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Must-Try Po-Boys at the Po-Boy Festival

Photo courtesy of Oak Street Po-Boy Festival

One thing New Orleanians can agree on, the po-boy satisfies hunger like nothing else. The once-humble sandwich has gone high-class in recent years, with top chefs serving their own inventive takes. But you can still find hearty 12-inch versions spilling fried shrimp and oysters for under $15 in local corner stores.

There will be a po-boy for every budget and palate in New Orleans at the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival on Sunday, November 3, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. You will be able to sample the best po-boys the city has to offer. The fest will be held between the 8100 and 8800 blocks of Oak Street in the Carrollton neighborhood. About 35 vendors will present more food than you could shake your fork at, with over 60 varieties of the delicious sandwich alone — plus beer, specialty cocktails, and desserts.

Stages for live music will be set up on side streets to avoid the Oak Street foot-traffic congestion of the past years. A second line will open the fest at 10 a.m., forming at Oak and Carrollton streets.

Like last year, admission is free, but you have to get a $5 wristband at the fest to purchase the po-boys (it’s OK if one person in the group buys multiple po-boys, according to the event organizers). Hate the long lines? This year attendees can get their hands on the po-boys faster by getting one of the two passes. One option is a $20 “fast pass” to enter through the fast lane.

The VIP pass ($99) grants access to the Mellow Mushroom on Oak VIP lounge and balcony and the front-row view of the main stage. There you’ll find beer, plus food from the Parkway Bakery and Tavern and other vendors, and specialty cocktails.

Just like in the past years, some of the best restaurants in the city will once again compete in six “Best of” categories: seafood, oyster, shrimp, sausage, pork, and beef. Past winners included Red Fish Grill’s BBQ oyster po-boy and Bratz Y’all’s Drunk Pig.

To give you just a taste of what to expect, the Mid-City-based po-boy king Parkway Bakery and Tavern will bring one of its wildly popular signature creations, “The James Brown” po-boy — slow-cooked roast beef topped with fried Gulf shrimp and smothered in gravy. The ever popular Godfather po-boy from Vincent’s Italian Cuisine marries three savory meats: Italian sausage, meatballs and daube meat (beef slow-cooked in a red sauce, like a brisket) and tops them with mozzarella cheese. Redfish Grill will again offer its signature BBQ oyster concoction, flash-fried and tossed in Crystal BBQ sauce. Metairie’s NOLA Boils & Catering kicks it up with an escargot po-boy while Oceana Grill will be offering its oyster Rockefeller po-boy (with housemade sauce).

There will be plenty of creative concoctions for the adventurous taste buds too, with game, elevated touches, and Asian and Caribbean flavors. An in the dessert category, check out Bananas Foster po-boy from Walkers BBQ (maybe after you try their signature cochon de lait version), and strawberry and Nutella tiramisu po-boy from Crêpes à la Cart.

As with any fest, there will be an art market and a kids’ area. The festival is rain or shine, pedestrian- and bike-friendly, and pets are welcome. Parking options will be limited, so consider biking or taking the St. Charles Avenue streetcar (get off at the Oak Street stop).

We can’t wait to see who wins this year!