I wasn’t expecting to find a taste of home (Cajun Country, if you will) in New York City. But the Great Jones Cafe in Manhattan’s NoHo is the closest I’ve come since leaving the bayou three years ago. On a recent weekend, my friend and I shared the red beans and rice dinner, a New Orleans classic.
The food is worth the wait, but you’ll have to get used to practically sharing your table with strangers; space is scarce at the Jones. Don’t worry about elbowing someone while unfolding your menu in these close quarters, though, because there are no hand-held menus at the Jones during dinner hours. The list of regular fare, including starters and burgers, is painted on the wall, and the daily specials are scribbled on a blackboard.
Our dinner came with a salad and a piece of honey-glazed
jalapeno cornbread, a perfect combination of sweet and spicy (just like
us Southern girls). The beans were simmered with bacon and andouille
sausage, and just enough spice, served over a generous portion of white
rice. On the side was an order of sweet potato fries, not the best I’ve
ever had, but they did the trick. And, while the chocolate pecan pie –
a twist on the classic – sounded tempting, we opted for the peanut
butter pie, which was light and creamy and didn't have an overwhelming peanut butter flavor.
While waiting for your table or after dinner, have a seat at the bar, where veteran bartender Artie will mix you up one of the Jones’ famous Bloody Marys (made with jalapeno-infused vodka) or one of their original concoctions. For a true South Louisiana experience, order an Abita, the beer brewed just 45 miles north of New Orleans.
And while you won’t get that famous Southern hospitality, the Great Jones is laid-back and full of soul, thanks in part to the jukebox that spins vinyl records of rock, country, and blues.
Great Jones Cafe, 54 Great Jones St., New York, NY; 212-674-9304
Photo: Chris Fairbanks via Flickr