(Bear with me please, it might take a couple of days to get them all up and posted).
Day 1 Lunch: Parkway and Central Grocery
We drove in right around noon on a Saturday, and before making our way to our hotel we decided to swing by Parkway Bakery to try their famous po'boys. Knowing we would also be heading immediately after to Central grocery, we decided to split a regular between the two of us, to ensure we wouldn't be full.
We had to wait in line for a good 30 - 45 mins because the place was hopping. Thankfully the time went by quickly as we chatted away and people watched. I particularly got a kick out of the couple in front of us when they ordered, as he asked what was in the gravy for his Roast Beef Po'boy, and the woman at the window just looked at him for a beat before saying, "Roast Beef". But I really had to suppress a giggle when he immediately followed that with, "Is there any sausage?" The look on the order taker's face was just priceless!
We stepped up to the window and placed our order for the fully dressed Roast Beef Po'boy, grabbed it when it came up and sat outside to enjoy the beautiful day. Cutting it in half, we each took our respective piece and dove in.
It was ... good. Not amazing, but good.
Growing up in Louisiana I've had plenty of po'boys, and this one was certainly in the upper echelon. The roast beef itself was flavorful, and I enjoyed the bread, but it wasn't revelatory -- but that's the point, isn't it? It's a sandwich. A good one, but a sandwich nonetheless.
I write this not to discourage people from trying it, but to temper expectations, given how frequently Parkway is lauded on this board and elsewhere.
Would I get it again? Eh, maybe if I lived in New Orleans and I didn't have to wait awhile. But I have a sneaking suspicion that there are other places in the surrounding environs that have just as good, if not better, versions available.
We left and headed down to Central Grocery, luckily finding a parking spot right in front. Thankfully here we had (apparently) just missed the lunch rush, as the line was not even out the door. My wife went and found us a couple of seats in the back while I went up and ordered a half. As I've read elsewhere on this board, the counterman did seem a bit brusque (read: he never said a word), but having to take the same order over and over, day after day, I can see that.
Anyway, I took the wrapped half of a muffaletta over to my wife and we sat down and dove in.
Ummmm, what? Did I miss something? Isn't this supposed to be the pinnacle, the Platonic Form of a muffaletta?
Perhaps it was an off day, but this was mediocre at best. The bread/filling ratio was WAY too skewed toward the bread ("where's the [meat]?"), the olive salad was scant, and the cold cuts themselves were yawn inducing. It was overly salty, and I feel like I've had better versions, well, just about everywhere else I've had one.
Talk to me ... help me see the light. Was it a bad day? Is there some secret code-word I need to throw down to get the good stuff? Did I go at the wrong time? Please, help! Because if not, this was an entirely pedestrian muffaletta, and though I might not make friends saying it, this CANNOT be the best one in the city, much less the state, much less the world.
Sigh ... maybe I just don't "get it".