When I decide that I’m going to go to New Orleans Lunch Box I always face a few conundrums:
#1: The first is that this place is located in a gas station on Jordan Lane & Holmes Avenue in Huntsville (GOOGLE MAP LINK). Now I’m no stranger to eating in a gas station. And while I’m not eating $3 worth of roller hot dogs and twice frozen burritos, there’s still the stigma. That being said, the service station is pretty clean and the portion that’s devoted to the restaurant is even cleaner. It’s just a little difficult talking newcomers into having lunch when you tell them it’s in the back of a BP Station.
#2: The second is trying to get past how good their “Dressed” BBQ/pulled pork sandwich is and sampling the rest of the menu. I’m not gonna act like I’m here twice a week. In fact I’ve only eaten here 3 times but I usually like to run a gambit when it comes to trying out a restaurant. This place has Texas style brisket, crawfish, shrimp, smoked sausage, po boys and a host of other Southern and Cajun goodies I would bathe in if it were socially acceptable. Here’s a link their menu if you’d like to check it out. But I’ve never been able to even consider trying the other items once the thought of this sandwich gets in my head. That being said if you’d like to be a guest reviewer and try the other items, be my guest, I’ll get you set up! ( Bobbyd@thedowhat.com ). But I’m sure one day I’ll venture out, one day.
Now lets talk about this sammich. For starters you’re given a large helping of their pulled BBQ pork on a large-sized hamburger bun. Like most BBQ places worth visiting, I’m assuming they cook their meat at least once or twice a week. And the freshness & juiciness of this smokey swine is a good indicator that this is most likely the case. The only dry thing about this meal is the napkin you’ll need to make yourself look presentable again after you’ve finished eating.
New Orleans Lunch Box is part of a larger catering business called “Roland’s Cajun Catering” which caters many events, weddings, etc around the area. I’ve seen them at Whistle Stop & Brew Fest in downtown Huntsville. So if you’re still having your doubts about how a gas station restaurant could have fresh BBQ, here’s affirmation that it’s legit. Behind the store is a stack of wood & the large, RV sized portable smoker. I’ve never been there when they were actually cooking the meat, but judging from the smokey smell and the presence firewood in an otherwise inner-city area, I’d say this is where the magic happens.
The pork is then topped with their BBQ sauce. This is a thicker, more Kansas City/Memphis style sauce. It’s got a hint of sweetness to it but its main feature is a tangy spiciness that keeps me coming back. Following the sauce is the mayo, a couple of pickle slices and the cole slaw. This supporting cast pulls its weight surprisingly well along side the BBQ pork. The tanginess of the mayo and the cole slaw juices join forces with the crunchiness of the slaw’s lettuce & carrot chunks as well as the pickle to produce a flavor that make you forget to breath while you’re consuming the sandwich.
The best way I’ve been able to describe the texture & consistency is that it’s what you’d want a really good taco’s to be (minus the crunchy shell). The meat is fresh, moist and hot and the ingredients are flavorful, crunchy and add to the meat’s flavor without overpowering it.
The lone flaw I run into time after time is that the bun is microwaved prior to being topped with ingredients. Mind you it’s hot & soft when you bite into it, but I just can’t shake the thought of how much better it would be if the bun were toasted on a flat top.
This is one of those foods that you’ll think & talk about for a few hours after you’ve eaten it. I’ve eaten it 3 times and I still haven’t quite put my finger on why this tastes as great as it does. I know I’ve laid all the ingredients but there’s just an element of “what am I tasting” & “how is this so good & different” when it’s just a BBQ sandwich.
Lastly, I use the term “hidden gem” when talking about certain items. This one deserves that title. Like I said I can’t speak for the rest of the menu, it could taste like dirty dish towels for all I know, but this sandwich should bring you back.