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Monday, February 28, 2011

Mardi Gras Smackdown: Oyster Po'Boy from Tasty's vs. Queen's

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Tasty's fried oyster po'boy: What's up with the lemons? - JESSE HIRSCH
  • Jesse Hirsch
  • Tasty's fried oyster po'boy: What's up with the lemons?

Since Mardi Gras is in the air (it arrives next Tuesday, Mar. 8), SFoodie has been hankering for a proper oyster po'boy, the kind we scarfed on a four-day eating binge in New Orleans a few years back. It's a rare species in San Francisco, beyond a trio of three places. There's a good version at Yats at the Boardroom in North Beach, but it has limited hours, and closes entirely around Fat Tuesday, when owner Yon Davis makes a yearly pilgrimage back to New Orleans. The other two, Tasty's Creole Cajun Kitchen at Jack's Bar and Queen's Louisiana Po-Boy Café, both fry up oyster po'boys for lunch and dinner (Queen's is closed on Sundays). Which place serves up the better version, S.F.'s roi de po'boy? SFoodie recently embarked on a cross-town tour to find out.

First stop Tasty's, where a $2 surcharge was added for a pistolette (French roll) from Gambino's Bakery in New Orleans. It was money well spent: The exterior provided a tiny crackle before giving way to a spongy inside that masterfully sopped up mayonnaise and oyster juices. We counted a half-dozen oysters lined up over a bed of shredded lettuce and out-of-season tomato slices ― too bad they were soupy, over-breaded, and had spent a few seconds too long in the deep fryer, yielding a crunch more appropriate to fried chicken. The taste was more oil than oyster, though a few squirts of lemon helped. Still, it was all very un-bayoulike, including the option (declined) of wasabi mayo.

Queen's oyster po'boy deserves its own Mardi Gras float, or at least some trophy beads. - JESSE HIRSCH
  • Jesse Hirsch
  • Queen's oyster po'boy deserves its own Mardi Gras float, or at least some trophy beads.

Queen's po'boy was dressed pretty much like Tasty's, but with the addition of pickle slices and ― surprise! ― there was no surcharge for the exact same imported Bambino roll. No lemon either. The main difference, though? Queen's half-dozen oysters were pristine, firm, expertly fried, and according to SFoodie's Jesse Hirsch, tasted of the sea. They made a good sandwich great. One bite conjured flashbacks to New Orleans and the game-changing lunches at Parkway Bakery and Liuzza's by the Track.

The winner: Queen's for flavor alone. Factor in cost (Tasty's po'boy was $15.50 a la carte. Queen's was $13.99 including a heap of fries and a small cup of mayonnaise-y coleslaw), and Queen's ran away with it. Don't get us wrong: Tasty's was, well, tasty, but Queen's reigns as San Francisco's king of Mardi Gras.

Tasty's Cajun Creole Kitchen: Inside Jack's Club, 2545 24th St. (at Utah), 641-5371.

Queen's Louisiana Po-Boy Cafe: 3030 San Bruno (at Paul), 656-0711.

Follow Alex Hochman at @urbanstomach. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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Alex Hochman

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