What the future holds for festivals, one of Louisiana’s favorite pastimes, is still uncertain. Some of the city’s largest events like French Quarter Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and even Mardi Gras have all been postponed till 2021. Other annual celebrations are experimenting with innovative ways to “let the show go on” such as local musicians live streaming, both online and on the air, through the non-profit, community-supported radio station WWOZ 90.7 FM. Still others refuse to be deterred, proclaiming a wait-and-see attitude, holding out hope for a return to business as usual.
The Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, lately held in November, seems to be one of those last hangers-on, as there has been no announcement regarding the festival’s postponement and one of their last Facebook posts in early April told devotees to “hang tight.” Considering the sardine-packed crowds and general, yet lovable chaos that seems to reign at the Po-Boy Fest (not to mention state mandates), a surprise announcement that the festival will occur this fall seems highly unlikely.
Instead of lamenting the cancellation of a festival that showcases some of our city’s newest incarnations of that age-old sandwich, why not honor the history and feast on classics with a month-long celebration of your very own?
Located just a hop from the fairgrounds, Liuzza’s by the Track has been a neighborhood favorite for almost 25 years. While its proximity to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s annual location has certainly been a boon, Liuzza’s delicious fare, from andouille and chicken gumbo to the “Breathtaking Beef” po-boy, can definitely hold its own. One of the most stunning po-boys is their signature dish featuring a pistolette overflowing with New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp. While this is their priciest dish ringing in at a whopping $15.95, it is easily big enough to share, especially with a side of their hand-cut French fries.
For all of us mourning the recent loss of the hot sausage po-boys at Gene’s, the Pepto-pink building on Elysian Fields Avenue, there’s an alternately-hued solution. Just a block from the French Quarter on N. Rampart lies The Orange Store, a corner convenience store that offers everything from Chinese food to breakfast sandwiches and chicken wings. If you’re seeking a sandwich to accompany a bowl of yaka mein, The Orange Store’s hot sausage po-boy comes highly recommended featuring four fried Patton’s patties with American cheese on French bread for only $8.99. Perhaps orange is the new pink?
Launched in Covington shortly after the levee failures of 2005, Bear’s Po-Boys has been a dining destination since 2012 (and likely before) when the Times Picayune’s food critic Brett Anderson deemed it served one of the top ten roast beef po-boys in the Greater New Orleans area. For those living on the East Bank who are vehicularly-challenged, Bear’s has a second location on Metairie Road inside Gennaro’s Bar. Though you’ll certainly be tempted to go for their signature roast beef po-boy, it wouldn’t hurt to up your ante with the “Surf ‘n’ Turf” – featuring their roast beef debris and fried shrimp on Leidenheimer French bread. Bear’s default size for po-boys are large (11”) which will set you back $15.99, but you can always go for a regular (6”) at $13.50 which is still more than enough to stuff you silly.
For almost 12 years, The Store Po-Boys & More was a Central Business District lunchtime favorite on Gravier Street, a downtown source for red beans and rice, gumbo, breakfast and po-boys. When the pandemic hit, the lunchtime crowds evaporated. Owners (and brothers) Reuben and Garret Laws deemed a move was in order, so they took their operation to the burbs, or more specifically Metairie on Veteran’s Memorial Boulevard, into a space that formerly housed Sammy’s Po-Boys. Though known for their chicken and andouille gumbo, and fried shrimp ‘n’ greens po-boy, it would be a mistake to miss The Store’s hot roast beef po-boy with gravy, pepper jack cheese and horseradish mayo on Dong Phuong French bread. A small will set you back a mere $7.50, so you might as well go all the way with a large (only $11!) and add a pile of their sweet potato fries on the side.
Operating for almost 50 years, Guy’s Po-Boys on the corner of Magazine and Valmont is Uptown’s answer for a great sandwich. The small, cobalt-blue shop (brightly painted after a truck crashed into the shop four years ago) has been known to feature specials like cream of crab soup, Buffalo chicken po-boys, corned beef and fried pork chops, the star of Guy’s show has always been their fried shrimp po-boy. Gorgeous, plump Gulf shrimp are fried in a cornmeal base and served on Leidenheimer French bread fully dressed for $13.50 (11”). It’s a great spot to bring your out-of-town friends as a sterling example of what a true New Orleans po-boy should taste like.
*Article originally published in the November 2020 issue of Where Y’at Magazine