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Good Cajun

I've tried several of the Cajun places in Dallas and most have been total crap. Can anyone recommend a good cajun place?

I've been to Papadeaux's and place on the corner of Lover's and Greenville. I've forgotten the name of it. They've been two of the better places I've tried but still not great.

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  1. I personally like Big Easy on Park & 75 in Plano. They are quite reasonable and their Gumbo is among the best I have had include in South Louisiana.

    7 Replies
    1. re: irodguy

      I also like Big Easy. I usually get the crawfish etouffee. I also like Pappadeaux's, and haven't tried Nate's. I ate at Alligator Cafe once and wasn't impressed.

      1. re: luniz

        I've only been to Big Easy once, but I really enjoyed the shrimp po boy that I had.

        1. re: luniz

          Did Big Easy for father's day a few weeks back, we ordered the whole gamut of the menu and found most of the food to be underseasoned.

          We had pan fried tilpia special - underseasoned
          meatball sandwich - ok
          boudin balls - not too shabby
          gumbo - ok
          tilapia w/ stuffed crab and shrimp - underseasoned
          key lime pie - good stuff
          blackened chicken salad - ok

          I'm really thinking we really should've eaten more from the fryer.

          1. re: DFDubster

            I'm curious what you mean by "under"seasoned? Do you mean hot or bland?

            1. re: CocoaNut

              Bland, my brother's tilapia with stuffed crab and shrimp was also a little cold in the center. We both had to add alot of hot sauce to both fish plates to salvage the meal. Suprising to me too, because when I think of Cajun food, there's always plenty of seasoning to go around.

              1. re: DFDubster

                I used to love their crawfish cake, which uses the same sauce as the crawfish etouffee. A few months ago when I had it, it tasted different (maybe bland/underseasoned?) I don't know if the chef has changed, but until luniz confirms that the crawfish etouffee tastes as it used to, I'm not going back!

                1. re: kuidaore

                  I went back once after my last post about the sauce seeming different, and it was back to normal for the most part. That was early June iirc. But I'll probably wait until next spring to go back as some of the offseason crawfish can be disappointing. Although I can always get something other than the etouffee I suppose.

                  As far as underseasoning...if the shrimp are good, you don't want to kill the flavor with too much spice. Also they do seem to prefer to leave the heat levels up to the customer to adjust which is fine with me. It seems like the only thing you really found "underseasoned" were the tilapia dishes, which doesn't surprise me much.

      2. Alligator Cafe on Live Oak. Crustaceans in Deep Ellum. Dodie's on Lower Greenville.

        1. For boiled crawfish, there's none better than Nate's in Addison. I can't tell you about the rest of their food because I only eat the crawfish.

          1. Alligator Cafe has very good lunches and lunch specials - I eat lunch there about once a month. Their homemade root beer and cream soda is great (not always available, order it if it is). I really like the gumbo at Crustaceans - thinner than what we usually get here - more like what I had growing up in New Orleans (but keep in mind everyone in New Orleans has their own version). Nate's would be my choice for north of 635. I haven't tried Big Easy, but will based on the earlier posts.

            1. Dodie's on Lower Greenville is the best here. Their oyster po boy is fantastic.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ieatdallas

                I used to eat at Dodie's all the time when I lived in Dallas. The family that owns it is from N.O. The red beans and rice was always good and occasionally they had some white beans which were incredible.

              2. Nate's by far is the best in the area. It is more of a Lafayette style rather than a New Orleans. Not as spicy until you order the Turbo spiced crawfish. Nice!

                1 Reply
                1. re: The Real Deal

                  I'm surprised no one has mentioned Sensational Tony's. Small independent place at 2612 Commerce. I've eaten at the one in Ft. Worth and it is authentic cajun!

                  The man that runs it came to TX after Katrina and New Orleans loss is DFW's gain!

                2. for boiled crawfish go to the boiling crab.. gooood crawfish

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ilovecrab

                    Nates is the best. Shuck and Jive at Midway and 190 is very good as well and has a great patio.

