2 Fleur
Average check per person $15-$25
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchNo Lunch SundayNo Lunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerNo Dinner SundayNo Dinner MondayNo Dinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Jack Dempsey’s

Bywater & Downtown: 738 Poland Ave. 504-943-9914. Map.
Very Casual
AE DC DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
With a mix of customers from both local and faraway sources, Dempsey’s fits a popular definition for a great New Orleans restaurant: a funky, Yat kind of place in N old neighborhood, serving enormous piles of food from a menu overwhelmingly dominated by fried seafood. When it’s at its best, it’s not bad, but the size of the portions and low prices are the main selling points.

WHAT’S GOOD
The fried seafood at Jack Dempsey’s is what you came for. They could do a lot better in seasoning the coatings, frying to order, and getting the food out while it’s still hot and crisp. The large quantities may make up for that for some people, but not for me.

BACKSTORY
The restaurant is named not for the famous prizefighter, but for a much-loved, old-style crime reporter for the old States-Item newspaper. Indeed, he seems the perfect namesake for a neighborhood hangout in the Ninth Ward. It opened in 1978, had a few ups and downs, but after about a decade had established itself as the place to go if you measured restaurant excellence by portion size.

DINING ROOM
The restaurant occupies a well-worn shotgun cottage, and makes full use of all the local color that might fit onto the walls. The music is largely from the Sixties, with a heavy emphasis on local pop and R&B artists. Anyone with Yat blood (I am a Yat passing as a cultured person) will feel a certain familiar comfort here.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Starters
»Seafood gumbo
»Onion rings
Fried okra
Stuffed mushrooms
Boiled shrimp
Fried calamari
Fried eggplant
»Italian stuffed artichoke
Oysters on the half shell
Fried shrimp salad
Fried oyster salad
Fried chicken salad
Shrimp and king crab salad
Sandwiches
Fried shrimp
Fried catfish
Fried breaded veal cutlet
Fried oysters
Fried redfish
Fried soft shell crab
Entrees
»Fried shrimp platter
»Fried oyster platter
»Fried catfish platter
Fried crawfish platter
Fried redfish platter
Soft shell crab platter
Fried frog legs platter
Fried boneless chicken platter
Seafood platter (several sizes)
»Broiled redfish (with or without crabmeat)
Steak and stuffed lobster
Seafood stuffed lobster
»Stuffed flounder
Rib-eye steak
Rib-eye surf and turf
Rib-eye and Dungeness crab
Desserts
»Bread pudding
Cheesecake
Barq’s root beer float
»Bananas foster ice cream cake

FOR BEST RESULTS
Instead of ordering seafood platters with a few of everything, get several plates of one item or another and pass it around.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The fries are truly terrible. Even though the house policy of adding an automatic 18 percent tip (20 is you get separate checks) is clearly stated in big letters on the menu, that makes the service less than it could be.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +1
  • Consistency
  • Service
  • Value +1
  • Attitude
  • Wine & Bar -1
  • Hipness
  • Local Color +2

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Open all afternoon
  • Historic
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • No reservations

1 Readers Commented

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  1. Luke on February 28, 2015

    Tom,
    You need to correct this review of Jack Dempseys. First, I ate there on a Friday during Lent and started with the onion rings. Perfectly fried and not greasy whatsoever. Huge portion fried to order, brought out by our superb waitress. I then got the fried catfish plate. The best fried catfish I have ever eaten. Pefectly fried to order with an outstanding flavor and a hint of lemon. The cole slaw was incredible with a hint of tang that was reminiscent of the way my late grandmother made in her home on N Gayoso Street. Great service and very fair price. My new favorite seafood restaurant.

    TOMMENT:
    I’m glad you had a good time there, but it has never been so good for me, after many visits over the years. Seems more about quantity than quality to me.

    Tastefully yours,
    Tom Fitzmorris

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