In a city that’s known for its one-of-a-kind cuisine, there are a few staples that stand out among the crowd. From beignets and gumbo to fresh seafood and plenty in between, you’ll be hard-pressed to have a bad meal while in New Orleans. There are many different names for a sandwich, but in Nola, the combination of bread and meat can only mean one thing: the native po’ boy.
Its ingredients might seem familiar: a loaf, something fried, thin strips of lettuce, and a sauce to bring it all together. But down here in the Bayou, these ingredients transform into the epitome of a New Orleans classic dish. You can find a po’ boy on just about every block of the city, but they are not all created equal.
Below is our roundup of the best po’ boys in New Orleans. Lucky for you, many of them are right near your vacation rental home, making it the perfect meal anytime, day or night.
Let’s break it down a bit. What really makes the New Orleans po’ boy one of the top must-eat foods in a city bursting with culinary excellence? Well, a few things.
A good sandwich always begins with the bread. French bread, specifically a baguette, is the traditional bread choice used for the po’ boy. French bread is known for its flaky crust and soft, fluffy interior, which makes for the perfect home to contain the full list of ingredients that comes next. In New Orleans, the Leidenheimer Baking Company supplies most of the bread in po’ boy restaurants. The Leidenheimer family’s French bread recipe is one of the key ingredients that makes a New Orleans po’ boy what it is today.
Fried seafood and roast beef are the original fillings of po’ boys, but many variations have emerged including soft-shell crab, catfish, and Andouille hot sausage. Don’t be surprised if one of the po’ boy joints you visit gets even more creative with their meat or vegetarian fillings.
And finally, the sauce. Of course, you can opt for a classic mayonnaise and ketchup combo and we wouldn’t fault you for it. But po’ boys are classically paired with a homemade sauce called remoulade, which is a Cajun version of the mayonnaise-mustard combination and one we definitely recommend trying before you leave the Big Easy. Each restaurant makes this sauce a little bit differently, often with some secret ingredients that will leave you thinking about it for days afterward.
Bringing it all together, the classic New Orleans po’ boy is a hot sandwich made of crispy French bread, fried seafood or meat and a special homemade sauce that screams Cajun cuisine. What could be better?
Every great creation comes with a story, and the po’ boy sandwich is no different. To go backward in time in this story, we must start with the Martin brothers.
The Martin brothers opened the Martin Brothers’ French Market Restaurant and Coffee Stand in 1922 after working as streetcar conductors in New Orleans. In 1929, the brothers began serving what they dubbed “poor boy sandwiches” to the streetcar workers on strike.
Their goal was to provide a free meal to strikers as a sign of solidarity. Wanting to provide a substantial meal, they worked with their bread supplier to create a 40-inch long loaf of bread to serve their sandwiches on!
Now, you can expect most po’ boy loafs to be around 32 inches long. Little did the Martin brothers know that their coffee stand would become the hub of “poor boy sandwiches” for years to come. The name eventually was shortened to po’ boy, which is the sandwich we all know and love today.
As you might imagine, New Orleans isn’t short of po’ boy shops so it can be tricky to keep track of the best restaurants to get them from. Here are our favorite po’ boy vendors in the city.
Right in the heart of the Uptown neighborhood lies Domilise’s Po-Boy and Bar, a neighborhood staple since it opened in 1918. This family-operated corner joint is beloved by locals and tourists alike. You’ll see the yellow corner building first before your eyes make their way to the hand-painted sign greeting you above the front door.
The menu is brief, offering crowd favorites that haven’t changed in a generation. You’ll have the choice between a small or large po’ boy, with options ranging from shrimp, oyster, roast beef, sausage, and more. They also offer their own version of a Surf & Turf, a po’ boy filled with roast beef and topped with shrimp.
Ask any local who works in the French Quarter and they’ll tell you that this is one of their go-to spots for lunch. Try a Johnny’s Special — beef with grilled ham and mixed cheese — or sample their soft shell crab. If you’re heading over for breakfast instead, try a classic plate of catfish with hash browns. Trust us — there’s no better way to start a day!
If you’re looking for a less traditional po’ boy joint, this is the place to go. There are two locations: Big Killer, the new storefront with a more extensive menu, and Little Killer, a cozy spot in the back of Erin Rose bar with limited menu items.
