This is the first of a series of descriptions of “only in New Orleans” experiences. This is what we do when the wives and kids are out of town, and we have the whole world to ourselves. If you haven’t experienced it, take our words for it and then come back and tell us how it went.
The bartender at Parkway Bakery, Mike, is ornery as a wasp on this particular Saturday afternoon. It is crowded as shit, and the line outside reaches almost to the parking lot at the other end of the block. The bar is slammed too, but there’s a bar table on the side, and a satisfied couple gets up to leave. You better be quick, I know.
Parkway Bakery‘s bar is the perfect place to get away by yourself or with a few friends when you have time on your side. It’s loud and crowded, and you have to be stealthy and timely to secure your spot on the magic carpet – the bar stools in the corner by the stairs are the A-1. But once you’ve taken your perch, the world is now at your hands. You can now laugh at the tourists standing in the block-long line outside or lurching over your shoulders in hopes that what they are getting a whiff of can be ordered standing shoulder-to-shoulder as if they were in the international terminal at LAX.
We manage to secure the two-top with only slight pushing and shoving and aggressive boxing-out that would normally be considered rude behavior. It’s worth it. Once you settle into that seat, the world around you calms down, and you can relax your breathing while the other poor souls still standing glare at anyone who looks like they might be near done.
First things first. Beer. Parkway has the usual domestics and imports plus a couple of specialty beers including the Beer of the Month. There’s a full bar in addition, and hand’s down the most popular drink this day is the excellent Bloody Mary. There apparently is a waitress somewhere, but it looks like she won’t be around our table anytime soon so I walk over to the bar. I order a Stella, my buddy gets a Bloody. Bartender Mike is NOLA’s version of the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld, you better order quickly and decisively or “no soup for you”.
We don’t have to move again if we so choose. I’m hungry but not about to eat my hand. The beer is cold and wonderful. I’m in Heaven.
Big decisions await though. I knew my order before I walked in the door, it’s always the same. My buddy makes the mistake of not following my lead and goes with the Shrimp Po Boy. I’m sure it’s great, but I’m here for a creation another friend turned me on to a few years ago.
Alligator sausage po-boy with red gravy and pepper jack cheese. We call it the Jimmy in homage to its creator. It is a thing of beauty, one of my favorite meals of all time. Alligator sausage links covered with a delicious marinara sauce on the best po boy bread you will find. Drenched but not too sloppy. And held together by perfectly melted pepper jack cheese. You could sub in the hot sausage links if you wanted to spice it up more, but be prepared to sweat.
There are certain restaurants where I think I miss out on the full setlist of options because I fall in love with one thing on the menu. This is one of those restaurants. Parkway’s seafood po-boys are excellent, and the Surf and Turf is a favorite for many. Same for the meatball sub and the corned beef reuben on French bread. But next time you have a chance, go sit in the bar and order a cold one and a Jimmy sandwich (they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about if you call it that btw). It’ll change your life.