500BestSquareRoast Beef Poor Boy @ Johnny’s Po-Boys

My taste model for a roast beef poor boy was Clarence and Lefty’s, a long-gone Ninth-Ward bar where my parran introduced me to the joy of the distinctive sandwich when I was about eight years old. I rediscovered the place many years later (not knowing I’d done so until my parran reminded me of it), and once again registered the flavor as definitive.

While every city has its version of a sliced-beef sandwich on a long bread, there’s nothing that tastes like a poor boy. It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you taste it. (You also know when you’re not tasting it. Example: Mother’s, whose roast beef is good but non-standard in flavor.) While there are many great roast beefs around town, to my palate the sandwich Johnny’s makes comes closest to the ideal. It’s enormous, the gravy is just right in flavor and quantity, the beef doesn’t leave too much to floss out later, and the dressings are good and fresh. Cheap, too.

Johnny’s Po-Boys. French Quarter: 511 St. Louis. 504-524-8129.

This is among the 500 best dishes in New Orleans area restaurants. Click here for a list of the other 499.

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