LOCATION: 401 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
It was earlier last month that I got the opportunity to head down to New Orleans for the first time during a combined bachelor / bachelorette party for two of my high school friends. In talking with people that had been to the city before, everyone always talked very highly of the food scene. The very first day that we got there, we decided to hit up a local institution: Mother’s Restaurant.
The popularity of this place was not exaggerated: by the time that we showed up, there was already a line out the door along the side of the building and starting to stretch down the block. Not only do you wait just to go inside the building but you also have to wait in another line to go up to the counter once you’re inside to order food. The staff did provide a number of menus to people to peruse while waiting, so hopefully by the time you got up to the counter, you knew exactly what you wanted.
I’m all about trying the signature items from a place, so when I spotted on the menu that the Famous Ferdi po’ boy was one of their originals, I had my mind made up. One of the other guys on the trip, Brent, had been to the place before and mentioned that the Famous Ferdi was a good choice. We finally made it all the way down to the cash register and seeing all these other plates of food coming out of the kitchen had not swayed my decision, so the Famous Ferdi sandwich it was along with a plate of French fries.
As it turns out, despite the really packed dining area, there were two other dining spaces that we walked through before getting into this large banquet hall-style place that had a table to accommodate our entire group of 13 people. It seemed like as places next door might have closed over the years, the restaurant continually expanded into the newly-vacated spaces.
That kitchen must be dialed up to 100% every day, because the waitstaff were making the rounds no more than five minutes after we sat down to bring us our plates of food. The Famous Ferdi po’ boy was definitely the heaping mound of food that I expected: ham, roast beef, and “debris” with au jus gravy, dressed with fresh shredded cabbage, pickles, mayo, and a mix of Creole and yellow mustards. A glance at the definition section on the menu says that “debris” is the roast beef that drops into the au jus gravy in the pan while roasting in the oven.
Taking that first bite into the sandwich, I knew that it was the real deal. The au jus from the roast beef had pooled a little bit at the bottom of the plate, with the French bread soaking it up. Both the ham and the roast beef were nice and tender, with the roast beef’s rich and savory flavor really coming through in every bite. The punch of the mustards was a really nice addition as well, along with the shredded cabbage providing a slight fresh element to the richness of the po’ boy.
The visit to Mother’s was a great first impression to the New Orleans food scene. The po’ boy certainly did not disappoint, with its delicious flavors and generous portions keeping me tided over for almost the rest of the day. Everyone in our group echoed a similar sentiment of being very happy with their food selections. If you see a line going down the block to get inside, don’t be deterred. I can promise you that the wait is well worth it.
Let’s now take a look at the Mother’s Restaurant Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Mother’s Restaurant:
Food: 4.75 / 5
Can’t go to New Orleans without trying some po’ boys, and they certainly didn’t disappoint at Mother’s. Delicious, rich flavors from the roast beef helped to elevate the sandwich to something you can’t just get anywhere. If you’re not in the mood for po’ boys, there are other Southern comfort food staples to choose from as well.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
The restaurant has been open since 1938, and the atmosphere has its own character to it as a result. Photos, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia line the walls, and while you might feel packed in sitting down at one of the tables, the food is really what you come there for.
Service: 4.25 / 5
For how crowded the place was, I was actually really impressed with how expedient the food came out to you. Within five minutes of sitting down, the staff had all 13 of our orders out and on the table for us to start digging in.
Price: 4.5 / 5
Like I mentioned above, this is not a sandwich that you can get just anywhere. The delicious flavors and heaping portion of meats is why I’d gladly pay the $13.50 for the plate.