You could stuff your sandwiches full of Thanksgiving leftovers, or you could say screw the turkey, and try a sandwich with a little Louisiana flare. Luckily, comfort food is spreading like a wild fire in San Francisco these days, so let's take to the streets and see who has the best Po' Boys in town.
Little Skillet proves with their fried chicken po' boy that they aren't just a fried chicken and waffles joint. What, besides crispy bread, does Chef/Owner Jay Foster think makes a great po' boy? Good value. And with almost two whole fried chicken breasts stuffed inside a Panorama French baguette, good value is an understatement. He'll stuff it as full as he can with creamy coleslaw, pickles, and a spicy Cajun aioli, and wrap it tight in butcher paper aside homemade barbecue kennebec potato chips.
Boxing Room's po' boy, photo by Eva Frye
What makes a good po' boy to Chef Justin Simoneaux? "Proper frying, bread and hot sauce," the Louisiana native says with a drawl. Boxing Room in Hayes Valley serves crispy fried shrimp, catfish, and oyster po' boys (even a french fry version with gravy on their "secret menu"). But if you're feeling indecisive, get all of them together for a tasty Creole ménage à trois. Justin slathers bahn mi bread from Bui Phong Bakery in Oakland with "li'l Sarah's zucchini relish" (a play on tartar sauce) and a drizzle of homemade hot sauce.
Head to Tupelo on Grant in North Beach for a blackened catfish or sauteed shrimp po' boy. Chef Erik Hopfinger says shrimp is the most popular, dusted with homemade cajun blackening spice and deglazed with white wine and shrimp stock (an étouffée broth). He stuffs the curly crustaceans into a buttered, toasted brioche roll and dresses it with lettuce and tomato. The cumin, coriander, and melange of 30 other spices in his Cajun blackening spice give the shrimp a smokiness that plays nicely with the roasted red pepper remoulade slathered inside.
1300 on Fillmore
Sunday Brunch is made oh-so Southern at 1300 on Fillmore, where Gospel singers serenade you mid-mimosa. They serve an excellent fried catfish po' boy, filled with chunks of the white fish dredged in cornmeal for a thin, crunchy fried crust. Chef David Lawrence likes to serve it on a Panorama roll with a delightfully spicy jalapeño slaw, made creamy with whole grain mustard and mayonnaise. Ancho chile remoulade adds a savory smokiness.
Queen's po' boy, photo by Troy R. on Yelp
Queen’s Louisiana Po' Boys
Take a trip down to Portola for one of Queen's namesake sandwiches, and you may feel like you're back in the Bayou. From the bread (authentic Gambino's pistolet rolls), to the Crystal hot sauce on each table, or the masks and beads covering the walls, Queens channels the spirit of Bourbon Street. The delicate fried catfish po' boy is great, but try the hot link. Crisped on a griddle, butterflied, and stuffed inside Louisiana rolls, the rich spice of Andouille sausage is tamed by creamy mayonnaise, cooling lettuce, and sliced pickles and tomatoes.
Fried chicken isn't the only thing Chef Matt Marcus does well at Front Porch. The cornmeal crusted gulf shrimp po' boy also flies out the door when Brunch is served. Delicately crisped shrimp hide inside a Panorama roll with Creole remoulade that dances on your tongue with flavors of Creole mustard, sweet pickles, a little horseradish kick. And, of course, you can't forget the Old Bay seasoning. The final touch is a bit of shredded lettuce and sliced tomato to make a sandwich fit for a king... or a pauper.
Picán is known for its oyster loaf–Drakes Bay oysters dredged in cornmeal, served dressed with remoulade (available by request)–but right now, Chef Sophina Yong is playing on an Indian street snack in her po' boys. Vada pav, or mashed potato fritters (in Picán's case, sweet potato) are stuffed inside an Acme roll with a green tomato-tamarind chutney. The fritters are smokey with cumin and pasilla peppers, and the vinegar in the sweet and spicy chutney brightens up an otherwise hearty dish.
Who do you think serves the best po' boy?