I was happy to learn, albeit belatedly, that Parkway Bakery and Tavern had brought back its amazeballs Thanksgiving Po-Boy for every Wednesday in November. The sandwich, which I profiled last November, more than lived up to its height as a must-have while it lasts:
It is as promised: a perfectly layered mix of white and dark roasted turkey meat, fluffy cornbread dressing, and a dash of gravy and cranberry sauce to add some needed zing to the proceedings. The po-boy is reminiscent of the roast-beef po-boy in that evokes that same tender dark-meat moistness, even though (I’m pretty sure) there were few small cuts of white meat thrown in for good measure. And it should be noted that, despite the dash of gravy and the moist dressing, the po-boy carries pretty well on a 20-minute car ride and didn’t become a gooey mess like the roast-beef po-boy sometimes can become. It’s not pristine, by any measure, but it holds up.”
This is also perfect timing considering that today, Thursday (Nov. 3), is National Sandwich Day, a celebration of an otherwise perfunctory and functional food type that shaped this latch-key kid’s early existence. (I still am perfectly fine stirring some mayo into canned tuna for a lunchtime repast.) You can even grab a free po-boy while they last starting at 11 a.m. at Gallier Hall, according to Biz New Orleans.
The day gave me a moment to reflect on just a few of my favorite sandwiches in the town that invented the po-boy — even if part of my childhood also was shaped by the Italian sub sandwiches (not po-boys) in my dad’s favorite hometown lunch spot, Destino’s in Gloucester). While some of my favorite New Orleans sandwiches are indeed po-boys, the city has tons of others. Here are just a few of my picks. What are some of yours?
Thanksgiving Po-Boy at Parkway Bakery — see above.
Eggplant parmesan po-boy at R&O’s Pizza Place — Diners often forget that the place with amazing gumbo and seafood po-boys also serves home to some of the most underrated Italian dishes in town (enhance by some best red gravy in town), and the eggplant parm is a big reason why.
Fried green tomato and shrimp remoulade po-boy at Bevi Seafood — As I’ve been on a kick lately to find seafood sandwiches that aren’t fried, this is a delicious compromise, which now can be found at the new Mid-City location in the former K-Jeans location. A little heavy on the Creole spices but still featuring super-fresh grilled shrimp, the sandwiches fried green tomatoes offer a delightful (but not too greasy) extra kick.
Fresh fish sandwich at The Munch Factory — Though they stop serving this by 5 p.m. — dammit! — The Munch Factory offers one of the freshest fish sandwiches in town, satisfying my search for non-fried sandwiches. Located way out Elysian Fields, it’s a great spot for dinner takeout. Just get there before 5 p.m.
BBQ shrimp po-boy at Liuzza’s by the Track — I’d like to take some credit for turning on restaurant critic Sara Roahen to this sandwich when we both worked for Gambit Weekly back in the early 2000s, though I doubt we were the first ones to write about this rich, buttery piece of work. Peppery as much as it is buttery, the BBQ shrimp po-boy allows the diner to drain the (hollowed-out) bun of its sauce, eat the grilled shrimp in the bun, and then sop up the sauce with whatever’s left. Too rich for my blood these days, I eat it only as a special treat. And then I run a half-marathon.
Seared gulf shrimp po-boy at Killer Poboys — There are lots of reasons to love this expanding powerhouse, which started in the back of the Erin Rose, but this is my favorite for the aforementioned reasons. It’s beyond fresh and includes salad-like dressings for a banh mi feel.
Hooks Cheddar sandwich at St. James Cheese Company — A friend turned me on to both the restaurant and their signature sandwich a month ago, and I was grateful. One of those rare turkey sandwiches that is also loaded with flavor without featuring rich additions, but instead offers fresh basil, tomato, mayo and avocado on fresh ciabatta.
(Tie) Shrimply the Best and the Clooney’s Choice at The Milk Bar — There’s really no way to leave The Milk Bar without smiling, partly due to the ebullient staff — “Hey, I haven’t seen you in awhile; how have you been?!?!” — but also because of what should be two of the 10 best sandwiches in New Orleans. Shrimply the Best soars on its dressings: pesto, Roma tomatoes, red onions, mozzarella and lemon mayonnaise, while Clooney’s Choice sports marinated chicken, avocado, tomato, roasted red pepper, red onion, mozzarella, cilantro, and lemon mayo.
(Tie) Roasted duck po-boy and paneed rabbit po-boy at Crabby Jack’s — Few lunch spots celebrate foundational Louisiana food as sandwiches than does Crabby Jacks, and it’s not just in the seafood po-boys but also in the duck and rabbit po-boys that suggest a Cajun influence.
Pork banh mi at Pho Tau Bay — Most newbie New Orleanians get their introduction to the Vietnamese version of the po-boy as they do with pho itself at this storied franchise, and the pork is always tender and fatty.
Shrimp po-boy at Casamento’s — If I hadn’t, through some fluke of my digestive system, developed some weird and unfortunate aversion to oysters (I grew up near Apalachicola, for chrissakes!), than the oyster loaf would’ve easily made this list. But the shrimp po-boy is a delicious stand-in for me, and is the excuse I need to dive into that iconic Casamento’s Texas toast-style bread.
Muffuletta at Frank’s Place — Sure, everyone glows with praise over the iconic Central Grocery version. I like Frank’s better, especially because it was actually available for takeout one night when I had the craving and Central Grocery already had closed for the day. Frank’s Place has the bread down, and the olive salad mix down just right, with no excess olive oil.
Any breakfast sandwich or biscuit from Verti Marte — When it’s 1 a.m., ANY sandwich will do, and is cheese-packed and hot.