Danton's in the Museum District in Houston is known for its locally attuned Gulf Coast seafood preparations. Concerning seafood in Houston, "locally attuned" means plenty of dishes from New Orleans and nearby south Louisiana. Well-suited for lunch at Danton's is their take on the Big Easy staple, the Shrimp Po Boy ($12.95 with a side).
'Po Boys' on Serious Eats
The sign outside Crabby Jack's proclaims it a "Po Boy Museum." But if you're picturing sandwiches in glass cases, meant to be admired but not eaten, you would be sorely mistaken. Instead, Crabby Jack's is a living, breathing tribute to the glories of the po boy, including this one with fried green tomatoes.
The blackened shrimp po'boy at Jemil's Big Easy is not a clean eating sandwich, but who cares what a mess you've made when you've got shrimp perfection between your bread?
The New Orleans Po Boy Shop is now open in Dupont Circle. If you don't have the time to fly down to Louisiana, New Orleans native and owner Cam McNair and manager Justin Snyder have you covered. True to its name, the Po Boy Shop offers 15 different po boys, including staples like roast beef with debris gravy, fried shrimp or oyster, and an andouille sausage. Like McNair, most of the ingredients are trucked in from New Orleans.
Ask Matt Lewis—owner, chef, and chief raconteur at Where Ya At Matt—where the inspiration for his peacemaker sandwich came from, and he gets a little glint in his eye. Streetcar Sandwiches, he says, and begins to wax nostalgic about the long-closed shop that had a spot on Carrollton in New Orleans until the late Nineties. In the future, Seattleites may carry that same glint in their eyes when talking about Matt's sandwiches, as he takes this New Orleans classic to the Seattle streets in his food truck.
The catfish po'boy ($9.75) was a study in perfectly fried fish: the crisp, cornmeal exterior wasn't greasy, and the fish itself was flavorful without being too oily or funky. Topped with a spicy chipoltle remoulade, Brenda's po'boy is a Southern sandwich that San Francisco can be proud of.
Usually when I find myself frying up pieces of squid it's for some kind of Mediterranean dish. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) But this stunning sandwich from Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft instead looks to New Orleans and Mexico for inspiration. The po' boy is drizzled with black chile oil and layered with avocado slices before being topped with handfuls of crispy squid.
We set out to document every single po'boy at the Oak Street Po' Boy Festival. The selection was impressive, ranging from traditional po' boys with fried shrimp and cochon de lait (roasted pork), as well as several versions of debris (beef in gravy), and some truly inventive po' boys. Actually, many of these wouldn't even qualify as true po' boys. Bananas foster po' boy? Sashimi po' boy? We can hear the purists grumbling now. But we tried them all anyways. Here are 25 of the best and strangest sandwiches at the festival.
I don't need any convincing about the glory of the po' boy. It's just that when I think of the New Orleans sandwich, my mind immediately imagines fried oysters or luscious roast beef—never bad things to think about. That was until I was flipping through Crescent City Cooking by Susan Spicer. She writes, you shouldn't "overlook a spicy sausage filling."
When Tupelo opened in 2009 to serve "comfort food with a Southern drawl," I was torn. On the one hand, I like to be comforted and I'm OK with most drawls. On the other hand, I'm convinced Van Morrison recorded "Tupelo Honey" just to distract us from how annoying "Brown-Eyed Girl" is.I might have stood in the middle of Inman Square staring at my hands forever if a kindly stranger hadn't said something about Tupelo's excellent oyster po'boys. I've never been to New Orleans and am no po'boy aficionado, but I'm game to try any noun preceded by "excellent oyster."
Turf n' Surf Po' Boys is a funky food cart in downtown Austin with a shipping container as a kitchen decorated with peace signs, a fishing net, and surf board. It's one of those places that makes you think, shoot, Austin, you truly are a special place. Most of the menu can come in either po' boy or taco form. Since this is not the Taco a Day column (!), we ordered the Fried Oyster Po' Boy.
Po' boys in Philadelphia? I was skeptical too. The first good sign was the real-deal Leidenheimer bread shipped from New Orleans. No "thoughtful updating" or "Philly twists" here, just the classic po' boys assembled with care (although roast pork with greens on this bread would be amazing). Light, super flaky rolls dressed with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato and pickles. Then double layers of fried chicken liberally smothered in "debris gravy."
How long does it take to consume a 340 foot long oyster po'boy sandwich? About a minute and a half. That's what I learned last weekend during the 5th Annual Oysters Jubilee on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Thirty of New Orleans' popular restaurants took part in creating what became the World's Longest Oyster Po'Boy Sandwich, an event that first began in 2007.
After a long day of eating on the road, we pulled into New Orleans around dinnertime, looking forward to a relaxing sit-down meal and a chance to stretch our legs. We met up with local food writer Pableaux Johnson and headed over to a funky neighborhood joint called Liuzza's on the corner of Beinville and S. Telemachus in Mid-City. Serving New Orleans-style Italian cookery since the 1940s, Liuzza's has a chill-spot ambiance that invites you to kick back with a frosted schooner of Abita ale—just what we needed.
We're headed all over the country for the book, but I feel compelled to tell you about our day in New Orleans on Tuesday, not because I'm looking for excuses, but just so you'll know what I am up against in my Serious Diet. We had a very specific eating agenda in New Orleans that day: to fully explore New Orleans' po'boy culture. Which means we ended up eating 23 sandwiches.
In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around New York. Got a sandwich we should check...
It's such a simple sandwich, yet when you sit down with one of these, it's hard to imagine anything tasting better. The oysters are tossed in a flour and cornmeal mixture, then fried for just under a minute so the crust is crackly and golden brown, yet the oysters are still gushing with juice. The bread is important. It needs to be soft, but still have a nice crackly texture. Then it's just iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise.
As far as festivals go, the kind that celebrates fried food on bread is a pretty good one. This Sunday is the third annual New Orleans Po-Boy Festival. What exactly is a po-boy? Well, the definition isn't too concrete. You can put almost anything on a crunchy French loaf with sauce and call it a po' boy. Oysters, fried green tomatoes, shrimp, roast beef, ham and cheese, catfish, duck, barbecued meats. A bunch of New Orleans purveyors—including Acme Oyster House, Emeril's Restaurant, and Parkway Bakery & Tavern—will be stuffing miscellaneous foods (even French fries) into bread this weekend. And if you're somehow not that into po-boys, the festival will also feature another New Orleans sandwich icon: the muffuletta. Next...
Last week I ordered some chicken and ribs from Rack & Soul, and both were delivered by Charles himself. I greeted Charles at the door: "You're Charles." "Yes, I am," he responded with a shy smile and nod. Inspired by the fine takeout food and seeing Charles again, I decided to go to the new Rack & Soul. Because if everything else was up to snuff, I knew I had hit the Super Bowl party food trifecta: Fried chicken, real smoked barbecued ribs, and fried shrimp with oyster po' boys.