Louisiana Express in Bethesda?
Funny how we both used the expression "the real deal" in regard to this place. Either the place is good or we are both idiots.
I don't think Copeland's is a pile of puke either. Some of their entrees are overpriced, but the food is well seasoned and the po-boys are a good deal. The fried oyster or crawfish po-boys we've had there have always been brimming with the main ingredient.
re: Bob W.
I guess I must have gone to Copeland's on off days, because each time (Rockville and King Street) I've been served mediocre food by surly waitstaff. Your mileage may vary, but I've been to Louisiana Express dozens of times and have never been disappointed. Consistency is a virtue I'd expect from a chain like Copelands, but they have yet to deliver, to me anyway.
What I like about Louisiana Express is that it reminds me a lot of places in New Orleans like Mothers and Acme Oyster House: simple food cooked well in a family-owned establishment.
Louisiana Express is good, but not everything on the menu is good. For example - the biscuits that come with almost everything you order are terrible. They are dry and mealy with almost no taste. They leave a huge lump in your stomach. But, all the jumbalaya, dirty rice, etoufee and gumbo dishes are great. You may think you're just ordering a side, but the portions are so large they serve as a meal. If you are feeling like being very unhealthy - a good treat is the cheese fries with andouille sausage. As always, beignets are good, but of course not as good as the real thing at Cafe' Du Monde in New Orleans.
Finally, if you like beer - this is the only place (besides total beverage) where I have seen Abita beer, which is an excellent beer from Louisiana.
Lousiana Express is one of my long time favorites...generally dependable and reasonably priced. Dishes that I like are anything fried--scallops, catfish, soft-shell crabs (when available), the brunch menu (especially the poached eggs on spicy rice cakes and the omelets), and the gumbos. I don't like the etoufee or the jambalaya very much.
I do have to stipulate that I think the general quality has slipped over the past couple of years. The potatoes that accompany the eggs at brunch have lost their zing and even the "spicy rice cakes" were bland on my last visit.
The beignets are good--better than Cafe du Monde when I last visited--and the calas--cinnamon dusted doughballs with rice mixed in--are a real treat.
I still like to go there and would be unhappy if the slipping trend is not arrested.
Thank you all! Bryan and I stopped by yesterday (Sunday) for Lunch/Brunch. What a wonderful place to take away the rainy day gloom.
A busy little place that, on first glance, would make the less adventurous dart away before even getting in the door. Inside, tiny little tables, a huge counter, handwritten daily specials set up so you can see them no matter where you sit. I saw the whole gamut of clientelle. Single dinners, families, friends, couples, and all purse sizes. How many came from the Washingtonian recommendation (or this site) and how many are true regulars? I know I'm a regular and Bryan works close enough that he plans on call ahead for pickup lunches.
Back to the experience. Bryan ordered a cup of the Crawfish Bisque, I ordered a cup of the Andouille Gumbo and we split a Catfish Po'Boy sandwich. Trust me, just deciding on that was a chore in itself. I almost fear trying to order from the regular lunch/dinner menu!
While we waited, the waiter dropped of the infamous biscuits which though not as flavorful as they should have been were by no means nasty. They were perfect for sopping up the gravy of my gumbo. As for the gumbo and bisque, WOW! Delicious, spicy (lots of sniffling while eating) chock full of goodies. We both agreed that next time, we get bowls of soup and call it a meal. In no time the po'boy arrived. Luscious fried catfish (farm raised but that's OK) on a bed of fresh lettuce, tomatoes (which gave to Bryan) and a mild remoulaude sauce. Like good little chowhounds, we licked our plates clean.
Overall, the atmosphere was fun and funky with the pre-requisite, and the food was delicious. The service, though otherwise attentive, only loses a point because the waiter never asked if we wanted anything to drink though he did drop off water when he brought the biscuits.
Worth another trip, darn tooting!