Our Top Five Po-Boys

The iconic New Orleans sandwich – call it “po-boy” or “poor boy” (and that depends on who’s asked) – has more than one origin story including claims of its creation by the Martin brothers store owners, the streetcar strike, jazz musicians (Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet), advertisements, scandal or early Uptown New Orleans lunch stand menus. Well-accepted is that the Martin brothers popularized and perfected the sandwich known today – New Orleans style French bread and a filling of anything from sliced ham to fried seafood, sausage, french fries, or roast beef debris and gravy.  Getting that sandwich “dressed” (lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and sometimes sliced pickle) is also hotly contested as part of tradition, and of course, personal preference.  Here’s a round-up of  several New Orleans po-boy favorites, including one that’s not classically a po-boy but definitely a New Orleans Jazz Fest must-eat. Tune in to WWOZ ‘s “Next Fest Thing,” grab the jar of Blue Plate, and make some po-boys for festing in place.

New Orleans Style Debris Po-Boy


Debris (pronounced day-bree) is all of the tiny, tasty bits of beef that fall off a roast while it’s cooking, smothered in rich beef gravy.

Vietnamese Spicy Cilantro Pork Po-Boy (Banh Mi)


New Orleans’ Vietnamese-American community is responsible for this sandwich, lovingly and locally dubbed a “Vietnamese Po-Boy.” Marinated roast pork, creamy mayonnaise and a garnish of fresh lettuce, cucumber, herbs jalapenos and sweet-tart pickled vegetables are loaded onto airy, Vietnamese style French bread.

Meatball & Onion Gravy Po-Boy

Bring on the napkins, they’ll be needed for this messy po-boy. Use toasted, thick-sliced bread or a French loaf, the flavor combination of beefy meatballs, bread, mayonnaise, gravy and onions, is a knockout.

New Orleans Crawfish Bread

Homemade Crawfish Bread

The outlier and technically *not* a po-boy, is a take on the famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Crawfish Bread with Louisiana crawfish tails tossed in a generously seasoned cream sauce and piled on French bread.

Fried Shrimp Po-Boy

Plump, fresh Gulf shrimp, fried crispy and golden makes this sandwich a local favorite and on every po-boy shop menu in town, but it’s easy to make at home, too.