Dedicated Roadfooders tell us that it is more fun to eat at the original location of Killer Po Boys, a tiny joint at the back of a raffish bar on Conti Street, but everyone agrees that the sandwiches are every bit as wonderful on Dauphine. They are unusual po boys, for sure, not for purists. But in some meaningful way their iconoclasm is a fit reflection of a city cuisine that is known not only for its traditions but also for its willingness to change, adapt, and invent.
They are more like ovoid bahn mis than the typical long sandwiches on Ledenheimer bread (the rolls in fact come from Dong Phuong bakery); and the ingredients are far from the usual. Even those that sound like Crescent City classics are not quite. A debris po boy, for instance, does contain the expected great heap of gravy-sopped shredded braised beef; but accompanying that delicious beef are pickled jalapeno chips, red peppers, onions, and long green beans. A shrimp po boy is made of seared, not fried, shrimp – big, firm-bodied crescents – and their companions in the loaf are coriander lime spice, sriracha aioli, pickled daikon radish, carrot, and cucumber. When I ask if it is possible to get a shrimp po boy without all the folderol, the girl behind the counter kindly informs me that it is not possible because that would “ruin the integrity of the sandwich.” The house mission statement describes its fare as “internationally inspired, chef-crafted New Orleans style sandwiches.”
A sign outside announces that even vegans will be happy here, but you don’t have to be an animal-product-frowner to enjoy the brilliant sweet potato po boy that contains tender discs of verge-of-caramel yam along with great amounts of succulent, barely-bitter braised greens, and a luxurious tapenade of blackeyed peas and pecans. Among the vegan options is an intriguing roasted cauliflower sandwich that includes avocado, radishes, and peppery Spanish romesco sauce.
The simple storefront eatery, open from 8am and closing mid-afternoon, is an eat-in-the-rough sort of outfit: place your order at the counter and pay there, after which you find a seat at one of the copper-topped tables. Ambience is retro-hip, including good blues music, folk-art decor, and overhead TVs playing both Andy Griffith and Saturday Night Live. Breakfast options include a cheddar omelet po boy and a smoked salmon po boy with remoulade, onions, capers, and hard-boiled egg.
Note: The original location, inside the Erin Rose Bar at 811 Conti Street, is open from noon to midnight and is adults-only. (504-252-6745)