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Cajun / Creole food in DC?

  • c

Hey everyone,

I recently moved from New Orleans and have been craving the food!. I've been to the place in Adam's Morgan (ok) and Acadiana, which I liked. Any other restaraunts that fit the description?

Thanks for all the help!

Also: does anyone know where to get tasso ham? I tried whole foods georgetown, harris teeter, but no luck...

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  1. You might like Art and Soul, Art Smith's (formerly of Oprah Winfrey fame) place in the Liaison Hotel near Union Station. I ate there this weekend. It's Southern, not specifically cajun/creole. His fried oysters on a hoecake with remoulade really hit the spot. Think Georgia or the Carolinas, not New Orleans. The Brunswick stew put me in the mind of gumbo, though it is NOT a gumbo...it has that same all day, cooked from leftovers kind of love in it.

    I've had reasonable gumbo at Little Fountain cafe in Adams Morgan, but it's been a while.

    The Main Avenue Fish market vendors help satisfy my cravings for fried oysters - though they serve white bread, not good French bread.

    For the French side of your Creole cravings, you should check out La Chaumiere. It's definitely more traditional french, but the fish/sauce combos bring some of the Louisiana preparations to mind.

    Some people rave about Georgia Brown's, but I've never tried it.

    I am a New Orleans native, so I feel your pain. Some days I just want a good plate of red beans and rice with a pork chop. Can't help you with tasso.

    1. oh, how i wish there were some good, authentic cajun/creole places around here! but, in the meantime, this thread may give you some ideas of places that may at least tickle your memories of the "real deal": http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/451897

      1. RT's is decent in Virginia...I think they have a half price wine bottles night- went there a long time ago but I remember enjoying it.


        2 Replies
        1. re: xena1441

          RT's has a very good gumbo, their Death by Gumbo, which is an entree. About as good as anything you can get in Louisiana. The shrimp and grits at Acadiana is also worthwhile. It's not what you expect when you get it, the grits are in a cake form. Problem with these dishes is that a recipe doesn't work, you have to taste and make adjustments, so sometimes they can be off depending on who's making it.

          901 New York Ave NW Ste 200A, Washington, DC 20001

          1. re: justaddwater

            Second RT's gumbo. I've sent several Louisiana natives there and the only thing they've been disappointed by is the price. It's not cheap. Lunch is a few bucks cheaper, but it's far superior to more expensive gumbos I've had in DC.

            I grew up on shrimp and grits made the Acadiana way: cold grits cut into slices and fried. Every place else that serves it just lumps grits into a pile and pours the shrimp over it. I guess it depends on what you're used to.

            901 New York Ave NW Ste 200A, Washington, DC 20001

        2. You want Johnny's Half Shell. I can recommend the ettouffe, the oyster po boy, and the gumbo. The po boys are only served at lunch, however. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for. RT's also carries the usual classics, but I've found their gumbo to be a bit too spicy for me. Everything else is excellent, but not upscale white-tablecloth like Johnny's.


          You can find tasso ham and real andouille sausage at Eastern Market, Canales Meats I'm pretty sure carries both.

          1. Southside 815 in Alexandria has some of the classics-even red beans and rice. The prices can't be beat.... with daily specials (half-price po boys Mondays) and Happy Hour deals to boot.

            1 Reply
            1. re: monavano

              Love Southside you can't real beat the prices

            2. i've been on a similar search...

              tasso is hard to find around here, but monkeyrotica's advice is right, check out eastern market.

              the place in adam's morgan is cute but terribly inauthentic, as i'm sure you found.

              avoid the red and the black's food at all costs. their 'chicken gumbo' is so bland and tastesless. the roux is see-through. their red beans are pathetic. they just pretty much dropped some red beans in a pot, no mashing, no trinity, no spices. just rice and beans.

              the best gumbo i've had (i think they do a good muffaletta too) is at the SBC cafe in herndon. dark roux, spicy, full of goodness.

              1. I can confirm that Eastern Market has andouille, tasso, and boudin.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ad.mich

                  Awesome! I checked out Soutside 815, looks great, I think I'll try and get there in the next couple of weekends.

                2. I'd second RT's - the food is decent and it's the closest thing I've found to a traditional New Orleans cajun/creole restaurant around here. They have shrimp and crawfish beneigts that are quite tasty. I know some people like the Lousiana Kitchen in Bethesda, but it's never been a favorite of mine.

