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Food & Drink

GoNOLA Tops: Po-Boys

Our top po-boy picks and the best restaurants to get this classic New Orleans food.

The sweet potato po-boy from Killer PoBoys. (Photo: Rebecca Ratliff)

The po-boy is a New Orleans classic sandwich, made with light and crispy French bread and traditionally filled with seafood, beef, or pork. You’re as likely to get a phenomenal po-boy in an unheralded hole-in-the-wall as you are in one of the world famous joints around town. The po-boy has been redefined and reinterpreted over the years as creative chefs infuse the simple sandwich with influences from around the globe. The po-boy is a very personal experience, and whether you like it dressed (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) or not, the best po-boy in New Orleans is a subject constantly up for debate.

With, Oak Street Po-Boy Festival happening October 22, we thought it was a good time to reflect on some of our favorite New Orleans po-boys from around the city.

Domilise’s shrimp po-boy (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)

Where to Find Po-Boys

Uptown & Garden District

Domilise’s — While you may have to brave a line at this Uptown institution, the shrimp po-boy will be well worth the wait. The huge, crispy fried shrimp, piled atop shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and pickles, spill out from the French bread on all sides. A dash of hot sauce, and you’re in heaven. Be warned: your po-boy may take a little extra time, because the shrimp aren’t hanging out under a heat lamp. They don’t hit the fryer until after you’ve ordered.

Tracey’s — When wandering into Tracey’s for the first time, I’d recommend eating like it is Friday during Lent. That is, sticking to the seafood. Tracey’s po-boys are crafted using only local seafood, so you know it’s fresh. I recommend the oyster po-boy, full of plump, crisp oysters.

Parasol’s — Parasol’s is one of the fine hole-in-the-wall establishments referenced in the introduction. My go-to order is the roast beef po-boy. Although they’ve changed the sandwich up a little since my days as a younger man, the roast beef is still slow cooked, dripping with debris, and downright delicious.

The fried shrimp po-boy from Parkway. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Mid-City

Parkway Bakery and Tavern — If I was only allowed one last po-boy in my life, it would be the Surf and Turf from Parkway, which takes two of Parkway’s best po-boys (the shrimp and the roast beef) and puts them on one sandwich. Parkway’s roast beef po-boy is a sloppy mess of slow-cooked roast beef, debris, and juices. In contrast, the shrimp po-boy is crisp and clean with virtually no mess but all the deliciousness. While you can’t go wrong with either of these, the Surf and Turf means you’ll never have to bother deciding.

Bevi Seafood Co. — This po-boy utopia offers a host of options that go well beyond the seafood po-boys their name would imply. The cochon de lait po-boy has seen a surge in popularity around town in the last decade, and Bevi does a fantastic rendition with pecan-smoked pork, cole slaw, pickled peppers, and charred onion mayonnaise. Proximity to City Park and Bayou St. John make this an excellent stop for a picnic lunch.

Barbecue meatloaf po-boy at Killer Po-Boys. (Photo via Killer Po-Boys on Facebook)

French Quarter & Marigny

Killer Po-Boys — If you’ve read a story about po-boys at any time since 2012, you’ve read about Killer Po-Boys. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t a local or national publication, blog, or other media outlet that hasn’t fallen head over heels in love with the innovative creations that come out of the Killer Po-Boys kitchen. And their success backs this up, having already expanded from a small kitchen inside the Erin Rose bar to adding their own stand-alone space just a few blocks away. Unlike every other place on this list, I’m not going to recommend anything. Just listen to your heart, because it is all delicious. Be mindful that the original Killer Po-Boys inside Erin Rose is not family friendly.

Verti Marte — Near the back end of the Quarter, you’re going to find your answer to the age old question of, “Where do we get an appropriately delicious meal at 3 a.m.?” Verti Marte is a convenience store with a tiny kitchen counter in the back and, most importantly, delivery. If you’re doing it right, the sandwich to order is All That Jazz, which might as well be called the Everything Po-Boy. All That Jazz features grilled ham, turkey, and shrimp with both Swiss and American cheeses, finished off with grilled mushrooms.

Gene’s — In case you need more than one late-night po-boy option, head over to this bright pink shack with the huge yellow signs on Elysian Fields. The atmosphere is lively late at night, and you may spot some local musicians you saw on Frenchmen Street. Gene’s hot sausage po-boy is greasy deliciousness that is sure to stave off your potential future hangover.

The cochon de lait po-boy at Jazz Fest. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

At Oak Street Po-Boy Festival

If you’re here for the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival on October 22, follow your heart and follow your nose. This is where New Orleans chefs get their most creative and you’ll get a chance to try many of the po-boys on our list and more. Make sure to arrive with an empty stomach and an open mind. And if that doesn’t get your mouth-watering, we put together this video of some of our go-to po-boy spots for you.

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