If a month ago, someone had told me that I would spend a lazy Sunday afternoon devouring the greatest muffalettas I’ve ever eaten, I would have laughed. “You suck at geography,” I would have told this imaginary person. “I’m moving to Maine, not the deep south. It’s literally opposite ends of the country. Go read a book.”
In that imaginary conversation I came across like a bit of a jerk, but that’s only because I know better than most how heartbreakingly difficult it is to find decent Southern food in New England. There’s a real dearth of muffalettas in Boston, and to be honest, I didn’t expect to find po’boys in Portland.
But as usual, when I’m wrong, I’m really wrong.
Po’Boys & Pickles has one of those delightfully descriptive names that makes ordering a cinch. It also has a deceivingly bland exterior, which lead me to expect similar flavors inside, but oh boy, was I wrong again. Me and my dining partner (aka my gluttonous boyfriend) ordered two sandwiches, french fries, a bowl of gumbo, and a few beers. This was, as any reasonable person can probably guess, way too much food. Fortunately, I love leftovers almost more than I love the meal itself. It gives the flavors time to mellow and mesh, you know?
But I digress. For our first meal with Po’Boys & Pickles, we ordered a fried oyster po’boy and a muffaletta. To be more accurate, my companion ordered the muffaletta and I got the po’boy, which was a huge bummer because I immediately experienced the worst food envy of my life. In the name of journalism, I commandeered half of his sandwich. It was awesome. Briny olives and salty meats with just the right amount of melty cheese. The po’boy was excellent, too, but I am a sucker for anything pickled, brined, or otherwise soaked in sodium.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the french fries. The french fries were so good! I love it when a restaurant doesn’t peel their potatoes, and it seemed like these fries had abnormally high amounts of skin. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, these are the french fries Dave Thomas wishes he could have cooked up. Better than Wendy’s might not mean a lot to you, but as an avowed fast food addict, I consider this very high praise.
I didn’t get a chance to try the milkshakes, but according to my Portland native friend, they are insanely good. Since I don’t like to drink my calories (unless it’s alcoholic), I might stick to the surprisingly authentic and awesomely filling New Orleans-style grub.
Po’Boys & Pickles
1124 Forest Avenue Portland, ME 04103