2510 Tulane Ave., New Orleans, 504-821-4110
There's a great deal of activity cooking along Tulane Avenue these days as huge new hospitals take shape. There's also some impressive new food cooking too, and this humble-looking storefront is one new place to find it. Opened in 2012, Avery's has quickly risen to my shortlist for great po-boys.
Avery's fits right in along Tulane, which is to say it doesn't look like much from the street. The security bars give a forbidding impression. You forget all that inside though. The warm welcome, the homey art and the mix of coat-and-tie courthouse professionals and foodies in the know give it a comfortable feel.
Every part of this restaurant screams 'family-run,' in a good way, and that's especially true for the service. You order at the counter but you always feel like you're in the hands of people who care about your experience, who want you to come back and who hope you'll bring friends. That makes a big difference.
Most people will dive right in for the po-boys but Avery's has a few other items that are worth a try. The gumbo is dark, full flavored and liberally stocked with smoky, spicy, tight-skinned andouille and long strands of what must be hand-pulled chicken. Then there's the fried potato salad. It's a chunky potato salad molded into a ball and coated with panko to form a fried shell. If you have company at lunch, order the oysters Rockefeller dip, which you spoon over toasted French bread. Honey butter biscuits are large, sticky and more rich than flat-out sweet, and they're better suited for a late breakfast than a lunch.
If you judge a po-boy joint first by its roast beef you shouldn't be disappointed at Avery's. It's of the long-simmered, falling-to-bits variety with ropey strands of gravy-soaked beef held together by the stout loaf. The distinct specialties of this kitchen are a bit offbeat however. Number one is the Buffalo shrimp, in which a good number of shrimp are fried and coated in a thick, red, tangy-spicy sauce and joined by a chunky blue cheese dressing. It's not your everyday po-boy, but it is fantastic. The oyster Rockefeller dip mentioned above is reworked into a po-boy, here layered over fried oysters on a toast loaf. It's another excellent and unusual po-boy. The fried seafood tends toward a softer, puffier batter, and the burger is hand-formed. There are plate lunches and daily specials, but I am always ordering a po-boy here. Classic or modern, Avery's does them right.
The honey biscuits could easily double as dessert, though the more proper choice is the bread pudding, a commendably old school version in bourbon sauce with a streak of chocolate running through it.
This doesn't seem like the sort of place to look for much beyond soda and iced tea, but there's a more-or-less full bar.
Avery's pricing is in line with your normal po-boy joint, and given the high quality it seems like a bargain.
People with a taste for traditional po-boys almost certainly have their old-reliable go-to's and neighborhood favorites already in place. Avery's makes a very convincing argument for revisiting your pecking order, however, and making room for a new addition. A family-run spot, it mixes faithful renditions of the classics with some new twists and works an impressive degree of quality and consistency across them all. As many times as you drive down Tulane Avenue, Avery's deserves a stop.