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.
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
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
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.
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.
Jacque-Imo's is hot! The food is spicy, the ambience is funky and the quarters are cramped. Do like the locals and eat on the patio. Drink an Abita local brew with your fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, or stuffed pork chop. In all the times I've been...I've never had room to eat dessert. Roll next door to the Maple Leaf Bar and watch some local music in equally cramped quarters!
Not to fancy looking on the out side or the inside for that matter, but a great place to eat with the locals and smart out of towners. Quite a long wait to get food but it is worth it and they will go get you at the Maple leaf bar next door when your table is ready. I had the carpet bagger steak and it was marvelous. The cornbread muffins are also a treat. They also usually have some game on the menu, if that is your thing. Not to be missed.
Great local feel, but it's gotten so popular you're crammed in. But the food is great, well worth the wait. The fried chicken is tops, but everything I've eaten there (and I've been there many times) is excellent.
Favorite Dish: Fried Chicken...try it and you'll understand!
Well, it's been another good night of eating and drinking at Jaques-Imo's, who was in his usual form mingling with the crowd when not carefully watching over his chefs or nipping at the wine....
Last night's (10/30/03) wait was a mere hour, which was passed by fast as we were downing a few Turbodogs out on the sidewalk next to that beat pickup truck Jaques keeps in front of the place....you know the one with all the swamp scenes painted on the side and the plastic alligators glued to the sides hood and roof...and as usual, the place was packed with the usual type of crowd, a mix of locals and out-of-towners (mostly the convention crowd), which is fun because you can meet people from all over the country just standing there....
Favorite Dish: For starters get the Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake…it actually looks more like a quiche than a cheesecake, but you won’t give a sh!t what it’s called once you take a bite and your eyes roll into the back of your head….it’s rich and all together bad for you….
For a main course you can’t go bad at Jaques-Imo’s…all the grilled Amberjack plates are excellent and that is what I usually get. Last night I actually got the pork chops stuffed with beef and shrimp and it was an incredible “melt-in-your-mouth’ type of dish…extremely orgasmic….
If you want prompt service, fancy menus, snooty waiters, and a sophisticated atmosphere look elsewhere. But if you are looking for REAL New Orleans cooking and a great place to hang out while eating it, then this is your place. Jaques-Imo's is known for having a pretty long wait and you have to walk through the kitchen to be seated, 'nuff said about the ambience. But there is a reason that locals keep flocking to this place, and when you start eating you'll know exactly why. The food is different than say, Emeril's. But the taste is at least par. So if you have read my tip on Emiril's and know how much I love that place (not just for the food, but the service, and the production of the whole thing) then I hope you will realize just how good this place is. It is definitely not as expensive as Emeril's, but you can certainly run up a bill without a problem. Prices here are about $25 with an appetizer and no drinks. Once again, this place is not to be missed.
Also, ask to be seated in the "truck." You'll know what I mean when you drive up!
Favorite Dish: If you haven't ever had duck or rabbit, this is the place where you need to begin. They have a few different kinds; I've had them all... All good.
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
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.
The restaurant is 2 buildings that is outside of the French Quarter and reachable by streetcar. The outside is kinda dingy but that's the appeal. When you first walk in is the bar then you walk through their working kitchen and then into the back area. The restaurant is very popular with the locals so expect a wait of over 1 hour. They do not take reservations for parties of 4 or under. Service was friendly.
They only serve dinner beginning at 5 pm.
Favorite Dish: The bartender made a great concoction for me called a watermelon mojito but most people I noticed had the bloody mary. Most of the items are pretty good. It's hard to go bad there.
I was highly impressed by this place. Everything we had was amazing. Try the shrimp and alligator cheesecake(trust me, its out of this world). Also the fried rabbit tenderloin, gater', Amberjack, Gumbo, and array of desserts.
Even though they were packed we still had excellent service while sittin' in the back of the pick up truck parked out front. They are always packed so while you wait; go next door to the Maple Leaf Bar. Let the hostess know and they will come and get you from the bar when your table is ready.
Jacques' creative menu was a wonderful break from the norm. I think he just opened another restaurant in NYC. I will definately go there next time I am in New York.
We went on a Saturday night so there was a band that was playing on the street and made it's way through the restaurant. If you can, eat in the truck. Its worth the experience
Favorite Dish: 2 things>>>>.
Shrimp and Alligator cheescake; I can't explain it, you just have to experience it.
Fried rabbit tenerloin with Mustard sauce. I had never had rabbit fried like this. It was teneder and perfectly done. The mustard sauce balanced out the dish perfectly.
Jacques Imo's wins hands down! Amazing atmosphere, friendly people, and killer food. What started as a random neighborhood 'best kept secret' has turned into an award winning restaurant that has stayed true to its roots. They reside in the original building, serving the same amazing food they did on the first day.
You start in the bar, a narrow room lined on one wall by an enormous oak bar and about a hundred laughing people. Appetizers are avaliable in the bar, as well as wine, beer, mixed, and non-alchoholic drinks. When you're name is called, you're led through the kitchen ( where cooks greet you without breaking stride )and out into the dining room. Fun and colorful murals cover the walls and the friendly staff of ecclectic people puts you at ease immediately.
Favorite Dish: Definetely the 'Cheesecake.' It has the same crumbly pie crust, but that's where the similarities end. The 'filling' consists of an incredible blend of 4 cheeses, alligator sausage, tiny pieces of bell pepper, and probably a hundred other things I couldn't name. ( plus the secret herbs and spices. )