Poor Boy Lloyd’s has atmosphere galore and feels out of place in the downtown of a city, even a small city. It’s been here since 1967 and the decor hasn’t seen much updating. You order up front and pay in the back, exiting through a separate door, which gives the dining process a museum-like fluidity that matches the well-preserved surroundings.
Monday’s red beans and rice aren’t as porky as many variations. The tender beans have noticeable vegetable aromatics and if you want more pork on your fork, just cut off a slice from the tasty, smoky link that comes on the side of the plate. Part of the magic is the moist square of corn bread that comes alongside. A starchy lunch of beans and rice doesn’t really need any more filler, but when the cornbread tastes this good, who cares?
The food is classic Louisiana with few surprises. Dishes are benchmarks of Creole cooking. Po-boys come on a stale and pale french roll. The gumbo has a dark roux and a bit of fish funk. The little shrimp have a concentratated flavor and almost taste dried. The cooking is approachable enough to cover the diner clientele, but not as compromised as tourist-centric New Orleans Creole places.
The namesake “Poor Boys” are good and basic. The bread is appropriately softened with age. Even if oysters are overcooked, rendering them a bit stringy, they’re still very enjoyable. We might opt for a shrimp next time, just in case. All other elements of the sandwiches are great. It’s weird that the oysters were off, because this kitchen really does know how to fry. Onion rings are perfect. Every po-boy shop claims to have superior onion rings, but these really are something special: perfectly cut, piping hot and enhanced by a crisp, peppery batter. They aren’t oily at all. We’d come in just for these if we didn’t have the hunger for a full meal.
The right order here is red beans and rice, onion rings, and a frosty schooner of draught beer, but po-boy pilgrims will want to check this one off their list as well.