A man, a truck, a dream
PO’ boys. If you’ve ventured far enough south of the Mason-Dixon line you may have been lucky enough to stumble upon the great American South’s answer to the hero, the submarine, or the hoagie sandwich. Po’ boys are sort of ironic–sure they are peasant food, but they can certainly get pretty rich, pretty fast.
Such is the case with the Northland’s newest spot for cajun food–Mudbug Cajun Po’ Boy Sandwiches. Located at 4702 NE Vivion Road, this tiny shop is bursting with flavor, thanks to the heritage and commitment of its chef, Christopher Jones. Jones was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana and knows what a po’ boy should taste like and after 18 years in the Kansas City culinary scene, he and his wife, Tracy, are excited to let people in on the secret.
To start, the quality of the ingredients is key. Jones works with a local seafood purveyor to source unique fish species for Friday seafood specials. What started as a Lenten special is continuing on past Holy Week to become an every Friday occurrence. Jones says that eventually, he would like to offer a daily special but in the shop’s nascent days, he’s focused on making sure that his small but focused menu is on point with each order.
And it is. The regular menu consists of just four selections–Chicken and Andouille Sausage, Southern Fried Basa, KC Po’ Boy (pulled pork), and the classic roast beef. Don’t let the small selection fool you–while the choices may be limited, the quantity of food is not. The four selections offer a wide range of flavor to suit most palates and I dare anyone to leave Mudbugs hungry.
Each sandwich is built on a base of good bread–fresh bread from local favorites Roma Bakery to be precise. After that, each sandwich has its own unique strata–for example, the classic roast beef starts with a bed of lemon garlic seasoned fries and is topped with pan juices, making it one of the most gloriously sloppy sandwiches I’ve had in a while. Add to that standard dress (lettuce, tomato and mayo) and you’re almost finished. Each sandwich at mudbugs has a ladle of crawdad meat on it as well.
For the seafood enthusiast, the Southern Fried Basa po’ boy is a home run. Served over a bed of truffled broccoli slaw and smoked onion aoli, the fish has a crisp cornmeal crust with just the right about of crunch. Each sandwich also comes with a side of your choice of seasoned fries, slaw, or fried okra.
If you’re just not in the mood for a sandwich (for shame!), then you can try one of the other cajun specialties like a cup of their seafood gumbo, the jambalaya, or red beans and rice. For my money, the jambalaya was the best with plenty of meat and a nice rich roux to start it off. If you need more spice, ask for one of their custom hot sauces from Louisiana. There are three to choose from and all pack a punch.
I had to indulge in one Friday special, the spiced shrimp and crawfish po’ boy with a blue crab florentine sauce. It didn’t disappoint. The shrimp were so plentiful they spilled over the sides of the soft bread and made me pick up a fork to get every last bit. Not bad for a dinner that can be ready to pick up in 10 minutes.
The business is stationary for the moment but Jones has plans to supplement the static location with a truck called Mudbugs Mobile Madness. The truck is solar powered and the only one of its kind in the city. Now that the weather has warmed, he’s ready to hit the road.
In a town like Kansas City, where it seems that every cuisine has its spot, we’ve been sorely lacking a good cajun restaurant. Not anymore. Mudbugs is filling that roll (get it?) quite nicely.