I grab a Big-Shot Cola and sit on a tiny, unbalanced stool at a creaky, white bench which serves as a makeshift table. My t-shirt sticks to me as sweat drips down my back. There's an air conditioning unit at the back of the shop, which is about the size of a tiny studio apartment, but any circulating air does not register even a mere five feet away. I look up at the corrugated metal roof, which adds to the mood but seems to radiate more heat. It's so hot that my glasses steam up, barely balancing on my nose. I grab a bunch of napkins to stay dry. Sticky everywhere.
A tourist family from the Midwest is asking for restaurant recommendations. They want to go to Lombardi's, but as usual, more knowledgeable folks steer them in other directions.
Through the small window on the street, I could be anywhere: New Orleans, Brooklyn, Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It's like a time/space warp. Everything seems to move a little slower, but my sandwich comes out quickly.
The po boy tastes like the sea-- sand and the ocean floor. Briny. I was going to ask for hot sauce, but I took a bite and realized that the perfect amount had already been added. The batter has a slight peppery kick and plenty salt, with a splash of lemon and mayo bringing everything together. I momentarily forget the heat and focused completely on this incredible sandwich before me.
I debate a second sandwich, but the girl sitting next to me steals my thunder when, after wolfing down a po' boy, she orders a chicken biscuit, sparking the counterman's interest as they start to chat. I figure I shouldn't cramp his style and head outside, leaving New Orleans and returning to the Lower East Side sun. City still too hot, I need a cold beer.
35 Orchard Street (btwn Hester and Canal)
Lower East Side, NY