If you're looking for America's best fried chicken, look no further than Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans.
Located in the 6th Ward, within walking distance of the French Quarter, this humble restaurant, which began as a bar, barbershop, and beauty salon in 1957, has served soul food since the '70s.
In 2005, its proprietor, Ms. Willie Mae Seaton, was honored for her life's work with a James Beard Award for “America’s Classic Restaurant for the Southern Region.”
A few years later, this accolade was followed by The Food Network and Travel Channel naming Willie Mae's "America's best fried chicken."
Needless to say, I made it a point to stop by Willie Mae's for lunch during my March 2019 trip to New Orleans.
I arrived a few minutes after 10 AM on a Monday, and the restaurant was already beginning to fill up!
So much for thinking fried chicken for breakfast was anything less than a terrific idea.
For $15, I got a three-piece order of Willie Mae's famous fried chicken, plus my choice of a side dish.
I went with the red beans and rice, which traditionally eaten on Mondays in New Orleans.
When I asked the waitress how that custom came to be, she suggested the red beans and rice were leftovers from the weekend's cooking.
Not yet realizing how much food I'd be getting, I also ordered a side of French fries ($5) and a corn muffin (75 cents).
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When the plates arrived, I was WOW'd by the sheer size of the fried chicken breast before me. It was humongous!
I began stripping away meat with my bare hands gobbling it up as fast as I could.
The secret wet-batter recipe is distinctly spicy, a kick that sets it apart from any other fried chicken I've eaten in my 42 years on planet Earth.
As I continued to work my way through the white breast meat, I understood why Willie Mae's fried chicken was named the best in America. You will too.
The two wings were significantly smaller, so I didn't spend much time on them. The red kidney beans and rice were fine, as were the fries and corn muffins.
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Willie Mae's atmosphere is notable for its mix of locals and tourists, all with a common love for tender, juicy fried chicken.
A portrait of the matriarch, Ms. Willie Mae Seaton hangs in the front dining room; she passed away in 2015 at 99.
Her great-granddaughter, Kerry Seaton, now runs the restaurant along with her husband.
They're also responsible for opening a second location, Willie Mae's Grocery and Deli (7457 St. Charles Ave).
For more info on this award-winning restaurant, including the status of dine-in service, check out williemaesnola.com.