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Nov 15, 2010 07:39 AM

Thoughts on Po-Boy Fest

We got there right at 11; experience from past years (when we got there as late as 11:30) told us that it gets mobbed early. We left at about 1:45 when we could no longer deal with the crowds and lines--and were happily stuffed.

Started w/ the pork/gouda poboy from Barcelona Tapas. Only 1 size available ($7, I think). Skinny sandwich w/one layer of roast pork and a thin slice of unmelted gouda. Tasty--hey, I loved the mayo/sauce--but kind of a disappointment, such meager filling.

Next was the soft-shell crab po-boy ($9) from Ninja. Wow: the crab was fat, fried perfectly, and sauced w/a fabulous spicy mayo concoction. By far the highlight for us. Had we found any oyster po-boys, we probably wouldn't have opted for the SS crab, so I'm glad we never found oysters. We missed those guys, but I guess it's understandable they weren't available.

We searched in vain for a Vietnamese po-boy, but never saw one. Wonder what's up with that.

My husband wanted jambalaya, so we broke my rule of not getting stuff from places we find ourselves fairly often and shared some of Bad Bart's Black from Crescent Pie and Sausage. Good, but as I feared, took up some po-boy space.

My plan was to hit the Boucherie truck on the way out and get a half of their 12-hour roast beef po-boy ($3) and their otherworldly fries ($3) (OK, I would have been breaking the aforementioned rule again . . .) But when we saw the line, we regrouped. My husband said the wait would be at least an hour, but that just translates to he was full. So we negotiated and he agreed (1) we'd go to Boucherie this week and (2) that he would go and wait in the much shorter Charlie's Seafood line, where he bought a small-size pork debris po-boy ($4, I think), which wasn't that small and, when sauced generously w/Tabasco, was pretty tasty. Pork twice was not in the game plan, but we weren't really complaining.

Not really complaining, but still bummed about not getting my Boucherie RB or a Vietnamese po-boy, I stopped for a Bloody Mary on the way out ($5/single + $1 tip). Single worst Bloody Mary I've had anywhere, ever--and I've had lots of bad ones. Watery from melted ice, it was tomato juice and vodka, no seasoning. I really couldn't believe anyone in New Orleans would have served this drink, and I should have taken it back, but it just didn't seem worth braving the crowds and line.

Ending on that note didn't ruin the experience. I love this festival. We had a delicious lunch and only wish we could have tried more options. I so wish the vendors would offer 2- or 3-inch versions of most of these poboys (seems like they did--or some of them did--the first year), and I can't see why they all couldn't offer at least a half-size portion.

How 'bout y'all? What did you try? How were the crowds as the day wore on? Is the Oak St. venue going to be able to continue to handle the crowds?

8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

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  1. A friend of mine made the same comment about the Vietnamese poboy, she's making up for it by going to get one later this week.

    1. We also got there at 11am and ended up going to the Barcelona tent first, by virtue of that being the first place on Oak Street that was open. I was bummed that Dante and Boucherie were not ready at 11 and then the lines were too much.

      We got half sizes at a place I don't remember the name of but had a sesame shrimp po-boy as well as Emeril's Delmonico confit pork cheeks. I also tried the "spicy french fry" po- boy at Le Citron Bistro. Eh, it was all right- the fries were cold and it wasn't spicy.

      Our favorite by FAR was the smoked fish po-boy from The Grand Isle (photo attached). We also grabbed the smoked duck po-boy from Palace Cafe but realized we were too full of food to enjoy it, so I carried it home and ate it later.

      My husband wasted some valuable stomach space on the portable Hubig pie that he bought (I saved mine for home.)

      We left by 1:30.

      Grand Isle Restaurant
      575 Convention Center Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70130

      Emeril's Delmonico Restaurant & Bar
      1300 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

      Le Citron Bistro
      601 Orange St, New Orleans, LA 70130

      8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

      5 Replies
      1. re: noradeirdre

        Oops, forgot the picture of the smoked fish po-boy. Here it is:

        1. re: noradeirdre

          That smoked fish was great as was their boucherie po boy which won best pork 2010.

          1. re: shanefink

            Do you know the other winners? Or where to find that info?

            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              Best of Show: G.W. Fins - Fried Lobster Poboy

              Best Pork Po-boy: Grand Isle Restaurant - Boucherie po-boy

              Best Specialty Seafood Po-Boy: Grand Isle Restaurant - Smoked fish po-boy

              Best Roast Beef Po-Boy: Sammy's Deli on Elysian Fields - Garlic stuffed roast beef po-boy

              Best Specialty Non-Seafood Po-Boy: Sammy's Deli on Elysian Fields - Fried chicken and Chisesi ham po-boy

              Best Shrimp Po-Boy: Redfish Grill - Grilled shrimp with blackened avocado po-boy

              People's Choice Award: Coquette Restaurant - Homemade hot sausage po-boy

              Grand Isle Restaurant
              575 Convention Center Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70130

              1. re: BayouTeche

                Thanks! Now, I wish we'd stuck around for supper.

      2. I got there late--4:30 or so--and knew the lines would be bad, but they were actually prohibitive. Jacques-Imo's line was a block long. We ended up in Boucherie's line and waited a good half hour or 45 minutes, but I figured it would be worth it. Actually, in the end, I was underwhelmed. The half 12-hour RB po-boy was drowned in horseradish sauce--to the extent that I couldn't taste the beef. The fries were similarly overseasoned--and I really like seasoned fries. It was a disappointment, honestly. I wish I'd just gone to the Parkway booth. With the lines, we packed it up after that and went for ice cream instead of more po-boys. I also found the lack of a single banh mi to be really strange. I think the people who have said that the festival is now too big for Oak Street are probably right.

        Jacques-Imo's Cafe
        8324 Oak St, New Orleans, LA 70118

        8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

        2 Replies
        1. re: midcity

          Not sure if this sheds any light on the subject, but when we were at Bahn Mi Sao Mai a couple of months ago, we asked the proprietor why they had stopped participating and whether they planned to return to the po-boy festival (they won an award the first or second year). She said no, they just couldn't afford it. (Seems hard to believe, though, that it wouldn't be profitable, especially for a booth as popular as those selling bahn mi seemed to be.)

          1. re: nomadchowwoman

            Its probably not that they can't afford it but Banh Mi Sao Mai is a family run business and just doesn't have the manpower to operate the booth. Only reason why I say this is because I have known the family for years and usually there is only like 2 or 3 people working in the shop when it is busy. When it isn't busy no more then 2 people.

        2. I love Po Boy Fest. It's more a thing for locals where Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest are so geared towards visitors. Plus who doesn't love a po boy?

          3 Replies
          1. re: TheKitchenHotline

            Well that may be true, but just like French Quarter Fest it will become for tourists as well, which will make it even more crowded

            1. re: roro1831

              Agreed... SO super-crowded already. Next year, we will go much earlier to try & avoid the lines. I guess it's a good thing, though. Lots of people love what we do & that is the major driving force for commerce in this city.

            2. re: TheKitchenHotline

              Well, New Orleanians know how to party so if the locals are doing it then visitors will want to do it, too.