Restaurants in The InTowner
The InTowner
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Restaurant Review: Po Boy? Rich Food! = New Orleans Po Boy Shop

Every so often in the life of a DC foodie a fabulous eatery opens. Large or small makes no difference. It’s the food that counts, after all. And when you inhale the steamy fragrance of the very hot, just-made beignets dusted with confectioners’ sugar, you will sigh with indulged culinary pleasure. You’ve just eaten one of the signature offerings of the DC eatery, New Orleans Po Boy Shop.

Recently opened, the shop at the corner of 19th and M Streets does not really fit the profile of “restaurant” since there are so few seats inside (though outside there are at least 20), no linen tablecloths or fine cutlery, and no waitstaff per se. Basically a take-out store, this place does serve up some of the most flavorful dishes in DC — a city fast becoming the nation’s food capital.

And that’s saying plenty, but when you realize that the chef, Cam McNair, is a New Orleans man himself and really, really knows his native cuisine, that’s not too farfetched. In fact, he recalls eating his first po’ boy at the tender age of seven. Perhaps it’s too much to declare that single sandwich shaped his future. But any one of this shop’s po boys would suggest otherwise. He really, really understands the makeup of the po’ boy, Louisiana’s version of a submarine, and one that may measure from six to 12 inches long. He even buys the famous rolls straight from Louisiana — something to do with the flavor of the water or the texture of the dough. Whatever.

So coming to New Orleans Po Boy Shop means at least two points: one, you must order the beignets, so puffy, hot, and fragrant that the three-piece order may just not satisfy your inner glutton. If you work nearby, plan on two orders, one for the morning coffee and one for the mid-afternoon coffee break. Of course, you could always just run down the block and grab a fresh order of beignets, hot from the fryer.

The second point is this: you must order a po’ boy, and if you fancy oysters, the oyster version will crown your lunch or dinner menu. Coated in cornmeal before cooking, the oysters have that delectable crunchy exterior and the tender oyster interior, both highlighted by the remoulade that moistens the po boy roll. Oysters are not the only possible filling, of course. You can select from among shrimp (small, flavorful), roast beef, fried catfish, andouille sausage, and crab cake, among others.

Needless to say, now that you are overstuffed with luscious calories, you should add on to your order at least one other important offering — the seafood gumbo, a rice and okra-rich stewy mixture with pieces of shrimp and chunks of veggies, all in a very dark, flavorful broth. One can only imagine New Orleans’ native sitting around spooning into this very rich mixture and feeling content with the world.

Check the specials board too. Each day stands for another classic dish, such as red beans and rice. And the “Because we can” board highlights what special whimsy the chef has taken on for the day. And with all this, order the traditional New Orleans’ coffee to go; this will get you through the long work day ahead or rev you up for a night on the town. Whatever. Just eat here — you won’t be sorry.

New Orleans Po Boy Shop (1205 19th St., NW; 202-621-8118). Hours: Mon.—Fri., 7am7pm. Po’ boys price range: $8-$12.