Restaurant review: Johnny Oak's Po'Boy & Shrimp Shack

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Bummed that you don't have plans to escape to some warm, coastal place this summer? Here's what you need to do: pay a visit to Johnny Oak's Po'Boy & Shrimp Shack, stat.

Head over on a scorchingly hot day, grab a seat at one of the two tables in the windowless shack, and it'll be easy to imagine you're in a little hole in the wall right on the beach.

Owner Johnny Oak has been serving up fabulous New Orleans-style sandwiches out of his little North Campus eatery for four years now. Panels of bright aqua corrugated fiberglass serve as walls, and the rest of the decor consists of fishing nets and a mural of what appears to be Johnny himself.

The best-seller here by far is the Creole Shrimp Po'Boy, but sandwiches also come with roast beef, roast pork, chicken, crawfish and even alligator, all served on Louisiana-style French bread.

Let's talk about this bread. It is fantastic. So warm and buttery and garlicky, it's almost like eating a sandwich on a hunk of garlic bread. It's slathered in spicy mustard and mayo before being loaded down with po'boy fillings.

There's a lot of bread, but the rest of the sandwich is sauteed shrimp and lots of roasted veggies (cooked in butter, yes, but still veggies), so you don't feel completely comatose after wolfing it down.

Along with plenty of plump pink shrimp, you get stewy tomatoes, roasted peppers, onions and, in Creole tradition, lots of celery. All those vegetables leave behind some delicious juices you'll want to sop up with that last bite of bread. This is one of the best sandwiches in town.

The shrimp po'boys - available in etouffe, curry, jambalaya and gumbo varieties, among others - all run $8. But choose from among a cheaper $5 po'boy menu (options are oyster, clam, crab cake and Cajun fry) and you'll have enough left in your $10 lunch budget for a side.

The Cajun fries are beloved, but if you're especially adventurous (and aren't afraid of a little saturated fat), try the Deep Fried Bacon Chunks ($2.75). Crunchy on the outside and very fatty on the inside, after a dunk in some housemade barbecue sauce they're a salty, smoky, savory delicacy.

Johnny is also manning a new barbecue truck Downtown starting this summer - check the Daily Crave blog at for a peek at their lunch offerings.

Shelley Mann is the editor of Crave, Columbus' new dining magazine. Keep up with her at

Lunch Money

Creole Shrimp Po'Boy: $7.90

Tax & Tip: $1.68

Total: $9.58

Eat lunch:

Johnny Oak's Po'Boy & Shrimp Shack

2348 N. High St., North Campus