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Cajun Country


mildbore
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I am thinking of visiting the Cajun country around Lafayette in March, and I would be very grateful for any suggestions on where to eat. New Orleans is not in my plans though we ate some wonderful meals there during a visit in the early 90’s.

My only experience with Cajun food was in the mid 80’s when there was a “Cajun” restaurant in Portland, OR. I don’t know how authentic it was, but there was a rumor that the chef had worked with Paul Prudhomme. Anyhow, the food was very enjoyable and often quite spicy.

I am looking for things like a great crawfish pie, not an exquisite micro-portion of two scallops on a huge plate.

Many thanks.

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You need to order a copy of Macon Fry and Julie Posner's Cajun Country Guide. THis will be the most useful friend you meet on your trip. There is a new second edition out and you can get it just by clicking on the link and ordering through Amazon.

I have known the two of them for a very long time and they researched the hell out of this book. I have taken a number of sidetrips over the years just because of their reccomendations and have rarely been dissappointed.

Also, look over the Louisiana threads and you will find a number of good reccomendations.

Let us know what we can do to help and I am sure you will find some willing virtual guides.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Considering you can feed yourself well at a gas station around Lafayette, It's hard to go wrong. But here's my must visit list...

Black's Oyster Bar - Abbeville, LA

Don's Seafood Hut (The Original) - Vermilion Street in Lafayette

Mulate's (The Original) - Breaux Bridge, LA

Blue Dog Cafe - A little touristy, but very good grub.

Randol's - Traditional Cajun food, and if you time it right (call ahead) you can catch a live band. They tape a show (complete with dancers, like a Cajun Bandstand thing) that is shown on a local TV station on the weekends.

Old Tyme Grocery (near ULL campus) - Excellent poboys, but if you want a seafood poboy, go to Chris'.

FYI, don't order a poboy in a "restaurant". It will be good, but you get better at the places that do it as a specialty, and you'll get better meals from the other kind of restaurant. If that made any sense.

If you will need more than 3 or 4 meals while you are there, here's the list from one of the local alternative papers - It's 2002's list, but these are all safe bets:

Best Restaurant

1. iMonelli (Italian)

