A Tale of Two Seafood Restaurants


Sid-Mars of Bucktown and Deanie’s Seafood — two legendary Bucktown seafood restaurants, only a few hundred yards away from each other. Both behind one side of the 17th Street Canal levee, but one one higher ground than the other. On August 31, 2005, one restaurant (and the neighborhood it was in) was destroyed by a massive rush of water from storm surge and the other was left completely unharmed.

In May of 2005 my wife Rachel and I visited Sid-Mars restaurant, which was a very large structure that stood for over 38 years. It had a wonderful view in the back of Lake Pontchartrain, where you would wait for your table and have a couple of cocktails, and maybe make a couple of new friends.

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The back porch area overlooking the lake at Sid-Mars restaurant (May 2005)

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Looking out onto the lake.

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Sid-Mars outside dining room.

Two months after our visit, Hurricane Katrina hit the city. As a result of the storm surge and insufficient structural reinforcement and engineering problems, the levee flood wall behind Sid-Mars adjoining New Orleans broke, letting in millions of tons of water into New Orleans and flooding the surrounding neighborhoods. Sid-Mars, which was close to the other side of the levee, was wiped out by the overflow of storm surge, and didn’t even have a chance.

This is what the site of Sid Mars looks like today. Its surrounded by a wire fence, so I was unable to photograph it from an identical vantage point. But it should give you an idea.

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The demolitions/construction site. Its not likely another restaurant will be built here.

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The view is still phenomenal, however.

I felt Sid-Mars was a better drinking spot than a restaurant, so I was relieved that Deanie’s escaped the destruction. Deanie’s is probably one of the best seafood joints in the entire city — if you’re looking for a shrimp or crawfish boil, or some barbecued shrimp, or some jumbo fried seafood platters, Deanie’s is your place.

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Shrimp Boil Appetizer at Deanie’s.

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Crawfish is ordered by the pound.

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Barbecue shrimp

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HALF seafood platter (May 2005 — see eG Forums thread)

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The very happy and lively dining crowds at Deanies.

7 Responses to A Tale of Two Seafood Restaurants

  1. Shirley says:

    So sad about New Orleans–but it will rise again.There is no food in the world like that of Louisiana. My favorite is gumbo–shrimp and chicken. Actually, I can cook up a pretty mean batch myself. The secret is in cooking the roux until it is extremely dark–at least that’s my opinion about it!

    Take a look at my site. Think you will like it.

    Blessings,

    Shirley

  2. MLFerman says:

    I too have memories of Sid-Mars in Bucktown. They had the best soft-sheelled crabs I’ve had in New Orleans, and that’s saying something. But they were pounded by Lake Pontchartrain during the hurricane and then washed away by the storm surge, as were all the restaurants in West End (Brunigs included). I fear none of them will be rebuilt.

    However, your description of Deanie’s as “probably one of the best seafood joints in the city” is a little off the mark. First, it’s not in New Orleans, it’s in Metairie next door (although they recently opened a place in the French Quarter). It is a family restaurant in the real sense of the phrase and attracts a large crowd each night. Most people come for huge servings of fried fish, the specialty of the house (the seafood platter you mention is reknown). However, by no means is it considered in the “best” category – fried fish is generally considered less than the best in New Orleans where we prefer to actually taste the fish and not the batter and oil. Nonetheless, fried fish certainly is popular in other parts of the country.

    I hope that folks who come here to visit here take the opportnity to try seafood prepared in ways they might not find elsewhere. Until you’ve had real Louisiana cuisine your culinary horizons haven’t been stretched to their limits.

  3. Steve S says:

    Concerning MLFerman comments, I feel I should defend the author. Yes, Metairie is not New Orleans, but everyone knows we are splitting hairs here. Especially since Deanie’s is less than a block from the cityline. On the next criticism; fried seafood may not be a New Orleans specialty, but when most people around the country think of a “Seafood Restaurant” they think of fried or boiled seafood with some regionally influence. I think both Sid-Mars and Deanie’s fit perfectly into the seafood classification. The author did not say that Deanie’s is the best Creole, Cajun or New Orleans’s-style restaurant in the city, just one of the best seafood restaurants. If you are craving great seafood with some southern flair when you are in the New Orleans-metropolitan area, then I strongly recommend Deanie’s.

  4. Deanie’s is certainly not the best New Orleans or Cajun or Creole style restaurant in the city, but it serves damn good seafood.

    There are plenty of posts on authentic Cajun and Creole restaurants here on this site, just check out this category:

    http://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/tag/new-orleans/

  5. tracy says:

    I have always liked Deanies – BUT I LOVED- LOVED- LOVED SIDMARS!!!! BY FAR THEY HAD THE BEST BOILED SHRIMP I HAVE EVER HAD ANYWHERE- ANYTIME – ANY PLACE, AND THEIR HARD SHELLED CRABS MMMMMM!
    MY HEART IS BROKEN OVER SIDMARS AS IT HAD SUCH AN INTIMATE FAMILY ATMOSPHERE.
    I AM FROM MARYLAND – LAND OF GREAT SEAFOOD – AND I USED TO LIVE IN NEW ORLEANS SO I AM VERY, VERY PICKY ABOUT MY SEAFOOD –
    I’M GLAD DEANIES IS STILL AROUND – BUT IT CANNOT COMPARE TO SIDMARS!!!!!!

  6. Nola Love says:

    I would readily pass on Deanie’s on any day. Completely missable. It is a shame what happened to Sid-Mars, because I would not take anyone short of a group of teenage stoners with the munchies to Deanie’s. It is so far from the best seafood in New Orleans, it is ridiculous.

  7. zoe says:

    The shrimp looks heavenly. i came across some interesting seafood restaurant features at http://www.seafoodrestaurants.com. I’m thinking of trying out some of them.

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