If you live in New Orleans, your favorite place to eat probably isn’t an extravagant, white-tablecloth establishment. It is far more likely to be a more inconspicuous, “hole in the wall” spot serving food one could only find here in New Orleans. No restaurant embodies this reality more than Adams Street Grocery & Deli (I can’t hyperlink it for you readers because with it being a “hold in the wall,” it embodies that status and doesn’t have a website). It’s situated Uptown (as the name suggests) on Adams Street, between Plum and Willow, in a largely residential part of town. The restaurant’s facade is unassuming, to say the least, but the food here is genuinely some of the best in the city.
As you walk in, Adams Street appears to be nothing more than a local convenience store, but as you head towards the back, a somewhat hidden kitchen emerges. There is nothing that says New Orleans quite like a po-boy, and Adams Street offers sandwiches that can compete with the city’s most well-known locations. While the menu does have options other than po-boys, it is their twenty-five-plus po-boy selection that makes the deli stand out. Standing at the counter, the sheer number of po-boy possibilities can be overwhelming, but after three years of patronage, I can recommend what I think are the three best.
The classic fried shrimp po-boy is just as good (if not better) than the ones you would find at more well-known places like Domilise’s or Mahoney’s. However, it is Adam Street’s less traditional po-boys that make it worth the trip. Adams Street Grocery & Deli offers a fried chicken po-boy full of crispy chunks of perfectly fried chicken breast. It is the po-boy I recommend to Adams Street first-timers. Another personal favorite of mine is the BBQ roast beef po-boy. While many New Orleans po-boy spots offer dry roast beef po-boys or add gravy, Adams street tosses their roast beef in a generous helping of tangy barbeque sauce. One thing to note about Adams Street: “dressed” here means lettuce, tomato, and mayo, so I recommend adding hot sauce and pickles to any of their po-boys.
If great, unknown po-boys were not enough, Adams Street’s prices might be their most unbelievable aspect. The full-sized fried shrimp po-boy costs an astonishing $9.99. Po-boys at comparable quality at more famous restaurants in New Orleans could easily cost $15.00 to $20.00. How some of the best po-boys in New Orleans at such competitive prices has remained a secret for so long, I am not sure. To support Adams Street Grocery & Deli, stop by 1309 Adams Street, Monday through Friday: 10:30 to 4:30 and Saturdays: 11:00 to 3:30.
While a reality such as Adams Street Grocery & Deli may be more common in New Orleans, many of the most memorable meals of my life have come from similar low-profile establishments. And during the Covid-19 pandemic, small restaurants like Adams Street Grocery & Deli have been hit particularly hard. In 2020 alone, more than 110,000 eating and drinking establishments closed; and the ramifications of the pandemic on the restaurant industry will be felt for years to come. Apart from visiting your local restaurants, there are many ways to help impacted restaurants here in New Orleans.