Looking for a place to get authentic and chef inspired New Orléans style po’boys with a charming atmosphere? Look no further than Biloxi’s Southport Line Poor Boys restaurant. Housed in a refurbished historical Creole cottage, Southport Line offers Southern hospitality and fantastic food that will have you coming back for more.
Opened this past October, Curtis Schmitt transformed an 1898 cottage that sat vacant on Howard Ave since Hurricane Katrina, into a restaurant that is quickly becoming known for its amazing po’boys and other delicious fare.
"I wanted to create an old neighborhood bar that you would find in Old Town Biloxi or New Orléans. Somewhere you can just hang out,” Schmitt said of his desire to refurbish the historical property he bought a couple of years ago. "We would always pass by and say, that’s such a great spot.”
After purchasing the building where Biloxi streetcars once passed, Schmitt used his construction background to completely renovate the previously boarded-up building. Once stabilizing the structure, he salvaged colorful wood to create the walls, and then decorated them with photos of trolleys and other symbols of Biloxi’s past. Additional touches such as antique signs they found in the attic, and old bottles brought up from underneath building help give the restaurant its character. The also have a wall showcasing art created by local artists that changes every month.
Named after the historic New Orléans streetcar line that ran on Oak Street in which led to the invention of the po’boy when workers went on strike in 1929, Southport Line offers a menu with both traditional and chef-inspired creations.
"We local-source everything as much as possible, using the freshest ingredients from local vendors.” Schmitt said of getting items such as their French bread from Le Bakery which is just down the road. "We use Gulf Coast produce. We use beef and pork coming from North Mississippi, and catfish farm-raised in Mississippi. Anything I can do local, I do. I was really big on that concept.”
You will want to start with an appetizer or two, with the Pickle Plate and the Meat Board being popular choices. The Pickle Plate comes with house pickles made in a chef’s secret brine to go along with homemade pimento cheese, and a variety of other pickled items. The Meat Board comes with ever-changing house pâté, deviled beef, boudin, and Jezebel sauce. They also recently added a Wing Menu, where they marinate the wings for 24-48 hours in a Pabst Blue Ribbon brine and other herbs & spices.
"We try to make everything in-house. We pickle everything in-house, and our sauces are made in-house. General Manager Brandi Mae Lambert said of the variety of homemade offerings. "We actually make our own mayonnaise and our mustard. It is one of the things that we pride ourselves on.”
Having eaten at Southport Line multiple times, I’ve tried quite a bit of the menu. Their most popular appetizer, Poutine, is a traditional Canadian dish of hand-cut fries, cheese curds, gravy, and a whole grain mustard that is a five-day process to make. Never having had it before trying their version, I’ve come back for it more than once on some of the cold Mississippi days we’ve had this winter.
For those looking for something a little healthier, Southport Line offers House, Cesar, and spinach salads, served with house-made red wine Dijon, anchovy, or port vinaigrettes. They also have vegan and gluten-free offerings, as well as daily soup specials.
The Southport Line menu splits their po’boys into two categories, the traditional "Strikers,” which includes fried shrimp or catfish, roast beef & gravy, ham and cheddar, turkey and swiss, and one of the few things that is outsourced, the fifty percent beef, fifty percent pork Patton’s Hot Sausage direct from New Orléans. The "Conductor” side of the menu features chef inspired gourmet offerings such as the Dill Pickle Brined Chicken Thigh with pimento cheese, tomato, and homemade hot sauce, or the Italian, which comes with ham, capicola, salami, provolone, onion, oregano, and a hot pepper relish. You can’t go wrong with any of them.
"Everybody loves our fried shrimp po’boy. Everybody loves our roast beef. But, we also have so many others that are good that aren’t so traditional,” Lambert said. "Like our meatball po’boy, which is probably my favorite because it's not made with the traditional marinara, it’s made with a red tomato gravy. I mean, how Southern can you can you get?”
On my latest visit, Head Chef Matthew Freydl served up an absolutely fantastic Asian fried chicken Po’boy that I already am feigning to come back for.
"For our Asian Chicken Po’boy, I take ginger, and I pickle it in rice wine vinegar, herbs, and spices,” Freydl said of one of his creations. "We then take chicken tenders and toss them in an in-house wasabi buffalo sauce. Then we add cilantro mayo and a house-made Coleslaw that I put on top for that kind of cabbage bite. It doesn’t wilt down like lettuce, so it gives it that crisp taste.”
Another unique menu item is the Mac-n-cheese, made with really long, thick noodles.
"It’s traditional long macaroni made with bucatini noodles,” Freydl said. "It’s mixed with a Mornay sauce, it’s got some rue, yellow cheddar, herbs, and spices. It’s just one of those things people really like. I’m trying to put us on the map with our macaroni.”
While you are sure to be stuffed by Southport Line’s large portions, try to save room for dessert offerings made by local pastry chef Stephanie Costa of Sweet Enchantments. The Pecan Pie Cheesecake is hugely popular, and the Mississippi Mudslide Cake is sinfully delicious.
Southport Line Poor Boys is open Monday through Thursday, 11am to 10pm, and Friday & Saturday, 11am to Midnight, and now on Sundays as well. Throughout crawfish season they are offering all-you-can-eat with live music playing on the dog friendly patio every Saturday.
Happy Hour at the bar is 3pm to 6pm, with local beers on tap and a new specialty drink menu. They also run Bloody Mary & mimosa drink specials on the weekends.
Southport Line Poor Boys
647 Howard Ave