Billy Jacks Po' Boys
Billy Jacks Po'Boys is home to what is likely the largest selection of po'boy sandwiches in Toronto. The casual 46-seat restaurant can be found on Bloor West near Islington, and while the place doesn't evoke much of a N'awlins vibe, it's got a cozy, pub-like atmosphere.
The menu has expanded since its debut three years ago to include an array of regional specialties from the Southern states. Proprietor Billy Jack is an industry veteran who's crafted a menu inspired by travels through Louisiana and around the Gulf coast.
The lunch menu is priced under $10 across the board and offers impressive variety, including gumbo with rice ($6.95), pulled pork chili ($5.95) and over a dozen different po' boy sandwiches ($9.95) loaded with toppings like fried oysters and bacon, andouille sausage, fried green tomatoes, and even poutine.
The dinner menu opens with starters like crawdaddies ($9.95), a shareable dish featuring steamy spiced crawfish that are best eaten by tearing their heads off and sucking out all the natural juices.
There's a traditional jambalaya ($14.95), with a medley of chicken, andouille sausage and shrimp over flavourful fried rice and garlic bread on the side.
Chicken fried chicken ($13.95) here is next-level, crusted in cornmeal so that once fried, the exterior is crispy and uniformly gold, while the inside is tender and moist.
It's served piled over a mountain of creamy garlic mashed potatoes, and the whole plate is doused in peppery white buttermilk gravy. Inquire about the same chicken and gravy over waffles too (as seen in the top photo) - it's not listed on the regular menu but worthwhile when on special.
The selection of draught beers changes frequently, though a couple taps are dedicated to Flying Monkeys brews. Pints sell for $5.75 while wines by the glass start at $6.95.
Billy Jack's isn't fancy, but it's got heart. Expect massive, hunger-crushing portions and pragmatic, unfussy presentations.
Photos by Jesse Milns