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“Be Nice or Leave” - Yats New Orleans Original Po Boys

In another thread, “EnderWiggin said today,

“I went to Yats about a month ago and gave it a try. It is in the back corner of the bar with just a service window. Behind the order taker was the assembly line of a few people chopping and breading. Very friendly service.

I had the shrimp po boy and my father had the crawfish po boy. Both were good with plenty of shrimp and crawfish. Well seasoned. The lady at the window asked if we wanted it dressed so I said yes (assumed it meant with everything). It came with the usuals pickels, lettuce, etc. The remoulade sauce was actually very good, but they barely put any on so it made the po boy very dry...I had to douse a lot of louisiana hot sauce on. I'd def. go back but ask for extra remoulade sauce this time around.”

About the time he was posting that, I had finished a very satisfying lunch visit at Yat’s today. I thought I’d start a new thread for my reply.

As mentioned, Yats is tucked into the back corner of a bar, Jack’s Club, across the street from San Francisco General’s parking garage. It’s open Monday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm (not 9:30pm like the sign outside says).

I got there after 2pm and had no trouble finding street parking.

Sidewalk sandwich board

Yats opened in May and has been growing steadily by word of mouth. The woman who took my order at the window had flaming pink hair, but that might just be for Halloween. You order and pay, then your food is brought out to you. She came out again to check that everything was ok, much more service than I’d expect for the setting and price.

A few tables along the wall opposite the bar are set with condiments (ketchup and hot sauce), a roll of paper towels, and menus. Yats website has a menu, but this one in-house is a little different.

Thinking it might be a while before I get back here during its limited hours, I had a hard time deciding, especially after learning that my first choice, debris po boy with gravy, was already sold out. So I decided to spring for a little of more than one thing.

Like EnderWiggin, I had the crawfish with remoulade po boy, dressed (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayo). I agree that it needed more remoulade and yet, what sauce was there was great. I’ll definitely ask for more next time. Tender and juicy mud bugs lightly dusted with spicy cornmeal and expertly fried were so plentiful. And I liked the lightness of the French roll. This is what a HALF po boy, $6.99, looks like, who could eat a whole one?

A small size of the rustic gumbo, $5.99, served over rice was also more generous than I expected. It even included half a small meaty crab with about four Gulf shrimp, some slices of smoked sausage, shreds of dark meat chicken, and a concentrated dusky broth flavored with dark roux, fragrant bay leaf, black pepper, and the holy trinity. One of the bar flys walked over to the Yats window and asked, “What is she eating? It smells so good, I want some.”

A side of mac-n-cheese is only $3, so how could I not give it a whirl too? This came out a little later and I think might be prepped to order. The ridged rigatoni pasta were a bit softer than al dente but more firm than the usual. The cheeses tasted like a melted mix of cheddar and velveeta with a blizzard of black pepper turning clumpy rather than creamy. The bold flavors tasted better than this looked.

I only had room for a bite and walked back to the window to ask for some plastic wrap to pack the mac-n-cheese to-go. The lady in the back asked me if I’d like a bag. When I said “yes”, she then put a piece of German chocolate cake in with it to keep it company as a lagniappe. I was already loving this place, and this cemented the deal. The cake was good too, an old-fashioned flavor that I hadn’t visited for a while.

Here’s hoping the ‘hounds give this little kitchen a whirl. I can’t eat here every day so would love to hear about the fried oysters, etoufee, jambalaya, corn maque choux, bread pudding, and more for a virtual taste.

Yats New Orleans Original Po Boys
1609 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. Wow- Chowers need to keep this place in business, that just looks like quality.

    5 Replies
    1. re: P. Punko

      Be sure to check srr's post in the other thread about some undersalting issues. The food didn't strike me that way for my one meal, but YMMV.

      If for no other reason, let's keep it in biz because I love the word "lagniappe" (the concept too). I need a place to use it regularly.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        lagniappes are little square donuts with powdered sugar, right?

        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          No. Those little square doughnuts are beignets. A lagniappe is any gift given to the customer by a merchant. Like the 13th doughnut when you buy a dozen. Or Melanie's slice of chocolate cake.

