Sandwich Safari: Bagging the Big 3 in the Big Easy

Muffuletta 2

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.

Joey K's

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.

Joey K's Catfish Po-boy FI

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.

Napoleon House Sign

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?

Napoleon House Muffaletta

And yes, of course, you must buy a jar of Olive Salad to take home with you. Then you can make your own muffulettas.

Lucky Dogs

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.

Cafe Maspero Sign

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!

Cafe Maspero Pastrami

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.

Leidenheimer Bread

3. And the best news is that for all you Vegetarians out there, each of the Big 3 has a veggie version.

Cafe du Monde Beignets

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!”

It's all good


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

17 thoughts

    1. Hi Andrew, Great question – and I don’t know. However, the people of New Orleans are incredibly gracious and accommodating, and I would think you could choose your bread.

    1. Yep, fresh catfish well prepared in hard to beat. And this particular sandwich was wonderful. One thing about New Orleans, is that in general, the locals will not tolerate mediocre food. Restaurants that don’t do a good job just don’t make it.

  1. Josh here from the BlinkPack blog. I was just in New Orleans for 12 hours and had a GREAT time. I wish I could have spent longer, but I’m thankful that I could visit at all. What a fantastic city.

    We made it to Liuzza’s for gumbo and the grilled shrimp poboy. It was a slice of heaven. And of course we had coffee and doughnuts the Cafe Du Monde way.

    I wish you all the best with your blogging. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for the comment Josh, and for dropping by the blog. If you read many of our NOLA posts, it’s pretty obvious that we love the city. It’s unique in the US, for sure. I love your Blinkpacking philosophy. Most people have all sorts of obligations, and frequently travel ends up low on the list. Your blog will help people move it higher up the list. Well done.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how the brain and stomach conspire! Just looking at the photos makes me want the meal all over again! And CONGRATULATIONS on your Historical Fiction Book of the Year Award. Awesome! All the best, Terri

    1. Hi Whitney, So glad you stopped by. The food in New Orleans is great, and as I remember from living in Berlin you can enjoy some very tasty food there, too. You are quite the adventurer and I’m really enjoying your blog. Hopefully things will have calmed down a bit in Cairo when you head back in the fall. Looking forward to more of your international insights. All the best, Terri

      1. Hello Terri!
        You’re certainly right, the food is wonderful and always really cheap during lunch time! I’ve fallen head over heels into huge plates of Tibetan and Georgian food recently—such great food genres I would have never thought to try. Only in Berlin! 😉
        Glad to hear that you’ve stopped by and thank you for your concern about Cairo. I’ll be ready to go back by then! Hope you’re having a lovely week full of fun and adventure. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. The beignets in NOLA really are as good as they look. There’s also a Mexican version call sopapillas that are almost as good as beignets. The technique for sopapillas is to bite the corner off, and pour a bit of honey in. Yummy!

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