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Lafayette/Breaux Bridge/New Iberia, LA and Acadiana surrounds worth visiting for food?

  • m

I've done New Orleans a few times but never have made it over to Acadiana. I've seen various threads talking about the specifics of some of the places here but wanted to get a more high-level contextual analysis as to whether a culinary trip just to this area is worthwhile. Within some of these previous threads, I've noticed comments from natives claiming at this area, despite its food history, is something of a culinary wasteland. Within a broader context, many of the "highlights" of the region - gas station boudin, Olde Tyme Grocery po-boys, Cafe Des Amis, places that do crawfish boils, are all "just okay" or are too touristy.

So would you make this region a culinary destination in of itself? I don't want to waste precious vacation days if places are just phoning it in these days.

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    1. Anthony Bourdain recently visited the Cajun area and had lunch at Glenda's Creole Kitchen in Breaux Bridge. He had stuffed turkey wings and some kind of okra dish. Smothered okra, I believe. Poche's in Breaux Bridge is also a good lunch place. Cafe des Amis is a bit touristy. If you want the music experience in Breaux Bridge I highly recommend La Poussiere, one of the last authentic Cajun dancehalls. Open on Fridays-Sundays only.

      Just east of Breaux Bridge along I-10 is Henderson, home of Pat's Waterfront Restaurant. Great crawfish etouffee, done camp style (coarsely chopped onions and green peppers). Also an authentic okra and shrimp gumbo. If you have never had this, or only had a New Orleans variation of okra gumbo, know that in Cajun land this is cooked without a roux. I should say, the okra is cooked so long it browns somewhat and breaks down and becomes the thickening agent. This is home style food! For music, Henderson has Angelle's Whiskey River Landing along the levee for Cajun or Zydeco music on weekends (really hopping!) and McGee's Restaurant, pretty quiet.

      Just south of Lafayette is Maurice, home of Hebert's Specialty Meats and Soops Restaurant (same family) next door. Andrew Zimmern featured their turducken on an episode of Bizzare Foods, but his surely missed out if he didn't eat from the regular menu. Their seafood gumbo is excellent, very dark roux! One of their lunch specials is catfish courtbouillon with rice and some pieces of fried catfish. Excellent. They are also good for fried chicken and rice dressing, or rice and gravy day.

      In Lafayette there are some touristy places, but locals like Poor Boy'Riverside Inn on the side of town going to Broussard, in an industrial area. The duck and andouille gumbo or the chicken and sausage gumbo are really satisfying! Lafayette has a few more upscale places like Cafe Vermilionville and Charley G's. Check them out too. Vermilionville, the Acadian historical village park, has really good chicken and sausage gumbo on its lunch menu.

      I would have to say that the places in Abbeville for oysters have gone downhill since the BP oil spill, unfortunately, but Abbeville is a popular destination for boiled crawfish at Cajun Claws on Charity Street. Richard's Seafood Patio is also a tradition.

      This link is good for reviews of places with boudin. http://www.boudinlink.com/
      I like NuNu's in Milton and Maurice and Johnson's Boucaniere in Lafayette, but some swear by T-Boys in Mamou, Billy's Boudin and Cracklin in Opelousas. Opelousas also has the Palace Cafe by the Court House for lunch.

      Good luck!

      2 Replies
      1. re: poncedeleroy

        Thanks for posting this. We are thinking of making a trip that way.

        1. re: poncedeleroy

          What do you know of Pont Breaux? It looks to be the only place in Breaux Bridge that has reasonably priced food and music...

          1. Pics of me cooking okra and shrimp gumbo!
            Just scroll to post 240 by My Confusing Horoscope, which is me! Play by play.

            4 Replies
            1. re: poncedeleroy

              That gumbo looked so good that I'm going to make it tonight! Never done it without a roux before- does it still taste like gumbo?

              1. re: Clarkafella

                Like okra gumbo, yes. Best tasting okra ever. Won't taste like roux, of course.

                1. re: poncedeleroy

                  Well, I made it the other day and you were right, it was wonderful! And as one of my friends pointed out, it was also gluten free! One thing that was different with mine though- on yours you said that you sometimes add a little water. Mine never ever had any need- in fact I was a little concerned that there was too much liquid!

                  1. re: Clarkafella

                    So glad to hear that it came out right and you enjoyed it!

            2. Make sure to try the French Press for breakfast, brunch on Sunday, or dinner on Fri. or Sat. nite.
              Justin (owner/chef) was just nominated for a James Beard award and is turning out some amazing food. The cajun eggs benedict for breakfast will bring tears to your eyes it is so good. Good wine list. A innovative 5 course tasting menu paired with wine is a bargain (you would pay $200/person at Daniel's in NYC and it wouldn't be as good).

              1. We just returned from a trip to the Southeast, and food was a big part of what we were looking for. We had a wonderful meal at Crazy 'Bout Crawfish in Breaux Bridge - nothing fancy, but just what the name implies. We were lucky to be there during the season, it might not be so good with any other entree, but 3 pounds of crawfish with a couple of sides were plenty for two of us. And DH, a beer fanatic and snob, fell in love with LA31, a local brew. We were driving, so managed to bring a couple of 6-packs home to California.

                1. Catahoula's Restaurant in Grand Coteau, just off I49 a few miles north of Lafayette, is now re-opened, but only on weekends. Lunch/brunch and dinner Friday through Sunday. The website does a good job of conveying the atmosphere and menu. Well worth the drive.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Owlfred

                    That's good to know..thanks. Looking at the "seasonal menu" was was surprised that the only crawfish I saw was an etoufee and even that is only with a seafood platter.

                  2. oh my goodness! is paris worth a detour?
                    lafayette is probly better than new orleans ( and i dearly love new orleans)
                    better ,fresher,fatter oysters. better turtle soup, better slow cooked duck, better etouffe, ...
                    crawfish heaven ( breaux bridge)
                    prejeans--is great--and( the locals think it is too touristy)--it's just plain great
                    you almost can not get poor on that side of the atchafalaya---not always fancy--but wowee

                    1. IMO, Cajun country far surpasses NO in food. NO is probably good if you have money, but I never partook in the white table cloth. Cajun country is awesome, and not by any means too touristy. When I went in the spring there were not that many people at all. Random little places have awesome food. I didn't even know any of the specifics (e.g. I didn't know gas station boudin was actually a common thing) but the food made the trip great.
                      In summary, this is definitely a culinary destination, if not THE culinary destination in the US.

                      1. If you are going to in the Breaux Bridge area early don't miss eating breakfast at Cafe Des Amis - http://cafedesamis.com/

                        Get there before 9am to get a table and have your dancing shoes on! Truly an experience not to miss (and the food is good too!).

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: DDeRossette

                          I've not heard any mention of Mulate's in Breaux Bridge. Is that a place worth making a trip to? Heard it was good food and atmoshere (cajun music).

                          1. re: amelee71

                            The Lafayette gang will have to speak up but everyone I know wrote that place off thirty years ago. Pat's in Henderson gets a lot of gief but I think that's a matter of having been the Big Dog for a long time. It wasn't bad the last time I was there, about three years ago. Camp etouffee was just fine.

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              I really enjoyed Pat's as well the last time we went.

                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                It appears that Mulate's BB closed in fall of 2011. NOLA location still open.

                                1. re: amelee71

                                  I think BB Mulate's may now be Pont Breaux's
                                  Cajun Restaurant