          1. re: Euonymous

            Thank you, though I suspect that Chuckles had his tongue firmly planted in cheek. The folks behind the counter didn't say "lagniappe", that was my own bit of coloratura going cajun on y'all.

            However, the next chowhound who eats there should ask if they'll make beignets.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Speaking of beignets...not much has been mentioned of Brenda's French Soul's Po Boys on this board.

              I don't want to be stealing thunder from the original topic, but can anybody compare the two for us?

    2. Can you do a half sandwich with soup? The Po-Boy looks outstanding.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pininex

        The menu shows half sandwiches (blow it up). No sign of soup, unless gumbo or jambalaya are soupy enough for you.

        1. re: pininex

          If you click on the Places link for Yats, you'll find a link to the website for the online menu and some other info about the place.

        2. I've only had one meal at Yat's, but it was great. If you show up early before their Tuesday night trivia, you can catch the tail end of Yat's dinner service, then enjoy some of the most relaxed bar trivia in SF. It is not unknown for toasted regulars at the bar to yell out some of the more obvious answers, much to the chagrin of the huddled trivia teams filling the tables.

          2 Replies
          1. re: grishnackh

            That's gonna be a useful tip, thanks.

            I will mention that I found this bar a little smelly and take-out might be advised. OTOH, I considered ordering a cocktail with my lunch to take advantage of the location.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Heh ... doesn't seem the cocktail type of joint.

              No pink hair today, must have been a Halloween thing.

              Well, how could I resist a place with things I've never heard of like corn maque choux. That was quite good. I liked it more than the jambalaya. It was all I could do to not finish it up ... but I had major eating plans today ... Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Italy and the next world (dia de los muertos, ya know) ... so most of what I bought sits in the fridge for tommorrow or Monday.

              All out of debris po boy by time I got there (2:30-ish). The really nice woman said it was long, slow cooked roast beef. If I had no other plans, I would have ordered the oyster poor boy which looked wonderful.

              Looking up Corn Maque Choux, it seems there are a zillion variations. However, the corn is mixed with celery, onions, peppers, tomatoes, butter, spices and sugar ... and like the first recipe says "This Side Dish is Sweet and Spicy"



              The evaporated milk and eggs would be a surprise to me, but looking at that photo it could be. I'll have to see when I get back to it. This recipe doesn't specificlly call for milk or cream but does say adding milk will make the corn tender.

              The jambalaya was nice and spicy with lots of sausage. Will get back to you on that one. I took a quick bite and then went back to the corn.

              The corn bread was ok. A nice wedge that was good sopping up some of that corn.

              I've come to the conclusion that my mother would not approve of Chowhound. It has take me into one too many dives. This one had two pinball machines in back, a pool table and a juke box with something for everyone it seemed.

              Activites include
              Monday - pub quiz / trivia night
              Tuesday - open mike night
              Friday - Salsa night
              Saturday - karejoke
              Sunday - jams

          2. Melanie,
            What exactly is contained in 'debris po boy with gravy' ??

            10 Replies
            1. re: ChowFun_derek

              It's asked and answered on the New Orleans board here,
              and should you find yourself in NOLA, read the rest of thread. All those po boy shops recco'd sound great.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Just to add that debris sauce/gravy is a special thing- it's kind of a rich worcestershire sauce tinged meat gravy, but not gross like usual gravy- herb notes are usually thyme and maybe bay leaf. I've had some killer debris sauce for grilled shrimp made with Pabst Blue Ribbon, butter, onion, thyme, worcestershire sauce, and maybe a little crushed red pepper for spice. If something like this is the gravy Yat's uses, that is gonna be a killer sandwich.

                1. re: P. Punko

                  You are an all-round meat and gravy guy! Anyone been able to catch the debris po boy at Yat's yet? Would love to hear their take.

