We can’t eat enough Po Boys whenever we’re in Louisiana. Read on to discover our picks for the five best Po Boys in New Orleans.
Who makes the best Po Boy in New Orleans?
This is the question that we asked locals as we wandered around the Big Easy from the French Quarter to the Bywater to Magazine Street. Our quest to find the best version of the iconic American sandwich was both a challenge and delight.
We posed this question to servers, bartenders, hotel clerks, cemetery workers and even to eccentric artist Dr. Bob. Our motivation was to find out where locals like to eat the iconic New Orleans sandwich that dates back to the early 20th century.
Asking the question was a great way to connect with locals since everybody in New Orleans loves to talk about food. It’s a question that visitors often asked us when we lived in Philly, though they usually asked the question about cheesesteaks (another famous sandwich and food icon). This was our turn to ask the food-focused question.
What Is a Po Boy?
Research reveals no definitive origin for the iconic New Orleans sandwich. Benny and Clovis Martin may have claimed credit for inventing their Poor Boy sandwich back in 1929 but New Orleanians were eating eating oyster loaves decades earlier. There’s also evidence of other sandwich shops using the Po Boy name previous to that time.
Over the years, the Poor Boy took on abbreviated names including Po Boy, Po-Boy and Po’ Boy. We choose to use Po Boy in life and in this article. We also choose to eat as many Po Boys as we can whenever we’re in New Orleans. But what is it?
A Po Boy is a New Orleans sandwich that’s not so different from a Philadelphia Hoagie, New York Submarine or Boston Grinder, possibly due to each city’s history of Italian immigrants dating back to the 19th century. Like those other regional baguette based sandwich vehicles, a Po boy is a long sandwich that’s big enough to be a meal. However, ingredients, as well as the type of bread used, make the Po Boy stand out from the pack.
Order authentic Po Boys from Gold Belly that you can eat at home.
Po Boys typically sport fillings like slow cooked roast beef, oysters, crawfish and fresh from the Gulf shrimp. Some modern Po Boys add alligator meat or no meat at all. As for the bread, traditional Po Boys are almost always served on lightly crispy yet fluffy Leidenheimer baguettes. Typical dressings include lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo.
Order a Peacemaker if you want to combine both fried shrimp and fried oysters on your Po Boy.
Where to Eat the Best Po Boy in New Orleans?
We discovered no consensus on our seemingly simple question about who makes the best Po Boy in New Orleans.
Interestingly, some people answered our question with a question. They wanted to know what kind of Po Boy since they had different answers for shrimp versus oyster versus roast beef.
Discover the best sandwiches in America. The Po Boy is one of these sandwiches.
Inspired and hungry to answer the question for ourselves, we sampled Po Boy sandwiches all over the city during multiple visits to New Orleans. We ate Po Boys at dive bars and fancy restaurants. Some of these spots were in the the touristic French Quarter while others were in neighborhoods like gritty Mid City and the tony Garden District.
Now it’s our turn to answer the question except that we don’t have just one favorite Po Boy in New Orleans. Instead, these are our five favorites:
1. Parkway Bar and Tavern
In earlier times, whenever we were asked “Who makes the best Po Boy in New Orleans?”, we always answered: “Parkway Bakery” without hesitation or doubt. Through succeeding years, we’ve eaten more than our share of Po Boys both at Parkway and beyond. But we’ll always remember that ‘love at first bite’ experience during our initial visit to the Mid City institution in 2007.
Those first Po Boys weren’t our last. The Po Boy shop and tavern, which opened in 1911, over a century ago, became ‘destination dining’ for us every time we returned to the Crescent City. After bringing friends here for their first Poorboys (as Parkway calls them) during one trip, we became Poorboy whisperers. Then there was that time that we literally squeaked in a visit on our way out of town, scarfing down Po Boys before hitting the road for Texas.
