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Cheap Cajun in DC?

Has anyone found some good and spicy inexpensive cajun/creole in DC? Not Acadiana. I'm looking for po' boys and red beans and rice that only cost a couple bucks and are eaten at a table with red-and-white-checked vinyl tablecloths. That kind of place.

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  1. louisiana express in Bethesda, their Crawfish Bisque is one of my favorite dishes!

    1 Reply
    1. re: elegantelliot

      steak and cheese po' boy sandwich...
      that...tells me just about all i need to know X-P

    2. I personally really like New Orleans Cafe in Adams Morgan. When I lived in the neighborhood I ate there quite often. The food is tasty---has a bit of a kick but I'm sure if you ask they'll make it more spicy. And the owner and waiters are always super friendly. It's a cute little place that is also perfect for a date. Not expensive either.

      I hear they have a good brunch as well...although I've never been.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Elyssa

        FYI, if you look it up in a phone book it's under Bardia's.

      2. You're bringing back memories of the New Orleans Emporium, my favorite place before it closed about 15 years ago. Downstairs was upscale ....but upstairs at the bar, wow! You could get a whole basket of "Cajun popcorn" for about 6 or 7 bucks -- batter-fried crawfish tails with a remoullade dipping sauce. Toss back a Dixie beer with that. Follow up with a few oyster shooters -- a tumbler filled with a freshly-shucked raw oyster, a nice dollop of thick hot sauce and a good shot of cold peppar vodka. Betcha can't shoot just one!

        1. the only cheap options i know of are bardias new orleans cafe in adams morgan and louisiana express. i havent been to LA express, but i think bardias is terrible. their food lacks spice and depth. the gumbo had very little roux, and my friend's bread pudding was no good either.

          if you want to make a trek out to herndon, there is a place called SBC cafe that has great poboys and very authentic gumbo. its not expensive either.

          1. Not a big fan of Louisiana Express anymore, and haven't been to Bardia's in years. I can definitely recommend RT's off Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria. The peacemaker po' boys are solid, the red beans and rice are authentic, and a co-worker from Louisiana said the "Death by Gumbo" is the real deal.


            In DC, the best oyster po' boy I've had as at Johnny's Half Shell: fresh baked baguette, plump oyster, simple cornmeal crust, perfect remoulade. Not cheap at $9.50 for lunch but worth the extra couple bucks to me.

            Red & the Black on H Street has cheap red beans and rice and gumbo but I heard it isn't really worth the $5.


            6 Replies
            1. re: monkeyrotica

              while the bar is great (i'm particularly fond of their tuesday special - 12 dollars for a haircut and a shot -no, seriously a haircut) i wouldnt feed their food to a dog. its horrible. the beans and rice are basically just that - red beans, and rice. no peppers, no onions, no celery. no lard, tasso, ham, or andouille. and they dont even mash up the beans to make a sauce out of it. the 'gumbo' is white, and has no flavor whatsoever. tastes more like chicken soup. no roux. the jambalaya tastes like ketchup mixed with chicken and rice. if youre in that neighborhood, stick with the beer and liquor, and get your food fix from horace and dickies or something. and if youre looking for cajun food steer far far away. i love the place and joe englerts other establishments but the food is awful.

              there, my rant is done. i just hate seeing such an amazing cuisine ruined like that.

              1. re: kneelconqueso

                kneelconqueso - Have you tried the catfish po'boy at The Argonaut on H? I've been meaning to try it. They also have a cuban sandwich I'm interested in. The one at Eastern Market was basically a fried porkchop on a roll.

              2. re: monkeyrotica

                I like the gumbo at Johnny's, and it's half price during happy hour.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  If youre not a fan anymore then try the Louisianna Express sunday brunch.... that will win you back over. AMAZING and cheap

                  1. re: JRMorrisonJr

                    That's WHY I'm not a fan, the crowds and the lines. I have to get there WAY early to even get in.

                    But yeah, pretty inexpensive considering the competition.

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      "No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded"- Yogi Berra.

                2. 219 in Old Town Alexandria is under new ownership and back to serving Creole (they were Thai for a while) and its pretty good, nothing at all like the old 219 which wasn't worth a hoot. The current chef is from New Orleans. Not as cheap as you are looking for, but definitely cheaper than Acadiana (for lunch, at least). I've had the jambalaya and gumbo and both measured up nicely, much better than I expected. The red beans and rice, well, I've had better, but I think the place has potential and I'm looking forward to a second visit. The new owners are Asian and are in-house running the place and aim to please--the service was very attentive. When I mentioned to the hostess that we were from Louisiana, she offered a complimentary bowl of gumbo, how often does that happen?


                  5 Replies
                  1. re: NoVaDog

                    The short answer is--NO. There's really not any good affordable Cajun or Creole food in the D.C. area that we've found. My wife is from Louisiana, and I've since spent a lot of time there. Every time I go back my heart and stomach ache for something like it around here. It seems a shame w/ all the seafood available in the area. Let us know if you find anything good and cheap. Am always on the hunt.

                    1. re: ChoppinBroccoli

                      I have to agree with ChoppinBroccoli though now I am curious about a few places including the revamped 219. The other one was lousy. The thing is, I don't want some "version" of a po'boy. I want to order a fully dressed po'boy and not have the waiter look at me like I'm nuts.

                      1. re: rHairing

                        If you want a real po boy, you have to get it in New Orleans. Unless it's served on Leidenheimer's, it's not authentic. I think it's a bit unrealistic to think that you'll find Louisiana-quality food up here. Just as unrealistic as it would be for me to head to Louisiana and expect an authentic cheesesteak. It just can't be done because the bread is a big variable.

                    2. re: NoVaDog

                      So this past weekend I find myself in Old Town with no plans and recalling the memorable meal I had here, headed to 219 to repeat it. After the first spoonful of gumbo, I knew something was amiss. It lacked that something special you just can't explain, but know instantly when its missing. No more picture of "Chef O'Brien from New Orleans" on the restaurant's bulletin board. The waitress confirmed he was no longer cooking here, went back home to Louisiana. The jambalaya was similar to the old version, but again, not quite there. I should have gone more often (or at least more than just once...).

                      I have since discovered the shrimp and grits at Acadiana, I think its the most authentically good creole dish I've had in a long time. Also have hit Johnny's Half Shell for both their gumbo and the "barbecued shrimp". The gumbo looked the part, but no complexity of flavor whatsoever, just heat. As far as the barbecue shrimp, they're not even trying. I can see how people in suits may not want to deal with the real thing, but why not just call it something else, because barbecue shrimp it was not. I left the place feeling lied to.

                      1. re: NoVaDog

                        Don't feel bad. I've looked for authentic BBQ shrimp in DC and many other places and have yet to find it except for my own kitchen following the recipe in Tom Fitzmorris' cookbook (and Pascal's Manale of course). Usually it's grilled shrimp, without heads or even shells, with some bottled BBQ sauce dumped on. Ugh.

                    3. i really liked RT's Restaurant--comes closest to authentic that i have found around here

                      3804 Mt. Vernon Ave
                      Alexandria, VA 22305

                      1. This is really taking a bit of a hike from D.C., but I've had some good (but spotty) luck at Okra's in Manassas. Decent etoufee, pretty good gumbo, really like their red beans and rice with andouille...they actually dare to approach Cajun levels of spice, too. It's a kind of fun bar as well, particularly on weekends when they have live music.