Jacques’Imo’s (#33, 12/15/2001) – 95
Jacques’Imo’s has been holding the No. 1 spot on my list for quite a long time, despite some ups and downs in service and quality, it’s still always a fun experience. My top dishes are the carpet-bagger steak and the blackened redfish, but now and then I venture to the other side of the menu (one side is regular dishes, one side is special dishes) such as the grilled grouper (very strong, strong as in good, not as in smelly). I always recommend the shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake (a must-get) and the fried green tomatoes (with shrimp remoulade). Why is it my favorite place? The combination of awesome food, a cool in-house bar to wait (and you almost always have to wait, no reservations, and for long waits, just go next door to the Maple Leaf, one of the best music venues in the city, don’t worry, they’ll come find you), very cool décor (lots of Frenchy art), excellent music selection (definitely not getting this stuff in Galatoire’s), a fun, eclectic crowd of people (everybody is just hanging out and enjoying themselves), and if you’re lucky, a trip through the kitchen to your table, which is stuffed in a little room alongside as many people as possible. And Jack Leonardi makes a great host, though at times he can be a little less than sober – perfect New Orleans.
As far as my ranking for Jacq’s (rankings started in 2013), I would have to start with the food. You always get a lot and leave stuffed and everything is great. Rarely have a I heard any complaints, though maybe not the place to take kids or unadventurous folks (though the word is the fried chicken is awesome). Out of 50 points for food, I’ll give Jacques-Imo’s a 48.
The atmosphere here is what sets the place apart. Just a fun, cool, good-energy place. I’ll give it a 30 out of 30, that’s right! Perfect score.
The service here could be a challenge for some. There can be a long wait, which will drive some people crazy, but I usually go into it expecting the wait, and ready to have a drink at the bar or next door,so in some ways, it can add to the place. Once seated, it can also be a wait for food; they pack every nook and cranny with people and it has a small kitchen with everything made to order (of course), so don’t plan on being in and out in an hour. Regardless, the servers are almost always fun and helpful. I’ll give them a 17 out of 20 for service.
Final score = 95.