                  Also, "Atomica" posted in another thread that Yat's will be frying turkeys for t-day.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    No debris or "original" (i.e., french fry and gravy) po boys available at 11:30 on Tuesday when I went.
                    I got a half oyster - I didn't think it was great. Tasty, peppery batter with lots of corn meal covered about four really small oysters. The batter was not at all crispy - and I ate it the moment it was delivered to my table. Each oyster had a rather tough, chewy bit. The roll is very light (though according to the pink-haired lady the rolls are something special and ordered from New Orleans). Other than that, a couple of round slices of ordinary pickles, a few thin shavings of factory tomatoes, and a few shreds of lettuce. The woman said the oyster po boy comes with garlic mayo, but I couldn't taste any garlic.

                    I may go back and try the gumbo, though., and I really would like to try the debris po boy. Pink-hair (actually a really charming and helpful woman) told me desserts are delivered at noon by a special baker who makes their desserts, so I was too early for the german chocolate cake.
                    The place is funky - slight odor of pine sol or some kind of cleaner. A guy playing the pinball machine, and a group of girlfriends having drinks and talking LOUD on a Tuesday noon.

                    1. re: lmarie

                      I saw those cake slices ... my bet is that they are made by Cassandra's

                      1. re: rworange

                        I met the cake lady today. I don't remember her name, but it starts with a "Z." Today was rum cake. I've hit rum cake twice. Just the luck of the draw. It's really good, though.

                        We were there at about 11:30 and they were out of debris already. I said, wow, I keep missing it, and Pink Hair said they do a lot of catering, so that's part of the reason.

                        I've had the 1/2 shrimp po boy (dressed) twice now. I thought it was delicious and the cornmeal breading couldn't suit my tastes any better. Today I had a small order of red beans & rice with sausage. Lovely.

                        Quiet today--nobody having a loud conversation.

                  2. re: P. Punko

                    I grew up in New Orleans and I'm a fairly old fart and for me, debris ain't a sauce and it ain't a gravy. The only place I ever encountered debris was at Mother's, and debris was pan drippings and bits of meat that fell into the pan on the steam table when they sliced the roast beef. The only spices were whatever was rubbed on the roast, and all I recall is black pepper and salt. No roux, no vegetables, and no worcestershire sauce. They probably tossed yesterday's debris into the pan for next day's roast. In any case, you get a wonderful mix of crusty and slow cooked bits. And that was debris. What it is now at other places in NO, I can't say (haven't lived there for nearly 20 years), but what Yats serves is something else.

                    1. re: Zeldog

                      I was wondering why you capitalized your Mother's until I found this link.

                      1. re: Zeldog

                        IIRC. Mothers gave away the debris free long ago. They wouid leave the pan out on the counter for nibbles. Haven't been there for over a decade though.

                        1. re: rworange

                          You recall correctly rworange. You would order a roast beef sandwich and they'd ask, "you want debris on that?" There was no such thing as a debris-only sandwich.

                2. Wow! Gonna have to check this place out. Even the name "Yats" is genuine NOLA. A "Yat" is somebody who lives in Metairie, which is a suburb between downtown and the airport.

                  "Hey, where y'at?" :)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chilihead2006

                    Actually, the term "yat" refers to working class white ethnic urban New Orleaneans, basically the hoi polloi, of any part of town, who were likely to greet you with a hearty "Where y'at, dawlin'!" Metairie has hisoric upscale yat free neighborhoods. I first heard people refered to derogitorialy as the "local yats" in the mid 60's, though it's likely to be older than that.

                    1. re: gumbolox

                      I'll stick with my Metairie/Fat City and Mid-city provenance for your basic "yat", having a number of them as my ex-inlaws. Yats were not from the Garden District, West Bank, 9th Ward or East NOLA.

                      I'm looking forward to trying the food at Yat's. I really miss those great little hole-in-the-wall restaurants that New Orleans is so famous for.

                  2. Thanks to your post we went by yesterday and gave it a try.

                    Out of the gumbo (sold out the night before) so we tried an oyster po boy, a catfish half po boy and the jambalaya.

                    I agree the po boys were good but a little dry. The jambalaya was decent but needed hot sauce (an easy enough fix..)