                  I can also confirm that Canale's at Eastern Market sells tasso. I've bought it from them before.

                  1. I've been ordering tasso, andouille, etc, from cajungrocer.com. In my experience, New Orleans food is really just never nowhere near as good outside of Louisiana--and I LOVE the stuff. Better off making it at home!

                    1. Bayou Bakery is new to the Louisiana cooking scene. The beignets are solid. Haven't tried the gumbos or muffalettas though.


                      6 Replies
                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        I tried the gumbo 3 weeks ago and it was a disappointment it had heat but lack savory flavor

                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                          Hmmm.... I wonder if Bayou Bakery will be making king cakes. That could be a big money maker for them. Beats $45 for having one shipped.

                          1. re: justaddwater

                            THE WASHINGTON POST, March 2, 2011 – The King Cake of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery was the only King Cake from the DC Metro Area to be selected by the editors of The Washington Post as one of the Top Five King Cakes in the country.

                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                              cool. i really like chef guas. he is a very nice guy!

                              i saw that bayou is serving cubans for lunch today. (his dad is cuban, mom a native new orleans lady). chef is native new orleans, too.

                              he was runner uo as "people's choice best new mid-atlantic chef" by bon appetit.

                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                I had a slice a few weeks ago, they were selling by the slice, which is a plus for the waistline. It was a bit heavier and richer than I've had before, but no complaints here. They also have pralines. He is a talented baker.

                            2. re: monkeyrotica

                              I see that Tom Sietsema has discovered Bayou Bakery and it'll be in his Post review this weekend. Let's see if "there goes the neighborhood."

                            3. It's out of the way, but anyone have any experiences with this place in Germantown, MD? http://thefrenchquartercafe.com/

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: kukubura

                                A few years ago I did, and I really liked it (and everyone I was with). I had thought I read or heard that it closed, but that seems not to be the case (which I wish I knew not too long ago).

                                  1. re: Dennis S

                                    It is closed. This is frustrating. Too many places are going out of business.

                              2. I've had good luck at the Acadiana downtown - good BBQ shrimp (cajun style), gumbo, blackened redfish and fired green tomatoes. Not strictly authentic cajun by any stretch of the imagination, but they do seem to provide very good dishes with a cajun or creole flair. Somewhat expensive, though.

                                901 New York Ave NW Ste 200A, Washington, DC 20001

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: DCRandy

                                  Cajun Experience that is in Leesburg is now opening another branch in DC. They said the soft opening was today I believe and the full opening in a few weeks.

                                2. Just for completeness, I'd add in Johnny's Half Shell, they have a few traditional dishes including gumbo and bbq shrimp. I had their gumbo and can report it is hot and that's it, no complexity of flavor whatsoever, very disappointing.

                                  Johnny's Half Shell
                                  400 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                  1. Has no one been to Louisiana Kitchen in Bethesda. It's not quite DC, but not that far either. It is the step child of the old Louisiana Express. Great Gumbo and Jambalaya, hot andouille sausage, beignets that should only be eaten naked (powder sugar explosions sort of total your clothes) and other yummies. Roasted chicken for the spice challenged is pretty good too.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: mrsphud

                                      Outside of the gumbo, the reviews for Louisiana Kitchen have been decidedly mixed. I haven't been since it changed owners.

                                      1. re: mrsphud

                                        I went to Louisiana Kitchen in Bethesda about a year ago and had the Jambalaya - it was dry and wasn't very flavorful (wasn't horrid, but just wasn't exciting). Since it is close to where I work, I'll probably try again at some point, because I really like Jambalaya.

                                        1. re: simongsmith

                                          I went last week and that was the exact same impression I got from the oyster po'boy. It's very "ok" but nothing I'd rush back to try.

                                          1. re: reiflame

                                            Louisiana Express was a stand-by for us for many years. We loved it. The new place is just not worth it. The food was lackluster at best. The menu is the same but the execution is totally lacking. The old place was packed most of the time, with a line out the door. The new place is mostly empty most of the time. For a reason.

