It all started with a food truck.
In 2013, Greg Tillery’s bright purple food truck was a common sight outside of a carwash on Tulane Avenue, and a line of cars and customers sometimes extended down the block.
He opened a Canal Street brick-and-mortar in 2016 and then a second location in Gentilly. In January, Tillery opened a third We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp on the West Bank, and the young entrepreneur has designs on a string of locations.
The short menu features the New Orleans classics Tillery grew up eating: hot wings and fried seafood. In their naked form, the wings are dusted with the shop’s seasoning blend and fried, carrying a light crunch that gives way to soft and flavorful meat. Of the spicier wings, the Sweet Heat is the mildest option, with a mix of hickory barbecue sauce and the vinegary Buffalo version. The Hot Spitta, named for Tillery’s friend and New Orleans rapper Curren$y, delivers sharper heat, and for full-throttle spice, there’s the Wuzzam, which carries lingering heat from Buffalo sauce and a prickly punch of citrus and pepper that leaves diners wiping their brows with napkins.
On the mild side, creamy Parmesan and garlic wings deliver a salty, hit of umami, and lemon-pepper wings have a tangy finish that goes well with a dunk in the house ranch dressing.
Wings anchor this operation, but baskets of thick golden-fried chicken tenders and cornmeal flour-battered catfish and shrimp make for substantial and tasty meals.
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All of the locations serve Long Island iced teas and margaritas, which fuel a festive atmosphere, particularly at the Canal Street location. Saucy wings are as good as any late-night snack, and loaded fries appeal to revelers who’ve imbibed heavily. On their own, the fries are lackluster, but they’ve quite satisfying when topped with melted cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, bacon bits and jalapenos.
As for the margaritas, a large dispenser filled with the neon yellow drink carries the disclaimer, “This is NOT Lemonade,” and just a sip of the bracingly boozy and sweet mix makes that clear.
The Canal Street We Dat’s can feel like a party. Colorful New Orleans-themed murals provide a festive backdrop, and club-hoppers dance in line, which may help with the wait as crowds build on weekend nights.
We Dat’s continues to grow, and Tillery recently bought a second food truck. He is on the brink of signing a franchising agreement and just launched a seasoning blend that’s available in grocery stores throughout the region. With the casual appeal and addictively good chicken wings, it’s not hard to see why We Dat’s has caught on.