Right off the bat I’m going to say that Johnny’s is the best place to get a Po Boy in the French Quarter. I don’t think I’ll give them the whole city, because there are several other contenders for that title, but in the Quarter . . . for sure! Johnny’s is located on St. Louis between Chartres and the River and is open for breakfast and lunch. I did a little research and it turns out that Johnny’s is the oldest family operated Po Boy shop in the city of New Orleans. They opened their doors in 1950 at a smaller location on Chartres street and moved to the 511 St Louis location in 1959.
Walking into Johnny’s it looks like a deli with a few tables and that’s pretty much what it is, but they aren’t slicing just deli meat in here! The enormous menu hangs above the counter and if you can put it between two pieces of bread Johnny’s puts it on a a Leidenheimer roll. I was saddened to see that the cost of seafood poboys have gone up considerably since my last visit. Thank-you very much for pricing oyster poboys out of the market. I believe the formerly $7 oyster poboy is now $11.50. The website menu: http://www.johnnyspoboy.com/m_Po-boys.aspx tells me that seafood items are now being sold at Market Price. I imagine the prices will go up even further in the future, thanks BP, Horizon and Haliburton, we do not love you too! A side note: we’re seeing this all over the city, Susan Spicer recently filed a lawsuit against BP because she is unable to get gulf fish for her restaurants!
When you enter Johnny’s, we managed to get there on this day before the line stretched out the door, you wait in line to order at the counter. Just a note folks, like many other family owned French Quarter small businesses, Johnny’s is cash only, but they do take traveler’s checks. There are several bank ATMs near by, the closest is the Regions Bank at Chartres and Toulouse. You place your order and are given a receipt with an order number on it, while you are waiting for your order you should be checking the back room and scanning the front room for an available table or a group that looks like they are almost finished. The biggest problem with Johnny’s is the size–it’s absolutely tiny. There are a handful of tables in the back room, maybe four or five. There are a few more tables in the front room, perhaps 8-10. The size of the restaurant is nowhere near large enough to handle the amount of volume they do every day.
The good news is that Johnny’s also provides two other options for diners. They will pack your order to go, which is what we opted to do the day we ate there. Johnny’s also delivers to addresses in the French Quarter. (This is becoming a pet peeve of mine, I live 1 1/2 blocks outside the Quarter, but can’t get anyone to deliver to me.) If you are lucky enough to live or be staying in a French Quarter Hotel you can look at the menu online, avoid the madness, and have it delivered directly to you. We took our order to go and ate in Woldenberg Park, which overlooks the Mississippi River. It’s really a great option!
The breakfast menu at Johnny’s is pretty basic: english muffin sandwiches, biscuit sandwiches, omelets, and plated eggs, grits and bacon. I do like that catfish and eggs is an option here, that again is market price. However, you will find that you can also get an egg poboy. There is nothing better than a 3 egg poboy dressed with lettuce, tomato and mayo for breakfast in my personal opinion. Unless, of course, you add ham or bacon.
The poboy menu at Johnny’s is vast. On this particular trip my dining companions ordered hot sausage and bbq beef. Both were immensely pleased with the results. I ordered 1/2 a soft shell crab poboy that came with a cup of gumbo. It was on the special board–it usually is when soft shell is in season. I was delighted to discover that Johnny’s is also now offering sweet potato french fries as a side item, so I ordered them as well. That was a mistake I won’t make again. The fries were not crisp–kind of soggy and very under seasoned. There wasn’t enough salt and I like cayenne and a little brown sugar on my sweet potato fries. I honestly think they hadn’t been seasoned at all. The gumbo was wonderful–it always is. It was chock full of shrimp and whole, still in the shell, crab. It was just spicy enough. People think I’m crazy ordering hot soup in the New Orleans summers, but I can’t help myself and I’m always cold. The soft shell crab was wonderful, fresh, no fishy taste at all. Crunchy and wonderful and dressed with lettuce, tomato and mayo, it’s something I have a hard time not ordering when soft shell is in season. In hindsight, I probably should have ordered oyster because I don’t know how long we’re going to be able to get them, but I didn’t want to have to compare it to the oyster at Domelise’s, which is currently my favorite.
The only other thing I have to mention about Johnny’s is that there isn’t much room to wait for your order. It gets very cramped in their small space. I really wish that they had a larger location! That being said, it’s a New Orleans must do if you are visiting and staying downtown. Don’t forget to put Crystal hot sauce on your poboy!
Up Next . . . take out pizza from Domenica and Angeli on Decatur.
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