                                      2. Bonjour Cgs32. For makings, there is no place up here to consistently find the goods. Restaurants are uneven because they must import which most don't. or won't . Acceptance depends upon your taste and cravings. I've tried Cure 81 but it ain't tasso. And tasso is just dry cured and seasoned and really nothing special till you don't have it. I have good taste memory. This causes me to import much to cook and chat with the head cook before I will eat there. Just introduce yourself, tell him how much you miss NO and ask him will you be happy eating at his place. You'll be surprised how many will say, "not tonight".

                                        22 Replies
                                          1. re: agarnett100

                                            A new place on 18th St NW in Dupont, the Cajun Experience, just opened this week. Their first foray into DC, but have 2 other restaurants in the area. Didn't have a full dinner, just appetizers, but was pretty good.


                                            1. re: eyln20

                                              Wow, that's been a fast expansion. Didn't know about the Purcelville location.

                                              1. re: eyln20

                                                A good shout out for the po boy at Cajun Experience on 18th St, just below T St., NW.

                                                The bread is a knockout. They say it is from New Orleans; I'm not sure how that works, but it is perfect. They have a chipotle remoulade that is totally kick ass. I could drink that stuff. With that sauce and that bread, I don't think it matters which po boy you get, they're all going to be good.

                                                1. re: Steve

                                                  They get bread shipped up from Leidenheimer Bakery in NOLA, one of the primary bread suppliers for po boy shops and fine dining establishments alike. Leidenheimer does seem to have some distribution set up in our area ( http://www.leidenheimer.com/by_state.... ) but either way it's a good move. We had dinner at the Leesburg restaurant a while back and the bread was a great touch. The humidity down there leads to some amazing bread. Can't duplicate it up here.

                                                  Gotta get to the DC spot and check it out. Back then they were brand new but showed definite promise.

                                                  1. re: kukubura

                                                    Any other menu recommendations?

                                                    I still don't understand how someone can ship bread from that far and it's still perfect.

                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                      Well, when we went it was a different kitchen and it was quite some time ago. Still, I really liked the crawfish etouffe. We weren't crazy about the gumbo, but like I said it was a long time ago. I think I wrote a lengthy recap if you search for the full Cajun Experience thread.

                                                      Never mind, it's linked at the bottom of this very page: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/616146

                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                        Steve, you can get bread shipped from Poilane in Paris, possibly the most famous bread bakery in the world. It can be done!

                                                    2. re: Steve

                                                      chipotle remoulade. wow. that ain't new orleans.....

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        Yeah I was thinking that, but I didn't wanna say anything...

                                                        1. re: kukubura

                                                          i would hope that they'd have regular remoulade, too -- for people who want "authentic" and/or people who are sick. and. tired. of chipotle-everything.

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            You won't be sick and tired of this sauce. It is fantastic. Not sure they call it a remoulade.....

                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                              steve, if it is chipotle, i will be sick and tired of it from the get-go. i only use one chipotle (maybe just a half) when i make a huge pot of chili -- and the adobo, well, it just gets frozen like ted williiams.

                                                        2. re: alkapal

                                                          agreed chipotle remoulade? c'mon man

                                                        3. re: Steve

                                                          Following up on my own rec, I tried the pot roast po boy at Cajun Experience. I like this even better than the fried oysters; it is a messier, more sensational sandwich.

                                                          However, just as I thought, getting bread from New Orleans is problematic. This loaf was very stale. Ugh. They already have three locations and I think are looking to add two others. Just like Taylor Gourmet, it may be difficult to count on a fresh supply.

                                                    3. re: Bonstempsrouler


                                                      i'm not sure that i get the gist of your post. is your point that restaurants cannot get tasso ham and other "NO" ingredients here -- or that they WILL not? i've been the recipient of shipments of fine tasso, boudin, andouille and more.... filé and bay leaves -- they are easy to find. bell peppers. check. gulf shrimp -- well, they ain't straight off the boat, but good shrimp can be found. oysters -- in season. check. (btw, harris teeter has a spicy andouille that is pretty darn good).

                                                      i just think there may just a lack of interest from those who'd want to open a cajun or creole-themed restaurant. maybe they'd prefer to stay in louisiana? i wish more would come here, for sure.

                                                      to be honest, i like to cook creole or cajun food at home, but sometimes want a quick "fix" like a really good shrimp po-boy or andouille on french baguette with remoulade. gumbos are easy to make, and so is jambalaya. my momma always made a great shrimp creole, one of her prized family recipes, which i made for all of our family for her last birthday party.

