Bud's Louisiana Food Shoppe (San Diego)
In November of 2005, with the Gulf Coast still reeling from Hurricane Katrina, I traveled to New Orleans to attend my friends' wedding. We were some of the first "tourists" to visit. It was a virtual ghost town, but the French Quarter was trying to pick up the pieces. With the reconstruction effort in full swing, restaurants had someone to feed. As you might imagine, I tried everything I could get my hands on while I was there (five days), and it was one of the most educational culinary experiences I've ever had. The food was amazing.
With that in mind, I'm trying to figure out why I don't eat at Bud's Louisiana Food Shoppe (Little Italy) every week. I'm no expert on Louisiana cuisine, but it seems to me they're doing an outstanding job, and it's a great value for the price. I ate there for the second time last night. Here are the dishes I've tried.
Cajun Jambalaya $8.95
A spicy dish of smoked chicken, Andouille sausage and Tasso (Cajun smoked ham) with caramelized onions, celery, and bell pepper. Served with rice and sauce piquant.
Almost as good as what I had in N.Orleans. The rice wasn't quite as creamy, but overall it was fantastic.
Creole Jambalaya $11.95
Shrimp and crawfish sautéed with a splash of Creole tomato sauce then tossed with rice, smoked chicken, spicy Andouille sausage and Tasso with caramelized onions, celery, and bell pepper.
This is what my date had. Same assessment as above.
Seafood Gumbo cup $4.95 bowl $8.95
A New Orleans classic soup with shrimp, crab, crawfish, Andouille sausage, and okra in a dark roux with seafood stock.
This is the best thing I've tried at Bud's. Savory, spicy and complex. As good as the gumbo I had in N.Orleans.
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp Po Boy $8.95
Shrimp sauteed in garlic, Worcestershire, black & cayenne pepper, and butter. Served
with shredded cabbage and jalapeno tartar sauce. Add a cup of Red Beans & Rice for $1.95.
This is what I had last night. IMO, the Po Boy was too small and didn't have enough kick. The red beans and rice were to die for! Spicy, rich, flavorful...
Fried Catfish Plate $8.95
Cornmeal battered fried catfish with jalapeno tartar sauce and a choice of a side Caesar salad or a cup of red beans and rice.
A friend had this plate and loved it, especially the red beans and rice.
Bud's Louisiana Food Shoppe
2034 Kettner Blvd, #12
San Diego, CA 92101
Tuesday through Saturday
Lunch 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Dinner 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Closed Sunday and Monday
I couldn't agree more. We spent our vacation in New Orleans about ten years ago, and if we ever had a purely eating vacation, this was it. Every single bite at every single restaurant was outstanding.
And back in San Diego, we ate pretty regularly at Bayou Bar and Grill - which was also great - until the last few times we were unable to find a parking place. It finally closed, sadly, and we were without New Orleans fare until its owner, Bud, came back to SD and opened Bud's. It has the same great food, though the menu is smaller, and we go there more often than we did Bayou. Bud is from New Orleans, and has sources we don't have, and we frequently get emails telling us when they have crawfish or turtle soup or whatever. And when we eat lunch there on Saturdays we usually buy a pound of andouille sausage so we can duplicate their dishes at home. (as if)
Great food, nice people, low prices. Thanks for reminding everybody, Mangiatore.
I'm also a big fan of Bud's. As far as an "eating vacation" goes you can't beat Jazz and heritage fest in New Orleans. About a hundred vendors serving only true LA food. Oh, there is also music. Food list should be up soon, check here for details. An event every hound should attend.
I went to Jazz Fest a few years ago, and it was great! I think we spent about three hours total at the festival, and the rest eating and drinking. I especially enjoyed Bayona and Acme Oyster Co. - not sure if' they are still operating or not.
Bud's is within walking distance of my office and I highly recommend it for lunch. I had the po'boy - it was lunch so the size wasn't really an issue. I didn't realize there was a relationship between Bayou Bar and Grill and Bud's - very interesting!
My experiences at Bud's have been much less happy. In fact, I think I mentioned it as one of my "worst dining experiences of the year" (the worst being at The Mardi Gras cafe on Midway). FWIW, Maria Hunt just put out a not-very-positive review in one of the last couple of SDUT Night and Day sections. I think I'm closer to her view than any of yours.
