Two newish places have popped up on the eastern side of Broadway and I thought both deserved a little notice. The first is Original Poboys at the flat-ironish corner of Broadway and Alhambra. The place is so well-branded that I at first took it for a chain, but upon my questioning of the owner I found it to be an independent establishment. Specifically, the conversation went like this:
ME: Is this place part of a chain?
OWNER: Not yet.
So, apparently the owner is a go-getter type with Carl Karcher-esqueÂ vision, which could work as he has some pretty good ideas. First, PoboysÂ is a small, clean establishment, offering the expected bayou fare, from poboyÂ sandwiches to jambalaya ,bignets to fried oysters. The departure from the expected is the breakfast menu which features an all-you-can-eat cereal bar (not clear if milk is all-you-can-drink as well). I can just picture teenagers on their way to school devouring a pound and a half of fruit loops without batting an eye. Iâ€™m thinking that might be a tough sell to franchisees.
Okay, food. I had a catfish poboyÂ which was just short of amazing. Perfect cornmeal crust on the fish, tasty French bread, plenty of fixins, and quite a belly full for less than $10. Iâ€™m assuming that the fried oyster, fried scallop, roast beef, etc poboys are also pretty damned tasty. The jambalaya I opted for as a side was less than thrilling. A bit dry and overly salty, it wasnâ€™t a standout of Creole fare.
The food wonâ€™t hold this establishment back. They seem to have a pretty good handle on the basics.Â What will hold them back, however, is order flow. The service was lovely in a friendly-order-at-the-counterÂ kind of way, but the wait for my food after ordering was on a geological timescale. Poboys presents itself as fast food, or at least short-order, but the food was not fast, the wait not short. The wait was glacial, and I canâ€™t even attribute this to the prep of the jambalaya, which wasÂ pre-made and served in a Styrofoam cup. I can only attribute this food-abuster (see itâ€™s “filibuster” and “food “in one word, meaning â€œstalling the presentation of sustenanceâ€) to the fact that there was only one man in the kitchen, and his ability to sling hash at a roadside diner/short-order clip is a bit lacking.
I want to go back to this place, a lot, and sup full of fried fish and fixinâ€™s but itâ€™ll be a challenge during a 60-minute lunch hour to accommodate the chelonian pace.
The second joint worth your time is T & R Taste of Texas Barbeque. Located on the 3600 block of Broadway, it turns out some pretty tasty smoked treats with an air of relaxed competency sometimes lacking in startup bbq joints. The digs are clean and convivial, not palatial, but just enough so that you donâ€™t feel like youâ€™re eating in a church basement.
The q is quality, nice tooth to the ribs, good smoke flavor, hearty hot links, and pretty darned good potato salad. The pulled pork was a bit on the fatty side, and the sauce a bit meek, which is a shame as the whole plate was smothered in the stuff. I asked for a side of hot sauce and was wonderfully surprised to find it spicy like Charo and flavorful like Carmen Miranda (or at least her hat). Itâ€™s a much better sauce than the standard and not really all that spicy. Iâ€™d recommend, much like Roma Wines, to ask for it by name when you order your ribs and salad.
Oh, and did I mention the prices are ridiculously low? Well, they are. Stupid low. Like would still be worth it if the food was half as good low. Like Matiâ€™s used to be. Remember that? I do. What happened to Matiâ€™s? Well, maybe thatâ€™s another post. In the meantime, Oak Park is where itâ€™s at when searching for good grub at a good price.