Yesterday on a family holiday outing to the Acme Oyster House, anew-orleans-poboys legendary New Orleans French Quarter-based restaurant with several regional locations from the New Orleans suburbs to Baton Rouge, I ordered my traditional favorite sandwich of all times: an oyster po-boy. Gosh, it was good–almost as good as those classic po’boys I remember getting from Nathan’s Bar and Sandwich Shop in downtown Covington during the po160’s. Any po’boy I order today I measure by Nathan’s standards. The Acme oyster po’boy stacked up really well. Here are the requirements:

1. Gotta have the right bread. In the olden days, Nathan’s served po’boys on the traditional hard-crusted New Orleans style French bread. You had to set your teeth in the sandwich pretty firmly to tear off each chewy bite, and you’d better have a napkin in your lap or hold your sandwich over the table, because the crust was extra “crumby.” Acme’s crust was not as hard as the buns Nathan’s served, but getting a mouthful still took a pretty determined bite. So while I give Nathan’s the edge for the hard-core traditional bread, Acme’s was OK.

2. Gotta be big enough. I had an oyster po’boy a year or so ago in Lafayette, Louisiana, at a place that advertised “traditional New Orleans po’boys.” They ripped me off! The tiny little sandwich looked like a dinner role alongside Nathan’s or Acme’s, so much that when I got through eating, I looked around for something else to eat. The Acme sandwich was definitely big enough–I was more than fulfilled by the size and quantity.

3. Gotta have enough oysters. If you have to remove the top slice of bun to see the oysters on an oyster po’boy, you’re getting ripped off (like that one I described in Lafayette above). When you unwrapped a po’boy from Nathan’s in the olden days, the sandwich had so many oysters the bun would not contain them. When you picked the sandwich up, superfluous nuggets tumbled out of the bun as you squeezed and mashed and did your best to get control of your meal. Acme’s po’boy passed the quantity test just fine–no way the bun could contain all the oysters that came with it, so I had several little jewels left over after the sandwich was done, which I swabbed with ketchup and Tabasco and tossed down as the complementary coup de grace of the meal.

Yes, good ol’ po’boys. The New Orleans sandwiches come in a variety of other flavors, of course: shrimp, crawfish, catfish, roast beef, and on and on–the oyster sandwich is just my favorite.

So what’s the end of this po’boy critical review? New England has grinders, New York has subways, Philly has cheese steadavids-glassesks, and elsewhere in the Northeast, hoagies. I’ve sampled them all. But no sandwich surpasses an authentic New Orleans oyster po’boy. And to the wary consumer, with so many mediocre establishments claiming to serve the “traditional” New Orleans version, this reviewer highly recommends the Acme Oyster House, any of its locations, as a destination of choice to make sure you get “the real deal.”

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