried chicken–your choice between green beans, red beans and rice, butter beans, french fries and a house salad (I recommend the savory butter beans)
  • a 75-cent cornbread muffin

The fried chicken looks dark enough to call ‘burnt,’ but don’t be fooled. The melt-in-your-mouth layer of Willie Mae’s secret batter is ultra-thin, intended not only to add a crunch to each bite but also to seal in the juices that tenderize the white and dark meat inside. Each morsel falls off the bone not in a puddle of grease, but with a succulent flavor and texture.

The food comes as its ready, which means your cornbread muffins will come hot out of the oven and your chicken will still be dripping with crispy grease from the fryer. Just the way you like it.

To pay proper tribute to her life-changing experience at Willie Mae’s, my host and former roommate Chenault wrote a haiku:

Chicken, baked no more!
Crisp crunch tender tastebud joy
FRIED. Thanks, Willie Mae!


Fortunately for the Treme neighborhood and Willie Mae, I am far from the first to discover this magical fried chicken wonderland. The Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain visited Willie Mae’s with the infamous Kermit Ruffins, a New Orleans Jazz legend.

While I’m a little jealous we didn’t share a meal with him, we were lucky enough to spot Kermit in person at The Joint, a favorite BBQ restaurant with legendary ribs, in the Bywater a few blocks from Vaughan’s bar where he plays every Thursday night.

Hope y’all had a happy Mardi Gras!


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