Piled with lettuce, tomato and pickles and filled with roast beef, fried shrimp, oysters–or whatever you choose–po-boys are stuffed and slathered with sauce or mayonnaise, and then served between two long pieces of French bread. There are many types of po-boy sandwiches from a combo of oyster and shrimp to a surf and turf and beyond. People get really creative at Oak Street Po-Boy Festival each year.
Legend has it the po-boy was born in a 1929 streetcar strike. With 1,800 drivers and motormen manning the picket lines, Martin Brothers Restaurant vowed to serve the workers for free. They asked local baker John Gendusa to invent a hearty, inexpensive sandwich. When strikers came to the backdoor to claim one, someone in the kitchen took their order by yelling, “Here comes another poor boy!”
Today’s po-boys vary in style, and you can ask any New Orleanian where to get the best po-boy in the city and almost everyone will tell you to go to a different place. Po-boy restaurants are as much a part of personal identity as the neighborhood you grew up in–like a family heirloom, po-boy preference is often handed down from generation to generation. There is one important thing to remember about po-boys – allegiance aside–it’s hard to find a bad po-boy anywhere in this city and its nearly impossible not to stumble upon an amazing one (or two or three). Some iconic favorites include Parkway Bakery and Domilise's. Check out our Po-boy Roundup for more recommendations. You can find a full list on where to get the po-boy sandwich below.
The bread is the most important part – crispy and flaky on the outside, and unbelievably soft on the inside. French bread is taken very seriously and for the perfect po-boy, anything other than locally made breads simply won't do. Then you add the bulk of the sandwich – fried shrimp, oysters, catfish, soft-shell crab, or roast beef smothered in gravy. Top that off with the "fixin's" – pickles, hot sauce, lettuce, mayo, etc., and you'll quickly find yourself indulging in one of the best culinary creations known to man. Order like a local and request your sandwich "dressed" – which means you want all of the toppings. Po-Boys are also best paired with a cold bottle of Barq's Root Beer or local brews such as Abita.