Founded in 1910, as Acme Café on Royal Street in the French Quarter, Acme Oyster House relocated nearby to its current location on Iberville after a fire destroyed the saloon in 1924. It has weathered the natural ups and downs you’d expect of a local institution. One of those down periods is actually responsible for Acme’s famous “Waitress available sometimes” neon sign. In the early 80’s, Acme closed at 4:00pm and had just one waitress on staff.
New Orleans native, Mike Rodrigue bought Acme in 1985, and he doesn’t seem to be having any trouble filling the joint these days (check out the packed dining room on Acme’s OysterCam).
What’s on the menu? There’s fried catfish, and crawfish, fried stuffed crabs, hush puppies, craw puppies, and red beans and rice. But this is an oyster house after all. So there are oysters on the half shell, and Chargrilled. Oyster Remoulade, Oyster Rockefeller Soup, and of course, the Oyster Po-boy. Acme puts its count of oysters sold per day at almost 10,000. That’s a lot of oysters, and it excludes fried ones. It has also expanded to four other locations: Baton Rouge, Covington, Metairie, and Sandestin, FL.
But back at the original, brave souls should head to the southeast end of the bar, nicknamed the Poet’s Corner, an homage to the one in Westminster Abbey, London, England. But be forewarned, as Acme’s website notes, “All people, regardless of race, color, or creed (political or personal), are treated with the same unbiased irreverence.”
At the end of the day, Acme’s Oyster House is a great New Orleans institution more than it is a great restaurant. The oysters are very good (especially the Chargrilled), and the sheer volume is impressive, but everything else is passable. It is an experience to wait on the ever-present line, and it is an achievement to say that you have been there, but this is one place that you will be thrilled to cross of your list for good.