$20 & Under: Feed Your Inner Po-Boy
Nov 10 2020

$20 & Under: Feed Your Inner Po-Boy

By: Kim Ranjbar

Revel in your personal food fest all November long with these affordable, old-school, genuinely New Orleans po-boys.

What the future holds for festivals, one of Louisiana's favorite pastimes, is still uncertain. Some of the city's largest events, such as French Quarter Fest and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, were postponed till 2021. Other annual celebrations are experimenting with innovative ways to "let the show go on," such as local musicians livestreaming, both online and on the air, through the nonprofit, community-supported radio station WWOZ 90.7 FM (among other streaming formats). 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, usually held in November, seems to be one of those final 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, the delicious fare at Liuzza's, 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 menu item, 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 North Rampart Street 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 that it served one of the top 10 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. The default size for po-boys at Bear's is 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 decided that 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 they are known for their chicken and andouille gumbo, as well as their 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 cost you 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 Streets 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 such as cream of crab soup, Buffalo chicken po-boys, corned beef, and fried pork chops, but the star of the show at Guy's 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.

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