What began as a humble worker’s sandwich, the “poor boy” has become an iconic dish of New Orleans, an overstuffed representation of the city’s generous spirit and an argument waiting to pounce in sliced po'boy bread. The po'boy’s divisive nature, stems from the fact that every local has their own favorite, dressed with plenty of strong opinions. It’s not just about the ingredients or the price; heritage and ambiance play essential roles in separating the best po'boys from, well, the poorest.
The only fair thing to do is sample them all yourself and pick your own favorite. Here are a few of our favorite spots to start you on your po'boy journey.
Domilise's Po-Boys and Bar
You’ll find a decent cross-section of New Orleans waiting in line outside a small yellow house just off the river. This is Domilise’s, which opened a century ago to serve oysters and roast beef debris to countless working class folks, but has since become an institution that attracts celebrities, tourists, schlubs and Saints, who all wait together for a seat. They’re not just waiting in line for a sandwich; they’re waiting for a bite of history.
5240 Annunciation St, New Orleans, LA 70115
People come uptown to Guy’s for the classic fried shrimp po'boy dressed to the nines (including ketchup, unless ordered without), but they stay for Marvin Matherne, who has manned the tiny kitchen since taking over the restaurant in 1992. Matherne generously portions out the good stuff onto quality loaves, hitting all the right notes with the food and the customer service. If you’re not feeling shrimp, opt for the fried oyster po'boy, another classic best devoured with a couple dabs of preferred hot sauce.
5259 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115
Parkway Bakery and Tavern
Parkway had to be on this list somewhere. It’s smashed with tourists everyday, and the crowds rankle plenty of locals who think it’s overhyped, but Parkway Bakery undeniably makes some of the best sandwiches in town. The century-old eatery overstuffs many loaves and tourists’ bellies with fried shrimp and gravy-smothered roast beef, but other options like the surf and turf or corned beef are also worth trying.
538 Hagan Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119
Most po'boy eaters opt for roast beef or seafood, but Walker’s makes a serious argument for swine. The restaurant has earned high praise for its cochon de lait po'boy, stuffed with pulled pork and layered with fresh cabbage and Creole mustard-mayo sauce. The sandwich has been a favorite of Jazz Fest attendees and year-round bbq aficionados for years. But with increased fame comes increased demand, so be sure to show up early for a taste of the piggy po'boy.
10828 Hayne Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70127
R and O Restaurant
The great thing about po'boys is that excellent iterations can be found just about anywhere -- uptown or down, in dives and hip pop-ups, in grocery stores and pizza parlors. R&O’s confirms at least that last bit. The restaurant, ostensibly a pizza shop, creates a homey ambiance for sit-down diners with sporadic party decorations hanging from the ceiling and rolls of paper towels adorning every table like centerpieces. The crowd is mostly families and elderly, longtime patrons, but almost everyone is enjoying the R&O Special, made with roast beef and ham, gravy, lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese and mayo on Italian sesame bread.
216 Metairie-Hammond Hwy, Metairie, LA 70005
There’s no better place to make new friends than the communal tables of Crabby Jack’s. On any given weekday the place is packed with tradesmen devouring overflowing fried shrimp and oyster po'boys. Open only for lunch, Crabby Jack’s offers a partner experience to the love it-or-hate it, tourist magnet Jacques-imo’s, which opens only for dinner. It’s worth experimenting with Crabby Jack’s creative po'boys too, like roasted duck or fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade.
428 Jefferson Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70118
Adams Street Grocery
Many of the city’s best po'boy counters are entrenched at the back of corner groceries, turning out sandwiches to customers between racks of chips and canned goods. Adams Street Grocery is an ideal example. The small store caters to nearby Tulane students who come for the rock bottom prices on fried shrimp, fish, or roast beef and gravy, all served on Dong Phuong bread.
1309 Adams St, New Orleans, LA 70118