Monday, August 1, 2011

Big Easy Po' Boy Tour - Cajun Cuisine Diary VIDEO

We enter the belly of the Cajun beast for a New Orleans video tour in the latest 99 Cent Chef Cajun Cuisine Diary. It's an overstuffed visual experience with a dizzy montage that starts with a New Orleans famed street car ride to the French Quarter.

I'm glad I recorded my experience, as most of it is now hazy, after finishing off a huge, sweet, syrpy Hurricane cocktail on Bourbon Street! The rest of the video takes you on a delicious Big Easy Po' Boy Tour. You will want to bookmark this video, if you every visit the Cresent City.

Louisiana is renowned for a split, crusty French bread roll, dressed with mayo, tomato, lettuce and stacked with all kinds of fried seafood, roast beef and anything else locally caught, skinned and filleted. It's simply called a Po' Boy -- with a name like that you know why The 99 Cent Chef calls it his favorite sandwich!

When I am tooling around my high school home town in Gonzales, Louisiana, I keep an eye out for gas stations with an attached market, or restaurant -- this is ground zero for, homemade Po' Boys. Just go past the cash register to the overhead menu and pick out a fried oyster, crawfish, shrimp, catfish, alligator, or roast beef, sausage and deli meat Po' Boy. Click here to see a video I did about Cajun Gas Station Dining.

I usually get an oyster/shrimp combo or a catfish Po' Boy - they're the best. With a spicy cornmeal and flour coating, the seafood is quickly deep fried then laid out on a French roll dressed anyway you like it...pure perfection. If you are extra hungry, or just want to share, order the Po' Boy "overstuffed."

In my latest video, I hit some renowned New Orleans temples to this classic Cajun gastromic delight. On my Po' Boy tour I was accompanied by my high school buddy, Marvin. He deserves 99 thanks for filming the chintzy chef in action, and helping to scarf down his share of the three Po' Boys we sampled -- you never have to bag leftovers with Marvin sitting across the table!

I barely scratch the crusty Po' Boy surface. I went for the tried and true, but I enjoy a Po Boy whether it's picked up at a gas station deli counter, or decked out by a French Quarter Top Chef (although you are as likely to find The 99 Cent Chef ordering one in an expensive restaurant, as finding an oyster in the Mojave Desert.) So get out the napkins, you are in for a juicy tour of three renowned New Orleans Po' Boy eateries.

First up is Short Stop Po' Boys. It's on the Airline Highway - not too far away from the New Orleans airport. They specialize in a "10 napkin" Roast Beef Po' Boy. Marvin was apprehensive at first, every time he has gone by there the parking lot is full and the restaurant is packed -- but we lucked out. Since it was after lunch hour we breezed right in. I ordered a small Po' Boy at the counter, then you move on to the register, get a drink and pay. Normally I would order a medium size, but there are more Po' Boys joints to visit. The setting is basic fast food Formica decor.

Their Roast Beef Po' Boy is a minimalist masterpiece. A French roll soaked in au jus and filled with fine chopped roast beef, and dressed with lettuce, tomato and mayo. If you are used to typical Jewish deli sliced roast beef, this is closer to a Southern pulled pork or chopped beef presentation. And it's a great deal at $3.75 for a small size. (Prices have increased since 2011, now the price is $4.55 in 2017.)

At first bite I found the fine chopped beef mealy. But by the time I was halfway done, I realized it's all about the insanely intense beef au jus. The dipped French roll, and chopped roast beef, are just sponges to soak up and deliver a bursting juicy beef water balloon bomb. You really need do need 10 napkins! I can understand why locals line up.

After the Short Stop, we got on the freeway to downtown New Orleans for Mother's Restaurant. They specialize in a Famous Ferdi Special. It's another roast beef Po'Boy, but theirs is completely different than Short Stop's. First off the sandwich is dressed with a tasty cabbage slaw. It's closer to a classic deli sandwich with two kinds of beef, chopped and sliced, plus ham. A very meaty meal. I especially liked having a cool crunchy veggie contrast with succulent roast beef and ham. It cost $13 for a regular, or $12 for the 3/4 size.

