What America Tastes Like

Domilise – The Simple Po Boy Art of Doing One Thing and Doing it Well

Walking the sidewalk of the quiet residential neighborhood that nestles and hides Domilise’s, I glimpsed the simple sign. Finally! But wait. No light or sound came from inside. It looked closed. She wanted to go back to the car. I decided to check the door before a tumbleweed blew past us or something.

Opening the door, light and sound and laughter spilled onto us. I’d opened a portal to cheerful pub-like world of fried sandwiches. The bigger of two bars sits inches behind the door, calling ticket numbers and shuffling po boys to customers one after another. Another tiny bar is tucked in the far corner serving drinks.

This place is so focused on what they do well that locals continue to fill it up even though Anthony Bourdain came here for Season 4 Episode 5 of “No Reservations.”

They fry seafood flawlessly. They stuff a heap of it in a po boy. That’s all you need.

Bun? It’s a French loaf with as much character as Keanu Reeves. Just like Mr. Ted Theodore Logan can add to a film by adding nothing, a nondescript bun can add zen-thing-no-thing to a sandwich. Sometimes all you want is an empty vessel through which a thing substance may flow. This whatever-bread is that vessel. It may have squiggles of lettuce in it too, but who knows.

The oyster po boy showcased the best fried oysters I’ve ever had. Those aren’t usually my favorite, but these had a crackly crust on them and their singular perfection had me plucking the occasional rich mineral-y molluscnugget from the sandwich to enjoy it on its own.

Golden mid-sized shrimp tumbled over the sides of the shrimp po boy, asking, really – for nothing at all. Another shrimp po boy with what seemed almost like a side dish on top – gravy and swiss cheese – confirmed this.

There is a simplicity of purpose that shines through as your po boy passes through an efficient line of cooks to be handed over with pride by the man who calls out your number. If only everyone’s mission statement could be so straightforward. Fry flawlessly. Stuff bun. Take money. Make happy.


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