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Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - The cochon de lait po-boy always draws a crowd at Jazz Fest. 

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is teeming with flavors — some from classic Louisiana tradition, some from more recent immigrant communities to call this place home, some that are unique to Jazz Fest.

Each year I give an ever-evolving list of top picks based on many years eating around the Fair Grounds. This time, let's cut into the best po-boys.

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Cochon de Lait is the name of the game in downtown Mansura this weekend. The town hosts the annual Cochon de Lait Festival Friday-Sunday. The event features contests, carnival rides and arts and crafts, and ends with a grand feast. Get more information and a full schedule at

Cochon de lait po-boy (Food Area 1): Smoky pork, the creamy crunch of slaw, packed together into a crisp-crusted pistolette. This is Louisiana barbecue.


Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - The hot sausage po-boy from Vaucresson Sausage Co. is a classic flavor of Jazz Fest.

Vaucresson hot sausage po-boy (Food Area 1): The spicy, pork and beef link from this generations-old sausage maker provides an important base ingredient for many Creole gumbo is around town. You get one all to yourself in this classic po-boy.


The soft shell crab po-boy from Galley Seafood, served at the food stands at Jazz Fest.

Soft shell crab po-boy (Food Area 2): In other cultures they might look askance at such a gnarly, leggy thing wedged into a loaf. But we know that a whole fried soft shell crab is one of the gifts of southeast Louisiana’s robust seafood heritage. Casually chowing down on these while strolling between Jazz Fest stages is one of the joys of living.


The roast beef po-boy from DiMartino's Famous Muffulettas represents a New Orleans classic at Jazz Fest.

Roast beef po-boy (Food Area 1): Few New Orleans dishes inspire as fierce a debate as roast beef po-boys, with connoisseurs comparing texture, cut and degrees of sloppiness (a compliment in this context). DiMartino's is best known for the muffuletta is serves at its three West Bank locations (and also at Jazz Fest), but it fields a roast beef that achieves the golden mean with thin sheets of beef soaked in a peppery gravy that seeps into the airy crumb of the traditional po-boy loaf. 

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The yakiniku Japanese beef po-boy at Jazz Fest.

Yakiniku po-boy (Food Area II): This Japanese style po-boy is like a marriage of a banh mi and a cheesesteak. The bits and strands of meat give a delicious jus, cucumber and carrots add crunch and an (optional) overlay of chunky garlic chile sauce brings the heat. The Vietnamese-style French loaf holds it all together and completes this multicultural mash up.

Tasting notes from a day of Jazz Fest eating _lowres

Photo by Ian McNulty - Grilled merguez sausage po-boy from Jamila's Cafe at Jazz Fest.

Merguez po-boy (Food Area 2): The handmade, spiced lamb sausage brings North African flavor; the French bread pistolette gives it a po-boy profile. The squirt bottle of thick, spicy harissa pepper sauce gives earthy heat.

Jazz Feast! Ian McNulty on what’s new for Jazz Fest food and how it all shakes out _lowres

The shrimp remoulade po-boy at Food Area II at Jazz Fest.

Shrimp remoulade po-boy (Food Area 2): When the weather gets hot and the sun starts beating down on the Fair Grounds, this cool take on the shrimp po-boy can be a refreshing meal all on its own. The airy loaf is filled with shrimp under the sharp horseradish bite of the remoulade, and a layer of slaw added more crunch.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.