Hog Heaven: NOLA Pork Chop Plates

Wallow in the wide, wide world of New Orleans pork chop plates.

Breaded, grilled, smothered or fried, there’s no bad way to enjoy a juicy pork chop. It’s a staple at neighborhood restaurants across the country, and for many holds memories of home. Did mom marinate them in garlic and soy sauce, and throw them on the grill or was it dad’s recipe for breaded, pan-fried chops with potato salad that remains on your regular rotation?

In the 80s, pork was getting a bad rap because it’s high in fat, and at the time the latest diet fads stressed that everything, everything, be fat-free. But fat is getting its comeuppance, and now when foodstuffs are more expensive than they’ve been in decades, it’s a small comfort to know you can usually afford a plate of pork chops – sometimes easily stretching into two meals – at mom ‘n’ pops all over the city.

Cafe 615, or more affectionately known as “Da Wabbit” on Keppler Street in Gretna has been known for big portions and affordable prices and has been a Westbank staple since time immemorial, ie. 1948. Lunchtime is always a busy time at Da Wabbit, with customers companionably crammed into small tables in a brick building with low ceilings and even lower lights. Most folks rave about their crispy fried chicken, or Eggplant Napoleon swimming in crawfish “au gratin” sauce, but next time you’re on that side of the river, try a golden-fried (or grilled) pork chop sandwich on pillowy, New Orleans French bread for only $15, and make those fries sweet potato (for $1.50 more), the way nature intended.

Staying on the Westbank, cruise down Manhattan Boulevard and (after a strenuous morning shopping at Target), stop at Home Cooking Cafe. A little, mom ‘n’ pop shop inside a strip mall, it’s a place that’ll surely make your day whether it’s genuine smiles from the waitstaff or a large crispy fried (or grilled) pork chop. For only $13 you can feast on a chop so big they have to bring out your two (count ’em) sides on separate plates. If a saucer of fried pork with roasted corn grits or mashed potatoes isn’t enough, you can add a second chop for $7 . . . a price that’ll bring you right up to the edge. But maybe you should opt for a slice of Brenda’s cheesecake instead?

Pork Chop Plate at Home Cooking Cafe

Heading back across the river, preferably by ferry, a route which will quickly bring you right where you need to be, there’s a little joint called Jimmy J’s Cafe on Chartres Street. It’s a funky little featuring French doors with multi-hued glass panes, and corrugated tin wainscoting in the dining room. It’s a golden greasy spoon kind of spot specializing in breakfast all-day, a balm for the belly after having too much fun on Bourbon Street. This brings us to their Benedict. The familiar poached-egg phenom takes on a whole new life, some might say it doesn’t qualify the name. Nonetheless, Jimmy J’s Eggs “Benedict” features poached eggs (and that’s where the similarity stops) atop a crispy, fried pork chop on French toast, smothered in a garlic-pepper cream sauce and Parmesan. Served with home fries, this gluttonous amalgamation will only set you back $13 … might as well add a Bloody Mary?

A popular “no-frills” tavern since it opened in the early 80s, Coop’s Place is yet another spot that’ll have you squealing like a swine in clover. Located near the end of Decatur Street, just a few blocks from Esplanade, Coop’s is a quintessential, French Quarter pub with exposed brick walls and wood-beamed ceilings, the kind of place where you want to grab a seat and the bar and get ready to dig in. Over the years Coop’s has built something of a reputation for it’s Cajun fried chicken, but don’t be afraid to change things up with one of their juicy, grilled pork chops. Served with Creole green beans in bacon sauce – can you ever have enough pork? – and steamed rice, this 8oz chop will only set you back $15.95.

Finally, head out to the wild, wild suburbs for lunch at Guillory’s Deli & Tamales. Just a couple of blocks off Airline on Derbigny Street, this little, neighborhood lunch spot touts “the best homemade hot tamales in town” and its customers can’t get enough of Guillory’s big portions at little prices. Among other specials like ½ shrimp or meatball po-boys with fries and a drink, the 50+ year-old establishment also regularly features a breaded and pan-fried pork chop special with a mound of baked macaroni for only $12.45. At that price you can add a couple of crispy boudin eggrolls filled with melty mozzarella, and score a meal fit for two.

* Article originally published in the June 2024 issue of Where Y’at Magazine

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