Mason Jar Magazine

Buy local. Eat local. Play local in southern, middle Tennessee

Restaurant Review: Po Boy Factory in Hunstville

Huntsville, Ala. – Nestled in Huntsville’s trendy Five Points area, just a stone’s throw from the historic downtown district, the Po Boy Factory’s yellow, two story building looks like something you’d find nestled along Bourbon Street. One glance at the balcony’s black wrought-iron railing and you can just imagine jovial revelers throwing beads down to an eager Mardi Gras crowd.

Inside the restaurant, nearly every available surface is draped in Mardi Gras garb – beads, fleur-de-lis, masks, and posters all in a swath of green, purple, and gold. Scattered among the Big Easy memorabilia are nods to the SEC’s many teams. There are enough references to both LSU and Alabama to figure someone in this restaurant family has got a healthy rivalry.

During our visit, we were immediately greeted by one half of the husband/wife duo that owns the restaurant, Marie and Donnie Thigpen. Marie hales from New Orleans. Donnie grew up in Mississippi. Together, they developed a love of all things Cajun.

Marie gives us a toothy smile and seems genuinely excited to hear that this is our first visit.

“Show me where you are sitting so I can come by and say hi,” she says as the hostess shows us to our table.

Our waitress, Courtney, immediately greets us and then returns just as quickly with our drinks – unsweet tea for me and a Budweiser for my dining partner.

“Well, the beer is certainly cold and that’s a good thing,” he jokes.

After giving us the low down on her favorite dishes, Courtney takes our appetizer order. We decide on the shrimp and crab dip with toasted French bread ($9.99). The dip is a thick crab gravy with small Gulf shrimp spooned in. The toasted French bread is as good as any I’ve ever eaten in the Big Easy … crisp, flaky, and buttered to perfection.

For entrées, my partner chooses the shrimp po-boy ($9.99) while I land on one of Courtney’s recommendations, the crab cake dinner ($13.99) served with pan seared shrimp, spicy boiled potatoes and coleslaw.

The wait for our food was slightly above average but totally reasonable considering the crowd. All 21 tables in the restaurant were filled and there was a line forming out the door. Courtney seemed aware of the delay and checked in often to see if we needed anything.

The service at the Po Boy Factory feels laid back yet on task. The staff seems to genuinely enjoy their job and the people they are serving, and it shows. It reminded me of the easy-going Louisiana hospitality I enjoyed often while living in New Orleans.

The main courses arrived in pieces but cooked to perfection. My partner’s shrimp po-boy doesn’t disappoint. The French bread continues to thrill, and the Gulf shrimp are fried to perfection.

“These were taken out at just the right moment,” he says. “Someone back there knows what they’re doing.”

My crab cake rocks as well. They’re crisp on the outside and moist on the inside with very little filler. Surprisingly, one of my favorite parts of my meal were the spicy, boiled potatoes. They were moist, plump, and had just enough kick to keep things interesting. They tasted like a crawfish boil minus the crawfish.

About five minutes into the meal, Courtney pops by with a squeeze bottle filled with a pink, creamy sauce.

“I almost forgot the Hot Damn,” she says. “It’s good on everything.”

Boy, was she right. Somewhere between a tartar sauce and remoulade, we tried it on the po boy, the crab cakes, the potatoes, and the fries.

“I’m totally asking for this first the next time we come,” my dining partner jokes.

According to Marie, the recipe for their signature Hot Damn Sauce came from a customer who was having a rough day. She wandered into the restaurant and Marie – ever the soft heart – gave her a shoulder to cry on. In return, the woman with Louisiana ties shared her family’s recipe for seafood sauce. Marie tweaked it and made it her own and a legend was born.

“I wish I could tell you what’s in it, but I can’t,” she teases.

Despite our best efforts to save room for the homemade bread pudding with whiskey sauce ($3.99), it just wasn’t happening. No worries though because we’ll be back.

New Orleans may be 463 miles away but if you’re hankering for New Orleans-style seafood the Po Boy Factory is the next best thing.

If you go: They are located at 815 Andrew Jackson Way and open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit their Facebook page or go to www.poboyfactory.com. •

Written by: Tabitha D. Moore, Mason Jar Magazine, Editor

{Mason Jar Magazine covers food, dining, arts, culture, events, attractions, music, books, film, and recreation in a cluster of 18 small towns in southern, middle Tennessee including Bell Buckle, Belvidere, Cowan, Decherd, Estill Springs, Fayetteville, Huntland, Kelso, Lynchburg, Manchester, Monteagle, Mulberry, Normandy, Tullahoma, Sewanee, Shelbyville, Wartrace, and Winchester plus the best of what’s happening in Huntsville, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, and Nashville.}

 

 

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This entry was posted on October 30, 2017 by in Food & Drink, Restaurant Review and tagged , , .
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