As in New York, gustatory treasures in New Orleans can be found in the most unlikely places. What many people consider to be the best shrimp po' boy in New Orleans can be purchased inside this attractively bright-hued, yet sketchy corner deli that goes by the wonderfully rudimentary name of Rampart Food Store. (It's on N. Rampart Street, on the border between the French Quarter and the Marigny neighborhood.)
The shelves in the Rampart Food Store are not bursting with bounty, leading to the supposition that the joint makes its money from the kitchen to the rear of the store. There are no instructions as how to order. As there are two possible order windows, and nobody is exactly waiting at a register, this is a bit confusing. I finally figured out that you went to the window that was partially blocked by kitchen equipment and did your best to get the attention of one of the Chinese-American workers who prepare all the food.
I was surprised to see I was the only person (among about a half dozen waiting on orders) who had asked for the shrimp po' boy. Most were waiting on fried chicken, making me wonder if it, too, was excellent. And though the shrimp po' boy is the specialty of the house—it's mentioned in every write-up of this place—the dish is not spotlighted, but just jammed in the menu with the rest of the sandwiches.
As you can see, nothing on the menu tops $10. For the price I paid, the mammoth shrimp po' boy I got is among the biggest and best things I've ever had. It took a good ten minute wait to get it—a good sign, as it meant they began preparing the sandwich when I ordered it. Among the secrets to its tastiness are the excellence of the bread, the special sauce they spread on it and, I imagine, the quality of the shrimp and breading mixture, as well as the quantity (about a dozen) of shrimp. Lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes are also part of the formula. I ate the whole thing before getting back to my hotel.