Styled with lettuce, tomato and pickles and filled with roast beef, fried shrimp, oysters – whatever you choose, – po-boys are stuffed and slathered with sauce or mayonnaise and then served between two long pieces of French bread. 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 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, its 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).
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 Rootbeer or local brews such as Abita.