Larry the butcher is feeling reflective.
After 40 years in the business he’s happy to talk to a stranger about beef, sourcing and the nature of fast food restaurant’s claims on the virtues of cheap meat.
Tucked away off to the side of Jeanfreau’s Meat Market in St Bernard Parish, Joey’s Grill is putting out some of the best blue plate specials in the New Orleans area.
They also make a formidable hamburger po boy. It’s the best version we’ve ever found.
The line is long on a recent visit to the little diner but the gals running the place are moving at breakneck speed. The eaters are almost all men in Dickies and Carhartt work pants, tape measure clipped to their belts.
Ford pickup trucks clog the parking lot.
Our kind of place.
And that po boy. We order it all the way which means mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, onions, pickles and tomatoes. We request bacon although later regret the decision as it’s flabby and inconsequential. The locally grown Creole tomatoes more than make up for it.
Fries are freezer bag so we decline them as a side.
15 minutes pass by and the glory makes its way to the table. It’s a good foot-long hunk of a meal, chopped in half for easier eating.
Three big beef patties crest the loaf. Slightly over-cooked but no matter, the rich, good beef is magnitudes better than what is commonly found hereabouts. It’s so good we make our way to the meat market and strike up a conversation with head butcher Larry.
He allows that he’s been in the industry for 40 some years but has only worked at Jeanfreau’s “since Katrina” We inquire as to the provenance of the meat, thinking it must come from Louisiana or Texas as the quality is so high. He replies that it’s from the Midwest, maybe Iowa but the real secret lies in the fact that they grind the hamburger multiple times per day to keep up with demand.
The hamburger meat at the market is 80/20 Larry goes on to explain. And it’s not “just chuck” the old meat cutter also throws in a little sirloin as well as trimmings from various other parts of the steer. Talk turns to fast food places and their dollar menus and we both marvel over exactly what might be in their “hamburgers.”
It’s worth a trip to Saint Bernard Parish to experience the hamburger po boy at Joey’s Diner. Just leave off the bacon. https://twitter.com/RLReevesJr
2324 Paris Rd
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