                    And the crowd at noon on a saturday was entertaining. Keeping friday night alive was what they said :)

                    would go back again easily and would love to try the gumbo.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: margieco

                      Just finished the jambalaya. It was spicy enough for me, but they give you packets of Crystal with it. Didn't use them. Lots of sausage, just little bits of chicken.

                      The corn bread heated briefly in the microwave is a lovely thing. It brings out the moistness. There's a slight touch of butter and honey in it.

                      1. re: rworange

                        oh! we didn't get the crystal packets....

                    2. Thank you for the tip! Stopped by today for lunch and inhaled 1/2 a catfish poorboy and a 1/2 order of red beans & rice w/ sausage after ordering them to go. The bill came to $12.97, which is a bit more than I would have liked to spend, but both items were very tasty. Catfish was very moist and flavorful, but I did find a small bone. Beans & rice were rich, smoky, and peppery, with succulent chunks of sausage throughout. I'll be back!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Civil Bear

                        Ugh, my second visit wasn't quite as impressive. The 1/2 shrimp po-boy was dry and the bread crumbled on impact. The full portion of jambalaya was the same size as the 1/2 portion of rice & beans I tried a week earlier, and it too was dry - like it had been prepared days earlier and reheated in a microwave. blech...

                        1. re: Civil Bear

                          Thanks for the recap. Sorry to hear about the inconsistency, but it does help explain some of the negative reports. Since you'd been there before, you have a point of calibration. While the 7x7 article establishes that the rolls are indeed imported from LA, maybe they can get too stale. Or maybe something else is substitute when they run low, though I'd hope not.

                      2. Had the shrimp po-boy last week and it wasn't too bad. The shrimp were fine, but the bread wasn't right. N.O. poboys are mostly made with "french bread", which is not a true baguette or batard, but more like what they bake at Safeway (maybe a little sweeter, but with a nice crust). Yats' bread is just a mass produced soft roll. Disgusting. The shrimp were generous and tasty, though.

                        Had the debris po-boy a few days later. What a mistake! Debris is what you scrape off the bottom of the pan when you make a roast, maybe with a little extra roast beef chopped in. This was a lame stewed roast with onions and bell peppers. It was closer to ropa vieja (and not a very good ropa vieja) than debris. And you get a pathetically small serving. I was hungry again 30 minutes later.

                        I won't go back until they at least start using some decent bread. Too bad. They really are nice folks.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Zeldog

                          I agree that their rolls are terrible, though Pink Hair bragged them up as being something special they ord.er from New Orleans

                          I still would like to go back to try the gumbo, but I didn't care that much for the fried oysters in my po boy (oysters small and chewy, breading not crisp), and that awful roll. I had originally wanted debris, but from your description it's no better than the oysters.

                          1. re: lmarie

                            My experience was different...my oyster po boy was filled to overflowing with fresh, crispy crusted breading..
                            Do you think the roll would be improved if they toasted it a little to create that desirable crunch?

                            1. re: ChowFun_derek

                              No. Toast a roll and you have toasted roll, not French bread. Might as well toast a hot dog bun. And Pink Hair was trippin if she thinks someone would bother to import bread from Louisiana to San Francisco. Especially the bread they use -- anybody who used that bread in NO would be out of business in a month.

                              Yats! You're charging $6-$7 for a poboy, so cut your profit margin by a few pennies and get some decent bread! One suggestion: find out where the Vietnamese sandwich places get their bread. Some of those little loaves are pretty close to what you get in NO (one of the few benefits of French imperialism).

                              And take debris off the menu if you can't make it right, or just call it pot roast.

                              1. re: Zeldog

                                Slightly off topic but my favorite banh mi are from Cam Huong, the name I see on the loaf from other sandwich shops and Ranch 99. I assume this is the same family branched out into a bakery. In any event the loaves are inexpensive retail and perhaps you could advise the folks at Yats. The New Orleans rolls and the Vietnamese rolls probably share an ancestor.

                                1. re: Zeldog

                                  Maybe they do import bread and that is why it is on the old side?

