Mother’s Restaurant is one of those places whose name actually refers to someone. In this case it’s Mary Landry, who along with her husband, Simon, opened Mother’s to feed longshoremen and laborers in 1938. The Landry’s sons sold the business in 1986 to Jerry and John Amato, and the restaurant is a little tattered with love, but the tradition of the Famous Ferdi Special and its lexicon lives on.
For the uninitiated, the Ferdi is a giant roll that is filled with homemade baked ham, roast beef, gravy, and ‘debris,’ Simon Landry’s name for the bits of roast beef that fell into the gravy. The sandwich ($10.75) was named for a regular who supposedly requested ham on his roast beef po’ boy. The story has it that he was a longshoreman, and it makes sense— it’s a hearty sandwich. It is definitely a great flavor combination and an impressive piece of Po’ Boy history, but make sure to get extra sauce because this meat-heavy bad boy can suffer from excessive, throat-closing dryness, if you are not careful. You can also have it with Turkey (the Turkey Ferdi), or with cheese, but then it’s called the Ralph (for Ferdi’s nephew, who made that request).
The restaurant is also famous for its blackened ham, which is well suited atop a biscuit at breakfast. Breakfast or late afternoon at Mother’s is definitely the move. Otherwise you will be waiting on a long line. The menu is filled with other New Orleans classics, including gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and fried chicken. Jerry’s Jambalaya is the best dish on the menu. It is the best rendition of the dish that I have ever tasted, and aside from the major historical significance, it is one of the few reasons to visit Mother’s, as it is one of the few dishes there that has been able to keep up with the times.