Ask a local New Orleanian where to find the best roast beef po-boy in the city and you will get a slew of answers, but one particular neighborhood joint will be named again and again, Parkway Bakery & Tavern. In the 6 years I have lived in New Orleans, Parkway Bakery has come up repeatedly as one of the best po-boy shops in town, a real original whose building has stood (serving po-boys) since the 1920’s! Nestled in Mid-City overlooking Bayou St. John, it is difficult to stand in front of this establishment and not imagine it existing in another era. This is my 11th week and 11th cheat and I am down 37 pounds.
A short aside, I’m sure you’ve noticed that my weight hasn’t dropped this week. I just can’t seem to get myself in gear again regarding exercise! How do people do it? My hobbies have always been very sedentary like reading and writing. The only sport I really enjoy is swimming but I can’t afford a gym membership. I was trying to do Pilates everyday from some DVDs, but I just can’t seem to motivate myself to turn the damned things on anymore. It’s only 20 minutes of my life…perhaps I am just going through a slump. I am following the diet…I just need to get off my ass and move! I’d gladly listen to any pep talks y’all might have to offer!
Anyhow, regardless of my slump, I was still following the diet and I still intended on cheating this week. I have been craving a roast beef po-boy, dreaming of the messy, drippy goodness I’ve eaten at Joe Sepie’s and Parasol’s, but I wanted to try a different locale. As I mentioned before, Parkway Bakery has long been boasted as the best roast beef po-boy joint in the city and I decided it was time I finally tried it out.
John and I headed over to Mid-City after I got off work around 5:30 p.m. We were hungry and ready for a delicious po-boy. When we finally found the building (the area around Bayou St. John can be confusing for me at times), we walked into the front that opened up into a cool little bar. The bartender informed us that we could either eat at the bar, or choose a spot in the dining room to the rear or the patio outside. The staff was so friendly and everyone in the joint was smiling and enjoying the delicious-looking po-boys and beers in front of them. I felt welcomed, almost as if the neighborhood was embracing me and inviting me in. It was an unusual, albeit incredibly warm experience. It’s not like I haven’t felt the pervading “Southern hospitality” all over this city before, just never so acutely as when we were welcomed to Parkway.
John and I decided to head for the dining room in the back and we quickly ordered our sandwiches and drinks from a counter overshadowed by an old Woolworth’s sign and surrounded by framed, old newspapers and other New Orleans nostalgia. I ordered a regular roast beef po-boy with gravy, “dressed” with a side order of sweet potato fries. John got the Surf & Turf: a roast beef po-boy with fried shrimp with regular fries. We both got Barq’s in a glass bottle and sat and waited for our name to be called. The restaurant wasn’t too busy (probably due to the early hour) and our orders were up in no time.
Both sandwiches came wrapped in butcher paper and when we opened them, we realized why! They stuffed fabulously fresh French bread with juicy roast beef swimming in gravy…I couldn’t pick mine up till I had spooned up a lot of the filling! Both po-boys were delicious and the shrimp in John’s Surf & Turf were quite large and battered to perfection. Our French fries were crispy and hot, probably the best sweet potato fries I have eaten in a while.
We both wanted dessert and I noticed that they had some chocolate brownies in a small display case on the counter. John bought them “to-go” with acclamations that they were the “best homemade brownies in New Orleans” and we rolled our way out to sweet “Goodbyes” and “See ya soons.” How could I not want to go back to such a wonderfully friendly place with incredible food?
By the way, the brownies were awesome! I don’t know about being the best in New Orleans (I haven’t eaten many homemade brownies aside from my own), but they were certainly gooey, chewy, chocolaty goodness…and I will definitely return to Parkway Bakery again.