Each day a line snakes out of the side door of Mother's. It stretches halfway down the block oftentimes blocking the entrance to a parking lot. Conventioneers line up outside, their necks weighted down by lanyards festooned with name tags like some sort of corporate Mardi Gras bead. Once inside another line begins anew, taking you through the restaurant its walls lined with photos of whats her faces and has beens. The line is daunting, a commitment one may not want to undertake within the space-time continuum of a workday.
But go early enough and there is no line. The tourists have not yet finished their Haunted History tour and the salesman from Dubuque are still learning about the opportunity profit of the new SLA-1089 floor sweeper. Yesterday, I zipped in with Betty Crocker before the maddening crowds. In no time, we had ordered and were seated. After a few moments of catching up, out came two po boys, one loaded with grilled shrimp, the other the world famous, by Mother's own admission, Ferdi Special. Along for the ride was a cup of well- seasoned gumbo chunky with sausage and chicken and thickened with file.
The Ferdi combines ham and roast beef, debris, gravy, and dresses it for success. The bottom half of the bread sits in a shallow pool of jus providing a contrast to the crusty top half. The thickly sliced ham and distressed roast beef are united by the pickle and sharp mustard. Cabbage, in lieu of lettuce, is used to provide textural crunch, reminding us all that cabbage should be put on more po boys. Despite all of its fame, notoriety, lines, and television appearances, the Ferdi Special remains a damn fine po boy.
I expected not to like Mother's. It has gotten a rap, deservedly or not, from locals as a place to shy away from. We whisper to our visiting friends, "Listen avoid Mother's for a real po boy, go to _____." But if I was staying in the Hotel Zone and happened to grab lunch at Mother's, I would be fairly impressed with my meal. Maybe that is why there is always a line.
Mother's: Is It Worth It? Yes.
401 Poydras St.