While Southern cuisine is most notable for its tasteful fried chicken and biscuits and gravy, yet another to add to the collection is a sandwich. Yes, a sandwich - though not exactly the kind you would find at the Subway franchise. A po’ boy, which is an abbreviation of the word ‘poor boy’, is a traditional stuffed club with a few extra flavors - usually consisting of roast beef, and a fresh variety of seafood options from fried shrimp to crab.
While originating in a country where a sandwich is seen as quite a classic fare, this Louisiana specialty remains unique. They can be bought in anywhere from gas stations to fine dining restaurants, or can even be made at home. Each November, there is even an event dedicated to the po’ boy sandwich called the Oak Street Po’ Boy Festival. This festival presents the “best of” po’ boy awards, and while there have been so many to choose from over recent years, suggested below are considered some of the must-visits when exploring New Orleans:
Parkway Bakery and Tavern
Where: 538 Hagan Avenue
Price: $6.00 - $13.00 USD (for their po' boys)
Why: Opening in 1911 as a family run business, Parkway Bakery and Tavern has been serving the legendary po’ boy since it was added to the menu in 1929. Widely recognized for the signature fissures in its bread, this classic shop has been a favorite among locals for various reasons. One of those reasons are the toppings: stacked with options such as alligator sausage and golden fried oyster, this classic shop delivers some of the best sandwiches in the city - and even the reputation has seemed to catch on. Locals know to arrive early at the restaurant in order to snag a decent time of finding a spot to eat.
Parasol's Bar and Restaurant
Where: 2533 Constance Street
Price: $8.00 - $17.00 USD (for their po' boys)
Why: Parasol’s Bar and Restaurant has been a New Orleans establishment since the 1950s, an old-school diner with an appreciation for Irish culture. The restaurant serves quite a range of cuisine options, though it is perhaps best known for it’s remarkable, thoroughly stuffed po’ boy sandwiches. Cooked atop a garlic and butter toasted bread, the po’ boys at Parasol’s Bar and Restaurant offer toppings from a traditional chicken breast to a classic veal cutlet. Although, perhaps the most sought out menu item is the Soft-Shell Crab ($14.00 USD). While this specific sandwich is seasonal, it’s definitely worth waiting for; with the crab being fried to a perfect crisp and served atop a season corn-flour bread.
Over the years, the po' boy has become a hallmark of freedom and community. Benny and Clovis Martin instated the influence of the delicacy by offering their former colleagues free sandwiches during a four-month strike against a streetcar company. This is how the word ‘poor boy’ came into play, but mixed with a Southern accent a mouth full of food, po’ boy has become the dialect. While the above suggestions are regarded as some of the best in New Orleans, one should also consider trying out the Cochon De Lait from Katie’s Restaurant or the Vietnamese Four Meat Combo from Mr. Bubbles Sandwich Shop. So if you're in the mood for tasting the best po' boy around, grab your suitcase - and a few extra napkins - and head to Louisiana.