                    1. re: ilovecrab

                      We have been to Boiling Crab (Walnut and Plano Rd.) several times and it just doesn't do it for us. They try to put so much crap (spices, butter, garlic..etc) on the crawfish when they serve it, you cant even taste the flavor of the crawfish. When we go, it seems that everyone there is very young and Asian. To top it off, we had 6 pounds of crawfish, 4 corns, some sausage, one beer and some tea. Total with tax came out to be a cool $69 dollars!!! I think they also charge for extra lime and salt if you order. Way too expensive to eat some mudbugs. Gona be going to New Orleans hopefully real soon and get me some good crawfish without feeling like I've been ripped off.

                      The Big Easy its the real deal. My favorite creole food around here. The flavor of most of their dishes are spot on. We enjoy the crawfish etouffee, seafood gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish po-boy, and even the onion rings were really nice and crunchy. Cant wait to head up north to pay them a visit.

                      1. re: jaime24g

                        Went to the boiling crab in Houston. And had a similar experience. Thought the flavors were great, but I got a dungeness crab and it was missing 3 legs and one claw. Obviously the cooks knew what they were serving. Ordered a bowl of gumbo and there were only two shrimp. Same with my wife. Rip-off. Don't like the way the food comes in bags. Liquid rolling off the table, etc. Also, the young staff was more concerned with each other than the guests. When we were seated the hostess did not show us to a table, she pointed to an area and told us to "take whatever is leftover back there." while she was busy telling her friends how she goes to Dave and Buster's all the time and gets a "hook-up" on free drinks from the bartender. Though she was clearly underage. Offensive. And definitely not worth $100.

                        One bright spot - Tsingtao beer was $3.

                        Great flavors, but I'd skip it.

                    2. Nate's takes the prize, but if you're closer to Downtown, Alligator Cafe certainly fits the bill of great cajun food.

                      1. If you go eat crawfish and they sprinkle spice on the outside of the boiled crawfish....RUN!!

                        Nates is not authentic at all. The Big Easy in Plano is close.

                        As of today, I have found nothing in Dallas that would come close to a third rate place back home in N.O.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: kingofkings

                          A-Men!

                          Such a shame too that a city this large has pretty much 1 or 2 places to offer for LA cajun/creole/anything.

                          1. re: kingofkings

                            i dunno about that...third rate in NO is no better than third rate in Dallas. mediocre is the same everywhere. although the Dodie's in Mckinney does get mad props for serving me the absolutely vilest crawfish etouffee ever.

                            1. re: luniz

                              I promise you that the Po-boys and red beans at Ciro's in Metarie (which is a third rate place located in a gas station/convenience store, WHIPS anything I have had in Dallas.

                              A simple plate lunch at Mandino's on Canal KILLS anything in Dallas.

                              Sad....but true.

                                1. re: kingofkings

                                  Having eaten a complicated lunch plate at Mandina's, I don't know that I agree. It was good but hardly revolutionary. Unfortunately fried everything is not something I'm willing to try out all over town for the sake of comparison.

                            2. I too love Alligator Cafe. I believe the owner, Ivan Pugh is from Baton Rouge. He is so nice. After Katrina, for a whole month, anyone who could produce a Louisiana drivers license ate free. I adore the Atchafalya. There are always tons of Lousiana natives in the restaurant. I don't think they make the cream soda anymore, but the root beer is now pretty readily available. Fridays and Saturdays tend to be packed.

                              1. Good Cajun? Are you talking about in Dallas? Most people in the area don't even know the difference between Cajun and Creole. A few have visited New Orleans and think that they serve good Cajun food there. A majority of the restaurants in the "Big Easy" are serving Creole. Good folks, "blackened" anything in not authentic Cajun. And, dumping a zillion pounds of cayenne pepper into the pot does not make it authentic Cajun. Last of all, if you can taste "bay leaves" in the food, it is not authentic Cajun--at least, not authentic "prairie Cajun" food. Cajun food is like anything else when it comes to preparation and flavor. Visit all of the restaurants that say they are serving "authentic" Cajun food until you find one that serves what you like. Otherwise, it's too subjective for those that did not "grow up" in the culture...and, for some that did. Visit a "Cajun" family potluck reunion if you want to taste some "home grown and authentic Cajun food." Otherwise, it's "caveat emptor." I've been married to an "authentic" Cajun from Eunice, Louisiana, for over a zillion years...good food...good folks...Laissez les bon temps roulier!

