A passion for po-boys is stoked by tradition, by making New Orleans' favorite sandwich according to the best practices laid down generations back. That's the fire behind Koz's, the reincarnation of Gentilly's Po-boy Bakery, now relocated to Harahan, and the subject of my column this week.
But even the strict traditionalists need a break, and that's the principle guiding the increasingly interesting specials board at another reincarnated stalwart of po-boy history.
Parkway Bakery & Tavern was around since the 1920s, but suffered a long decline and slow death before shutting down, seemingly for good, in the 1990s. The story of how contractor Jay Nix bought the building and brought it back to life as a new version of the Parkway has been the fodder for many stories already (by myself, my predecessor here, Sara Roahen, Times-Picayune columnist Angus Lind and plenty of others).
What keeps the place packed for each lunchtime shift are Parkway's traditional roast beef po-boys, seafood po-boys and the other entries in the New Orleans po-boy canon.
Evidently what gives the creative folks in the kitchen a little room to play, however, is the specials board. Here we find the red beans and rice po-boy, with Monday's famous pot-cooking classic poured into a hollowed out run of French bread. On Wednesday, a Cuban sandwich. On Thursday, the definition of "dressed" is stretched to include sautéed mango and pineapple on the Caribbean chicken po-boy.
My own favorite is Sunday's special, the "bada bing," a combination of Italian sausage, mortadella, onions, peppers, mozzarella and red sauce.
Maybe that's because it reminds me of the grinders I was weaned on, and now miss terribly, from my Rhode Island youth. Or maybe it has more to do with the same appeal it seems to have for the Parkway kitchen guys who created it: in the land of po-boy tradition, this is one unique sandwich.
- Ian McNulty