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Parkway Bakery & Tavern

538 Hagen Ave., New Orleans, LA - (504) 482-3047
Posted By Michael Stern on 2/23/2010 5:09:00 PM
New Orleans' roast beef po boys don't draw the tourist attention bestowed on more distinctly regional Gulf Coast fried-seafood heroes, but locals are passionate about them; and the superior beef sandwiches made by eateries in and around New Orleans are as intrinsic as a muffaletta or an oyster loaf.

The best of the best is made at Parkway Bakery & Tavern, a wood-frame building overlooking Bayou St. John. It comes tightly wrapped in a tube of butcher paper that already is mottled through with gravy splotches when you pick it up at the kitchen window. Unwrap it and behold a length of fresh, brawny bread loaded with beef so falling-apart tender that it seems not to have been sliced but rather hand-pulled, like fine barbecued pork, into myriad slivers, nuggets and dainty clumps. It is difficult to discern where the meat ends and gravy begins because there is so much gravy saturating the meat and so many carving-board scraps, known as debris (say DAY-bree), in the gravy.

That meaty gravy makes the city's ultimate dining bargain. At $4.85 for a full-length sandwich, $3.65 for an eight-incher, Parkway's gravy po boy is a minimalist sandwich of the good, chewy bread filled only with gravy. The bread is substantial enough to absorb massive amounts of the liquid and a booming beef scent, becoming the most appetizing savory loaf imaginable, its surface crowded with debris that is the concentrated essence of roast beef.

12 out of 12 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Roast Beef Po Boy (large)
Surf 'n' Turf Po Boy (large)
Gravy Po Boy (large)
Sausage Po Boy (large)
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No, this sandwich is not photogenic! But what appears to be an awful mess in my less-than-artistic photo is, in fact, one of the best po boys in New Orleans, and one of the strangest: surf 'n' turf! How the shrimp retain their crunch against the stampede of beef and gravy is a mystery; the luxurious duet sings dulcet harmony when packed into jaws of bread and abetted by a salad's worth of dressing garnishes.
"No, this sandwich is not photogenic! But what appears to be an awful mess in my less-than-artistic photo is, in fact, one of the best po boys in New Orleans, and one of the strangest: surf 'n' turf! How the shrimp retain their crunch against the stampede of beef and gravy is a mystery; the luxurious duet sings dulcet harmony when packed into jaws of bread and abetted by a salad's worth of dressing garnishes."
Michael Stern





OK, the gravy po boy is even worse looking than the surf 'n' turf. But if you love the flavor of beef, especially when combined with fresh, muscular bread, it is a beautiful thing. Note all the meat shreds you get in the gravy.
"OK, the gravy po boy is even worse looking than the surf 'n' turf. But if you love the flavor of beef, especially when combined with fresh, muscular bread, it is a beautiful thing. Note all the meat shreds you get in the gravy."
Michael Stern


The hot, crisp-edged sweet potato fries were a big hit with my group.
"The hot, crisp-edged sweet potato fries were a big hit with my group."
Cliff Strutz


Sausage is tidier than beef and not nearly as overwhelmingly flavorful.
"Sausage is tidier than beef and not nearly as overwhelmingly flavorful."
Michael Stern


With po-boys this good, it is difficult to save room for dessert.  But then you would miss out on Parkway's excellent bread pudding with rum sauce.
"With po-boys this good, it is difficult to save room for dessert. But then you would miss out on Parkway's excellent bread pudding with rum sauce."
Cliff Strutz


Even before you unwrap it, the gravy po boy has begun to ooze enough juice to soak through the butcher paper in which it is presented at the kitchen window.
"Even before you unwrap it, the gravy po boy has begun to ooze enough juice to soak through the butcher paper in which it is presented at the kitchen window."
Michael Stern


No table service here. Place your order at this window, then pick it up around the bend.
"No table service here. Place your order at this window, then pick it up around the bend."
Michael Stern


The comfy Parkway features not only good sandwiches but also a lively bar and live music many evenings.
"The comfy Parkway features not only good sandwiches but also a lively bar and live music many evenings."
Michael Stern


The Parkway originally opened in 1922 and earned a reputation for excellent po boys served in a rather dilapidated environment. It was closed for a while, but has now reopened all neat and clean and friendly and still a source of the city's best sandwiches.
"The Parkway originally opened in 1922 and earned a reputation for excellent po boys served in a rather dilapidated environment. It was closed for a while, but has now reopened all neat and clean and friendly and still a source of the city's best sandwiches."
Michael Stern



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