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What: Po’boys, it must be said, are large submarine/hoagie/grinder sandwiches with a funny name. But the New Orleans po’boy, popular at lunch among working locals, is notable because (a) the bread is always a fluffy, crunchy baguette-like French loaf and (b) it’s most often filled with high-quality fried seafood (shrimp, oysters, catfish, soft-shell crabs) or roast beef. The etymology of the name is not entirely clear, but the most likely story involves a restaurant that, during a 1920s transit strike, provided free, large sandwiches to the transit worker “poor boys.” Nearly all po’boys have the option of coming “dressed,” which entails the addition of lettuce, tomato, and mayo. There are exceptions, of course (like this BBQ shrimp po’boy), but no matter what, you know you’re getting cheap, filling comfort food that’s sure to satisfy.
The mix of buttery, peppery BBQ shrimp and fresh French bread is nontraditional, but it’s a wonder no one thought to combine these two NOLA staples sooner. The loaf is partially hollowed out so its crust really envelops the shrimp and holds together (most of) its piping-hot sauce—a genius technique that allows for more shrimp and less bread, and makes the sandwich much easier to eat. Somehow the bread doesn’t get too soggy, though be forewarned that each bite is like hot lava squirting from the bread’s chewy innards...delicious, flavor-filled hot lava.
Where: Casual locals’ favorite Liuzza’s By the Track (1518 N. Lopez St., map) in Mid-City is the only place we know of that serves this po’boy. Its BBQ sauce is extra peppery, its shrimp fresh and plump.
When: Mon-Sat, 11am-7pm
Order: The BBQ shrimp po’boy ($13.95); we also hear the Creole gumbo, “breathtaking beef” (garlic-stuffed roast beef), and garlic oyster po’boy are worth making the trip for. Definitely get an Abita Amber here; it’s served in big, frosty, chalice-like glasses (see local craft beer) that make it taste better than it actually is.
Good to know: From the French Quarter, it’s very easy to get to Mid-City (the ’hood of Parkway Bakery & Tavern, too; see fried seafood po’boy) by taking the Canal Street streetcar. Mid-City has a wonderful neighborhood feel. If you’re there during the day, spend some time exploring nearby City Park, Bayou St. John, and St. Louis Cemetery #3.
Alternatively: During weekday lunch, Uptown Italian-Creole restaurant Pascal’s Manale (1838 Napoleon Ave., map), which invented BBQ shrimp back in the 1950s, offers a BBQ shrimp po’boy, for which the French bread is similarly hollowed out and the saucy (peeled) shrimp poured in.
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