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Buck_Bailey

                                  Actually, over the years, the lines separating Cajun and Creole cuisine have become less clear. Even as you travel within Louisiana, you will note a lot of regional differences in cooking styles. Today, experts on the subject (those unlike me who have published articles and books on the matter) have difficulty defining modern day Cajun versus Creole cuisine. And while I believe that the whole "blackening" phenomenon was nothing more than a marketing ploy, Cajun chefs like to claim it as a Cajun invention.

                                  1. re: jindomommy

                                    Actually "blackening" was invented accidentally by Paul Prudhomme when he burnt redfish during a cooking demo. They used it , liked the taste and a new food was born.

                                  2. re: Buck_Bailey

                                    I tend to agree with all that Buck has said. Whle I've only eaten the beef po-boy and tasted the Fergie, I believe Water's Edge in Little Elm to serve the real deal for Creole. It's not hot folks, nor is it supposed to be. Creole relies on a number of seasoning - herbs and spices - which combine to make a very unique flavor.

                                    The owner told a story of a "kid" that ordered the red beans and rice, pronounced that it was not hot enough, asked for a bottle of Tabasco (which is perfectly ok in moderation), and proceded to ruin the dish by dousing it with the heat. The owner said he just stood by and shook his head.......

                                    I will only add that the "gravy" used at WE is more of a jus than the thicker debris gravy that I'm used to. Still damn good though.

                                    1. re: CocoaNut

                                      Haven eaten at Alligator, Big Easy and Waters Edge. I would say that Waters Edge was a real dissapointment. The whole meal lacked any kind of spiciness of the pepper variety. There is no heat at all. Red beans and rice was just that. I detected no onion, garlic or even any pepper flavor (cayenne). The shrimp etouffe was a bit too thick and was underseasoned as well. I also tried the Roast Beef Po Boy which was a dissapointment. The roast beef at Big Easy is much better. I know what we have won't compare to what they have in Lousiana but Waters Edge is not even a contender. I sat at a table with a gentleman who oredred the catfish and it looked pretty tepid compared to Big Easy's version. All in all not a good experience at all. I guess I would have had the owner shaking his head as I doused my red beans in cayenne pepper sauce to have some kind of flavor also. I have encountered more spice of the pepper variety on a McDonalds spicy chicken sandwich.

                                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                        Sorry with your dissappointements, but I'm not going to be drawn back into this arugument again. I know what I know based on growing up on Creole influenced foods. To be Creole, foods do not need to nor should be *hot*, but as I said above, well seasoned with savory spices. They are typical prepared in a more refined fashion as opposed to their Cajun cousins of the same dish.

                                        Cajun on the otherhand tends to be prepared in more backwoods, bayou fashion and does rely more heavily on heat and less refined meats, squirrels, rabbit and such. For that, I would not rec WE, but then I haven't eaten the various dishes from WE that you have referenced.

                                        I will note tho that the N.O. roast beef po-boy is seasoned most uniquely and WE has it spot on - and as stated in my original review, the bread (loaf) is outstanding.

                                        It seems as many people enter newly established "Cajun/Creole" restaurants outside the nola area, they expect an explosion of heat - on the other hand, locals of the area often times expect less heat with more the flavors unique only to that style of cooking. I'll be heading down that way in a week or so and look forward to many great eating opportunities.

                                        Edit -

                                        And just for grins - here is a recipe for making red beans. It comes from the web site of the leading purveyor of dried beans in the NOLA region. Please note that nowhere in the recipe does it call for cayenne - as it is with many passed down recipes of the area. However, any self-respecting table will have a bottle of Tabasco sitting in wait on the table.
                                        http://www.camelliabeans.com/kidney.html

                                        For what it's worth, Camillia is the only bean found in my pantry. Thank God I have friends and family that visit regularly. What you find off the shelves locally is crap.

