Recently I was watching the Travel Channel’s Top 10 series on the most exciting places to visit in the United States. Basically the idea of the show is to showcase the top 10 places to pig out or top 10 fun restaurants, factories and amusement parks to visit here in America. I was really impressed with the top 10 list of best places to pig out and decided this got me thinking that maybe more research should be done on these places. Some of the places are institutions in major cities and you might not know these gems are in your own back yard.
I had to ask, what makes them stand out from the rest of the places around the country. Read on and you will soon see why you might want to give these places a 1st chance or even a 100th chance.
We are going to start this review with the Acme Oyster House.
The Acme Oyster House in New Orleans was is an easy restaurant to review because I have been here before. This place has been a favorite of tourists and locals a like for almost 100 years. They hold the distinction of being the French Quarter’s oldest oyster bar and a city landmark. Acme was also the place at one time that would make or break a politician. With their signature down home cooking Acme has been keeping their customers coming back for more generation after generation. And from personal experience they make a mean jumbalaya that I can’t compare to anywhere else outside of New Orleans. This place knows the flavor of this historic city and incorporates it into their food.
We actually visited the Acme Oyster House when we went to New Orleans in 2004, when we asked at the hotel where we should eat that was really good the clerk suggested we try Acme. Acme is located right in the heart of the historic French Quarter at 724 Iberville St. If you can’t find Iberville St. just ask anyone on the street and they will be able to point you in the right direction. I was very happy to find so many people with great knowledge and information about places we needed to find because if you don’t know where you’re going in New Orleans you can get lost, so asking for help is a good thing that isn’t frowned upon by locals.
But Acme isn’t exclusive to New Orleans, they also have locations outside of the city in Metairie, Covington and Sandestin. The 4 different locations each open at 11AM and close at 8PM, but I would call ahead and ask if they have since changed their hours from when we went there.
The menu at Acme isn’t just about their Jambalaya, they also make several great po-boy sandwiches that include everything from roast beef to their signature oysters, fried or plain, catfish and shrimp. Did I just mention oysters? This place makes great oysters as their signature plates. You can order anywhere from half a dozen all the way up to as many as you can eat. They also serve several different types of fish, crab, crawfish, shrimp cooked several different ways, along with steak and chicken. Come with your appetite because the meals are a good size for the price you pay. The price per meal averages between $7 and $17 depending on what you order and the oysters start at $8 for half a dozen or $10 for a dozen. You can also choose from a variety of beers Acme keeps on tap here to go with those oysters or whatever else you pick.
Acme is also the site of the yearly Guinness Book of World Records competition to see who can eat the most raw oysters in 1 hour. This competition is pretty fierce and some of best in the world of contest eating come out to try their luck at being recognized as the one who set the world record in the oyster eating competition. It’s also apparently pretty easy for anyone from the general public to enter into the competition also from what we were told, but just remember this if you’re thinking about trying to beat the record, the overall winner to date won the competition with 53.5 dozen oysters consumed in that 1 hour.
We aren’t big oyster eaters whether they are raw or cooked but while we were there we saw a few people going after the restaurants personal record of 8 dozen consumed in 1 hour. If you can beat that record Acme will give you the plate of oysters for free and put your picture up on their wall of past winners. And it’s fun to listen to employees and patrons cheering on the ones who go for it, but I don’t know if I could keep that many oysters down for 1 hour without wanting to loose it.
The sad part I learned in 2006 was that Acme was one of the places in the French Quarter that was hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. The place suffered extensive structural damage and needed a $2 million dollar renovation job to bring it back to it’s former glory. From what I’ve heard though it’s pretty much the same as it was before Katrina but the renovation brought about new floors and tiling. It also included new and expanded bathrooms along with a larger kitchen area.
Another recommendation is don’t come here looking for a quiet place to eat. Acme is very loud and often crowded. You may even find more tourists in here then locals on most nights, and we were seated near a group of people who didn’t speak English and sang drunken songs in German for most of the night. But if you need an oyster fix or you’ve never tried oyster shooting (taking a raw oyster, possibly doused in sauce, and letting it slide right down your throat), then you need to come here. A few people we spoke to there told us there is nothing more exciting then standing at the oyster bar and eating freshly shucked oysters on the half shell. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone traveling to New Orleans and will be visiting again when I make it back to New Orleans.