by Ian McNulty
Who says it’s hard to find good food in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome? Well, me, for one. But while it may take some digging, between the cardboard pizzas and the frozen burgers you can find some surprisingly satisfying options along the Dome concourses. One discovery high in the upper reaches of the terrace section this past weekend shattered all my expectations for stadium food.
The sign for this tiny vending cart promised roast beef and pulled pork po-boys. The price was $9.50 and in the press of people foraging for sustenance before the noon kickoff on Sunday I nearly passed it up. But then I noticed the production line. This was no pre-fab operation. One lady behind the booth was cutting up real live po-boy bread into lengths while another handled trays of debris-style beef and black-crusted pulled pork. This little corner of the Dome, somewhere around the 611 or 612 terrace sections, looked and smelled like a proper po-boy shop.
What was truly amazing was the amount of meat these ladies were slinging. Each sandwich had to weigh more than a pound and a half. I think this is what happens when New Orleans people are given discretion over portions.
“Overstuffed” doesn’t begin to describe it. These were sandwiches filled the way you might make your own if no one else was watching and you were unsure when you’d have a chance to eat again. I had to spend some time picking away at the meat with my fingers before I could even pick the thing up for a bite. Is bigger food better? For a roast beef po-boy before a football game, you bet it is.
If it’s hard to find good food in the Dome, finding something that doesn’t seem like a stadium-rate rip off is harder still. These po-boys exceeded expectations in both marks.
The roast beef po-boy has certainly been getting its share of attention lately. In November, a long-form exploration of the sandwich by local writer (and former Gambit restaurant critic) Sara Roahen appeared in New Orleans Magazine. And lately the Times-Picayune’s Brett Anderson has been filing weekly dispatches from his own roast beef po-boy safari.
This Dome po-boy was another refreshing reminder that the hunt for good New Orleans eats can bear fruit just about anywhere, even in the soaring heights above the gridiron.