2. Tsunami (Japanese)

3. Nash's (Sort of a neat mix of Italian and Creole)

Best Chef

1. Brian Blanchard, iMonelli

2. Fred Nonato, Prejean's

3. Mike Richard, Café Vermilionville

Best Boudin

1. Comeaux's

2. tie Best Stop and Don's Specialty Meats

3. Billeaud's Store, Broussard

Best Cracklins

1. Best Stop

2. Billeaud's Store, Broussard

3. Corner Pantry

Best Gumbo

1. Don's Downtown

2. Don's Seafood Hut (Johnston Street)

3. Prejean's

Best Poboy

1. Old Tyme Grocery

2. Chris' Po-Boys

3. Julien's

Best Boiled Crawfish

1. Dwight's

2. Richard's Patio, Abbeville

3. Crawfish Time

Best Seafood Platter

1. Don's Seafood Hut

2. Randol's

3. Prejean's

Best Restaurant Rice and Gravy

1. Antlers Bar & Grill

2. T-Coon's

3. Dwyer's

Best Oysters in the Raw

1. Black's, Abbeville

2. Shucks, Abbeville

3. Don's Downtown

Best Grits

1. Dwyer's

2. à la carte

3. Mel's Diner

Best Plate Lunch

1. Dwyer's

2. T-Coon's

3. Edie's

Best King Cake

1. Meche's

2. Keller's

3. Gambino's

Best Coffeehouse

1. CC's Coffee

2. PJ's

3. Café Rue Vermilion

Best Bakery

1. Keller's

2. Poupart's

3. Meche's

Best Ice Creamery

1. Borden's

2. Maggie Moo's

3. Marble Slab

Best Sno-Cones

1. Cajun Sno

2. Behind Old Tyme Grocery

3. Babe's, St. Martinville

Best Fried Chicken

1. Popeyes

2. Edie's

3. Dwyer's

Best Vegetarian Menu

1. Sandra's Health Food

2. Whole Wheatery Eatery

3. Green Olive

Best Cajun

1. T-Coon's

2. Prejean's

3. Mulate's

Best Soul Food

1. Laura's II

2. Country Cuisine

3. Ruby's

Best Sushi

1. Tsunami

2. Shangri-La

3. Bonsai

Best Doughnut Shop

1. Meche's

2. Keller's

3. Krispy Kreme

Best Hamburger

1. Judice Inn

2. Pete's on Johnston

3. Ground Pati

Best Pizza

1. Deano's

2. Pizza Village

3. La Pizzeria

Best Sandwich

1. Jason's Deli

2. Old Tyme Grocery

3. Cedar Grocery

Best Cheap Eats

1. Taco Bell

2. Edie's

3. Syro's

Best Sunday Brunch

1. Bailey's

2. Charley G's

3. Café Des Amis

Best Place for a Business Lunch

1. à la carte

2. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

3. LaFonda

Best Place for a Romantic Dinner

1. iMonelli

2. Nash's

3. Bella Figura

Best Italian

1. Alesi's

2. Bella Figura

3. iMonelli

Best Asian

1. Pimon Thai

2. Shangri-La

3. Peking Garden

Best Steakhouse

1. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

2. Woods & Waters of Louisiana

3. Stroud's Shady Oaks

Best Barbecue

1. Dwight's

2. Sonny's

3. Luther's

Best Greek/Middle Eastern

1. Poseidon's

2. Arzi's

3. Green Olive

Best Mexican

1. LaFonda

2. Posado's

3. Casa Olé

Best Appetizers

1. Woods & Waters of Louisiana

2. Café Vermilionville

3. Blue Dog Café

Best Restaurant Dessert

1. iMonelli

2. Woods & Waters of Louisiana

3. à la carte

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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hopefully someone will post a thorough response. Louisiana people can be a bit standoffish, though. :wink::laugh:

As far as the best crawfish go, I do have a slightly differing opinion than Fistfull-

I believe that Hawk's Place in Lawtell, LA has the superior bugs in the region. They are transferred from swimming pool size pond to swimming pool size pond over a period of days until they are as clean as whistles. The spice is added primarily AFTER the bugs are boiled and the things are just about perfect. It is not very far from Lafayette, but you will need to get a decent map to find the place, as the directions often include turning left at the one legged dog. :laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Well, I do have a personal favorite when it comes to crawfish, but I don't think I'm willing to share quite yet. It's off the beaten path, and I think it wants to stay that way.

Crawfish are a completely different thing than that list. They are too easy to screw up. Any half-a-dumbass can make a po boy, as long as you have the ingredients.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Well, I do have a personal favorite when it comes to crawfish, but I don't think I'm willing to share quite yet. It's off the beaten path, and I think it wants to stay that way.

Crawfish are a completely different thing than that list. They are too easy to screw up. Any half-a-dumbass can make a po boy, as long as you have the ingredients.

I hope that you are not implying Hawk's is on the beaten path. That place is hard to find for me and I have been there (literally I would imagine) 100 times. :laugh:

I also have a serious fondness for Mike Anderson's boiled Crawfish (Baton Rouge Location). I have cooked a gillion pounds in the back of that place on Lee Drive and I can promise you they are done right or they never leave the back of the building. The portions are great and the price is right and as Mike Anderson used to say, "the beer is "Rodeo Cold"". (whatever that means, I just always liked the saying. He is really a nice guy when he is not throwing slightly overcooked seafood at you. If he had skipped football and played baseball he could have been a hall of famer. That guy can throw half cooked fried shrimp as well as Nolan Ryan can throw a heater. I spent many a night ducking hushpuppies and shrimp as they came flying back across the pass line. He is kind of a perfectionist. :blink::shock::laugh: ).

