We got there right at 11; experience from past years (when we got there as late as 11:30) told us that it gets mobbed early. We left at about 1:45 when we could no longer deal with the crowds and lines--and were happily stuffed.
Started w/ the pork/gouda poboy from Barcelona Tapas. Only 1 size available ($7, I think). Skinny sandwich w/one layer of roast pork and a thin slice of unmelted gouda. Tasty--hey, I loved the mayo/sauce--but kind of a disappointment, such meager filling.
Next was the soft-shell crab po-boy ($9) from Ninja. Wow: the crab was fat, fried perfectly, and sauced w/a fabulous spicy mayo concoction. By far the highlight for us. Had we found any oyster po-boys, we probably wouldn't have opted for the SS crab, so I'm glad we never found oysters. We missed those guys, but I guess it's understandable they weren't available.
We searched in vain for a Vietnamese po-boy, but never saw one. Wonder what's up with that.
My husband wanted jambalaya, so we broke my rule of not getting stuff from places we find ourselves fairly often and shared some of Bad Bart's Black from Crescent Pie and Sausage. Good, but as I feared, took up some po-boy space.
My plan was to hit the Boucherie truck on the way out and get a half of their 12-hour roast beef po-boy ($3) and their otherworldly fries ($3) (OK, I would have been breaking the aforementioned rule again . . .) But when we saw the line, we regrouped. My husband said the wait would be at least an hour, but that just translates to he was full. So we negotiated and he agreed (1) we'd go to Boucherie this week and (2) that he would go and wait in the much shorter Charlie's Seafood line, where he bought a small-size pork debris po-boy ($4, I think), which wasn't that small and, when sauced generously w/Tabasco, was pretty tasty. Pork twice was not in the game plan, but we weren't really complaining.
Not really complaining, but still bummed about not getting my Boucherie RB or a Vietnamese po-boy, I stopped for a Bloody Mary on the way out ($5/single + $1 tip). Single worst Bloody Mary I've had anywhere, ever--and I've had lots of bad ones. Watery from melted ice, it was tomato juice and vodka, no seasoning. I really couldn't believe anyone in New Orleans would have served this drink, and I should have taken it back, but it just didn't seem worth braving the crowds and line.
Ending on that note didn't ruin the experience. I love this festival. We had a delicious lunch and only wish we could have tried more options. I so wish the vendors would offer 2- or 3-inch versions of most of these poboys (seems like they did--or some of them did--the first year), and I can't see why they all couldn't offer at least a half-size portion.
How 'bout y'all? What did you try? How were the crowds as the day wore on? Is the Oak St. venue going to be able to continue to handle the crowds?
8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118