Parkway Bar and Tavern isn’t fancy. The walls are covered with old menus and other memorabilia. But the kitschy decor, while charming in its own way, isn’t the reason why both locals and tourists trek to Mid City. They (and we) come for the Po Boys.
Choosing which Po Boy to order at Parkway is a challenge. Many opt for Parkway’s shrimp Po Boy packed with perfect morsels of the fried crustaceans. Lightly breaded, the shrimp is the star of the seafood sandwich. Others go for roast beef which may be Parkway’s most popular sandwich – a messy beauty with braised beef bathed in a rich, thick, dark gravy.
Not as popular but just as delicious is the grilled hot sausage beef patty Po Boy. If you love your sausage hot and flavorful, then this may be the sandwich for you. We recommend getting it fully dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and pickles.
Parkway’s large sandwiches live up to their name. Since the price difference is relatively minimal to upgrade to a large Po Boy, it’s worth going large to get the extra fillings, plus you’ll likely want to save some for later since you’ll be eating sides too. That’s assuming you want sides.
Trust us, you do.
Parkway offers various sides on their menu, many featuring fries and chili. We recommend ordering fries topped with gravy and huge strands of tender roast beef, AKA debris. In another time and place, this side would and could be the main course.
You clearly won’t have room for dessert after a Po Boy and a side or two. That’s no excuse to miss out on the homemade bread pudding served in a pool of rum sauce. It’s that good. Share it, taste it, eat it and be happy.
Sit at the bar. Not only will you skip the queue, but, more important, you can order adult beverages. We recommend pairing your Po Boy with a spicy Bloody Mary unless you’re in the mood for a cold Abita beer.
Parkway Bakery and Tavern is located at 538 Hagan Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States.
2. Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar
People flock to Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar, a local institution with unique corner bar charm, worn floor tiles, wood paneling and black vinyl barstools. This shop separates itself from the Po Boy pack with a friendly crew that’s worked at the shop for decades.
Owned by the Domalise family for more than a century, the down and dirty Po Boy shop excels at making sandwiches filled with roast beef, seafood and even meatballs. Hamburgers and hot dogs are also on the menu; however, while they may be good, they’re not the thing to order here.
Domilise’s gained national fame when the late, great Anthony Bourdain visited the bar in his 2008 episode of No Reservations. But he’s not the only celebrity to eat Po Boys at Domilise’s. Famous folks like Brad Pitt, Anderson Cooper and Stevie Rae Vaughan have all broken bread at the corner shop. Literally.
Somehow, we never made it to Domilise’s until 2021. It was on our list but we always seemed to run out of time. Finally, we made it to the Po Boy pioneer in Uptown.
During our visit, we bellied up to the bar and ordered crisp beer and a Po Boy generously loaded with fried shrimp. The small ones are big enough to share, which is what we did, but we won’t judge you if you splurge and order a large and eat it all by yourself. The Po Boys at Domilise’s are that good.
Avoid the crowd by eating at Domilise’s early. We arrived right when they opened and had our choice of tables.
Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar is located at 5240 Annunciation Street, New Orleans, LA 70115, United States.
Liuzza’s by the Track
Liuzza’s by the Track takes full advantage of its location near the Fairgrounds Race Course.
The restaurant encourages Jazz Fest attendees to stop both before and after they join the crowds for the music. As the owners assert on the website, “it’s a thang, y’all!” And by thang, they mean party.
Despite its location, Liuzza’s by the Track is far from a one-trick pony that only comes alive for Jazz Fest and horse races. Locals hang at this spot all year round. Adventurous food travelers seek out the tavern, looking for great bar food and a way to connect to local NOLA culture.
During your visit, expect a full bar as well as a menu that features burgers, salads and a full range of seafood plates. However, despite its varied menu, Liuzza’s signature dish is the BBQ Shrimp Po Boy.
Make no mistake – the Liuzza’s BBQ Shrimp Po Boy is a show stopper with its mass of sautéed fresh shrimp stuffed into a French bread pistolette. Tangy barbecue sauce completes the sandwich and makes utensils a must.
