M-Th, 8 AM - 8 PM; F, 8 AM - 10 PM; Sa 10 AM - 10 PM; closed Su
(609) 393-1845 Website Google Maps
Gravitas: Decor: Cost: Proximity:
The first time I peered into Big Easy’s window on Warren Street to try to suss it out, I was pleasantly startled when one of City Hall’s best known staffers popped out the door carrying a take-out bag. We greeted each other, and I asked him what was up with this place. He answered: “I used to live in Harlem, and fell in love with Sylvia’s fried chicken. Ever since I left New York, I’ve been looking to find its match. In 20 years of searching, Big Easy is as close as I’ve found. I love it!”
With that recommendation, my wife and I headed over for lunch today. We ordered Fried Chicken, and found it to be superb. Not quite the best I’ve ever had*, but darn close, and notable for being neither greasy nor overly salty.
Lunch is served from a steam table, but my chicken was still piping hot from the kitchen. It comes with two sides: my wife chose the spinach and the collard greens. Both were clearly made from fresh vegetables: the spinach was vegetarian, the collard greens were flavored with some sort of smoked meat, probably turkey. We’ve rated the restaurant vegetarian friendly, but vegetarians should order carefully and consult the server (the buffet isn’t self-service, and isn’t all you can eat. Portions are ample, however).
The decor is pleasant. The furniture and tables originated when this was the Rainbow Grill, but the decorations are the Big Easy’s own, featuring some remarkable murals on a New Orleans theme.
The background music is high quality jazz: I was pleasantly surprised to hear a favorite Betty Carter recording come up. Betty headlined the first jazz concert I ever attended in 1977 in SF, and I have a particularly soft spot for her challenging vocal stylings. Not the typical background Muzak.
Breakfast served all day. A great lunch place. OK for dinner if you don’t mind eating out of Styrofoam boxes. Great take-out and catering.
Overall, a much needed addition to the downtown scene.
*That honor belonged to the fried chicken that Agricola in Princeton used to serve: cooked via sous vide immersion to the perfect temperature, then flash fried to order. But that was probably 3x the price of Big Easy’s.