This is as much a fairy tale as a restaurant review. Once upon a time, not that many people outside her humble 6th Ward neighborhood thought much about Miss Willie Mae and her chicken shack, which was also part of her home. Until 2005, when the octogenarian and her secret-recipe fried chicken were designated an "American classic" by the James Beard Association. Weeks later, home and restaurant were under 8 feet of water. Weeks after that, a dedicated group of volunteers, including local and regional restaurateurs, banded together to bring back Willie Mae's. (Their Herculean efforts are chronicled on several places on the Web; watch the video at www.neworleanscvb.com and read all about it at www.southernfoodways.com.) The place probably didn't look this good before all the work, though as with so many beloved, fully restored dives, it reminds us of how big a role patina of time plays in the appeal of New Orleans. So -- the most sublime fried chicken ever? Certainly it's hard to figure out how to improve upon it. There is no menu -- just let your server recite the day's offerings, and wait as Miss Willie Mae's great-granddaughter, who has the secret recipes, fries you up something great. It's a reward for a beautiful effort of community, and for your stomach.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Very Highly Recommended 2010