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Louisiana Express in Bethesda has permanently closed

I saw a sign on their door yesterday stating that after 20 years, it has permanently closed. I hadn't eaten there in years, and a few people had posted comments here recently that it had gone downhill.

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  1. Very sad. Along with Garfinckel's, Woodies, Raleigh's...I know Joe H. would join me in mourning the passing of another DC institution. Been eating at Louisiana Express for most of the 20+ years I've been here - remember when there was still a working cement plant at that intersection. But yes, it went downhill in a big way in the past year or so. The food had become borderline inedible. Will always miss their oyster po' boy, the spicy fries, the dirty rice...and the great brunches. Things change, I know, but not always for the better.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Just Visiting

      very sad new. i loved the crawfish bisque :(

      1. re: Just Visiting

        I'm with you. I haven't been much over the last 5 years or so, since I am no longer in the neighborhood much, having stopped working at NIH.

        Remember when it was just a dumpy place with a cafeteria line? Boy, was it good, though!

      2. very sad - always a good standby for "comfort food". I'm sure it's all the redevelopment/overdevelopment in the area - probably couldn't afford the rent anymore!

        1. Another one gone...Chris' steak house in G-burg is now gone forever as well, the building was just recently razed. So sad.
          I thought there was a second Louisiana Express run by the son in Germantown, anyone know if thats still open?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Redsgirl

            I'm sad to hear this (sort of). I loved L.E. years ago - It was so good and such a great addition to the neighborhood. Sadly it did not stand the test of time. I can only guess that it was sold to new owners or something. We went this winter (after being away for 7 years) and it was truly awful. I was served BROWN salad and the the oysters were way overcooked and tinney tasting. The crawfish etouffee had suffered as well. Sad as it is to see it go (for old time's sake) after that meal I agree that it was time.

            1. re: Redsgirl

              Last time I looked a few months ago, the French Quarter was open (near Black Rock Arts center). I was distinctly not impressed with either the food or the service. 3 tables or so on a Saturday night, and reminded me nothing of the LE I once knew. But, like OPs, haven't been to LE in awhile, mainly due to parking. When it was good, it WAS good. Had my first Abita there.

            2. I've been eating at LE for over 12 years, and I didn't know about it closing until I went by it last Thursday only to see trucks out front and guys inside packing up the kitchen equipment.

              I normally would only get Po-Boys there, and they've been consistently good through the years, so I'm surprised to hear about it "going downhill". It certainly wasn't always the cleanest place, but the food was always good to me.

              Does anyone know the exact reason? I know they didn't pay a liquor fee in 2003 and their license had been suspended temporarily. Was the county putting the screws to them?

              Whatever the exact reason is, it has to be about money. It certainly wasn't hurting for business, so I guess it was legal troubles or their rent being too high.

              3 Replies
              1. re: guardian8xxx

                There's another Louisiana-style restaurant, New Orleans Bistro, on Cordell Ave. in Bethesda. I've never seen it mentioned on Chowhound. Anyone have an opinion?

                1. re: Mister Big

                  I've only been to NOB once, and that wasn't too long after it opened. I don't remember why, but I haven't been back.

                  1. re: Mister Big

                    I thought it was only okay. I went with a friend of mine from Gulfport, MS, and she thought the red beans and rice lacked a little something. We eventually ended up talking to the manager (he came out to ask how things were)... turns out he's the owner and he's originally from New Orleans himself. The place must have been opened about 3 yrs ago at this point. When my friend mentioned her comments about the beans (can't remember at this point what was said), the manager brought out a condiment from the back, and then all was right with her world. :) Manager said they purposefully leave out this extra spice (whatever it was) because "folks up here" didn't care for it... even though it made the dish less authentic. I had the crawfish étoufée and thought it was good (but having left New Orleans by the age of 5, I couldn't tell you if it was authentic or not!).

                    So, give it a try, I guess, and if you don't like it, say something because they might make it better for you. The décor, for me, was a bit of a turn-off. I wanted a down-home place like LE, but this place looks like 1980's-style "fancy."

                2. I knew I'd find an answer here. Some friends tried to go to LE for brunch this morning but found it closed. There's no notice on the door, just a "for lease" sign. I've only been there for brunch and hadn't seen any decline in quality ... I'm sorry to see it go.