Call it a submarine, a hoagie or a grinder. A sandwich on a long bun loaded with everything from meats, to cheeses to vegetables. In New Orleans they call it a “Po’ Boy.” Served on a French style baguette these sandwiches are filled with either fried seafood, roast beef or sausage. They are “dressed” with tomato, lettuce and mayo with pickle and onion being optional. Mustard, usually creole, is smeared on when the sandwich isn’t of the seafood variety.
Po’ boys are rumoured to have been invented in 1929 by one time trolley conductor, Clovis Martin at the family restaurant during a streetcar strike. Martin served his former colleagues, known to restaurant workers as “Poor boys” free sandwiches during the 4 month strike. The sandwich would earn the nickname and with the “Nawlin’s” drawl being what it is, is forever known as the “Po’ Boy.”
For Slidel, Louisiana native Donnie Thigpen the restaurant business was not his game. He was a builder. Settled in Huntsville, Alabama with his wife Marie (yes Donnie and Marie) they decided that the restaurant scene was lacking in the food on which Donnie grew up. With only a dream in their hearts, they opened a small New Orleans style café in an old house that would serve the staple food, po’ boys. Initially the only two employees, Donnie manned the grill and the effervescent Marie undertook the rest of the operation. Slowly, steadily the word got out. Business improved. And improved. So much so that an addition to the main building would follow. A second building next door was purchased to handle over flow on weekends and a large full time staff is now employed.
The Thigpens, are committed to high quality food at reasonable prices. They import as much from Louisiana as possible and make the rest. Making the 12 hour trek to Patton’s in Louisiana for the hot sausage for example. Their own “Hot damn” sauce made the al.com list of Huntsville’s “20 Most Distinctive Dishes” this last summer. We had a short wait at lunch before being seated. The efficient staff keeps things moving at a pretty good pace. The cozy dining room is practically a shrine to all things Louisiana, New Orleans and LSU Football. The non descript building outside is a dress in Mardi Gras style.
So without any further adieu.
We both had the Scruffy’s Special. A sandwich (which comes with fries) and choice of side. You can’t go to the Po’ Boy Factory and not order po’ boys right??
I went with the spicy sausage and gumbo side with Mrs. Sippi selecting the crawfish and ettouffee side. The crawfish is a little milder flavour than I’m used to and was nicely battered. The sandwich came with lettuce, tomato, mayo and was very good. I loved the baguette. Soft enough that the innards didn’t squirt out the back yet still chewy enough.
The ettouffee was fantastic. Nice and rich with a good shrimp flavour to it. A touch of Tabasco complemented it perfectly.
The sausage was just plain excellent. Patton’s sausage is almost a staple in southern Louisiana and it’s no wonder why. Not overly hot but very seasoned it just plain tasty. The bread is of course the same and as it was not a seafood po’ boy came with creole mustard. I added some of the hot damn sauce as well.
The gumbo was nice and complex with a good amount of chicken and shrimp. It too was complemented nicely by a few shots of Tabasco.
I wish I could say the “Hot Damn” sauce was damn hot but alas it’s not. It had a subtle afterbite but Marie assures me that as it ages it gets hotter. The mayo based sauce was made that morning and a batch will last at least a couple days. By the time the next day rolls around she says it’s very potent.
We skipped desert but a gorgeous looking chocolate layer cake was on display at the counter. Next time perhaps.
You can find The Po’ Boy Factory at 815 Andrew Jackson Way in Huntsville, Alabama.
View Larger Map
You can also visit them on the web or become a Facebook Friend.
Well that's all for now, see you next time in the food court.