By: Kent B. - MSTv Correspondent
I'm not a real Mardi Gras type guy, but some of my most treasured memories happened only during parade season in the 1980's. I was just a little kid, but I only went to parades to catch a very specific treasure. No, I don't mean those crappy coconuts, lame cups or big pearl beads.
No, for a kid the most prized throw you could catch was a Popeye's doubloon. To catch one of those meant one thing - free chicken!!! But of course, the Popeye's people wised up and ended that hook-up decades ago. But the lure of free or cheap, good fried chicken endures and is something inbred into most New Orleanians.
McHardy's, located at 1458 N. Broad St., just off Esplanade avenue, keeps many a Treme area family well satisfied for dinner, with meals starting at just $2.99.
Besides their being well know for selling multiple piece orders for an incredibly low price, McHardy’s has always been a local favorite during parade season; selling up to 3,000 pieces in a day. Prices range from $8.78 for a 10-piece box to $13.17 for 15 pieces.
But now that we're in the height of carnival season, patrons both visiting and local are looking grub they can easily afford, absorb the copious alcohol they drink and conveniently snack on while walking parade routes.
The loyal staff of McHardy's realize following floats and getting dive bombed by beads can be a hungry task. So to keep up with the demand, store owner, Kermit Mogilles, now opens the doors at 5AM for the season. Given their famous flavor and rock-bottom prices, one has to wonder if that's early enough.
Now, we can sing the praises of McHardy's bird's all day. However, if one is willing to just drive down Broad street for about 2 miles, you'd hit the second chicken shack haven to the budget diner, "McKenzie's Chicken in a Box"
Located just over a hundred yards from the steps of Dillard university, the former bakery location brings up more common memories of doughnuts and buttermilk drops then fried chicken.
Most locals know that the bakery arm of the "McKenzie" name died off almost 20 years ago. But, this corner shop at 3839 Frenchmen St. draws in customers from all over the city with their nicely seasoned pieces for a price and taste that would make a Churches special dry up faster than usual.
And even though you don't have a large pastry variety to choose from anymore; like from the good old days, you can still get some of the famous doughnuts and pies (to go with your chicken), many natives grew up enjoying from McKenzie's. At least, while the daily supplies last.
Of course, side dishes aside, the star is the chicken. With its home-style flavor, slightly crispy texture and prices ranging from $11.42 for 10 pieces and $17.13 for 15 pieces box, McKenzie's is churning out the box lunches like crazy.
Now, New Orleans is known for many things, but most of all it excels at being somewhere you can get a tasty meal for not much more than pocket change. At least, depending on where you are, or go. But, fried chicken is a Southern staple. So, long as it tastes great, why not get it for a good price?
Well, I think we've just given you a couple of great options to begin with. So, grab some friends, pool your cash and go home with a feast!!!
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