After a night out on Frenchman Street, there are two great options for late-night eats nearby: 24-hr mini-mart po-boys at the venerable Verti Marte, or, if you want something that comes with a seat, Coop’s. It doesn’t hurt that this dark, weathered joint also serves some of the cheapest and strongest drinks in the area.
We won’t sugar coat it: Coop’s isn’t for everyone. The atmosphere is like a punk rock club, and the servers are notorious for insulting customers. The food too can be controversial among opinionated New Orleans locals (this is true of pretty much every restaurant in town, and especially true of any place in the French Quarter). Who cares? We are proud Coop’s fans. It’s always there when you need it, the drinks are cheap, the food is tasty and distinctive, and the vibes suit us.
When we say distinctive, we mean, for example, that Coop’s might not serve our favorite Seafood Gumbo in Louisiana, but theirs tastes like no one else’s, and they still actually use file powder in their broth. Our favorite thing about Coop’s is that they really strive to make down-home Louisiana cooking in the French Quarter, where most decent restaurants are upscale. They even smoke their own tasso ham.
Most of the dishes here are stellar, especially for such a dive. Rabbit and Sausage Jambalaya is absolutely first-rate. Shrimp creole isn’t the best we’ve ever had, but it is satisfying, seasoned well and in a large portion. Although it’s a departure from the fairly authentic Cajun cooking that Coop’s is best known for, Cajun pasta here really hits the spot. It’s a hearty bowl of fettuccini that’s practically overwhelmed by a very rich mildly spiced buttery, cheesy Alfredo sauce studded with Tasso ham, artichokes, mushrooms, and shellfish. It’s complex comfort, even if you might later regret the calories. A Cajun Pasta here can undo the evils of a long day spent bar hopping.
Note that Coop’s only serves patrons that are over 21, and that because they don’t take reservations, big parties are awkwardly squeezed in. Waits are normal during dinner hours. They also close the kitchen pretty much whenever they feel like it, so be prepared to get a back-up po-boy if necessary.