DC at Night

DC at Night

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dining in DC: New Orleans Po Boy Shop

Canavan delivering a high-five 
While it might not be a free lunch, getting a free vigorous high-five with your authentic New Orleans po' boy sandwich is something special. And last Friday, those high-fives at the New Orleans Po Boy Shop were being delivered by Michael Canavan, who was also dispensing orders to the smiling crowd of hungry lunch customers.

So how did the Friday high-five come to be? Canavan said that when the owners first opened their New Orleans shop in D.C., they wanted to try something unique. Since New Orleans is known for its spirit, they decided to hand out a high-five with each order made on the last Friday of the month. Then they decided to make the ceremony even more special by only offering it on months that contained 5 Fridays. And it just so happened that our 1st visit (which definitely won't be our last) occurred on one of those Fridays.

Preparing a shrimp po' boy
Clearly, the high-fives were cool, but what about the po' boys? For those not familiar with that term, it refers to a traditional submarine sandwich from New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana consisting of meat or fried seafood. The meat and selected trimmings are placed on baquette-like New Orleans French bread, known for its crisp crust and fluffy center. Po' boy purists claim that the bread is what makes a po' boy a great sandwich. Obviously, DC shop chef Cam McNair, whose New Orleans pedigree included stints working for big-name chefs and restaurateurs including Emeril Lagasse and the Brennan family, was well aware of that fact. He opted to buy his bread half-baked from Gambino’s Bakery in New Orleans suburb Metairie, best known for its king cakes, and finish the baking process in-house.

The next important thing, as any New Orleans native will tell you, is how the sandwich is “dressed.” That’s the word for the basic toppings on the sandwich. McNair dresses his po’ boys two ways: with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise for non-New Orleanians; and with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise for those who want a more traditional Who Dat Nation experience. Of course, there are bottles of Louisiana hot sauce available for those who want to spice up their meal.

The eatery offers 15 different po' boy options. Many are traditional New Orleans types such as roast beef or fried oyster. Others are interesting variations such as house Carolina barbeque or pastrami, red slaw, and gruyere.

For our 1st visit, I chose the gulf shrimp and Judy opted for the crab cake. To deepen my New Orleans dining, I added a cup of the seafood gumbo. So how did it compare to our New Orleans lunchtime dining? Let's just say that it was a very, very close. In fact, all that was missing was the sound of the ubiquitous New Orleans street musicians and the rolling Mississippi River..

Obviously, as the name implies, po' boys are the staple of the eatery, which since it only has room for about 15 diners inside (there is a large New Orleans-style outdoor courtyard patio for warm weather dining), focuses on take-out service. However, each day the Po Boy Shop features a daily Louisiana special. For example, you can pick up a bowl of red beans and rice with house made andouille (Louisiana sausage) on Monday. On Tuesdays, that option changes to jambalaya. If you want to try New Orleans'other iconic sandwich, the muffaletta, you can by dropping in on Wednesday.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
What others say:
The Prices Do DC Rating
**** 4 out of 5 po' boys (but I bet my Neville Brothers CD collection that the rating will rise to 5 on our next visit if the po' boys continue their authenticity) 

Blog Archive

Popular Posts