As I came into New Orleans for the Memorial Day weekend, my plan was to head to a new burger joint called Fire House Burgers in Metairie, a new concept from the folks at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant which had opened in January. Drago’s is great, and I had imagined that their burger offshoot would be too, so one can imagine my surprise at finding the place closed and evidently out of business after less than sixth months. With it already being 9 PM, my choices were somewhat limited. Drago’s has great seafood, but I had set my heart on beef, so I decided to try the place across the street, Crazy Johnnie’s Steak House, which had gotten reasonable reviews on Yelp and which I knew had been around since the 1970’s.
Crazy Johnnie’s is unlike any steakhouse I have ever been in before. It is basically a bar, and a dive bar at that. Its steak menu grew out of a “Steak Night” bar promotion, and has always featured steaks at far below standard pricing, such as the $17.95 filet mignon that I decided to try (you’ll likely pay that much for a burger these days at some of the more trendy New American bistros). Frankly, the filet mignon was well-seasoned, cooked to perfection, thick and juicy, better than its more-expensive equivalents at Longhorn or Outback, and it actually came with a side dish as well. When my waitress told me that Crazy Johnnie’s had no french fries or baked potatoes, only mashed potatoes called Crazy Potatoes, I was briefly disappointed, at least until my food arrived. I don’t particularly like mashed potatoes as a rule, but these were amazing and tremendous, cheesy and buttery, with garlic and herbs and bacon, and a bit of a hot kick that was hard to identify. And I have to add that as I was enjoying all of these culinary delights, great Louisiana R & B was playing from the speakers overhead. The place I had settled for as a backup proved to be a stellar food experience.
If you’re hoping to experience Crazy Johnnie’s, now is the time to act. The restaurant’s owners threatened to close down in 2013,due both to age and the rising price of beef, but public response took the form of a massive increase in business, so they decided to stay open for the foreseeable future, but they should not be taken for granted. The next time you’re in the New Orleans area, make it a point to eat there.
Crazy Johnnie’s Steak House
3520 18th Street
Metairie, LA 70002