The Overstuffed Oak Street Po-Boy Festival Menu

The Ray-Ray Po-Boy (chicken tenders, Chisesi ham, and cheese) from Sammy's Deli. Photo by Elsa Hahne.

The Ray-Ray Po-Boy (chicken tenders, Chisesi ham, and cheese) from Sammy's Deli. Photo by Elsa Hahne.

The po-boy is our signature comfort food for good reason. There’s nothing like flaky bread stuffed with proteins as recognizable as fried shrimp or roast beef, or as eccentric as grits or paté. The innovations are endless. All this in a sandwich?

Loyal foodies have came out in droves for the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival (formerly known as the Po-Boy Preservation Festival) in the past few years. The fest offers live music, with shows by the Stooges Brass Band, Los Po-Boy-Citos, Mia Borders, Rebirth Brass Band, and Khris Royal and Dark Matter. But po-boys are the real draw, with more than 40 vendors providing a host of conventional and offbeat versions all in one place.

The estimated attendance for last year’s fest was around 45,000 people, which led to some vendors running out of food. Sammy Schloegel of Sammy’s Deli says, “We ran out of the roast beef around 5 o’clock. We’re going to do more. We’re going to increase it by about a third from last year.” Even the sides were gobbled up as much as the main attraction; Mike Stolfutz of Coquette says they did “collard greens and ended up selling out in the first half hour.”

The lines to try po-boys can be long, but the vendors work to cut the prep time to keep things moving along. Schloegel does a significant amount of his pre-planning in the Sammy’s Deli kitchen before the actual event. Gary Wollerman, co-owner of GW Fins, won best of show last year for its fried lobster po-boy, and owner Gary Wollerman says its booth is “going to be way better prepared than we were last year. It was crazy, the festival keeps growing exponentially. This time we’re doubling up on product, we’re doubling up on staff. We don’t plan on running out, and we certainly don’t plan on it taking as long for people to get their po-boys.”

The publicity from the high traffic event makes the effort worthwhile according to past winners. People come into the restaurants and specifically request the po-boys because they remember it from the festival or heard about it afterwards. GW Fins is a fine dining seafood restaurant that people wouldn’t normally expect to have po-boys as part of the menu, but Wollerman gets people asking about it all the time. “There was an article even in the New York Times about New Orleans po-boys and somehow we got included in that article because of the po-boy fest.”

Schloegel credits the fest as well. “The roast beef has kicked up tremendously since last year’s po-boy fest for sure,” he says. “A lot more people have tried it and come in for it.”

The vendors say that working the Po-Boy Fest is crazy and hectic, but they keep coming back because it’s fun. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s an adrenaline rush to see that many people,” Schloegel says. “The only thing I can compare it to is like Bourbon Street Mardi Gras day.”


The Po-Boy Menu

Bourbon House: Bourbon BBQ shrimp po-boy

C&J Catering: Catfish po-boy, Creole stuffed crab po-boy

Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse: Prime beef debris po-boy

Emeril’s Delmonico: Confit pork cheek po-boy with tangy coleslaw

GW Fins: Fried lobster po-boy

Katie’s: Katie’s Cajun Cuban, Katie’s crab cake po-boy with remoulade

Le Citron Bistro: Grits and veal grillades po-boy, Potato po-boy

Mahony’s Po-boy Shop: Homemade Meatball in tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella on seeded bread, Mississippi rabbit salad po-boy with pecans

Martin Wine Cellar: Steamboat po-boy (corned beef, ham, hickory- smoked bacon, swiss, onions and Creole mustard), Smoky Abita BLT Shrimp (BBQ shrimp with bacon, lettuce & tomato)

One Restaurant: Paté and pickled vegetable po-boy

Palace Café: Oyster Rockefeller po-boy

Parkway Bakery and Tavern: Thanksgiving po-boy with turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and dressing

Robert’s: Debris roast beef po-boy

Saltwater Grill: Cochon De Lait po-boy, Crawfish and spinach boat, Bread pudding po-boy

Sammy’s Deli: Ray-Ray po-boy (fried chicken breast, Chisesi ham and Swiss cheese), Homemade garlic-stuffed roast beef po-boy

Spitale’s Deli: Turkey debris po-boy

Vaucresson Sausage: Hot sausage po-boy, Crawfish sausage po-boy

WOW Wingery: Buffalo chicken po-boy, Shanghai shrimp po-boy, Plain shrimp or chicken po-boy

There will also be po-boys or other menu items from Barcelona Tapas, Blue Frog Chocolates, Blue Dot Donuts, Boucherie, Café Reconcile, Coquette, Crêpes à la Cart, Crescent Pie and Sausage Company, Gattuso’s, Grand Isle, Hubig’s, Jack Dempsey’s, Jacques-Imo’s, O’Henry’s Food and Spirits, Original New Orleans Po-Boys, Pascal’s Manale, The Ridge Deli, Red Fish Grill, Royal Sonesta, Seither’s Seafood, Squeal, Tracey’s, Woody’s Fish Tacos and Yakamein Lady.