Best Po ‘Boy Sandwiches on the Mississippi Coast
The po ‘boy was born in New Orleans around 1929. The legend begins with the Martin boys, two brothers who left Raceland, Louisiana in 1910 to work as streetcar drivers. When they could, they quit their day job and opened a coffee stand and restaurant in the French market. The stand became popular with their fellow streetcar workers. When workers went on strike in 1929, Bennie and Clovis Martin pledged to give their friends free meals until the strike was over. They offered a hearty sandwich for the “poor boys”. Crispy French bread stuffed with fried meat or seafood to keep them full. A New Orleans classic is born.
A po boy (or poor boy) is usually on every menu in New Orleans and the surrounding area. The influence of New Orleans culture and traditions can be seen all over the Mississippi coast. You can find a boy on the menus in most towns along the 100 km from start to finish. But with the culinary influence of the whole world on the coast, you will discover some twists in the tradition. I traveled through five Mississippi coastal towns and got a taste of the Martin Brothers’ iconic invention in Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Biloxi, Pascagoula, and Ocean Springs. This road trip was delicious and everyone should experience it.
Note: I was a guest from Coastal Mississippi for parts of this trip and was hosted for some meals. All opinions are mine.
1. Baie Saint-Louis
At 200 North Beach Restaurant and Bar, the emphasis is on fresh seafood and a great atmosphere. Chef Bernard Carmouche, originally from New Orleans, began his career at 17, doing the dishes at Commander’s Palace. He then spent many years working with Chef Emeril Lagasse. The Echo building, built in 1903 to house the Echo of the sea coast journal, is a fine example of early 20th-century architecture in Saint-Louis Bay. Fortunately, he was still standing after Hurricane Katrina, which wreaked havoc on the coast as a Category 3 storm in 2005. Ann Tidwell and her family restored the building. Today it is a magnificent restaurant with a breathtaking view of the bay from the wrought iron terrace.
The menu offers three types of fried po ‘boys: shrimp, oysters or catfish. I chose the shrimp and they came “dressed” (with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayonnaise) on a foot long baguette-style roll. The wrapped sandwich was overflowing with a hearty serving of crispy fried shrimp on the roll, plus all the fixings. A basket of golden fries was on the side. This sandwich was amazing. The shrimp were fresh, non-greasy and combined with all the toppings was a tasty combination. I needed to cut it in half to eat it, but it was worth it. In an area with shrimp caught in the waters outside the gates, you need to order a shrimp boy at 200 North Beach.
2. Skip Christian
The small riverside town of Skip Christian has a beautiful harbor on the Mississippi Sound dotted with shrimp and pleasure boats moored in the marina. It looks like a movie set. Right on the seafront is the original Shaggy restaurant, which opened in 2007. Shaggy’s took shape after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the area in 2005. Ron Ladner, a summer home owner and businessman was approached in 2005 and asked to buy the old bait shop. He decided to continue with the project, but two months later it was all gone. After the Ladners were recovered, they rebuilt the building where the bait shop was located, painted it red, and named it Shaggy’s after a 1940s tavern with a colorful reputation in the Pass.
The bright red restaurant has given everyone hope and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The interior has brightly colored walls and an island vibe. Photos of fishermen with their catches adorn the space and island music plays inside and out. From the deck, fabulous water views invite you to sip their specialty cocktails. The po ‘boy the day I went was the local fried rockfish. Two substantial servings of fried fish fillets topped with lettuce and tomato. The tartar sauce was on the side, along with a generous amount of fries. The redfish was fresh. It was crisp, white and flaky, with a delicate flavor. Once you’ve added the fresh toppings and creamy tartar sauce, it’s a total treat. I took half of it home because it’s too big for one session. You can easily share this with a partner and have an appetizer to make a full meal.
Once known as the seafood capital of the world, Biloxi, Mississippi, the Vietnamese population grew in 1975. Refugees left Vietnam to escape the Saigon fall, and many moved to the Mississippi coast. As fishermen, they could earn a living in Biloxi. When Katrina hit, much of this industry was devastated.
Sue Nguyen-Torjusen’s dad came to Biloxi for the shrimp, but he went into the bakery and never looked back. Sue and her family own and operate The bakery in Biloxi. The following for this popular location is legendary. If you ask someone where to find a po ‘boy in Biloxi, they will direct you to Le Bakery for Bánh Mì, a French Vietnamese po’ boy. Made-to-order sandwiches are served on homemade 8-inch baguettes topped with garlic mayonnaise, julienned carrots, marinated daikon, onions, cilantro and a slice of hot jalapeño pepper . I chose the coconut curry chicken with marinated chicken in a slightly spicy coconut curry sauce. Topped with all the tasty additions, it was a treat for all the senses. A Franco-Vietnamese bakery in the heart of Biloxi, Mississippi, selling Vietnamese po ‘boys? Yes, and it was the most delicious sandwich at a low price.
Pascagoula, Mississippi, is home to Jimmy Buffet and Bozo seafood market boys in. They were ranked in the Top 20 Seafood dives in America by Coastal Living Magazine. Bozo’s opened in 1956 and is a third generation family business serving food at its seafood market. There are communal tables with condiments and napkins in a bucket on the tables. You line up and order at the counter, and when you’re ready, it’s wrapped in paper in a white paper bag. The Po boys come in pairs or wholesale with seafood or meat options.
Since this is a seafood market, I should have ordered shrimp, oysters or soft shell crab, but po ‘boys are also traditional as meat or meat sandwiches and seafood. cheese. The woman at the counter assured me that after the shrimp, the roast beef is the best. I ordered a half dressed roast beef and waited. When I unpacked it, it was a messy boy. Brown sauce oozed down the sides and the tomato slid down the side. When I put it all together, I was in sandwich heaven. Bozo was po ‘boy nirvana.
5. Ocean Springs
Ocean Springs, Mississippi, is home to many great concert halls featuring incredible cuisine. The government street grocery store is one of those places. The special, a fried shrimp boy, was spicy. It’s fried shrimp in a spicy jerk sauce dressed in lettuce and tomato with a pickle tip on the side. I ordered a side of fried okra. Cut in the round; it was golden, crunchy and delicious to snack on. I loved the terrace and the great atmosphere of this restaurant. Even though they are not a place for boys, they know how to make a fantastic sandwich. Loved the kick of the jerk spice and the pile of shrimp on the crispy baguette.
- Po boys are usually made with fried seafood. If you don’t like fried seafood, ask for the stir-fries. Restaurants can do this, but local cabins may not.
- Roast beef or po ‘boys ham and cheese are tasty and traditional. Many stands also offer them.
- If you like spices, Vietnamese po’s boys are fantastic, as are the jerk versions. Dark.
- Have your boy “dress” with all the bindings for an authentic experience.
- Po ‘boys are usually a foot long. If you don’t have much of an appetite, order half a serving, share it with a friend, or save for later.
- What makes a fist boy? The bread. It is always served on a French baguette.