by Preston Brady III, 2023
If you know anything about Mobile you know that good old country style food is the way to most of our hearts. Yes, we like to go cosmo sometimes and perch on the top floor of a fancy restaurant (oh look, there’s Riverview Plaza!) and point at little white plates and ask questions like is that really a grain-fed snail splashed with Pinot Noir? It still looks like a snail to me. (Mama, what’s Pinot Noir? Hush or I’m gonna wash your mouth out with soap.) Yet you won’t find snails on the menu at Judy’s Place, but one thing you will find are giant Gulf shrimp cooked to your liking. I know fried food is supposed to be bad for you, but I can’t turn down Judy’s Gulf Shrimp with some hush puppies and coleslaw. You can also order them grilled or boiled. My pre-dinner cocktail of choice was surprisingly not my known-for vodka martini with extra olives, which everyone who knows me knows I drink just for the bleu cheese olives. The bartender made an excellent Long Island Iced Tea, which here in Mobile because many of us are not cocktail snobs, is just a New York fancy way of making iced tea. Don’t tell them – there’s not a drop of tea in that drink. A regular sitting at the bar – a man retired from testing and certifying cranes – not the birds but the equipment he cajoled – looked very happy with his hamburger and onion rings. On the appetizer side local favorites include the crab claws, fried green tomatoes and corn and crab soup. She also serves up spinach and artichoke dip, fried mushrooms and a crispy combo plate of fried dill pickles, fried mushrooms, cheese sticks and stuffed jalapenos. The lunch and dinner menu include grilled or blackened mahi-mahi, a seafood platter, hand-cut steaks, fried pork chops, fried oysters, smothered hamburger steak and an array of sandwiches, soups and basically something for everyone including for the kids who will only eat chicken tenders and fries, don’t even try to make me eat broccoli.
Judy’s Place can get busy for weekday lunch so getting there a little after 11 is a good idea unless you are retired or on vacation and you have all the time in the world. A lot of office and blue-collar workers flood the place especially on Fridays. Judy’s is a nothing fancy but squeaky-clean down-home diner with lots of room since she moved from down the highway to new location 3977 Government Blvd 36693, next to the Old Time Pottery. I’m told Judy opened her restaurant in 2008 in the Executive Lounge, and then moved down the highway to her own building which she soon outgrew to move across the street again to a much larger place, Judy’s Place. This restaurant says Mobile all over it – great food, great people, nothing fancy just the very best. Don’t share this with everybody and their mother unless you want to wait in line when you get there. Let’s keep Judy’s Place our little secret.