Once again, I go to b4-u-eat.com for a recommendation on a restaurant in near northwest Houston. I find a lot of people talking about the shrimp po-boy at a little food stand on W. 19th east of Shepherd called Jazzie's Cafe.
There are two good reasons why people are so proud of finding this spot. First, Jazzie's has Houston's best shrimp po-boy. It has long amazed me that no restaurant in Houston could replicate the unique flavor of a shrimp or oyster po-boy from New Orleans. Some cajun restaurants, like New Orleans Po-Boy, don't get the bread right. Others, like Rajin' Cajun, don't get the filling right. Still others cajun restaurants, like Treebeards, don't even bother with trying.
But Jazzie's pulls it off. Their shrimp po-boy comes on fresh french bread. It is perfectly dressed -- just the right amount of mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes. It also includes a huge quantity of perfectly fried shrimp. The readers on b4-u-eat all gush:
-"VERY GOOD shrimp po-boy"
-"their po-boys are excellent"
-"This place has an awesome shrimp po-boy ... nearly a foot long on a fresh soft baguette, properly dressed ... I could only eat half of it. On the half I didn't eat, I counted 22 good-sized shrimp. The thing was stuffed! It was easily the best shrimp po-boy I've found in Houston."
This time, I agree with their 4-sentence reviews. Jazzie's sells a great shrimp po-boy. It tastes more like New Orleans than any other po-boy in Houston.
But there is a second reason why the b4-u-eat reviewers and I love Jazzie's. Part of the joy -- and part of the reason we want to tell others about it -- is our surprise and pride in the journey we took to find such a perfect food in such an unexpected place. To get to Jazzie's, you have to drive down an ugly side street in a dull part of town to find a dingy little stand that doesn't look like it could possibly be any good. And when you find it is good, you know it must be authentic. This joy of discovery is why so many Inner Loopers love joints like Lankford Grocery and Market and Christian's Tailgate -- dirty looking shacks that sell sandwiches so good that they could only be made with some authentic, primitive magic, unknown to our civilized, urban world.