Sandwiches seem to be an American obsession. There are Lobster Rolls in Maine, Cuban Sandwiches in Florida, Barbecue Brisket in Texas, Grilled Salmon in Washington … and the list goes on and on.
Food Network Magazine recently selected the 50 Best Sandwiches in the U.S., featuring one from every state. And since New Orleans has its own signature sandwiches, we decided to take a Sandwich Safari and Bag the Big 3 in the Big Easy.
Bagging #1: The Po-boy
If you’re in the Crescent City you must have a Po-boy, the iconic New Orleans sandwich featuring French bread overflowing with just about anything. You can get a good Po-boy almost anywhere, but since we were in our old stomping ground on Magazine Street, we decided to pop into a place we’d read about – Joey K’s. And Joey didn’t disappoint.
My first choice would always be an oyster Po-boy, but since we were sharing one (and James hates oysters), we compromised with catfish. Great choice. Complete with melt-in-your-mouth onion rings and New Orleans famous red beans and rice, we were in heaven.
Bagging #2: The Muffuletta
This legendary sandwich with the funny name is another New Orleans first … and one of the most unique sandwiches any city has to offer.
We’ve been longtime fans of Central Grocery’s Muffuletta, but the out-the-door lines and pelting rain sent us running for cover to the Napoleon House in the French Quarter. We thought we’d been dropped in an Amsterdam “brown cafe,” but the food was great.
For you newbies, a muffuletta starts with a selection of cold cuts – ham, salami, capicola, mortadella, and pepperoni; then you add provolone and Swiss cheese. Place everything on a huge, round roll and dress it with the secret ingredient – Italian Olive Salad – a chunky mixture of green olives, cauliflower, carrots, onions, celery, peppers, capers, olive oil, vinegar, and garlic. What’s not to like?
And yes, of course, you must buy a jar of Olive Salad to take home with you. Then you can make your own muffulettas.
Bagging #3: The Sentimental Choice
When we moved to New Orleans years ago, straight from college, we were two low-paid newbies, trying to start careers, pay off college loans, and keep up with our bills. To say we were on a budget borders on understatement. Oh, did I say we were a teacher and a government employee? You get the picture – seriously frugal.
We became masters of brown bag lunches, bean dinners, and potlucks with friends. When we did go out to eat, we were looking for a really special place, serious “bang for the buck” … and a doggie bag for tomorrow’s lunch.
If you’ve been to New Orleans you may think that we’re going to take the easy route and go for the ubiquitous Lucky Dog. But since we’ve been there, done that (and can’t bear to tell the story), we went for our true sentimental favorite.
We had decided to only indulge one food nostalgia and knew it had to be Cafe Maspero in the French Quarter. This was our go-to choice for great food, cheap prices, and the guaranteed doggie bag. Our forever favorite is their incredible pastrami and swiss. We shared one sandwich and took the other one home. Pair that with a $1 Strawberry Daiquiri and you’ve got a really cheap date!
The Big 3 also have 3 things in common:
1. They are all made with high quality ingredients.
2. All 3 sandwiches are made with Leidenheimer Bread: “Good to the last crumb.” Producing perfect French bread for Po-boys since 1896.
3. And the best news is that for all you Vegetarians out there, each of the Big 3 has a veggie version.
Oh yeah, I nearly forgot. We did go to one other old favorite – Cafe du Monde. We just couldn’t leave town without a parting beignet, some chicory coffee, and powdered sugar all over our clothes.
As they say in New Orleans, “It’s All Good!”