New Orleans’s Best Sandwiches
New Orleans takes its sandwiches as seriously as it takes its festivals (which is to say, very seriously). And a trip to the Big Easy isn’t complete without a muffuletta from Central Grocery, a debris sandwich from Mother’s, and a po’ boy from Parkway Bakery & Tavern, a banh mi from St. Roch Market, or maybe one of the tasty meat concoctions from Cochon Butcher, like maybe a duck pastrami slider. In short, make room for sandwiches.
4510 Freret Street
Part of Freret Street’s ever-expanding restaurant row, this modern deli helmed by Galatoire’s alum Kevin White serves a mean sandwich (with nary a po’ boy or muffuletta on the menu). The knuckle—cold roast beef, a heap of crispy shoestring potatoes, horseradish aioli, pickled red onions, and arugula on a pretzel roll—has already gained a loyal following. Bonus: There’s a full bar, too.
401 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
The very first restaurant that was recommended to me by the bellhop at my hotel was Mother’s Restaurant. Mother’s is one of the oldest and most successful restaurants in the NOLA. The line to get inside stretches down the sidewalk to the back of the building. The menu has all of the Nawlins classics like Po-Boy sandwiches and jambalaya. Breakfast is also amazing. Creations like the shrimp creole omelet with grits really popped out on the menu for me. Try it, try it all!
923 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
The fragrant, pleasingly cluttered Central Grocery is a holdover from an era when Italian-run groceries occupied storefronts throughout the city. This timeworn shop across from the French Market still boasts an old-world charm, filled with tall shelves crowded with imported goods and various whatnots, mostly Italian. But that’s not why you’ll see lines out the doors. The crowds are clamoring for muffulettas, classic New Orleans sandwiches that originated here about a century ago. (Slogan: “Imitated by many, but never duplicated.”) A muffuletta comes on a type of round, flattish loaf (not unlike a focaccia) that originated in Sicily. The details may vary, but it typically includes cured meats (capicola, salami) and cheese (provolone). What distinguishes it from a hubcap-shaped hoagie is the topping—a tangy marinated-olive salad. Know this: You don’t need to order a whole one; a quarter-sandwich is still plenty filling for one person.
538 Hagan Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119, USA
When it comes to po’ boys, everyone has his/her favorite spot. Mine has always been Domilise’s--until I went to Parkway Bakery & Tavern on my way back from City Park. Like Domilise’s, it’s off the beaten path, but well worth it. I ordered the roast beef po’ boy and, since it was the special, the fried pickles. I suggest you do the same. I tripled bagged the duo and made my way back to my hotel. There, I unpacked my goods and found my po’ boy still very much intact and my pickles crisp, warm, and tangy.
2381 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117, USA
This late-19th-century city-owned seafood market, which was by and large abandoned after Hurricane Katrina, was reborn as an upscale food hall several years ago. The dilapidated structure was spruced up and the navelike interior painted an austere, modern white. Then a dozen or so food vendors moved in, serving as a sort of incubator for those with an idea but no desire to go the food-truck route. It’s a great place to swing by for lunch or a casual dinner—you can get craft cocktails and spend some time at the oyster bar, then browse the other offerings, which include crab mac and cheese at Fritai and alligator-sausage hash at Elysian Seafood.
5240 Annunciation St, New Orleans, LA 70115, USA
Named after Dot Domilise and her daughter-in-law Patti, this shack-like corner shop on Annunciation draws locals and in-the-know visitors for some of the city’s best po’ boys. You can’t really go wrong whether you opt for the hot smoked sausage with gravy or “The Peacemaker” (half shrimp, half oysters). Either way, grab a Barq’s root beer and a stool at the bar while you wait for your sandwich and a table—they’re in short supply, especially during the lunch hour rush.
930 Tchoupitoulas St b, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Donald Link’s “swine shop” (part wine bar, part butcher, part sandwich spot) is a meaty addendum to the Cajun chef’s pork-centric Cochon (around the corner). You can’t go wrong with the always-on-the-menu muffaletta or the pork belly on white bread with cucumber-mint salad and chili-lime aioli, but, on my most recent visit, I opted for the Gambino. Link’s take on the classic Italian sub is a serious undertaking with three types of house-cured meats—coppa, cotta, and soppressata—plus arugula and a herby vinaigrette on perfectly crunchy ciabatta.
2440 Chartres Street
A local friend recommended Cake Cafe in the Bywater, so a friend and I stopped for lunch after exploring all afternoon. The humble bakery has some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, including my favorite, the crab sandwich, pictured here. It’s challah bread with crab meat, brie, bacon and spinach. It seems like a steep price for a sandwich, but worth every bite. Cake Cafe started as a bakery that sold all manners of sweets, but specialized in king cake, a Mardi Gras tradition. They became so popular that the store expanded to include other food items. Whatever you order, be sure to finish it off with dessert.