The Perfect Po-Boy

mothers.jpg Ask any New Orleanian where to get the best po-boy in the city and almost every single one 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. And while die-hard patrons of Parasol's refuse that anywhere else makes as good of a roast beef po-boy, those who are loyal to Mother's will tell you that their roast beef debris simply can't be beat. And who could forget Ye Olde College Inn – a New Orleans staple.

There is one important thing to remember about po-boys – allegiance aside, its pretty 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 very essence of the sandwich is heaven, and once you try one, the hoagies, subs, phillies and other sandwiches of the world will simply never compare.

oysters_poboy.jpg 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 or Dixie.

When it comes time to experience this perfect bliss – and trust us, it would be completely unacceptable not to do so – make sure you experience it right. If you're feeling adventurous, ask a few locals where they suggest and pay a visit to a tiny neighborhood corner bar. There you can visit with locals and get a taste of the true po-boy culture. You're guaranteed to walk away not only with great stories from great people, but you'll probably also be converted into a devout follower of that particular establishment. If you don't have the time to explore the neighborhood haunts, most French Quarter restaurants also serve up the perfect po-boy, so either way you'll walk away satisfied.

- Originally published on


Hartley is a freelance writer originally from New Orleans. She now works at Lucky Duck Productions in New York City.