A New Orleans po-boy.

Po’Boys: Louisiana’s Most Famous Sandwich

This culinary gem rivals even the best muffaletta.   

Gourmands hail the po’boy, a homegrown Louisiana staple. From gas stations to gourmet eateries, this famous sandwich can be found just about anywhere down South — but nowhere better than in Louisiana, its home state.

What is a po’boy sandwich?

A po’boy (or po-boy, as some spell it) is a sandwich with infinite possibility. While the dish can be filled with anything from fried shrimp to hot sausage, its defining characteristic is perfectly proofed French bread. Sink your teeth through a delightful, flaky crunch into a tender, cloudlike crumb and you’ll understand why locals know the loaves to be so important.

What does it mean to get a po’boy “dressed?”

A dressed po’boy simply means it's filled with shredded lettuce, juicy tomato, sliced pickles and creamy mayonnaise. More luxurious po’boys might be dressed in melted butter, Louisiana-style hot sauce or spicy Creole mustard. Our recommendation — always opt to get your po’boy dressed.

A roast beef po'boy with French fries.

Try a savory roast beef po'boy.

The exterior of Domilise's, a New Orleans po'boy joint.

Foodies have loved Domilise's po'boys for decades.

An alligator po'boy.

Try a unique alligator po'boy.

Marilynn's Place, a famous restaurant in Louisiana.

Marilynn's Place in Shreveport offers world-famous po'boys.

History of Po’boys

Originally invented in New Orleans, legend has it that po’boys were created in 1929 by brothers Benjamin and Clovis Martin, two ex-streetcar-workers-turned-deli-owners. When more than 1,000 streetcar drivers unionized and went on strike, the Martin brothers were willing to feed these frontline picketers for free.

The Martins would fill hearty French bread with pot-roast scraps bulked by fried potatoes. “Here comes another poor boy,” they’d say, signifying to chefs that a special sandwich was in order. Eventually, “poor boy” was shortened to “po’boy,” and the shotgun house of sandwiches ascended into fame, representing the work-ethic of proud, blue-collar laborers.

Types of Po’boys

Po’boys began with roast beef, but these days, fixin’s come anyway you’d like. Here are the 5 most common types of po’boys in Louisiana:

  1. Roast beef po’boy: This riff features tender chuck roast. French bread soaks up brown gravy nicely, while debris (charred bits of beef flavored by rendered fat) lends the dish a crisp bite.
  2. Fried shrimp or oyster po’boys: Tucked within a bed of French bread are crispy-fried Louisiana shrimp or oysters (our suggestion: a half and half po’boy with both), breaded to perfection and salted by the Gulf itself. These are best enjoyed dressed, sometimes with a spicy remoulade. 
  3. Catfish po’boy: Savor the state’s best seasonal seafood with this one. Tender catfish, which pull apart at each bite, are breaded and deep-fried to perfection. Find this sandwich occasionally dressed in sweet coleslaw. 
  4. Boudin po’boy: Sample two Louisiana staples in one. This sandwich centers around the culinary superstar boudin, a hot Louisiana sausage as Cajun as it comes. 
  5. French Fry po’boy: You read that right. Enjoy a pile of French fries sandwiched between warm French bread. For extra flavor, add roast beef gravy and debris drizzled on top. 
A po'boy at Parkway Tavern.

Parkway Tavern has served po'boys for more than a century.

A visitor holds up po'boy sandwiches at Oak Street Po-Boy Festival.

Try dozens of delicious po'boys at Oak Street Po-Boy Festival.

The exterior of Old Tyme Grocery.

Try a ham and swiss po'boy at Old Tyme Grocery.

A fried oyster po'boy sandwich.

Fried seafood po'boys are best enjoyed with a squeeze of fresh lemon on top.

5 Best Places for Po’Boys in Louisiana

You can find a po’boy just about anywhere, from upscale eateries to local drive-throughs. The sandwich represents the culture of New Orleans, after all, in its ubiquity and charm. Even if they’re everywhere, here are the five best places to find one:

1. Parkway Bakery & Tavern

New Orleans

Dine at one of the foremost po’boy establishments in the Big Easy. Since the 1920’s, Parkway Bakery & Tavern has served everyone from unionized streetcar workers to international travelers. Try the Deep-Fried Creole BBQ Shrimp, which highlights flash-fried shrimp slathered in buttery barbecue sauce.

2. Domilise’s Po-Boy and Bar

New Orleans

Family owned and operated for nearly 100 years, Domilise’s represents the easygoing culture of Uptown New Orleans. Try the hot smoked sausage po’boy, which has graced the pages of major magazines for its mouthwatering impact.

3. Old Tyme Grocery


One of the oldest delis in Lafayette, Old Tyme Grocery promises true Cajun cooking in a laidback environment. Try this joint’s namesake recipe, which stacks the depth of ham, turkey and roast beef against the sharp bite of Swiss.

4. Bayou Blue Po-Boys


Bayou Blue Po-Boys might be no-frills, but the sandwiches aren’t. Try a country fried steak po’boy with a side of shrimp boullettes (fried balls of herbed-and-peppered dough) or crawfish pie.

5. Marilynn’s Place


You’ll find delicious sandwiches in a converted retro gas station at Marilynn’s Place. Try The William Edward Joyce, which puts curry-fried catfish on the main stage. The Cochon de Lait — a strong runner-up — features a tangy housemade pineapple pepper salsa atop slow-roasted pork.

Bonus: Oak Street Po-Boy Festival

New Orleans 

Perhaps the best place to find this famous dish is at the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, which takes place annually in New Orleans in November. More than 40 craft food vendors compete for coveted festival titles, like best filling. You’ll find powerhouse combinations like pecan-smoked prime rib topped with horseradish, beer-braised birria brisket with pickled onions and salted-caramel ice cream housed in delicate puff pastry.

Po’boys only scratch the surface of Louisiana’s rich food history. Learn more about the state’s famous foods and check out our collection of delicious easy-to-make recipes.