                                                      right now, i'm down in sw florida, so don't need any bubbling stews, but i'm sure mr. alka would welcome a nice gumbo right about now, as he comes in from shoveling the snow. (good news for us, though, is that he is traveling to lafayette in a couple of days, so i'll task him with being a food courier on the trip home to dc). when i return to the cold climes of d.c., then, i can make some gumbo.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        alkapal sorry my post was unclear. The point I was making is that it is exceedingly difficult to replicate South Louisiana food outside of New Orleans (NO). My experience is that restaurant’s NO food up here is uneven. But that’s understandable. The makings aren’t available in the DC area and local substitutes can’t produce the requisite taste. Importation of the foods and the makings is the only viable alternative. However, it’s expensive. Restaurants are a low cost industry. They will try to cut corners to save money. For instance, they will use Cure 81 instead of Tasso and Kielbasa instead of Andouille. Remember, South Louisiana has acidic soil. This produces the sweetness of produce and other crops. The humidity causes a short shelf life so delivery distances are short. The flour is a finer grind than Northern flour so the roux is different and so are the red beans. Your Mama was right when she told you everything is different in New Orleans. C’est bon.

                                                        1. re: Bonstempsrouler

                                                          New Orleans Cafe in Adams Morgan does this (subbing Hillshire farm Kielbasa for andouille sausage) .. and I find it unacceptable.

                                                          1. re: Bonstempsrouler

                                                            bonstemp, you make an excellent point about PRODUCE! i hadn't thought of that, but it is so critical. i also didn't realize that the flour is different! kielbasa for andouille?: oh NO! that's sacrilege.
                                                            question: do you use white or yellow meal in N.O.?

                                                            welcome to the d.c. boards. i look forward to your posts. you on "home cooking" too?

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              Alkapal: I left NO a long time ago but she still holds a spell upon me. The food is the bond. With some effort, luck and maybe a little voudou, I cook the stuff with a resignation there is no other way to eat it. Nevertheless, I keep a sharp eye out looking for an easier way.
                                                              Corn breads and muffins aren't a staple of NO food. But then NO isn't really part of the South. What is used in the city is mostly yellow with little white but I found those guys to be transplanted from Virginia.
                                                              I don't post much. Much of the NO related posts are from travelers. They have no idea what it means to miss New Orleans.

                                                              1. re: Bonstempsrouler

                                                                oh, i feel for your food homesickness, bonstemsrouler. please don't be a posting "stranger" on these boards.

                                                            2. re: Bonstempsrouler

                                                              Canales Meats in Eastern Market carries an andouille that contains chunks of ham and potato. They also carry "pickle meat" for gumbo.

                                                        2. Later in the spring, both the LSU Alumni Assoc and the Lousiana State Society will have a crawfish boil. These are major events, catered by outfits from Northern Louisiana. At about the same time, Acadiana will most likely start up their Friday happy hour crawfish boil.

                                                          901 New York Ave NW Ste 200A, Washington, DC 20001

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: justaddwater

                                                            i remember posting about that LSU alum crawfish boil last year (or the year before) and i think it got nixelated by "the team." why? i haven't the foggiest.

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              Better hurry! Only 1,496 tickets left for the LCC crawfish boil.


                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                I went to one a couple of years back at Ft. Hunt. The food is great, caterer was from northern Louisiana. They had just come from San Diego where they had catered a 50,000 lb event. It will sell out. 15,000 lb and 1,500 tickets means 10 lbs a head, which is plenty and they do have other stuff to eat (sausage, jambalaya), a zydeco band, and its pretty much drink as much beer as you want, after all, you have to wash them down. It is kind of major and the lines are long, I got in line very early so it wasn't too bad. If you are going for just the crawdads and are uptight about the wait, probably not worth the $45 price tag.


                                                            2. Don't know why this hasn't been mentioned yet (probably because it's not in DC proper) but Clarence's Taste of New Orleans up in Edgewood (near Aberdeen) is owned and operated by a former NOLA cook (former chef at Coop's in the French Quarter). It's got some really fine NOLA and cajun food. And it's a loose, casual place in an old house, so it carries a little bit of that NOLA vibe.

                                                              10 Replies
                                                              1. re: kukubura

                                                                Totally second the Clarences rec. Close enough to still be relevant to this board. It's about 10 minutes off exit 77 of I-95. Excellent gumbo! And Clarence the chef-owner is the real deal.