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Crawfish Town USA...gets my vote for the boiled stuff, it's in Breaux Bridge, not far from Lafayette. There is a big joke with me and my friends that go there, the place gets larger and larger and the owners wife's diamond does too, so they must do something right. Very friendly staff and the food is always piping hot. You can get mild, spicy or hot as hell, what ever you prefer. You pass up the tourist spots when you turn off I-10 on the way there....Don't let the name put you off...it's been there for years and it's great food and friendly service.

Black's is fantastic but would not drive there just for crawfish..as there are many places for that.

You can hardly go wrong in that part of the country!

Enjoy your trip and the food....eat some for me by the way...I sure miss it. When away from home...anything that says Cajun I stay away from as that's only at home in Louisiana.

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Wow, what a great response! Thank you very much.

I have read the Tummy Trilogy, and I have the Fry and Posner guide also. They are keen on Prudhomme's Cajun Cafe in Carencro. Is that still around?

I am guessing that Prudhomme's is closed as both of the telephone numbers listed are disconnected. What a shame, although I pretty much stopped going there after I started dining at Joe's Dreyfuss Store in Livonia (once again, this is possibly the best "Louisiana Style Restaurant on the Planet").

I did enjoy Enola's Fried Eggplant Pirouge's. A hollowed out eggplant filled with a very spicy shrimp, crawfish and crabmeat mixture. Man were they good. :wub:

They also had some of the best sandwiches in the Lafayette areaa.

That reminds me of something. ---Evangeline Downs is right next door to where Prudhomme's used to be. If you would like to go experience a completely untouristy evening in South Louisiana head for the track. Go down onto the rail with all of the MawMaws and PawPaws in the lawn chairs and mix it up. I promise you will not have a hard time finding a conversation (but you might have a hard time getting out of one or two, especially if you ask where they like to eat when they go out). You will see kids, od men, rail birds, high schoolers on dates, a great cross section of the whole population and you will be the only tourist. I don't know why I don't remember to tell more people this because the place really is a hell of a lot of fun. HINT-If it is raining bet the horses on the extreme outside of the track. The inside rail is like a swamp and even Secretariat would have lost if he had been running on the i. rail. :wink:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Speaking of crawfish. There is (was) a place near New Iberia close by Mc Ilhenny's Tabasco plant called "Guiding Star". At the time when my wife and I hit the place (in Spring of '89), the owner of the Star was getting the residule mash (after the sauce was drained off) from the vats at the Tabasco plant and using it for his boil.

The mudbugs were huge!! We were getting claw meat. This place was a cinder block building, interior picnic tables, and neon beer signs on the windows. Pretty nondescript, but great crawfish. Do any of you locals know if they are still open?

Edited by marinade (log)

Jim Tarantino

Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures, & Glazes

Ten Speed Press

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Speaking of crawfish. There is (was) a place near New Iberia close by Mc Ilhenny's Tabasco plant called "Guiding Star". At the time when my wife and I hit the place (in Spring of '89), the owner of the Star was getting the residule mash (after the sauce was drained off) from the vats at the Tabasco plant and using it for his boil.

The mudbugs were huge!! We were getting claw meat. This place was a cinder block building, interior picnic tables, and neon beer signs on the windows. Pretty nondescript, but great crawfish. Do any of you locals know if they are still open?

I am checking for you on Guiding Star.

As far as the mash goes, it is not nearly as hard to get as it used to be. You can buy it at the gift shop on Avery Island packed in heavy duty ziplocks.

Before they slicked up the tour of the plant and made it ALOT less interesting-you could ask to buy some mash at the end of the tour and the guide would point towards the back of this huge place and say, "back that way". This was the beginning of your self guided, unauthorized tour of the Tabasco plant. Sadly, these days, they just send you through a glass tunnel and straight into the gift shop. It is still interesting and Avery Island is a very beautiful place, but the tour is not nearly as fun as it used to be.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Prudhomme's was one of our favorites, as well. We have been known to drive there from Beaumont, TX for lunch. (a two hour drive). Last thing I heard was that she'd retired and sold the place, but at that time, they had kept the name. It's been probably 3 years since then, so maybe it's sold again? or changed the name? A good friend lives in Lafayette, I'll see if she knows anything.

