A recent invitation to Antone's Famous Po'Boys for a media tasting finally forced me out of my "I-only-eat-po'boys-at BB's" rut. The visit turned out to be full of surprises--and I don't just mean the hour I spent in traffic on I-45 on my way back home after a tractor trailer dumped its contents all over the road.
Even though there is a convenient drive-through at Antone's, the restaurant has a bright, fresh atmosphere that is a shame to miss, and I recommend dining in. I was able to taste several starters and a selection of sandwiches. I found the hummus to be very good, but the star of the appetizer show was the tabouleh, with the hearty bulgur matched by a generous amount of lemon juice and fresh herbs--I could not keep my fork away from this salad, and I crushed the leftovers just hours after taking them home.
It won't surprise you to learn that I don't really know all that much about po'boys--since moving to Houston I've only eaten shrimp or shrimp-and-oyster versions, and discovering that there are "traditional" po'boys that feature deli meat on toasted Italian bread was intriguing. Back home we just call 'em "subs." My attention was on the hot shrimp and oyster sandwiches--served on fresh Slow Dough baguette bread--and as a result, the Original Antone's Po'Boy caught me off guard, and knocked me off of my feet.
The Original is ham, salami and provolone with chow-chow, mayo and pickles. After asking them to go light on the mayo, I also asked, "What the hell is chow-chow?" Answer: pickled relish, in case you don't know, either. Holy hell, that stuff is good. Antone's makes their own, and it's available for sale--I could kick myself for not picking some up, but it's a good excuse to go back soon. The Original is the star of the show here: The deli meats are good-quality and plentiful, but they don't load on too much--I actually hate too much meat on a sandwich; it's almost as bad as too little.
As for the other sandwiches? I tried a shrimp and an oyster po'boy: both good, though the oyster had a crunchier breading and I liked it the best of the two, which was another surprise, since I tend to like breaded shrimp more than breaded oysters.
I also gave the hot meatball sandwich a whirl. I don't know anything about your grandma's meatballs, but these definitely weren't my grandma's meatballs-- in all fairness, my grandmother was born and raised in Rome, so she probably possessed a meatball-making advantage. Antone's meatballs are structurally sound--tight, round, and easy to bite into on a sandwich--and the flavor is above-average for a not-my-grandmother's-meatball. Perhaps a bit too much cheese on the bun overwhelmed, but it's hard to complain about extra cheese.
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There are lots of on-the-go, pre-made sandwiches and salads if you're in a hurry, and Antone's has a huge selection of soda, including some cool, niche-brand root beers. This place is already wreaking havoc on my diet, and I love it.