The po-boy culture of New Orleans is deep and wide, extending from acclaimed eateries on every visitor’s bucket list to convenience store delis for a simple, no fuss lunch. This weekend’s Oak Street Po-Boy Festival even functions as a high-profile showcase for where po-boys can go, with a wild range of one-day wonders on French bread.
But a different read on the city’s favorite sandwich persists at another type of po-boy purveyor. These are the unsung backstreet shops of the suburbs, eateries that keep a low profile but maintain a strong tradition, show gregarious character, enjoy loyal followings and have added some distinctive signature sandwiches to the po-boy pantheon.
I’ve been on the hunt for this type of po-boy shop. We’ll feature them all together in tomorrow’s paper, and today we highlight them one at a time.
Juneau’s Sandwich Shop
4016 7th St., Marrero, 504-341-6879
Don’t miss: weenie po-boy (sliced hot dogs in secret sauce)
It seems like everyone at Juneau’s has some history with the place. That goes for the proprietor too.
“We all grew up coming here,” said Nina Romaguera. “But the thing was, it was only open during school hours, so you could only go if there was a half-day or you were out sick.”
The Marrero native and her husband Chad bought the old shop from the original Juneau family owners about a dozen years ago. They saw little reason to change much. That includes the hours (which might be particularly galling for students at L.H. Marrero Middle School, who can see Juneau’s from their classrooms just across the street), and also the menu.
The roast beef is very tender and fully flavored, and patties for the hamburger po-boy are hand-formed and griddled crisp. The unlikely star at Juneau’s, however, is the weenie po-boy.
The wieners are sliced and chopped and stuffed into the crusty bread with a distinctive pale red sauce. It has the texture of gravy, but an entirely different flavor, a little bit sweet, a little bit peppery. It’s also a mess, so much so this po-boy automatically comes with a fork. It may be an acquired taste for some, but it’s tops in Marrero, and easily Juneau’s bestseller.
“It’s been a little controversial,” Romaguera said. “I have some people coming here since the ‘60s who say it’s exactly the same, and then there are other people who think we changed it. Well we didn’t. That recipe is passed on is like a secret when we bought the place.”
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.