Consider cheering on your team at Liuzza’s by the Track. The bar is open during Saints games even though the restaurant is technically closed on Sundays. However, if your team isn’t the Saints, you should probably keep quiet when your team scores.
Liuzza’s by the Track is located at 1518 N Lopez Street, New Orleans, LA 70119, United States.
Just when we started to think that all Po Boys were different versions of the same thing, Killer Poboys proved us wrong. The relatively new Po Boy shop serves “internationally inspired, chef crafted New Orleans sandwiches” at its two French Quarter locations.
Both the original ‘little’ Killer in the Erin Rose bar and the bigger stand-alone eatery on Dauphine Street top their Po Boys with eclectic ingredients like roasted cauliflower, glazed pork belly and pimento cheese. Even the Shrimp Po Boy strays from the norm with toppings like daikon radish and sriracha aioli.
If Killer sounds like a hipster haven, you’re not far from the mark. But is that a bad thing when those hipsters source local meat and produce and make their Po Boys with banh mi bread baked by Dong Phuong, a local Vietnamese bakery?
Putting this question to the test, we ordered a Po Boy topped with pork belly slices coated in rum-ginger cane syrup, crisp lime slaw and creamy garlic aioli. We intended to take a few bites but couldn’t stop eating the flavor-forward sandwich until it was gone. In other words, it’s the opposite of a bad thing.
Order the Roasted Sweet Potato Po Boy if you’re not a meat eater.
Killer Poboys has two locations in the French Quarter. We ate our Po Boy at the shop located at 219 Dauphine Street, New Orleans, LA 70112, United States.
Commander’s Palace, arguably one of the top restaurants in New Orleans, is known for dishes like Pecan-Crusted Fish and Turtle Soup. Diners book advance reservations to dine in the restaurant’s elegant Garden Room, with the savviest booking lunch so that they can drink 25-cent martinis with their meal.
During our leisurely afternoon lunch at Commander’s Palace, we of course ordered iconic New Orleans dishes like Gumbo, Turtle Soup and Bread Pudding Souflé and well as smoked Boudin Stuffed Quail. We also ate a Shrimp Po Boy.
Read all about our three martini lunch at Commander’s Palace.
Is it crazy to eat a Po Boy at Commander’s Palace? Some people would say yes. However, our loaded Parade Route Po-Boy was an outstanding remnant of previous chef Tory McPhail’s menu that we hope never goes away.
Our Po Boy came filled with at least 20 crispy Gulf shrimp mixed with house made tasso, sweet onions and pickled okra mayonnaise. Chefs smothered the sandwich in a tangy Crystal hot sauce and served it with crunchy potato chips. It’s the kind of sandwich we’d typically eat with our hands but we used utensils for two reasons…
First, we didn’t want to make a mess since Commander’s Palace is a white table cloth kind of restaurant. Second, and more important, we didn’t want to miss any bits of this sticky sandwich loaded with plump shrimp and other goodies.
Don’t hesitate to order the Parade Route Po-Boy lunch special when you eat lunch at Commander’s Palace. This meal deal includes a choice of soup or salad and cost $21 at the time of our visit. Also, be sure to make an advance reservation since this restaurant is typically fully booked.
Commander’s Palace is located at 1403 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States.
Additional Po Boy Shops and Restaurants
Eating five of the best New Orleans Po Boys may satisfy your sandwich cravings OR it may whet your appetite for even more Po Boys. If you fit into the second category, we suggest you start the next phase of your Po Boy journey at one or more of the following spots:
Where to Stay in New Orleans
Staying at a comfortable, convenient hotel is a must in New Orleans. During our most recent visit, we stayed in the following two hotels that met these criteria:
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
We thank Visit New Orleans and its partners for their assistance to facilitate this and other articles.
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.
Original Publication Date: March 19, 2014
Republish Date: July 13, 2021