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Jacques-Imo's Cafe: A Total Experience
Jacques-Imo's Cafe is more than just a restaurant; it's a total experience. The name of the place is a pun on the Creole phrase "Jockamo fee na nay" (remember the song "Iko Iko"?) and the name of the owner, Jacques Leonardi.
Do not come to Jacques-Imo's if you are in a hurry or want to have a quiet dinner. It's a popular, noisy, crowded place where the wait for a table can be up to two hours. But the New Orleans-style food is wonderful, the atmosphere is warm, and the people-watching in the bar is almost like live theatre.
I first ate there in 2011 with my family and VTers Dester and Betska - we were celebrating Dester's birthday. Jacques himself came to our table to welcome us. He was sipping from a huge, Cosmopolitan-filled beaker, which he said was his third of the night. (That was easy to believe...although some of his unsteadiness might have been put on for dramatic effect.)
Jacques is a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, and when he found out that one person in our party was Navy, they had an animated dialogue, and he sent a free bottle of champagne over to our table. I'm not sure if he was ever an officer, but in my book, that made him a gentleman!
The prices are on the high side - an average of $25-30 per entree, plus drinks and dessert - but do consider that you're also paying for the Jacques-Imo's experience, kind of like a built-in movie. If you're staying in the French Quarter, you should drive or take a cab Uptown; the streetcar goes only as far as Riverbend.
The best way to go to Jacques-Imo's is in a group, because they accept reservations for parties of 5 people and over. There's less waiting and more merriment! :)
Our waiter took this shot of our group from a stepladder.
Favorite Dish: I had the blackened catfish, which was really good, but my favorite parts of the meal were the butter beans and the cornbread, and I'm particular when it comes to cornbread. Dester still says that his crawfish etouffée was the best he's ever had.
- Women's Travel
Jacques=Imos: ORDER ANYTHING
everything was great, from the food to the ambience and surrounding to the weather. You get a great feel of things to come when you have to wait in line at 530pm to get a table for three.
Favorite Dish: The Cajun Bouillibaisse stood on it's own as the homemade cookin, Cajun style -- this huge portion of oysters, shrimps, mussels, and fish in a spicy and savory tomato broth with garlic cheesy bread was to die for....many of the other dishes that my friends shared with me was just as good....order anything.....it's good
- Family Travel
Jackimos: colorful scene for satisfied tastebuds
Everything I ate was just right and everything on the menu I tried was the best it's ever been made to my knowledge! The only problem I had was the size of the place. U had to squeeze through everywhere. If you go at prime dinner time it will be difficult to hear.
Favorite Dish: gumbo
- Food and Dining
Jaques-Imo's: Past its see\ll-by date
This used to be one of those cool "discoveries" you could take visitors for an uproarious good time. The menu was often innovative, if uneven, and the general atmosphere was good natured and genially chaotic. But today, the chaos has pretty much trumped any remnants of geniality. The mood at Jacques-Imo's has always depended on Jack Leonardi, the dipsomaniacal host. He was that cheerful sot who hovered over the proceedings, making sure every glass stayed full - so even the longest wait flew by quickly. What's changed is that Jack has become a mean drunk: unpredictable, abusive, and unpleasant to be around. A lot of the kitchen and front-of-house team that made the place fun have escaped to better jobs, while the remaining staff looking around nervously for Jack. They know that he can show up suddenly and create a scene that ruins a table's evening (and any chance of a decent tip). Wish you could have been there a few years ago, but these days, stay away.
Favorite Dish: The fried chicken was good, but the chef died.
- Food and Dining
- School Holidays
Jaques-Imo's: great funky uptown place for the college crowd
reasonably priced funky uptown restaurant for the college crowd. A good change from the French Quarter. Also gets you uptown on what will, sooner or later, become a working streetcar line again.
Favorite Dish: fish smothered in sauce.
Jaques-Imo's: Eclectic is the perfect description
The least formal dinner place you'll ever see and that's good and bad. It's noisy, crowded, exciting, has all kinds of stuff hanging on the walls. Not exactly romantic but the food is usually pretty good. No reservations are taken if the group is small, so be prepared to wait unless you get there early. The wait time is usually over stated so keep that in mind. The wait can also be interesting when the owner is running around buying rounds at the bar.
Favorite Dish: Fried chicken used to be great but Austin Leslie has left so I hope it's still as good. Godzilla vs Fried Green tomatoes (It's crab) is good and there's an eggplant dish that I can't remember that I enjoyed
Jaques-Imo's: Top Gourmet Cuisine in New Orleans
Ultimately a great restaurant must be about the food, but when great food meets a unique and hip atmosphere, the restaurant is truly unique. This is the case with Jacque-Imo's. Located in the Audubon Park area, far away from Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, this restaurant draws patrons from those who really want to learn something about New Orlean's cuisine. The typical run-down narrow store front look of New Orlean's gives way to a dimly lit and lively bar with a retro style decore and piped new age rock music. The bar is complete and the wine list adequate for a seasoned California wine consumer. Good good wines are served both by the glass and bottle at reasonable prices. We were walk-ins without reservations, so I bought my wife an iced cranberry nectar and a glass of Ravenswood Zinfandel for myself, and then we hung out in the bar for awhile watching the mostly younger crowd and listening to rock music. When our time came to be seated, we were led through the stainless steel surfaced kitchen to the back dining area. Special corn bread cakes are served with every meal. I ordered a glass of a dry white wine, and two appetizers. One appetizer was a more or less traditional beef and sausage gumbo while the other was a wonderfully light crab cheeze cake.
Favorite Dish: Jacque's wife Amelia served us on this busy night. My wife had a breaded venison, and I had a firm white fish called escarol. On the side, I had beets and corn, while my wife had vegetables. What makes this restaurant so great is the excellence by which food is prepared, as well as the unusual hip atmosphere. The price for our food was less than Brennan's, where we ate the night before. Owner-chef Jacques Leonardi provides personal attention to his patrons. This was the best dining experience we had in the Big Easy.
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