Bar food doesn’t immediately bring to mind gourmet, or even edible, food. Its purpose is utilitarian, whether you’re trying to soak up the booze or prep for a night of heavy drinking. The choices are pretty standard: fries, nachos, any heat and serve product that you can take out of a bag and dump into a deep fryer.
At The Alibi, 811 Iberville in New Orleans, there are mysterious dollar bills pinned to the ceiling. Even at 1 p.m., it smells like Bourbon Street at 3 a.m. It seems like a bar this dive-y would have food only fit for the inebriated but The Alibi is one of those serendipitous vacation finds.
Eating a po boy sandwich is the quintessential New Orleans experience, such as getting beignets at Café Du Monde or getting beads on Bourbon Street. The famously oversized sandwich, which traces its roots to a duo who ran a coffee stand in the early 20th century feeding streetcar strikers (“Here comes another poor boy”), is typically some kind of protein, simply dressed with lettuce, tomato and pickles on French bread. With a sandwich this simple, the ingredients must be of the highest quality, otherwise you might as well go to Subway.
In New Orleans, suggestions for po boys always include Mahony’s on Magazine Street, Mother’s and Johnny’s. Looking for something a little different, we stumbled upon The Alibi.
At this unpretentious spot that caters to service industry types, the ingredients shine. There are several varieties of po boy, from modest choices such as ham and cheese to traditional New Orleans (French fries and gravy on one end to BBQ shrimp on the other side of the spectrum). The shrimp po boy that I had overflowed with piles of light and crispy fried shrimp nestled on soft, chewy and flaky French bread slathered in a Paula Deen-approved amount of butter. The portion is big enough to feed two drunk people so it’s well worth the $10.95 price tag. I had enough for leftovers the next day and the sandwich, even when nuked in the microwave, held up well, retaining its fresh flavors.
My dining companions also had the meat pies (juicy ground meat enveloped in a flaky pastry) and a BLT sandwich boasting thick slices of bacon.
It looks like the type of place where high quality would be the champagne of beers but The Alibi will surprise hungry travelers in search of a good po boy while on vacation in New Orleans.