WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
The best poor boy stand in the Quarter and one of the best in town, Johnny’s makes all the classic local sandwiches. Then it goes on to produce an unusually wide range of other poor boys with ingredients few shops serve anymore. It’s close to the perfect poor boy experience. They also have a reasonably good basic breakfasts and a few plate specials.
The classic roast beef poor boy flavor is an elusive thing, and it’s different for each eater. Johnny’s comes closest the the roast beefs I recall from my first, eye-opening encounter with this greatest of New Orleans sandwiches. They make all the other ones well, too using fresh bread, dressings, and fillings. All these are served in lengths too big for a normal appetite. But that’s part of the poor boy sandwich tradition, too.
Johnny and Betty DeGrusha bought the St. Louis Street building and opened shop in 1959. That makes it the oldest poor boy shop in town under the continuous ownership of a single family. Johnny’s absurd but catchy motto–“Even my failures are edible”–proves that the place understands that the making of poor boy sandwich is an art, but not one anybody should wax academic about.
The dining room is more pleasant and spacious than it appears from the outside, and if it’s full you’ll find more tables in the rear. You order at the counter and they bring it out to you. Recently Johnny’s opened a sweet shop upstairs with ice cream, coffee, and pastries.
Poor boy sandwiches (in descending order of goodness, with many more available besides these):
Broiled ham and cheese
Veal or chicken parmesan
Fried oysters, shrimp, calamari, catfish, or soft-shell crab
Fried shrimp, oyster, catfish, or soft-shell crab platter
Red beans and rice with hot sausage
Fried chicken (Thursday only)
Basic breakfasts: omelettes, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, etc
FOR BEST RESULTS
Split two different poor boys three ways. Don’t hit the place right at noon. Don’t come in a hurry; the sandwiches must be made to order.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
I miss the liver cheese poor boy, but I may be the only one.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -1
- Consistency +2
- Value +3
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar
- Local Color +2
- Open Sunday lunch
- Open Monday lunch
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- No reservations