Home from an eating binge in New Orleans with a hankering for a proper po’boy, my options were few. Sure, our city’s seen a recent wave of bayou-themed menus, but they all read a tad precious. Words like “aioli” and “chipotle” didn’t pop up at Parkway, Liuzza’s or any of the other shabby po’boy temples I visited in New Orleans.
Luckily, Queen’s hasn’t bowed to local propensities. On the tail end of a yet-to-be-gentrified commercial strip near the ’Stick, this shop looks very much the part of a hole in the wall far outside the French Quarter.
The crumby tables are crookedly arranged and topped with half-full bottles of Crystal hot sauce, orders are placed to the no-nonsense owner at the front counter, and silverware and napkins are a do-it-yourself affair. In other words, the place is picture perfect.
A proper po’boy starts with a pistolette, a New Orleans-style French roll in which the ultra-thin crust easily flakes, giving way to a pillow-soft interior. Queen’s imports the rolls from Gambino’s bakery, a southwest Louisiana institution.
Sandwiches are then “dressed” with shredded lettuce, wonderfully out-of-season tomato slices, pickle coins and a healthy dose of mayonnaise.
What to stuff your pistolette with? Opt for the fried oysters, lightly battered and overflowing with briny liquor that tastes of the sea.
Portions are generous with a full po’boy containing at least eight mollusks. When splitting with a friend, the other go-to is the hot sausage, featuring a couple of fiery links shipped in from Patton’s in tiny Bogalusa, La.
Almost as worthy is a fried catfish po’boy loaded up with a moist, fleshy filet. It’s the aristocrat’s Filet-o-Fish sandwich.
Skip the run-of-the-mill fries on the side and instead get a Styrofoam cup of extra creamy coleslaw, the perfect foil for the heat from the sausages or the hint of grease from the fried seafood.
No one-trick pony, Queen’s also serves solid renditions of the Cajun classics. On a recent rainy night, a colossal bowl of smoky, Andouille-studded red beans and rice hit the spot. Of course, the beans themselves are Camellia brand, from Harahan, La.
Three dense, corn-laden hushpuppies made for a perfect snack for the table, especially with a liberal spread of the accompanying honey butter. Another side order of sweet potato fries needed an extra minute or two in the fryer, as they were lukewarm and limp.
An impressive selection of Abita beers is served ice cold and out of the bottle. Along with the more common Amber and Turbodog, Queen’s showcases Andygator, an 8 percent alcohol-by-volume Heller Bock, as well as Strawberry Harvest Lager, one of the rare fruity brews that I thoroughly enjoy no matter the season.
Only an under seasoned jambalaya was a complete miss, its texture so mushy that it brought to mind the Quaker oats I’d eaten earlier for breakfast.
Yet the gumbo was as deep and soulful as the jambalaya was bland. Chock full of shrimp and sausage, this gleaming roux demonstrated a complexity not revealed by the watery varieties being put out by more pedigreed chefs around town.
Shirts dusted with powdered sugar, the result of us scarfing a trio of dense beignets, we left our last meal at Queen’s thankful that the Excelsior district is a whole lot closer than the Faubourg Marigny.
Queen’s Louisiana Po-boy Cafe
Location: 3030 San Bruno Ave. (at Dwight Street), S.F.
Contact: (415) 656-0711, www.queenslapoboys.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays
Price range: $2.49 to $14.99
Recommended dishes: Fried oyster po’boy ($14.99), hot sausage po’boy ($10.49), gumbo ($9.49), red beans and rice ($6.95), hushpuppies ($2.49)
Credit cards: All major