Have I mentioned lately how much I love my readers? You guys give me tons of recommendations and really, I do try and get to as many of them as I can. Recently, we ventured to Papa Roux based solely on a reader recommendation—it is located out at 10th and Post and that is certainly not an area I am familiar with and I never would have found this one on my own.
Another reason I have just now gotten around to this place though is that I really wanted to take hubby with me on this one. Papa Roux is a Cajun restaurant that specializes in many typical New Orleans cuisines, including several types of “po boy” sandwiches. Hubby was an undergrad at Tulane in New Orleans and spent 4 years eating his way around the Big Easy. He also has close relatives that have lived in New Orleans for many years, so even before college he spent a lot of time there. Therefore, I knew he would be the person to tell me the authenticity factor (at least of people I know).
After finally getting there (and realizing we should have gone a different way that would have saved us a good 10 minutes) I was pleasantly surprised by the place. It is very well-marked and once we stepped inside, the place was buzzing with lots of lunchtime diners. This is a place where you order at the counter—and the people working there seem genuinely friendly and like they actually like their job. That was nice. They wanted me to know when you order a full meal; you can have as many different sides as you want free of charge. This was a nice way to try several items.
The main thing we ordered (we both ordered the same) was the shrimp po boy sandwich. Shrimp and oyster po boys were hubby’s fave in New Orleans, so he wanted to give this one a try. I just love shrimp, so that was my choice too. The first thing we (mainly he) noticed was the bread. Apparently, it is pretty authentic to a po boy sandwich, and apparently one of the most commonly screwed up items outside of New Orleans. Now these rolls are traditionally toasted, and these were not. But, they were freshly baked French rolls, with a thin, somewhat chewy, somewhat crunchy crust. Hubby says that since they are usually toasted, they are usually, a bit more crunchy, but other than that, he thought the rolls were pretty authentic and I thought they were delicious. Big, but a great flavor, and soft, but still just a little chewy.
Now, apparently, these po boy ingredients (at least with shrimp and oysters) are normally fried, which I am sure would be good as well, but Papa Roux is going their own way by not frying the shrimp. They are I am guessing boiled, and are totally properly cooked (not chewy and hard) and they are shrimp, not the huge prawns you see most of the time on shrimp dishes. The shrimp are actually from Zirlott’s Gulf Products—shrimp caught from the Gulf, which are true local shrimp (well, local to New Orleans). The sandwich is also topped with the house recipe Cajun sauce and the house “creamy tangy” coleslaw. I am telling you that sauce is amazing. Just the right amount of spicy combined with a big of tanginess from the mayo base—it was really outstanding. I guess a typical cheap po boy in N.O. would be the fried seafood, mayo and shredded lettuce. These are going beyond that by turning the mayo into a flavorful sauce and the lettuce into tasty tangy coleslaw. I liked the additional flavors that this entailed and so did hubby. In fact, he told me he used to basically try and make a similar sauce on his po boys in N.O. by adding Louisiana hot sauce. Which by the way, they had on every table in huge bottles (ok, hubby swears that the only real hot sauces in N.O. are either Crystal or Louisiana hot. If you see Tabasco, he says, walk away. Anyhow, he is partial to Louisiana hot, and it's the only kind we have at our house, so he was happy to see it all over this place). So I guess, really the sandwich wasn’t really authentic, but one restaurant owner's own version of a po boy, but I thought it was really good and so did hubby. So variation is good. They also have pork and chicken po boys, which actually are fairly prevalent in N.O. as well, and hubby used to eat a chicken po boy quite frequently in college. He is certainly intrigued to try one of them next time.
We also tried several sides—the red beans and rice, the Creole with rice, and the cornbread. And hubby was happy to see Zapp’s chips, in spicy Cajun crawtator flavor (I know that sounds strange, but basically just seasoned chips that are native to N.O.), which we also shared a bag of. They were quite tasty, and they had them in several flavors. The red beans and rice were tasty—hubby really liked them a lot, although he likes a little bigger plate or bowl to mix them together. I thought they were quite good as well. The Creole is a vegetarian tomato sauce with some rice in it—the flavors were nice, not really spicy. Not really that exciting just on its own—maybe with something else. The cornbread was a little too dry for me—but you don’t need it anyway if you get a sandwich—that bread is great.
They also have daily specials—and on the day we were there, one of them was the Chicken chili Frito pie (Thursday in case you're wondering). Chicken chili served on Fritos with sour cream and cheese—sounds like not the healthiest option—but a very popular one I saw. And I have to say, I was certainly intrigued. I may have to give that one a try…
Anyway, it was a great lunch and we were glad we went. It isn’t a huge place, maybe 10 tables, and it clearly has a good following of regulars. But if you want something different, that the owners are really putting their soul into, and that location works for you, you should give it a try. I know we will, regardless of the drive.
8950 E. 10th Street