Killer PoBoys is known for using intense flavors and unique pairings to play off of classic dishes and offer guests a range of choices. Vegetarian options span from roasted sweet potato, BBQ tofu, and cauliflower po’ boys. For meat options, their glazed pork belly po’ boy and chorizo sausage po’ boy are crowd favorites.
Seafood lovers rejoice! This spot is one of the best in Nola for fresh, seafood-based po’ boys. The Peacemaker is a popular choice and is stuffed with oysters, bacon, and cheddar. Got a big appetite? It pairs perfectly with a plate of crawfish nachos. Other po’ boy options include fried catfish, shrimp, and alligator sausage.
Mahony’s offers pick-up and delivery, making it the perfect choice when you want to eat in your vacation rental after a busy day exploring the city.
Located on Magazine Street, Guy’s Po-Boys has been serving the Uptown neighborhood for over 40 years and is home to some of the best po’ boys in Crescent City.
You can’t miss the row of colorful buildings along Magazine Street where Guy’s is located. Look for the bright blue corner spot with the hand-painted sign and you’ve made it.
While the wait might be long on any given day, the po’ boy on the other side is definitely worth it. We recommend trying the fried chicken, blackened fish, fried catfish, or the classic fried shrimp po’ boy.
Parkway Bakery & Tavern is another classic Nola po’ boy destination. It’s been around since the creation of po’ boys and has made a name for itself as a long-time Mid-City neighborhood establishment serving reliable favorites. On any given day, you might see a line wrapped around the corner store with eager customers waiting to dig into a fried shrimp po’ boy.
While their traditional po’ boys might have put them on the map, their menu has evolved over the years to include choices like alligator sausage, Louisiana catfish, BBQ beef, and even a beyond burger po’ boy.
We would be remiss not to recommend saving room for dessert. With options like their classic French bread pudding and a house-made banana pudding, it’s the perfect way to finish off a good ole’ Southern meal.
Right on the edge of the French Quarter and Marigny lies a corner deli named Verti Marte. Originally known as Leon’s Grocery, it was renamed to Verti Marte in 1968 when the Hartfield family took over and it has become a downtown staple over time.
Its menu is more extensive than some of the other local po’ boy joints we’ve named, including breakfast items, salads, and a variety of sandwiches. Their specialty po’ boy is called All That Jazz — Be prepared for a fully loaded po’ boy stuffed with turkey, ham, shrimp, mushrooms, cheeses, and more.
But what makes it really special is their homemade sauce, lovingly named the “Wow Sauce.” You can find it on a variety of their sandwiches and order more on the side if you can’t get enough!
If you’re looking for another classic New Orleans sandwich, Verti Marte is also famous for their muffulettas. The muffuletta sandwich was invented by Italian immigrants who migrated to New Orleans in the early 1900s. Unlike the po’ boy, it’s a sandwich made of cold-cut meats topped with olive salad and thin slices of cheese.
Note: Verti Marte does not offer indoor seating. It is the perfect spot to order to-go po’ boys and head back to your vacation home for a relaxing meal.
Another family-owned neighborhood joint is Liuzza’s Restaurant and Bar located in Mid-City. Boasting authentic Italian and Cajun cuisine, it is a go-to destination for foodies wanting a low-key atmosphere and classic dishes done right.
Their menu includes long-time favorites such as their traditional spaghetti and meatballs, award-winning Cajun gumbo, red beans, and rice, and their famous Italian Frenchuletta sandwich.
But they are also known for their tried and true po’boy selections, with options ranging from classic fried oyster po’ boys to roast beef po’ boys. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
We’re switching it up for our final recommendation for the best po’ boy in New Orleans and taking you to a Vietnamese sandwich shop. Located in the beloved Garden District neighborhood, Banh Mi Boys was established in 2015 with the goal of providing a Vietnamese-Cajun fusion restaurant featuring their take on the po’ boy, the Banh Mi.
While you will find both classic Vietnamese dishes and great po’ boy combinations here, the real star is their banh mi selection. Choose between char-grilled lemongrass pork, fried tofu, and braised pork belly as your filling, among many other options.
All banh mi po’ boys come dressed with pickled carrots, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeños, and a homemade spread unless otherwise specified.
We might be biased as certified New Orleanians, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as biting into an overstuffed, crispy, warm po’ boy showcasing some of Louisiana’s finest produce. Whether you find yourself at an old-school dive bar or a well-established restaurant, the true American po’ boy will not disappoint. Happy eating!