Debris Po Boys and Drinks
276 Dauphin St. – Mobile, AL
I have a deep love for sandwiches. I try to not eat as many as I’d like, but the right sandwich can stand in for the finest of fine dining when the urge hits me.
In case you have not heard me gush in a while, I’ll praise a few of my tops. The Ralph (Ferdie Special with cheese) from Mother’s in NOLA, the Central Grocery Muffuletta just a short walk from there, locally the Clipper from Heroes, the shrimp po boy from Daphne’s Market by the Bay, and the Italian Job from any of the Mediterranean Sandwich Company locations are highly important to me. I’m also always on a quest for the perfect Reuben or Cuban, and I hope I never find them, but the Callaghan’s pressed Cuban comes close.
Naturally, I was on cloud nine when Debris Po Boys & Drinks opened this past year. Another restaurant dedicated to sandwiches? Yes, please. This is no ordinary sandwich shop, though. Located in the former Boo Radley’s, the ghost of Boo himself keeps the classy, super long bar well-stocked. The other thing that separates this from your average deli are the incredible sides, which we will get to in a minute.
I knew I couldn’t review this place alone. What good is one sandwich and some chips going to do any of us? I twisted the arm of one Franklin Trice for a lunch date offset by the addition of my wife. We ordered enough to raise the eyebrows of our server at the bar, Victor.
You don’t really have an appetizer section of the menu here, so we created one. The three of us were dying to try the Crawfish Pistolette ($11.99). Take a hollowed out 6-inch po-boy loaf and fill it with a healthy scoop of crawfish in a Cajun roux, not unlike étouffée. There is zero chance you’ll be getting away from this without some of it on your work clothes, so don’t wear white. We cut it into shareable sizes and fingerpicked at it, not being bashful.
I ordered a cup of Seafood Gumbo ($6.99), something I’d had twice before. Frank ordered three spoons. Fortunately, my lunch dates spared me the lion’s share of the cup. Today’s gumbo was better than the last, and I really liked the last. There is a good amount of shrimp in this dark roux, and more gumbo than rice.
Katie had the daily special, which on this day was the Italian Sandwich ($11.99). There was some really good capicola, salami and other meats, thick, with plenty of veggies and provolone cheese. The most important part of this sandwich was the oil and vinegar. All of the sandwiches come with Zapp’s, but Katie was also treated to a shareable helping of fried okra ($3.50). Good crunchy breading, not doughy, some of the best in the city.
Frank was conservative in his order of the Meatball ($11.99). It was a good call. I was treated to one little sliver, and was impressed. The gooey cheese, the pomodoro sauce and the bread were second only to a well-flavored meatball. There was also a hint of basil, which really makes a meatball pop. He also ordered a side of dirty rice ($4.50). How dirty was it? Frank will have to tell you, but I snuck a spoonful and loved the chicken liver flavor.
I have had a decent section of this menu before, enjoying pretty much everything, but the Soft Shell Crab Po-Boy ($12.99) was a new one on me. First, let me say I was so full at this point I couldn’t really enjoy the bread, but I loved dipping the crab into the creole mayonnaise. Lettuce and tomato was to be eaten with a fork today, and I was fine with my plate being a mess. The pickles were what made this one shine even brighter. I was happy to share my collard greens ($3.50), which I am glad to report were smoky, not sweet.
You’re crazy if you think we had dessert, but they offer traditional New Orleans bread pudding and ice cream sandwiches featuring Cammie’s Old Dutch Ice Cream. Even the chips are now office snacks. While we behaved with Diet Cokes and unsweetened iced teas, the bar was mixing cocktails left and right. A tray of shots walked right past us towards the outdoor picnic table where a handful of ladies (I’d guess hurricane refugees) were having a better lunch than we were!
I think this was my fourth lunch visit to Debris, and it was certainly my best. All four sandwiches were perfect. In our past, we’ve also had the Oysters Rockefeller, fried but with a parmesan spinach sauce, the TED (Thanksgiving Every Day) with turkey, cornbread dressing and cranberry sauce, and the classier than classic Dagwood with debris, Cochon, turkey and provolone, dressed.
Someone needs to try the boudin balls and let me know if they are any good.
Everything here starts with good bread shipped in from New Orleans, and this past week had the staff shaking in their boots. Their muffuletta is on real muffuletta bread, not some French bread imitation. These guys are pretty particular, and it pays off with the finished product.
The only, and I mean the only thing I’ve had at this establishment that really didn’t crank my tractor was the maque choux. I may be being a little harsh, but I need a little heavy cream in mine. Perhaps theirs is just a different style. Not that it’s bad, just that it isn’t a standout with that beautiful okra and meaty collards.
It’s enough of a nod to our sister city in Louisiana, but housed in a familiar haunt in which many of us have whet our whistles to excess for decades, it keeps the stamp of the Azalea City prominently branded whether you see it or not.
Sandwich lovers will appreciate this one.
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