Singleton’s Mini Mart is one of many places in Louisiana that serves genuinely good food from the corner of a convenience store.
The place feels very much like the family business that it is. The owner’s little kids (grandkids?) are running around and the cashier is swaddling an infant. Somewhat sparse grocery shelves are surrounded by shrines to the Miami Dolphins (at least a misdemeanor in New Orleans). The only parts of the mini-mart that feel well-stocked are the drink coolers, which are important for washing down large lunches. Everyone here is eating sandwiches. You can hang out on the front porch with a brew and talk with neighborhood people.
Since it’s Saturday, we take advantage and order the last bowl of pho available on the popular once-a-week special. Normally we hesitate to promote something that you can only get one day a week, but since so many come into the Big Easy for the weekend, we think it’s a fair endorsement. The pho is restaurant quality with complex, salty broth and spoon-tender beef.
Traditional po-boys are available, but Singleton’s is known for its specialty Asian-fusion experiments. The Spicy Korean BBQ Pork Po Boy is a saucy banh mi variation, complete with pickled carrots and cilantro. The combination of po-boy and banh mi is far from new, but the tender nuggets of pork in sweet sauce have a unique flavor profile. It’s somewhere between a Vietnamese pork chop, Korean barbecue, and Chinese take-out.
Just around the corner from Tulane University, Singleton’s is popular with college students. It’s because of the good vibes, but also because the sandwiches are huge, cheap, messy, and delicious. They come on whole loaves of bread, just like they should. They are easily shareable. The best choice for gluttons is the Surf n’ Turf, which is essentially a philly cheesesteak with grilled shrimp on top. The shrimp and steak both have a nice bouncy texture that never feels chewy. They are glued together by lots of gooey Swiss cheese, which is the right choice to match the disparate flavors of shrimp and steak. The ratios of meat, grease, cheese, and grilled peppers and onions are just right.