Being a lifelong local is a funny thing: it doesn’t matter how long you live somewhere, there are just going to be those places that you feel every person has visited, and has an opinion to share. I have lived in New Orleans my entire near-37 years and this was my first visit to the famed Joey K’s on Magazine Street, although I have passed it probably a thousand times throughout my life. Magazine Street used to be my haunt in my younger years; I have eaten hundreds of meals on the strip and I’ve enjoyed a cocktail at nearly every bar. For the life of me, I had never made it to Joey K’s. That all changed recently.
It was a day in September that could only be described as “tortuously hot” when a friend and I decided to meet up so I could see what Joey K’s was all about. I didn’t know much, but I knew enough to know that I had to get there right when they opened in order to beat the crazy lunch crowd. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m no fan of a wait. We were first through the doors as they were unlocked and we sat in the front room that was full of colorful signs and art by local artist Simon. The restaurant had a distinct New Orleans welcoming kind of feel and I knew that I was in for something special.
My friend knows what a huge fan I am of onion rings, so he suggested we start with those and for my entrée, I got the four pieces of fried chicken. I was obviously in “go big or go home” mode and on some sort of mission. I almost don’t know what I was thinking, but when they’re offering up four pieces of fried chicken and two sides for $13, you go big. Oh, what’s that? The fried chicken is going to take 20 minutes to cook? That’s fine, I’m just going to use that time to question my life decisions.
The onion rings came out piping hot and they were fantastic. I liked that the batter actually stayed on. What a novel concept! You have no idea how many onion rings I’ve had in this town that look great, but then just become a pile of fried disappointment once all of the batter falls off. Then you’re left with nothing but a greasy ring of sadness. But I digress; the rings here are fried to crispy perfection, the batter is tasty and the integrity of the ring stood up to ketchup dipping, which is the standard by which onion rings are measured.
After I ate probably too many of them, it was time for the big show. Out came my plate of fried chicken and two sides. First of all, I had NO IDEA I got two sides- I was just asked what I wanted as my one side and I got mashed potatoes. Apparently a big pile of green beans comes with every order. I love green beans, but I just nearly onion-ringed myself into a coma. The pieces of chicken are huge- two BIG breasts and two nicely sized wings were presented to me and it was then I knew that I wasn’t ready. My mouth had written a check that my stomach definitely couldn’t cash. I went in on one of the breasts and, one thing that immediately impressed me, first and foremost, was the crust level. On a scale of one to ten, the crust level was a solid ten- very crunchy in the bite. The batter was thick, crispy and brown. Once I got through that, I was presented with juicy chicken meat that came right off of the bone with ease. This chicken was fried to picture-perfect deliciousness; it exceeded my expectations. It was everything I wanted and more. Additionally, the mashed potatoes were obviously homemade and topped with delicious gravy and the green beans were nicely seasoned and had pieces of pork in them.
I was able to make it through one breast and a few bites of my sides before I threw in my napkin and admitted defeat. I knew going in that I wasn’t going to be able to eat all four pieces of chicken, but only getting through one breast certainly brought shame upon my name. However, a wise man once said, “Hey, you can take all that chicken home and eat the rest of it over the weekend.” I’m not sure who said that, but it’s become my mantra.
My first date at Joey K’s was magical and I’m ready for my second helping. I’ve heard mumbles about how delicious their Eggplant Napoleon is, so I will have to make a point of getting back over there and trying it. I’ll eat anything fried and topped with cream sauce- as a rule. Of course, it’s going to be hard being in the same building as that amazing fried chicken and not partaking, but I guess sacrifices must be made.
Whether you’re a lifelong New Orleans local or just visiting, put Joey K’s on your “must eat” list. They have a huge menu, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.