New Orleans Po’ Boy, from humble beginnings to culinary masterpiece
Written by Sophia Wan
On 28 May 2024

As you walk through the lively streets of New Orleans, the smell of freshly baked French bread and sizzling meats fills the air, inviting you to try one of the city’s most iconic dishes – the mighty Po’ Boy. This simple yet tasty sandwich is not just a meal but a reflection of the rich cultural history of New Orleans.

French Market, New Orleans, 1934

The origins of the Po’ Boy can be traced back to the 1920s when brothers Bennie and Clovis Martin, owners of the Martin Brothers Coffee Stand, began feeding striking streetcar workers for free. These “poor boys,” as they were affectionately called, were served massive sandwiches made with freshly baked French bread and filled with an assortment of meats, seafood and toppings. The Po’ Boy was born, becoming a symbol of solidarity and community during times of hardship.

Over the decades, the Po’ Boy has developed into a culinary art, with each neighborhood and establishment putting its own distinctive touch on the classic. From the juicy roast beef Po’ Boy, smothered in rich gravy, to the crispy fried shrimp or oyster varieties, the options are endless.

Many well-known local institutions, such as Parkway Bakery & Tavern and Leidenheimer Baking Company have become legendary for their exemplary Po’ Boy creations, attracting customers from all over the world.

Fried Oyster Po’ boy

As you sink your teeth into the crusty French bread, the flavours of the Po’ Boy transport you to the heart of New Orleans, where the past and present converge in a symphony of taste. Each bite reflects the resilience, creativity and unapologetic joy that define this city.

Brits try the most famous sandwich in New Orleans

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