Fried Lobster Po-boy from GW Fins

[New Orleans, LA] — To my way of thinking, there’s never a bad time for a Po-boy. The iconic New Orleans overstuffed sandwich originated in the 1920s during a strike of unionized streetcar conductors. A local restaurant — in support of the workers — provided free sandwiches to the strikers, who they called “poor boys.” Over time, the sandwiches also came to be known as “poor boys,” which was eventually shortened to “po-boys.”

Today, there is a certain school of journalistic thought which insists on calling the sandwiches “Poor Boys.” Uncultured louts, if you ask me. If you follow their logic, we’d still be using archaic spellings such as “olde” and “tyme,” and referring to the internet as the “World Wide Web.” But I digress.

“Thanksgiving Po-boy” from Parkway Bakery w/turkey and cranberry sauce

Po-boys are served on fresh French bread with a variety of fillings: roast beef, fried shrimp, fried oysters, and fried soft-shell crab are among some of the traditional ones. When you order a Po-boy in New Orleans, they’ll ask you if you want it “dressed.” Trust me, you do. “Dressed” means it comes with shredded lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayonnaise, the way God intended. Adding a dash of Tabasco sauce is a good idea too; go ahead, you can thank me later.

Each year, the merchants of Oak Street in New Orleans Uptown area get together, close off several blocks, and hold the best damn Po-boy festival you’ve ever seen. There’s food, music, strolling beer vendors, and of course, Po-boys, from over 40 different restaurants. Last year the festival attracted over 50,000 visitors.

The experience is almost overwhelming. I overheard an attendee telling her friend, “My God, we’ve hit the Mother Lode!” which is as good a summation of the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival as you’re likely to hear.

The whole experience is great fun, and the people-watching is almost as good as the po-boys. Enjoy!


“Banana & Blueberry French Toast Po-boy” pushes the envelope!

This sign points the way to Parkway Bakery!

Fried Oyster Po-boy

Keepin’ an eye on things…

More people-watching

The po-boys taste better after this (I’ve heard)…

I want a hat like this one!

Another happy attendee!

Strolling face-painter

There was plenty for man and beast…

The line for a fried lobster po-boy stretched a full block!

About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer specializing in motorcycle touring and travel. He is regular contributor to Harley-Davidson's HOG Magazine, and his travel features appear regularly in motorcycle magazines and other publications.

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  1. John

    December 27, 2011

    This is one awesome festival. Oyster po-boys are my favorite; dressed with lots of Tabasco.
    John recently posted..Central Grocery New Orleans

  2. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    November 25, 2011

    All of your posts make me really miss New Orleans! I haven’t had a decent sandwich in weeks, so reading about po-boys in making me hungry…

    • Travelin' Gringo

      December 5, 2011

      Every time I look at my own pictures of the po-boys, I get hungry too!

  3. jenjenk

    November 21, 2011

    i would have to be rolled out of New Orleans if i went to this festival. 🙂

    • Travelin' Gringo

      November 21, 2011

      I’ve only lived here a few months, and you’ll have to roll me out of here if I ever leave!

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever had a po-boy. Everything sounds good in it except the fried oysters! 🙂

    • Travelin' Gringo

      November 21, 2011

      Fortunately, you can get ’em with lots of different fillings, but I think fried oysters are the best!

  5. inka

    November 21, 2011

    Finally I know the story behind the po-boy. Thanks very much for educating me and when I come to New Orleans and have my fisr po-boy I will certainly eat it ‘the way God intended’.

  6. The Travel Fool

    November 20, 2011

    mmmm Parkway Shrimp Po Boys, now I’m hungry

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