Tho the recipe for the ‘salad’ can vary, it is generally made up of diced olives, celery, cauliflower, carrots, oregano and garlic, marinaded in olive oil.
It was designed to be a “full meal” working man’s lunch.
By any account I’ve ever heard or read, the sandwich originated at Central Grocery, which is still in business, and still peddling the sandwiches to long lines of tourists in the French Market area. They are sold in halves (around $9.00) and whole (around $18.00). A quarter of a sandwich is an ample enough serving for most folks. Central is also a great place to buy imported Italian foodstuffs.
Locals all have their favorites at different locations around town, with many votes going to the ones at the Napoleon House in the Quarter. Some think the sandwich should be served warm, some say cold. There are also different ways to spell it.
I’ve enjoyed them all over the city, and personally, I like the ones at Cooter Brown’s, a college bar at the end of the St. Charles streetcar line. Cooter’s has 400 different beers in bottles, and 40 on tap, plus some of the least expensive oysters in town. I’ve included their full food menu here. Cooter’s is strictly self-serve, at the bar, for oysters, and food. No servers.
The reason I like the Cooter’s muff is they are more generous than most with the fillings, and their olive salad is more “olive-y.”
Last week, I had a half at Central Grocery, and a half at Cooters. Both were delicious! (I got the fries at Cooters – in many parts of the country, this style is called “cottage fries).”