NOLA's Mother's Restaurant Is Famous For Its Roast Beef Po' Boy

New Orleans may be the birthplace of jazz, but when foodies think about the city, it's all about the po' boy. NOLA is the number one place that foodies would visit just for the cuisine, according to a Tasting Table exclusive survey, and in between the Sazerac at a historical bar and the beignet for dessert, there's a good chance that a po' boy is what's on the menu.

A typical po' boy sandwich is a crunchy baguette overstuffed with mayo, shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, and pickle chips. The main filling ranges from shrimp to catfish or even fried oysters, but it's usually some type of seafood... usually. At Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans, the famous Ferdi Special is a double meat po' boy, neither meat of which is seafood.

To local NOLA foodies, where exactly to find the "best" po' boy is a deeply personal and highly disputed matter. The iconic sandwich is served all across the city (even in the gas stations), and at eateries around the country from Heavy Woods bar in Bushwick to POBOYZ in Portland. So, what makes the po' boy at Mother's Restaurant so special? 

The joint serves breakfast all day, but fans are flocking for the unconventional Ferdi Special ($13.50). The loaded sandwich marries roast beef and savory gravy (aka "debris"), baked ham, shredded cabbage, pickles, mayo, Creole sauce, and yellow mustard all on a French baguette. It even made our 20 best roast beef sandwiches in the U.S. list.

Beauty is in the eye of the beef-holder

Mother's avant-garde po' boy was named after a regular patron and local merchant who inspired the sandwich by asking for some baked ham on his roast beef po' boy. (The restaurant's website refers to him simply as "Mr. Ferdi.") Indeed, this timeless sandwich has a larger history of its own for NOLA foodies. Folks have been enjoying it since the 1920s, when Louisiana workers famously struck against the railroad company and their trademark sandwich gave them an iconic yet solemn nod with the name "poor boys."

The cafeteria-style joint has served the NOLA community ("longshoremen and laborers, newspapermen and attorneys," as the website puts it) since 1938. Today, Mother's is also serving up a classic shrimp po' boy along with other NOLA classics like crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, red beans and rice, seafood gumbo (which was featured at Jazzfest), and the "Ralph" — a Ferdi plus cheese.

For foodies hungry to try a taste of authentic New Orleans cuisine for themselves (or, to try a unique spin on a classic sando), Mother's Restaurant is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.