You get a mixed clientele of suits, tourist and locals. The old brick facade gives off an old New Orleans vibe, that is emphasized upon entering, with old photos of hometown dignitaries and vintage newspaper clips (pre-WWII) along the wall, as you head to the deli counter to order.

The sandwiches are large and the French bread light and soft - not much of a crunchy shell, but still good. The Po'Boys are huge, so I ordered a 3/4 size. But don't worry, you will still be full -- if you can even finish one! Fortunately, Marvin was there to help me get through it, since there was one more Po' Boy stop.

This is a great neighborhood spot I would hang out at. Located in the historic Garden Distric along a narrow tree lined one way street, with rows of long "shotgun" houses, Parasol's is an old wood framed two story Irish bar and restaurant -- with $2 PBR for Happy Hour! The structure is eccentrically built along a sloping sidewalk, where at one entrance you step directly into the first floor bar, and for the second entrance, you take 2 stair steps to enter the second floor restaurant. The half dozen tables are checkered tablecloth covered, and you order at a 1/2 door/window.

I recommend the Fried Oyster Po' Boy. The oysters are huge, plump, and the size of a golf ball. It takes 2 bites to eat one! My Mom likes her fried oysters small. This is where our genetics differ -- I like a large meaty oyster. At Parasol's, fried seafood Po' Boys are slathered with a creamy, tangy tartar sauce, and dressed with chopped lettuce, sliced tomato and pickles.

They also go the extra mile of brushing on a herb/melted butter sauce onto their bread, then toast it. Now, Marvin liked it this way. Maybe because I had two filling Po' Boys already, I thought they were gilding the lilly - fried oysters and buttery toasted French bread? It was too much of an oily good thing for me. Next time I would ask to have the bread plain and not toasted, especially with fried oysters.

I ordered a half and half small Fried Oyster and Firecracker Shrimp Po' Boy for $13. It was loaded with seafood -- two could easily share the sandwich. The specially chili/jalapeno sauced Firecracker Shrimp are indeed spicy, but not too much so.

And because there is a bar downstairs, they have a large selection of import and local brews. I stayed with PBR, and Marvin had a Black and Tan (Guinness and Bass Ale.) The fun part of ordering a brewski from the dining room upstairs, was the square porthole that you open (Marvin called it a "Beer Door",) which looks out over the bar, where the bartender operates. Parasol's is like a speakeasy with great down-home Cajun cuisine.

I enjoyed Parasol 's immensely and would recommend you stop there to eat and drink, followed by a stroll through the historic Garden District neighborhood. I was glad we finished The 99 Cent Chef's Big Easy Po' Boy Tour here.

So get all the delicious video recorded ambiance below. The video Po' Boy reviews are in the same order as listed above. Now you know were to get a Southern classic submarine sandwich when you visit the Big Easy!

After the video, I've listed each restaurant with location and their website link.

Big Easy Po' Boy Tour - Video
Play it here. The video runs about 8 minutes.

Short Stop Po-Boys - 119 Transcontinental Drive (near New Orleans Airport)
Metairie, Louisiana 70001
Phone: (504) 885-4572

Mother's Restaurant - 401 Poydras
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

Phone: (504) 523-9656

Parasol's Bar and Restaurant - 2533 Constance Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Phone:(504) 302-1543
Yelp website:

Prices are subject to change, so make sure to check any Po' boy online menu before you visit.

99 thanks to Marvin for his companionship and camerawork.
To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

For a good local Los Angeles Po' Boy try The Gumbo Pot in the Mid-City located Original Farmer's Market. $11.50 for Shrimp or Oyster, or Mixed Seafood. For menu click here. Warning, the seafood Po' Boys have a sour bite because of inserted sliced lemon -- I usually take the slices out. 

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