Jan 10, 2013

A Commoner Reviews Johnny’s Po-Boy Restaurant, New Orleans

Among the things that are quintessential New Orleans, having a good po-boy must be high on the list.  That’s why I brought my friends to Johnny’s for lunch on the first full day in the Big Easy during our trip last fall. 

Established in 1950, Johnny’s is a French Quarter institution among the residents and worker in the area.  They’re a small, no-frills lunch counter that serves breakfast and lunch only, and the reportedly have the largest selection of po-boys in town.  No matter the time of year or time of morning or afternoon (they close at 4:30 p.m.), I’ve never known the crowds to be anything less than standing room only.   But, of course, that’s part of the selling point because you get to see the people around you eating while you wait in line and study the big board behind the counter to decide what you want to eat.

Roast beef po-boy?  Sure, they got that.  Catfish?  Of course, one of their most popular.  Shrimp and oyster?  Duh, we’re in New Orleans.  Crab cake?  Alligator sausage?  Veal parmesan?  Boudin?  Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.  Better decide, because the line behind you is growing.

Well, if you do have trouble making a decision, like I often do when the food options are so plenty, Johnny’s specials won’t steer you wrong.  On this day, I chose the alligator sausage half po-boy with a cup of seafood gumbo.  The po-boy came dressed, of course (lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo). And a Dixie beer from the self-serve refrigerator next to the checkout to wash it all down.  Take a look …

The po-boy was, simply, delicious. The sausage was spicy, tender and juicy.  The French bread was obviously fresh, crusty and chewy.  And when I fished a crab claw out of my gumbo, I knew it was going to be off the chain.  Full of crawfish tails, shrimp and crab meat, it was easily the best I had the entire trip, maybe some of the best ever.

I should also include a plug for Johnny’s daily specials – yes, those that aren’t po-boys.  My friend Joe got the Creole red beans and rice, which being a Monday was definitely the right call.  He said it was one of the best things he ate on the entire trip.  It looked scrumptious, and it cost only $7.50.  Compared to my lunch special at $10.95, he also got a good bargain.  Drinks, even alcoholic ones, are reasonably priced.  My Dixie was $3.25.

By the way, if you go to Johnny’s and you don’t bring an appetite, bring someone to share your po-boy if you order a full one.  They’re very large.  Or, take it with you and picnic it somewhere in the area.  

Johnny’s is located at 511 St. Louis St., between Decatur and Chartres.  They even offer free delivery in the French Quarter! 

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