The New Orleans Po'Boy Shop
The national and international reputation of New Orleans cooking is largely based
on its grand restaurants (see Louisiana Creole cuisine). But it is the po' boy that
has had the greatest day-to-day impact on the local diet, even in the era of
modern fast food. Many people still have it at least once or twice a week--it is
eaten for lunch more than any other single dish. Po'boys are made at home, sold
pre-packaged in convenience stores, available at the deli counter in most grocery
stores, and make up a sizeable percentage of the menu options at most
neighborhood restaurants.
The most basic New Orleans restaurant is the po' boy shop. In theory, it need not
be much different than a sandwich shop in any other city, with little or no
on-premise cooking. The debris gravy for roast beef needs to be kept hot, but that
could be done in an electric warmer. Classic examples are Frank's on Decatur
Street, which for many years just sold muffalettas, cold po' boys, and a hot roast
beef or a hot pastrami po' boy and Mother's on Poydras Street.
But these same basic offerings were also available at most corner grocery stores.
The next step up for a shop was to offer seafood po' boys and this meant having a
stove (or fryer) and having someone who could fry seafood. And if you were frying
fish, and shrimp, and oysters for sandwiches, it didn't take much extra to fry them
for seafood plates. And if you had a stove for cooking seafood, it didn't take much
extra to also offer Red beans and rice and Jambalaya. Many of the classic New
Orleans neighborhood restaurants are in this mold offering po' boys, seafood
platters, and a number of basic Creole dishes: Liuzza's, Domilise's, Parasol's,
Frankie and Johnnies, and Cassemento's.
Two restaurants in this tradition merit special attention. The first is Dooky Chase's,
which originally opened as a po' boy shop. Over the years, Miss Leah's cooking
evolved and the restaurant expanded, becoming one of the most celebrated in the
country. It is one of the few restaurants to span the gulf between neighborhood
joint and grand dame. The second was Uglesich's, a small in a more-or-less falling
down corner store in New Orleans Central City. Only ever open for lunch, it was for
many years a workingman's restaurant serving po' boys and fresh shucked
oysters. But the fried seafood (cooked to order in cast iron kettles on a stove) was
consistently some of the best in the city[citation needed]. Over time Mr. Anthony
began to draw on his Yugoslavian heritage combining it with inspiration from other
restaurants in the city to create new dishes--Trout Muddy Waters, Shrimp Uggie,
Fried Mirliton with Shrimp Remoulade--which have drawn national attention[citation
needed]. The restaurant closed on May 6, 2005 with the retirement of Anthony and
Gail Uglesich.