                                        1. re: CocoaNut

                                          Nice to see an intelligent differentiation between Cajun & Creole. Noone in N.O. could confuse food at Dookie Chase with Cajun. I like both Creole & Cajun ... there's a time & place for everything. And you don't make a New England boiled dinner better with Tabasco ... you just have to appreciate ea cuisine for itself.

                                  3. FINALLY made it to the Big Easy (Plano) today for one of their roast beef po-boys. It was very good and definitely on par with Water's Edge (Little Elm). Both tasted remarkably similar, though the flavor at Big Easy was a little more subtle (I believe oregano is the traditionally used herb in Cajun roast beef). With any po-boy, besides the quality and taste of beef, the bread is critical and for me, the gravy plays a big role. In this case, the beef was very tender with excellent flavors, the lettuce and tomato were wonderfully fresh, and the bread was tender, but hearty with a good chew texture. My only disappointment was (at both places), the "gravy" is actually more of a jus. Just a personal preference, I would rather a lightly thickened gravy, but all-in-all, Big Easy makes a very respectable roast beef po-boy and I would love it if they were closer.

                                    Added bonus: Great prices. At $10 and some change, I had the small roast beef (brought half home), a side of slaw, a bag of chips (Zapps!) and a not-so-cold draft beer. No complaints, but for the beer.

                                    -----
                                    Big Easy
                                    1915 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75075

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: CocoaNut

                                      You forgot to ask for the gravy with debris then. It would probably be the thick consistency you are looking for.

                                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                        I didn't forget to ask.... It was very much on my mind as I read from the menu: Roast beef with gravy.

                                        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                          Being as impressed as I was with the R-B po-boy a week earlier, I enticed a friend for a return visit this past Sunday, Mother's Day. On my initial visit, also a Sunday, but around 3 pm, I was the only customer. On this Sunday, it was about 1:30 and there were 5 or 6 other tables of 2's to 6's.

                                          Unfortunately, on this visit, my R-B was most lackluster, having no actual slices of beef, but merely chips of beef. While waiting for my friend's catfish to be prepared, my sandwich sat on the counter with the lower bread slice soaking up the jus (still no gravy) to the point that it was a soggy mess. The upper portion of bread on this visit was very tough. Still tasty, though inedible as a sandwich, I ate the top portion as a slice of bread and picked at the pieces of meat/tomato and lettuce with a fork. Where on my first visit, the sandwich was so filling, I took half home, on this visit, I ate it all (minus the lower piece of bread) and still had room for dessert.

                                          Giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they were overwhelmed with an after church Mother's Day crowd. Not sure, but had this been my first visit, well.... there wouldn't have been a second.

                                          Additionally, both my friend and a neighboring table person ordered catfish - filet and whole, respectfully. Both of them ate it, but complained that there was no taste. We had driven from Grapevine, the "neighbors" from Denton as they had heard about the "greatness" of Big Easy. Kind of a long drive for disappointments.

                                          1. re: CocoaNut

                                            The fried seafood is left better served by the father restaurant in the adjoining parking lot, Fishmongers. I do not deviate from the roast beef or even the special po boy. I have tried the seafood several times and it is not as good as Fishmongers.

                                        2. re: CocoaNut

                                          Their shrimp and catfish po boys and their fantastic french fries is what I usually get. Definitely one of the top places for a po boy.

                                        3. Has anyone recently been to Pierre's Mardi Gras Cafe in Arlington? I went several years ago when they were on Hwy 10 in (west)Euless - wasn't that impressed, but at the time, they were working out of a make-shift location with a limited menu. Just wondering if they've improved.

                                          -----
                                          Pierre's Mardi Gras Cafe
                                          2816 S Cooper St, Arlington, TX 76015

                                          1. Boudreaux's - 75 & Campbell in Richardson.

                                            I'm a cajun....and this is GOOD CAJUN!