When traveling I make a point of talking with the locals about where to go. Usually they have some fantastic tips just off the beaten track. The process is part of the adventure, and I rarely am disappointed for going off the beaten track. My tipster in New Orleans was a French chef who swore about a place had the best ‘hamburhghers’ in town. Hamburgers usually come as just bad and ugly, with processed patties frozen perfectly into small discs of flavorless fat and parts. I was searching for the good kind- fresh, flavorful, and shaped like a third grader’s freshly hand-drawn circle. Oddly enough, the tip wasn’t off the beaten track, but dead square in the tourist area of the French Quarter. Just off of Bourbon Street and across from Preservation Hall is a very small bar called Yo Mama’s. Blink and you missed it. Inside is a room packed with 95 different tequilas and some of the best burgers I have tasted.
The sign over the counter promises ‘Blazing Fast Friendly Service,’ and both times I visited the bar was watched over by a single bartender that somehow managed to accomplish just that. Kat and Libby do a phenomenal job juggling. Yo Mama’s location just off Bourbon Street results in a noticeably large proportion of drunk and hungry clients, each asking in a slurred voice, “Water for now.” Between the waterings the barenders take care of drink and food orders, as well as some disorderly clients that stumble in like clockwork.
Kat arrived in New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina as one of the first FEMA folks to show. Assigned to map the remaining buildings in the area, Kat says she wasn’t prepared adequately for what she saw. The attitude of the government toward the needy was not much better, and after six months she “told them to piss up a rope and went back to slinging beers.” That she does. She also makes some incredibly diabolical alcohol-laced slushies that seem to be everywhere in the French Quarter. These are worth the trip and my bet is that they can be had with to go cups.
Yo Mama’s has been in operation about 15 years. The bar kept most of the menu of the previous restaurant on site, the Fatted Calf. The menu is small, consisting of two dozen options, 13 of which involve a least a ½ pound of seasoned chuck. The real winner here is their word-of-mouth famous peanut butter burger, with peanut butter and bacon. Sound revolting? Try it. The peanut butter melds with the beef in a very extended, long, and flavorful chew. I was instructed to add fresh jalapenos to the burger, a choice that added both texture and heat.
During my second visit I chose the Bull Fighter Burger, with avocado, jalapenos and salsa. I was instructed to add bacon. This is a beautiful burger, and at $10.50 you also get a loaded baked potato.
Kat was kind enough to give me another locals’ tip, also in the French Quarter. More on that later.
Yo Mama’s Bar and Grill
727 S Peter
New Orleans, LA
21 or over
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