Editor’s Note: Obviously, a lot of places are closed during the Coronavirus pandemic. We are aware that the situation is continuously changing and all are encouraged to stay home. But we will continue to write stories to inspire you for when places are open again.
Every culture has its own version of the humble sandwich and the po boy is Louisiana’s. Named for the poor men who worked the streetcars in the 1920s, the po boys of New Orleans almost all use the same Leidenheimer French bread.
What is a Po Boy?
There are dozens of places to eat them, topped with everything from fried oysters to shrimp to pork belly and everything in between. They often come “dressed” with lettuce, tomato, and mayo and can be purchased at white-tablecloth restaurants or gas stations, usually for under $10.
It’s one of the best things to eat in New Orleans, so you’ll find the classic options along with funky ones. They’re also large sandwiches, so you probably don’t need a large. It can be for two meals!
While they can be found throughout the state, we’ve only included those in New Orleans proper that are easily accessible to visitors via public transportation. For even more places serving the best po boys in New Orleans, check out this guide on Eater.
What about that other famous sandwich? The Muffuletta is another one of the notable things to eat while in New Orleans and there’s nowhere better than Central Grocery. It features layers of sliced meat and cheese topped with an olive salad.
Where Can I Eat Po Boys in New Orleans?
Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar
A local institution since 1924, Domilise’s is a no-frills spot a few blocks from the Mississippi River. It’s been owned by the Domilise family, who lived in the house above the restaurant, for over 75 years.
Upon entering, you’ll be asked to take a number that will be called when they’re ready for you to order. While you wait, you can buy a drink from the bar, where you’ll be charged separately. There are a few tables, bar stools, and tables outside.
There’s a small menu of po boy options on the wall including meatball, cheeseburger, and barbecue beef. All are available in small and large sizes. The restaurant also offers student discounts.
Known for: They’re all delicious, but the roast beef is probably the most recommended. You can also get it topped in swiss cheese. The late Anthony Bourdain ordered it on “No Reservations.”
Johnny’s Po Boy
I first tried Johnny’s after an overnight Megabus journey from Atlanta. My friend and I were starving and in need of sustenance when we found the po boy shop in the French Quarter, steps away from where we were dropped off.
Johnny’s has been open since 1950, making it one of the oldest family-owned po boy restaurants in the quarter. Choose from standard filling like catfish, shrimp, crawfish, and Italian sausage.
But you can also try the alligator sausage, soft shell crab, and Johnny’s Special, made with ground beef, hot and Italian sausage, and Swiss cheese. All three are best sellers. In addition to po boys, Johnny’s serves breakfast plates, omelets, and Creole dishes. Be sure to bring cash as they don’t take cards.
Known for: You can’t go wrong with any of them, but the Gulf oyster po boy is the quintessential dish, “dressed” with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise. Add Crystal hot sauce for the full experience.
Mother’s is another popular choice for its baked ham sandwiches, but expect to wait in line. I first visited as a child and didn’t understand the fuss around a sandwich. The eatery opened in 1938 and has been feeding visitors and locals ever since.
It’s a common sight to see the line wrapped around the brick building. When you get to the front, be ready with your order or they’ll take the person behind you.
There are plenty of po boy varieties, including turkey, roast beef, and shrimp but what sets Mother’s apart is the “debris,” or the meat drippings that are smothered on top of the sandwich. The restaurant also serves their famous baked ham, jambalaya, gumbo, fried chicken, and all-day breakfast.
Known for: The “Famous Ferdi Special” Po’ Boy is the go-to po boy at Mother’s, featuring the original debris, roast beef, and the “World’s Best Baked Ham.”
Killer Po Boys
Killer Po Boys is a new-age version of a po boy restaurant with two locations, including one in Erin Rose, a beloved Irish bar in the French Quarter. I found myself here after New Year’s Eve festivities, standing at the bar as I wolfed down by shrimp po boy.
Chefs Cam Boudreaux and April Bellow create funky styles like the bahn mi-style coriander lime shrimp, Moroccan-spiced lamb, and glazed pork belly. At Erin Rose, you can pair your sandwich with a frozen Irish coffee. Both also open at 10 am if you want a late breakfast.
Known for: The “Dark and Stormy” pork belly po boy is cooked with a NOLA rum ginger glaze with lime slaw and garlic aioli.
Parkway Bakery & Tavern
Parkway Bakery & Tavern was opened in 1911 in the Mid-City by a German baker and originally made its own bread for sandwiches. In the 1920s, the Timothy family took over and would continue to operate it until the 1990s.
A new owner brought in a new family recipe for its famous roast beef po boys, but the old-timers loved it. It’s still one of the most popular options but other favorites include the steamed corned beef, surf and turf, and smoked alligator sausage.
Known for: The 1929 Street Car is a po boy unique to Parkway and was what was originally fed to the striking streetcar workers. It contains fried potatoes or sweet potatoes and covered in roast beef gravy.
Liuzza’s Restaurant & Bar
Liuzza’s opened in 1947 near the streetcar line in the Mid-City. The family-owned and operated restaurant was founded by members of the Italian community.
Their most notable sandwich is the Frenchuletta, the restaurant’s spin on the muffuletta. There are also standard po boys like shrimp, catfish, and oyster.
But the Italian-inspired po boys include eggplant parmesan and the classic French fried potato with brown gravy. The eatery also serves Creole and Italian dishes like barbecue shrimp, gumbo, lasagna, and fettuccine alfredo.
Known for: The eggplant parmesan po boy comes on Italian bread instead of French bread and comes topped in tomato sauce. It comes only in whole, not half.
Looking for a New Orleans hotel? The Pontchartrain is one of our favorites, but the Eliza Jane is another great option. Learn more about the city’s culinary scene with The Classic Cocktail Tour in New Orleans or New Orleans Culinary and Cocktail Walking Tour. Check out our weekend guide for more suggestions.