Gravy Train

Fill up at New Orleans PoBoy Shop

Most of the best local po'boys hold plump, cornmeal-crusted oysters or gulf shrimp.

So we were surprised to discover that the standout sandwich ($8.50) at Dupont Circle's weeks-old New Orleans PoBoy Shop is not filled with seafood, but thick slices of roast beef.

Opened by a chef who cooked at several top New Orleans restaurants before migrating north, the café takes its sandwiches seriously. Bread from Gambino's, a bakery just outside New Orleans, arrives par-baked for the kitchen to finish cooking in-house. The kitchen prefers this method for ensuring the most crisp and flaky texture.

It works. The bread stays strong even under the ultimate test: roast beef. To create the hulking sandwich, the kitchen layers thick slices of juicy rare meat along with lettuce, tomatoes, Swiss cheese and mayonnaise, then covers the lot in "debris," a dense, salty gravy that could convert even the staunchest cheese-sauce lovers to the meatier side.

Finish it with a few shakes of hot sauce, which the crew brings up from Louisiana.

It's a combination good enough to change any old habits.

New Orleans PoBoy Shop, 1205 19th St. NW (at M St.); 202-621-8118 or dcpoboyshop.com