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Po-Boys on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

It’s been a while since we talked about po-boys, one of my favorite local specialties. I am sure you have heard the story of how po-boys were invented. Supposedly, there was a streetcar strike and the local restaurant owners felt sorry for the “poor boys,” who were striking and made them sandwiches with French bread and what leftovers they might have had. It’s a nice story, but patently not true. 

I can assure you that frugal French farmers had been slicing open a freshly baked baguette and adding cheese and sliced sausages for centuries before the NOLA strike, but it is a good story.

There are more good po-boy places on the Mississippi Gulf Coast than I could name, from Pirates Cove in Pass Christian to Bozo’s in Pascagoula. The most popular po-boy is always the fried shrimp, but the number of other combinations is almost endless. A local favorite is the Vancleave Special. It was created at an old Biloxi restaurant, called Rosetti’s. The story goes that a customer came in in a hurry and asked for a po-boy made with a crab cake with cheese. The owner didn’t know the man’s name, but he knew he was from Vancleave. Other favorites include fried oysters, fried fish, ham and cheese, sausage and one of my all time favorites, a cheese burger po-boy, but it has got to be grilled!   

But I do have two favorites. When I am craving a pot roast beef po-boy (which is far too often), I always head to Quave Brothers in D’Iberville. It a local hang out, so it can be a bit colorful, but it’s always pleasant. More often than not, I call in my order and get it at the pickup window. I always ask for extra gravy, so a roll of paper towels is a requirement. The roast beef is tender and flavorful, the gravy delicious and the po-boy roll is just perfect, nice and chewy.

My other favorite place is Po-boy Express in Ocean Springs. Again, all of their po-boys are good, and they are known for making an amazing gravy (going through two gallons a day!). My favorite is a wonderful combination of thin sliced sirloin steak, grilled green peppers and onions, melted provolone cheese and fried shrimp. If that doesn’t ring your bell, check out the Floyd special, roast beef, ham, turkey, Swiss cheese and bacon or the Hammer Head, made with roast beef, ham, turkey, Provolone and American cheese with gravy.

I have never had a po-boy on the Coast that I didn’t think was good, but nine times out of ten, it’s the Quave Brother’s pot roast beef for me!


Written by Julian Brunt

Julian Brunt is a food and travel writer that has been writing about the food culture of the Deep South for over a decade. He is the eleventh generation of his family to live in the South, grew up in Europe, traveled extensively for the first fifteen years after graduating from the University of Maryland, University College, Heidelberg, Germany. Today, he's a contributor for multiple publications, including Our Mississippi Home. He's also appeared on Gordon Ramsay's television show, "To Hell and Back in 24 Hours."


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