Vietnamese po-boys are amazing
In other places (literally all other places), a French-style baguette loaded with ham, pork, mayo, pickled carrots & radishes, pate, chili sauce, and cilantro is known as a banh mi. But in NOLA, given our awesome Vietnamese population, it’s lovingly called a "Vietnamese po-boy." And we have them by the truckload, friends. There is only one alternative to traditional New Orleans French bread in town, and it is produced by the Dong Phuong bakery, which somehow manages to create a baguette soft enough for local palates, but with enough exterior integrity to hold about a million ingredients. It is a wonderful thing to behold.
It is the food of the people (ALL the people)
Not to get all Karl Marx on you, but did we not mention that this sandwich was created to feed striking streetcar employees? The politics of the po-boy are mostly relegated to history books these days, but the fact that it is beloved by generations of New Orleanians is something that you can’t help but notice here. This isn’t a sandwich just for the rich, and not just for the "po." We all enjoy po-boys (even our most prominent local chefs), in the same way that we all enjoy the Saints or Carnival season. It’s one of the many reasons this town is the place we love to love.
We dress them properly
OK, this is important: a real New Orleans po-boy can be filled with almost anything edible. HOWEVER, if you order that po-boy "dressed," it means that it will also contain lettuce (shredded iceberg, generally), tomatoes, pickles, and mayo (pronounced "mynez"). This is the first thing that Yankee eateries fail to understand when they decide to put ersatz po-boys on their menus. You can put chipotle aioli or pickled beets on your sandwich... but it won’t be a po-boy... period, end of story.
Sign up here for our daily New Orleans email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the Big Easy.
Scott Gold is a writer in New Orleans whose last meal would be an oyster po-boy from Domilise's. Follow him on Twitter @scottgold.