Of course, with po'boys, it's all about the bread. Nobody in Chicago even comes close to the famous Leidenheimer Loaves that are ubiquitous in New Orleans, but Mac and Min's is doing the best they can, and in terms of the savory fillings, their po'boys certainly rise to the top among local competitors.
The po'boy is one of those regional specialties that is hard to duplicate anywhere outside of New Orleans. But at Mac and Min's in the West Loop, the art of the po'boy is replicated with great skill, due in part to the owners' affinity for Crescent City eating.
"Well, we've been going down to New Orleans for years. We're obviously interested in sandwiches. It is the land of a very distinct kind of sandwich," said Mark Biers, owner of Mac and Min's.
In a nod to the legendary Mother's, Biers offers a roast beef version, piled onto sturdy D'amato's bread slathered in rich gravy or "debris." Shrimp is also fried to crispy perfection, piled high on the Italian loaves, and like all of the po'boys here, offered "dressed," which means shredded lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, mayo and hot sauce.
"There is a certain extent where shrimp down there is much more right off the boat. Some of the places actually own their own shrimp boats. I'm aware of one where whatever they catch that day is one the menu that night, that kind of thing," Biers said.
A mildly spicy chaurice sausage - a cousin to the Portuguese chorizo - is another option, as is a muffaletta - stacked with Italian ham, mortadella, capicola and salami, dressed with a spicy olive relish and a slice of provolone - a nod to the famed Central Grocery in the French Quarter. Fried green tomatoes are crisp, light and extremely pleasant when dipped into the housemade remoulade.
Same goes for the commander's palace-inspired parmesan-dill-garlic bread, which arrives with a zippy tomato remoulade for dipping.
"It's fresh-chopped dill. And then it's parmesean melted to the extent parmesan melts, over the top," said Biers.
Mac and Min's also makes red beans and rice, a passable gumbo and a small selection of bread pudding.
Their po'boys come in either small or large sizes.
Mac and Min's
1045 W. Madison St.