Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods review image

Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods

Even if you have plenty of options to choose from, sometimes the best you can do is only just OK. You know this, for example, if you’ve ever tried to pick out a birthday card for your boss at the drugstore. You have an aisle full of choices - creepy children flying kites at midnight, kittens demanding that you “hang in there,” and one that plays Sisqo’s “Thong Song” when you open it - but eventually you give up on finding something perfect, and just settle for one that won’t get you fired. This is the feeling we have when we eat at Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods. There are a lot of options on the menu, and you really can't go wrong.

Ina Mae is a New Orleans-inspired spot in Wicker Park. And while Southern restaurants in Chicago are often about as subtlely decorated as a town in Six Flags, this one is pretty understated. There’s a large “Dixie Beer” stencil on the back wall, and a shelf full of empty wooden crates and some burlap sacks. Overall, the atmosphere is casual - there’s a big bar and a bright, high-ceilinged dining room that works well for families and groups.

As mentioned, the menu is long, and your options range from great to pretty decent. On the better end of the spectrum, you’ll find tasty po’boys that will probably make your friend from New Orleans happy, a nicely crispy fried chicken with hot honey, and some very good beignets.

Restaurant menus shouldn’t be stressful, but if they are, hopefully it’s because everything is so good that you’re worried about missing out. Come here and order whatever you want. Leave the stress for that next big office birthday you need to plan.

Food Rundown


These are dry, dense, and pretty boring. Plus, the sweet pimento butter they come with doesn’t add enough spice or moisture.

Chargrilled Oysters

We generally don’t mind when things are covered in cheese, but these chargrilled oysters are the exception. The cheese in question is bland and overwhelms the oysters - and there’s a creole butter hiding in there, but we can’t taste it.

Crawfish Elotes

This is a heavy dish, since the corn and crawfish are mixed with a lot of mayonnaise and cotija cheese. It’s the opposite of light and fresh, but it is tasty in small doses.

Fried Chicken

We like the fried chicken here. The cornmeal batter stays nice and crispy, and the meat is juicy (you get a leg, a thigh, and a breast). Plus, it’s drizzled with a little hot honey to give it some sweetness and spice.


This is a very mild gumbo - the only spice seems to come from the pieces of sausage. You won’t go home dreaming about it, but you probably won’t leave complaining, either.

Seafood Mac and Cheese

As a general rule, cheese and noodles are a satisfying combination, and even a “bad” version of mac and cheese is still pretty tasty. But we’re not fans of the version at Ina Mae - mainly because of the overcooked noodles, the lack of seafood, and the same flavorless cheese situation we found with the oysters.

Po’ Boys

Ina Mae has very good po’boys. The French bread is crunchy and fluffy, and we’ve enjoyed every variety we’ve tried (there are seven on the menu). Our favorites are the fried oyster and the “peacemaker” (which has both roast beef and fried shrimp).

Fried And Boiled Seafood

Your options here are shrimp, crawfish, clams, mussels, and catfish, all of which you can get boiled or fried by the half pound (except for the catfish, which is only available fried). It’s underseasoned, and the boiled shellfish tastes tough. Skip this.

Crab Stuffed Shrimp

Go ahead and skip this, too. The crab stuffing is mostly bread, and the texture is really mushy. Plus, it sits on a bed of creamed corn that belongs in a cafeteria.


These are some of the best beignets we’ve had in Chicago. They’re crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside, and covered in a mountain of powdered sugar. If you do come here for dinner, definitely get these for dessert.

Featured in

The “F*ck It’s Almost Fall” Guide guide image
The “F*ck It’s Almost Fall” Guide

Where to go when you realize summer is slipping away and you’ve completely wasted it.

The Chicago Neighborhood Delivery & Takeout Directory guide image
The Chicago Neighborhood Delivery & Takeout Directory

Want to know which Chicago restaurants are open for delivery and takeout in your neighborhood? You’re in the right place.

Chicago Restaurants With New Takeout And Delivery Options guide image
Chicago Restaurants With New Takeout And Delivery Options

Find something great to eat for dinner at home, and support Chicago restaurants while you’re at it.

8 Exciting Things To Do & Eat This Labor Day Weekend guide image
8 Exciting Things To Do & Eat This Labor Day Weekend

Check out these pop-ups and special events happening in Chicago from Sept 1st - Sept 7th.