“Dressed and pressed” is the way to have a po boy at Fayard’s, a lunch counter at the back of a meat market / deli / convenience store / grocery located inside a bustling Marathon gas station just off I-10 in Biloxi. “Dressed” means slathered with mustard and mayo and garnished with lettuce and tomato. “Pressed” refers to the fact that the sandwich is cooked after it assembled – cooked in a press, compacting the top and bottom of the long roll, toasting the bread’s surface and causing its ingredients to meld into a sloppy slurry of deliciousness.
The bread, by the way, is baked every morning on premises (yes, at the back of the gas station!). Possible ingredients range from tuna and burgers to soft shell crab, shrimp, and oysters. We like roast beef that is tender and flavorful, well-lubricated with gravy that swirls together so nicely with all the dressings; and we love an item called country roast – sirloin tips that cook all night until quite literally falling-apart tender, reminiscent of what a New Orleans po boy chef would call roast beef debris. Intensely savory and insanely moist, this beef makes one wonderful sandwich.
Here on the Gulf, oysters are a must, and at Fayard’s you have a choice: regular fried oysters, which are big ocean-sweet mouthfuls that stay remarkably brittle-crisp even when cossetted in all the dressings, or BOOM oysters, to which is added eye-opening hot sauce. We like the excitement of the Boom variation, although Mr. Fayard said that as a devoted oyster lover, he did not cotton to such diversions.
Chances are you will meet Mr. Fayard when you visit his place. He is a hands-on owner who takes a personal interest in customers’ happiness. In fact, when we ordered only a regular roast beef po boy, it was he who suggested we also try the country roast, which was a fairly new item on the menu. As we enjoyed our sandwiches, he stopped by the table several times to make sure everything was OK, and it was easy to get into conversations about his late wife, who decorated what might have been a bland service station with country-crafty charm and about his good friend Craig Perret, who jockeyed the great horse Unbridled to victory in the 1990 Kentucky Derby.
As mentioned, Fayard’s is in the back of a gas station that gives little indication to passers-by that it is a worthy culinary destination. In fact we drove right past on our first cruise along Popps Ferry Road. But if you are in Biloxi and have an appetite for good local eats and a truly hospitable, one-of-a-kind meal, put this nice place at the top of the itinerary.