                                  1. re: Zeldog

                                    ..ah yes those Vietnamese rolls are nice and crusty, but no too crusty..so perfect for a sandwich!

                                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                      I don't know about all the banh Mi places, but I do Know that Saigon uses Bakers of Paris sandwich rolls.

                              1. re: NoeMan

                                What do the bread critics have to say now? Just wondering . . .

                                1. re: Atomica

                                  Mine may have been a little bit over toasted (lots of crumbling as I squeezed it to bite), but I was so loving the gumbo and crawfish in the po-boy that I assumed it was an aberration. I am so glad to have this close to home.

                                2. re: NoeMan

                                  I knew Leidenheimer's bread. Leidenheimer's bread was a friend of mine. Yat's, you're bread is no Leideheimer's.

                                  And if that really is who you bought it from, don't waste your money. It ain't Leidenheimer's anymore.

                                  1. re: Zeldog

                                    A chat with Yawn (owner?) who is from the Ninth Ward, says that he gets his bread from Leidenheimers bakery in New Orleans.

                                3. I finally checked out Yats yesterday....they were already out of the gumbo when I was there, so I got jambalaya. It was pretty tasty, though the flavors seemed a bit muddled together - I thought it could have been a bit spicier (i.e. more seasoned), but I'd definitely order it again, since on the whole I enjoyed it.

                                  Also tasted friends po boys - shrimp and catfish. The catfish was a bit too muddy tasting for me, but the shrimp were good - batter had plenty of salt and pepper, which I liked.

                                  But the highlight were the fries - the 2 dollar plate had many long, thick cut fries, coated in a seasoning of pepper, salt and parmesan cheese. We asked for these to be topped with gravy. They only gave us a bit of gravy, but the gravy was great. Next time, even though it's not on the menu, I might try to ask for no cheese, but extra gravy.

                                  I thought the ketchup tasted too sweet - not sure what brand they are using, but it seems to not be Heinz.

                                  I plan to go back very soon.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Dave MP

                                    I snagged a debris sandwich on the day before Thanksgiving for lunch and it was very good. Juicy beef and a nice proportion of sauce to bits o beef. The fries were not so good - I didn't care for the parmesan cheese on them.

                                    They didn't do mac & cheese that day as they were swamped making deep fried turkeys, so I'll have to go back for another sandwich and the mac n cheese.

                                  2. I was in Potrero Hill on Saturday so a friend and I decided to try Yat's for lunch.

                                    I had the half crawfish po boy and my friend had the debris with gravy. My sandwich was filled to overflowing with perfectly friend crawfish tails, very sweet and meaty, in the crisp cornmeal batter without a trace grease. The crawfish is dressed with remoulde instead of plain mayo and pickle, lettuce, tomato. I thought the sandwich was great and at least as good as those I've had in Louisiana.

                                    I can't comment on the debris, because I never even got a taste, so I'm guessing it was pretty good. I'll see if I can get more feedback. (My friend got more than a few crawfish tails, cause there were so many they were literally falling off the sandwich when it was brought to the table.)

                                    I didn't really like the fries, there was way too much salt and pepper for my taste. The sandwiches were hearty enough that we didn't really have room for that many anyway.

                                    Another plus, the bar serves Abita Amber which is the perfect Louisiana brew to go with the food.

                                    I don't get to this area too frequently, but I will definitely stop by again to try the gumbo and other dishes. Planning a New Orleans trip for next spring and this is definitely getting me in the mood.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: pamf

                                      I'm a Yats supporter, and I agree with you about the fries. I didn't like 'em.

                                      1. re: Atomica

                                        I went with DaveMP, and asked for gravy on the top (which is not on the menu) because I was feeling particularly hedonistic.

                                        I think the fries would be great if they were served minus the cheese and 40% of the salt 'n pepper, and plus the really delicious gravy. The salt in the cheese plus the salt they sprinkle on the fries makes for mouth that rivals the Dust Bowl.

                                        1. re: pane

                                          I just asked for my fries without salt and pepper, I prefer to salt them to my taste...but I will DEFINITELY ask for gravy next time...but on the side...I like CRISP fries!