Prejean's wasn't NEARLY as good. The dancing was fun, the the mache choux sucked.

Edited by Dana (log)

Stop Family Violence

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Re: Guiding Star...

Boiling Point is better.

:-)

That's one of the nicest things I liked about LA is that they had dedicated restaurants around a single technique or food item (po'boy). Two of our best friends are Louisiana natives (one is from N'Awlins and her husband is from Bogalusa) and when we would go to down for Jazz Fest we would hang out with families. Boiling Point sounds exactly what it is: boiled seafood, like Guiding Star. A little off topic because it's north of Lake Pontchanterain is a fry house in the middle of the woods outside Bogalusa. They have seven or so deep fryers going at the same each devoted to a separate food item so as not to mix flavors. Gawd, I miss that state.

Mayhaw, we were at the plant in'89 right after lunch at the Star and it was loosey goosey kind of a tour and the grounds were indeed beautiful. Sort of a safe swamp tour.

Jim Tarantino

Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures, & Glazes

Ten Speed Press

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A little off topic because it's north of Lake Pontchanterain is a fry house in the middle of the woods outside Bogalusa. They have seven or so deep fryers going at the same each devoted to a separate food item so as not to mix flavors. Gawd, I miss that state.

The "House of Seafood" is only about 15 minutes from my house. It is only open on Friday and Saturday nights and for Sunday lunch, so you know that it's goot be fresh (or I sure hope so anyway :raz: ). The food is great for what it is. Lots of people drive over and spend time on the Northshore going to the farmers markets, brewery tours, etc. just to kill time waiting on the place to open up. The kitchen used to be staffed by Pentecostal Ladies who were really sweet and sho nuff knew their way around a deep fryer. I don't know if it is anymore, however.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Prudhomme's (Enola's) has been closed for at least our last three December visits to Lafayette. I always thought Blue Dog was kind of up-scale Cajun, not touristy. We had a terrible visit to Randol's a year or so ago- must have been at least an hour after we were seated before we were served. Finally got around to Mulate's this past December, and found it VERY touristy.

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Finally got around to Mulate's this past December, and found it VERY touristy.

You're tight about Mulates. The food is just o.k. (although I have had very good Gumbo there), and it is touristy (Good Lord, name me another restaurant in the entire world that was on the COVER of National Geographic).

But it is what it is. Kerry Boutte runs a dance hall that provides food and drink for it's patrons, alot of whom are tourists. On the other hand, on any given night, you can find old guys dancing with young women, little kids on the stage and on the dance floor, old ladies dancing and chatting on the sidelines, and some of the best musicians of the genre "ting a linging" away the night, etc. There are other places like this in South Louisiana, but they are getting harder and harder to find (especially ones that tourists find "down home" but "non threatening". El Sido's, SLim's Y KI KI, etc. are wonderful places and EVERYONE is welcome there-but the cultural disconnect is a bit much for the average tourist, whether from Japan or Dallas) If you can dance a little bit and laugh alot and accept what is going on as real and a vital and interesting part of a changing culture and not some kind of anthropological throwback to times gone by, you can have the best time that you will EVER have in some of these places. Unbelievable fun. Off the chart, wishing the night would never end, kind of fun.

I tell people to go there because it is accessible and in many ways, just as real as it is going to get these days.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Hi Brooks,

Emailed my Bogalusa source, Dave. Thought I'd share it with the rest of the class:

I'm trying to remember which fish house we went to...it's been a while, and

some of them have closed, re-opened w/ different name, owner/manager got

caught humpin' the fry-lady....you know, typical SE Louisiana

behavior...never dull! The one north of Bogalusa is Thomas's Fish House

(still there, and I ate there when I was home in Jan. for my Mom's surgery.

But, when you were there, I think we went to Poole's Bluff on the Bogue

Chitto River...and I think that oneis called the "Poole's Bluff Fish Camp,"

but I'll try to find it out from Virgil....although, he won't be able to

remember exactly which one you may have gone.

Any of these joints clang any Cajun triangles for you?

Jim Tarantino

Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures, & Glazes

Ten Speed Press

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