It’s the second day of our vacation in New Orleans and we are hungry. Since we were just a few minutes from the Gulf, we were excited to continue trying out the seafood in New Orleans. We were staying at a friend’s house in Harvey, LA (a little suburb of New Orleans, pretty cute actually) and had a late lunch at Suire’s Grocery in Kaplan. It was safe to say we needed to find a place for late night eating since most of the unique, sit down restaurants in Harvey were approaching closing time. When we travel, we try to find unique restaurants we don’t have at home. Makes for better exploring, am I right? We had passed this place a few times called Big Al’s Seafood & Spirits as it sits just off the freeway that runs right through Harvey. I was looking for a place to have an adult beverage while Jacob was swooning over his next Po Boy. (the count so far this trip was 3 and we were there less than 24 hours) Enter Big Al’s Seafood and Spirits.
Welcome to Big Al’s
Driving in, this place looked abandoned. The only hint of life was the bright lights on the building. There were only three cars in the parking lot; more than likely belonging to the three guys playing cards outside the front door on the patio. It was humid and all I could think about was getting inside where it was cooler. How these dudes sat out there and played their card game was beyond me. But they’re used to the humidity; me? Not so much. I’m from the desert; it’s a dry heat. BIG difference. Anyhow, upon entering the very quiet restaurant we meet La La, the bartender. She said we could sit anywhere and we chose the bar because, duh. It wasn’t really hard to choose; we had our choice of ANY seat in the house. The place was empty. Not a good sign, right? Just wait.
La La, and yes, that’s her real name, was a shy with us at first. She asked what we wanted to drink. I ordered a Bay Breeze, Jacob a vodka cranberry. We told her we were from out of state and were in NOLA visiting before boarding our Carnival cruise on that Sunday. Jacob, as he does everywhere we go, even places we’ve been five hundred times, asks “What’s good here?”. La La shares that their Po Boys are the BEST and their seafood platter is amazing. So, that’s what we ordered. We continued to chat with La La (only one person came into the joint while we were there) and learned that Big Al’s has a very popular seafood buffet that happens every Sunday. We would unfortunately miss it just due to the cruise itinerary, but it’s definitely on our radar when we return. La La also spoke about the devastation that Hurricane Katrina left and how the city hasn’t fully recovered. During Katrina, La La lost her home and had to move and she currently travels 30-45 minutes to work at Big Al’s because there is little housing available near her work. While I had seen the devastation on the news and social media, one doesn’t fully comprehend the losses and tragedy until you spend some time there. Many homes still are not rebuilt or repaired and are left abandoned.
La La delivered our food rather quickly. Pretty sure both of our jaws dropped on the floor when we saw the size of the plate. The shrimp Po Boy that was cut in half was enough to feed at least two more people. The seafood platter contained enough shrimp and catfish to feed another two people. Each plate was served with enough seasoned crinkle fries to feed an army. The shrimp Po Boy was served on this soft garlic buttered french roll that had the perfect amount of flakiness on the outside. It was firm enough to hold the mounds of crispy fried shrimp, fresh lettuce, juicy tomato and mayonnaise. This was the first Po Boy besides Suire’s where the roll held up to the ingredients inside. In fact, we took half of it home with us along with the savory crinkle fries along with some catfish and shrimp from the seafood platter. The seafood platter was amazing! The catfish and shrimp were fried to a beautiful reddish brown and crispy. It was flavorful, perfectly seasoned, and the shrimp were large and firm. If I had to count, I’m fairly certain there was at least a dozen shrimp (if not more) and at least six to eight pieces of catfish. Both plates were filling and reminded me of why I love food.
When You Go
If the parking lot is empty, go inside anyway. This is an absolute must visit when in Harvey, LA and don’t worry, Big Al’s is open 24 hours so you can get all the Po Boys and seafood you want. Just be sure you have a place to store your leftovers. Make sure you are following me over on Instagram to catch a glimpse of the rest of the adventures in NOLA!