Willie Mae’s Scotch House Ruined My Diet and I Loved It

So if you live in New Orleans and haven’t heard about Willie Mae’s Scotch House, then you live under a sad, sad rock.

Oh did I peak your interest with the “scotch house” part? Simmer down hot stuff, its going to get better.

Just to give you a little bit of background, Willie Mae’s, named for owner Willie Mae Seaton, opened in the late 1940s, and ever since, has been New Orleans own private Mecca for fried chicken. The “scotch house” refers to the bar that the building the 2401 St. Ann location used to be. Even though the sign says “Willie Mae’s Restaurant,” the “scotch house” part has stuck on for over 60 years. Just another New Orleans quirk that makes no sense. You know else doesn’t make sense? How magically delicious this fried chicken is.

I mean its so good that I feel bad for gluten-free, Zone-book toting, vegetarian/vegan/pescaterians in New Orleans that will never experience the crispy-crunchy, juicy, steaming hot, God-given goodness that is Willie Mae’s chicken.

I was about Day 6 into my diet. Only fruit,vegetables, and protein, no carbs, just water. I think this is what normal people eat on a regular basis so I don’t know why I’m calling it a diet. Anyways, I decided to take a break from my usual food favorites when I noticed that everything I ate came out of a can, cellophane packaging or wrapper. I know what you’re saying, “Morgan, I eat all those things all the time and I’m not fat.” Well, GOOD. FOR. YOU. Let’s throw you a big parade and you can throw fried chicken from a float you lucky, lucky person. For me, fried chicken is a prize. Its so amazing and delicious but so nutritionally bad, so I always had to earn fried chicken:

 Get A on paper, have Chick-fil-A;

Workout for a week straight; Cane’s here I come.

Drunk before midnight? Popeyes. 

For the record, you aren’t healthier because you’re on a diet or because you decide to forgo fried chicken. But if I’m not in a perpetual state of congratulating and loathing myself, what am I supposed to do with my free time? I just wanted to be healthier and maybe I don’t want my kids to be born with a third arm because my nutrition has more hormones than a high school football team in Victoria’s Secret. But, I digress.

Willie Mae’s fried chicken isn’t just appreciated by New Orleans. In fact, WM’s has been voted “America’s Classic” by the James Beard Foundation in 2005. When the restaurant was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, it reopened only 2 years later with over $200,000 in donations. Okay, let’s stop right there. Do you know how hard it is to get people to donate money? To donate money to a restaurant? To donate money to a restaurant in a city that has been DESTROYED by a natural disaster? To get people to donate money in a city that has been destroyed by a natural disaster for what? That’s right, fried chicken. And if you think its absurd, you just haven’t been converted yet.

The St. Ann and Tonti location usually has a line out the door before the door even opens. There are people that visit and want to stop here, first, like right off the plane. It has been visited by television channels, NPR, celebrities, all kinds of customers come into this business for a two simple reasons: food is good, service is good. Period.

Last week, Willie Mae’s opened a new location on St. Charles and since we like to keep on the pulse of new munchies spots around the city, this was Monday’s lunch pick. The location on St. Charles and Cherokee where Fat Hen Grocery once was as well as a string of other unsuccessful businesses. Something tells us Willie Mae’s doesn’t have anything to worry about. We’re not amateurs, so we got there before a line began.                                                                                                                                                                               

Left: Before Noon     Right: 12:00
Left: Before Noon Right: 12:00


From there, I took in the new place. Clean but still with a strong smell of cooking oil in the air. Counter to order, pick your seat, cushioned booths, and papered tables perfect for wiping my greasy fingers on. I took a look at the menu. Variety of chicken plates with sides of your choosing. Maybe a salad or wrap or two.


So here is where the dilemma comes in: should I attempt to be healthy even in this indulgent setting?


I think I made the right call.

Chicken tenders, basket of chicken, red beans and rice, fried okra and one cornbread muffin
Chicken tenders, basket of chicken, red beans and rice, fried okra and one cornbread muffin

Sacrifices must be made, pounds were gained and I may or may not have fallen asleep sitting up at my desk later on that afternoon. But I regret nothing because that was some of the best fried chicken I ever had. Crispy outside but not greasy. Steaming hot on the inside and tender AF as you carnivorously imbibe that juicy carcass.

But hey, don’t take my word for it. The word about Willie Mae’s is out.

Their pricing is on point:

Casey Miller Facebook
Casey Miller Facebook

And no one, repeat: NO ONE, is willing to lose their spot for this chicken:

Photo by Anne Hamilton, Wayne Curtis Facebook
Photo by Anne Hamilton, Wayne Curtis Facebook

So lovelies, that’s the story of how Willie Mae’s ruined my diet and I let them. And I loved it. And I’ll probably do it again.

Diet be damned.

About Morgan

Morgan was born in Georgia, raised in Louisiana, a Southern gal through and through. A graduate of the University of New Orleans, she loves her Saints, her city and inserting thinly veiled sarcasm throughout all her writing.

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