RL Reeves Jr is eating 500 po boys in New Orleans

Six cop cars are surrounding a beat-up Chevy with a couple tattooed crackers sitting in the front seats. Coppers have tactical weapons out and are yelling at the car’s occupants. My lunch spot, where the rumpus is taking place, has lost its appeal so I motor on downriver, and deeper into the lower 9th Ward.

I’ve been rolling down Claiborne Avenue a lot over the past few years. It’s how I get to some of the best dive bars and meat markets in Chalmette and it’s also a quick way to go to the cheapest movie house in the region.

It’s also host to an astonishing amount of po boy and fried chicken joints.

Cajun Joe’s 6024 N Claiborne Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117

Cajun Joe’s has been open “six or seven years” reckons Li, the lady cashier and owner of the take-out restaurant at the corner of Claiborne and Tupelo Street.

“What’s popular here?”

“We sell a lot of fried catfish, lots of chicken wings and people like our fried shrimp po boys too”

Menu for Cajun Joe’s in New Orleans lower 9th ward

A steady stream of neighborhood folks holler their orders through the bulletproof glass. Most seem to be getting fried chicken.

“Is it catfish or swai?”

“It’s catfish”

We try and steer clear of Swai, Basa and Tilapia. But if we ever see Des Allemands-caught Louisiana catfish on a menu we practically start foaming at the mouth. It’s getting rarer and rarer.

Menu for Cajun Joe’s in New Orleans lower 9th ward

We live 30 minutes from the “Catfish Capitol of The World” and would be hard-pressed to name five places in New Orleans that still carry the origin.

Cajun Joe’s fried catfish po boy is four fried-golden planks of fish, not catfish, probably Swai, stuffed into a crusty hot French loaf, slathered with mayo and dressed with tomatoes and pickles.

The cornstarch dredge is properly crispy but lacks seasoning. There’s value on hand as the enormous sandwich could easily feed two starved-out United cabbies, and it’s a bargain at under $8.

Cajun Joe’s telephone number (504) 942-8040

There’s no seating inside Cajun Joes, and the al fresco area consists of a nearby neutral ground crowded with day drinkers swigging from paper poke sacks. A tinny, battery-powered radio sounds like it’s playing Joe Tex but that could just be wishful thinking.

A hooker plies her trade a half block away.

The restaurant is seeing brisk trade in half pint bottles of booze, fried chicken wing platters and quart jugs of ‘yatkamein’ yet another regional variation in the spelling of Old Sober.

If we return we’re planning on tackling the Crazy Wings (Cajun seasoning, lemon pepper and garlic butter)

On the ride back to the Florida Development we note that the rednecks in the Chevy have been sequestered in the back of a cop cruiser and their battered old whip is riding the back of a big tow truck.

Hard day in the lower 9.

A shrine at Cajun Joe’s in New Orleans

Cajun Joe’s
6024 N Claiborne Ave
New Orleans, Louisiana
70117

telephone
(504) 942-8040

Hours of operation
always call ahead

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