Here's the link to her article:
As you can see from Mangiatore's original post, Bud's isn't exactly the most pricey place in town. For $1.95 you can add red beans and rice (best in SD IMO) to any of their entrees. By comparison, the unaccompanied hot dog I got at the Food Court this afternoon set me back $4.76. The kitchen is so tiny, it might as well be on a submarine, and though technically in Little Italy, it's not in the high-rent part. Having said all that, I was amazed that Maria Hunt -- a reviewer who has been around long enough to know better -- would pull out the long knives to carve up a small, unpretentious eatery like Bud's. Yeah, the Po Boy isn't overflowing with shrimp, but it *is* delicious. Something not spicy enough for you? That's what all those hot sauces on the tables are for. She even looked down her journalistic nose at the whimiscal "Food to Geaux" sign on the cooler.
So, while I heartily disagree with her assessment of the food (de gustibus and all that), I was utterly amazed at the gratuitous meanness of her tone. Did one of the owners kick her dog or something? One of the good things about Chowhound is that we get to hear a variety of views and then, if we choose, decide for ourselves.
. . . jim strain
re: Jim Strain
I just read her review and she and I agreed on the one thing we both tried (the po' boy); it really is tiny and I thought it was pretty blah. Unfortunately for her and the poor owners she skewered in her review, she didn't try any of the other dishes I've tried, all of which I thought were very good or great (sounds like you and I agree that the red beans and rice are fantastic). I got takeout so I couldn't take advantage of all the hot sauces, but luckily I had some spicy cajun sauce at home and that did the trick. I almost feel like they might be toning things down a bit for the non-Louisiana palate, leaving it up to the customer to add the hot stuff.
I talked to the manager a couple years back, and he confirmed that they do intentionally tone down some of the heat. The only dishes where they don't are the jambalaya and the etoufee. Everything else they try to make more accessible for San Diegans.
I wonder if they changed the recipe or have new help. When I had the BBQ shrimp po' boy it was really good. Buttery, lots of caynne and black pepper. Really great I thought.
I also think Maria's review is off in terms of the portion sizes. I wonder if she really did try and eat her whole meal. I agree that when the food comes out, the portions LOOK small, but the eyes tend to be bigger than the stomach.
We are also big fans of Bud's its great and has always had consistently good New Orleans fair. We don't eat there enough!
Bud's is run by the same folks who used to run Bayou down on Market St I believe. I've been meaning to get there ...thanks for the reminder!
Sometimes I think Maria Hunt just doles out a negative review every so often so she can't be accused of never criticizing anything. There's not much rhyme or reason to her comments - in fact, the specific criticisms are fairly minor. They certainly don't support the subtitle comment that the food is "mostly 'po," or the vague criticism of an "ersatz quality" to the food. I also think the statement that "People who have never been to New Orleans or don't know how to cook this food may be perfectly content here, since the atmosphere is fun. " is downright inane. I didn't find the atmosphere there particularly "fun" - but I did enjoy the food, and I don't need a giant plate of food in order to be satisfied.
The UT has better food writers who write for their blogs - Jennifer Croshaw and Erin Glass - they should just give one of them the job!
Wow, I just went to the U-T online and read the review ... and I had to wonder (having lived near NOLA for years and being perfectly content with the food at Bud's) if SHE has ever "been to New Orleans" or knows "how to cook this food." For the record, Creole and Cajun cuisine are NOT haute cuisine. It's everyday, calorie-laden, stick-to-your-ribs food that doesn't cause you to ponder for hours over the subtleness of the flavors. You eat it. It's good. You leave contented. Done. Yes, some places certainly do it right and some don't. I've had quite a lot of bad cajun food in my life - Bud's has never fallen into that category for me. You have to take this place for what it is: a neighborhood eatery with sticky tables, big smiles, and a wall of hot sauces.
Sorry for the lack of clarity, kare ... my fingers were burning when I wrote that. For some reason, the pretentiousness of the review just got me going. =) I agree: I LOVE picking out the different flavors in food. What I was trying to say (and who knows if I'll explain it well this time, either) was that you don't often find yourself sitting around two days after the meal thinking "what a revolutionary combination of spices ..." I feel like the real down-home cajun and creole cuisine isn't about a dusting of this or a mousse of that or a gelee of something. By and large, it's food that you COULD cook at home in your own kitchen if you knew the basics. Which, for me, is the attraction of a place like Bud's. I'm just saying, I think most patrons go there understanding that it's not Commander's Palace or Emeril's NOLA, and expectations should follow suit. Hope that makes more sense.