                                                                And for car-less DCers: it's next to the Edgewood rail station on the MARC Penn line.

                                                                1. re: bordeauxfan

                                                                  Yeah, like it's practically in the MARC parking lot.

                                                                2. re: kukubura

                                                                  Oh my lord, now you have me dreaming about the Chicken Tchoupitoulas at Coop's! Thanks so much for posting this (former New Orleans resident- and one thinks moving here from CA is challenging!) - we'll have to make a trip to Edgewood.

                                                                  I am always disappointed by New Orleans food outside of New Orleans - and not just in DC. We do cook it at home, though. Yeah, I always have to laugh at what restaurants will try to pass off as andouille. I mean, c'mon!

                                                                  We went to the crawfish boil at Ft. Hunt and knew it wasn't going to be good when we saw the truck from Shreveport. In my opinion, only people who live south of I-10 know how to boil crawfish properly. ;-)

                                                                  1. re: VaPaula

                                                                    This made me smile - I'm from New Orleans and the "south of I-10" claim certainly is true! Acadiana's boiled crawfish are pretty good, but pricey.

                                                                    901 New York Ave NW Ste 200A, Washington, DC 20001

                                                                    1. re: dcandohio

                                                                      Cajun Experience, opened up a new spot in Dupot and Saturday all-you-can-eat crawfish specials for $35 per person.


                                                                    2. re: VaPaula

                                                                      Paula, I had lunch today at Clarence's. Enjoyed BBQ shrimp in a real New Orleans style sauce: worcestershire sauce, garlic, butter, white wine, spices. Had to request extra French bread to sop it all up. Washed it down with a Hurricane. Closed my eyes and pretended I was 1000 miles south.

                                                                      I asked Clarence about your chicken. He renamed it on his current menu to be Voodoo Chicken. Said that the original name would be too tough for non-Louisianans. :)

                                                                      1. re: bordeauxfan

                                                                        LOL, he makes a good point! Thanks so much for the review and info - must get there.

                                                                        I love BBQ shrimp. My husband just made some for our MG dinner last month (loosely based on a Mr. B's recipe). We like lots of rosemary in ours, but as long as there's worcestershire, tons of garlic, butter and spices, I'm a happy camper.

                                                                        1. re: VaPaula

                                                                          We enjoyed the bbq shrimp there too but they weren't head-on. I think Clarence should go the full hog with them. I know a lot of Americans are squeamish about that sort of thing but he happens to have landed in one of the few areas outside his home turf where everyone is enthusiastic about cracking open crustaceans at the table.

                                                                          1. re: kukubura

                                                                            Agreed. As much as I complain about how messy they are to eat, all the yummy stuff in the heads adds so much flavor.

                                                                    3. re: kukubura

                                                                      I went to Clarence's today for lunch. I had Shrimp Creole (recommendation of waitress when I asked for a recommendation) and it was hot but tasteless. The shrimp was tasteless and the tomato, onion, bell pepper, celery combination was just nothing. This is not a difficult dish. This place also is a little ill kept, although the bathrooms were clean.

                                                                    4. The Po Boy at Cajun Experience on 18th St. has now completely gone downhill. The bread is now supermarket quality - and not the good kind. The blackened shrimp is now reddened shrimp, slightly embarrassed. And the price in the restaurant is a dollar higher than the price posted on the menu outside.

                                                                      Less for more.

                                                                      1. I was driving down H street this past weekend and saw TruOrleans. Anyone know anything about it?

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: kukubura

                                                                          $6 bottles of Abita, $18 for underseasoned read beans and rice, and the upstairs is a sauna. Pass.

                                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                            In the chef's bio, Andre Miller says his cooking philosopy is; "use the best ingredients, don`t over season and let the natural flavors shine through". I'm all for that normally, but I've never had that kind of meal in New Orleans.

                                                                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                              I can't afford to eat at a restaurant with a "philosophy." Particularly if that philosophy involves paying $18 for a plate of beans and rice with no seasoning in it.

                                                                              1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                LOL so very true. Bland never sells in NOLA. There's a reason Emeril says BAM.

                                                                              1. re: mdpilam

                                                                                Well alright everybody! Thanks for saving me the trouble!