Thursday, August 17, 2006

Near NW Houston Part 3 - Jazzie's Cafe

Once again, I go to 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.


"Bob" said...

I was disappointed in New Orleans Po-Boy, too. Will have to follow your lead to Jazzies and check it out.

I do get cravings for Jax po-boy on occasion (usually substitute catfish chunks for the on-the-menu option of shrimp or oyster) but it is not at all N.O. style. Good, though, in a jalapeno remoulade, eat with a fork kind of way. Not near-NW by your lights, even if you were inclined to cross over to the south side of 610 (I frequent the Bellaire location).

Anonymous said...

You might like to know the owners of Jazzie have sold and moved back to NOLA. I thought they went way downhill from my earliest visits. They had increasingly shortened the hours and changed the bread they used to a much softer roll, even worse than at the shuttered Original New Orleans PoBoy place on Main. The owner tried to tell me she had shopped all over and paid more for the bread but I stopped going after having it just once. I never got as many shrimp on a poboy as you described. Maybe the new owners, who I understand are also Katrina evacuees, will make some changes. I understand they've already extended the hours.

According the website, Leidenheimer bread from NOLA is available in Houston through Sysco. I wonder why it is so hard to find a poboy in Houston with good bread?

anonymouseater said...

Thanks for the comment. After I wrote this post, I tried to go there a few times, but it was closed. I don't think they had much business because they were on a quiet side street.

Isn't it amazing that New Orleans is one of the closest cities to Houston geographically, but we can't get po boys here that are nearly as good as the po boys you can get almost anywhere in NO?

New Orleans 4 EVER!!!! said...

Jazzie Cafe does have great food. The yakamein, hot sausage, shrimp and oyster po boys are off da hook!!! Only people from NOLA could actually get it right, ya didn't know. So many people from Houston are always complaining about people from NOLA, but you come begging for our food. Bye baby!

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