In this month's New Orleans Magazine, Sara Roahen gives a run-down of the roast beef po' boy, trying 30 of the city's offerings in an effort to narrow down the top 10. Given that "if a restaurant, corner store or sandwich shop serves a poor boy in New Orleans, chances are red-hot that a traditional roast beef version is at the top of the list," limiting yourself to 30 seems prudent. No need to go all Super Size Me on it. (And we'll get to that whole "poor boy" thing in a minute.)
But first, if for no other reason, read Roahen's account for what she presents at the end. She gives one of the better explanations of why a po' boy is different from a sub, a sandwich or whatever else you might want to call it. In short: "Both history and empirical data suggest that it's the bread." She doesn't give any data, but she sure does give some history, describing New Orleans po' boy bread as having "a lighter crumb and a crisper exterior than typical Parisian baguettes."
Roahen's top 10 ultimately spanned styles (sliced, pot roast and debris) and ranged from the well-established shop to the corner deli. Here's the list:
· Mahony's (far and away her favorite)
· Freret St. Po-Boys and Donut Shop
· Joe Sepie's
· Liuzza's Bar & Restaurant
· Munch Factory
· Sammy's Food Service & Deli
· Whole Foods
So that's the list, and it's a pretty good one. But there's still that other thing. Throughout this piece, Roahen insists on writing "poor boy," even devoting a whole paragraph at the outset to explain why. But come on. For the love of God, people, stop writing "poor boy." Yes, that's what it is per the New Orleans Magazine style guide, and that's what Tom Fitzmorris says it is, but that doesn't make it right. Just because Bennie and Clovis Martin (the creators of the legendary sandwich way back in 1929) spelled it that way, doesn't make it right. In the end, "poor boy" is pedantic, kind of hard to read and untrue to what people actual call the sandwich. People say "po' boy," or maybe "po-boy." Spell it that way.
· Top Poor Boys: Roast Beef [New Orleans Mag]