A Foodie’s Guide to Lafayette, Louisiana (the Capital of Cajun Country)

It’s that time of year. Festival season has arrived in Lafayette! While having spent the majority of my time in New Orleans at the Jazz festival in the past few years, this year I am staying put in my new hometown of Lafayette to attend Festivale Internationale de Louisiana.  So I am preparing this guide for those out of town visitors and locals alike looking for some local gems to dine at and to experience cajun cooking (and the occasional non-cajun meal).  As a caveat, my followers will know that I am not cajun, nor am I even from here but having spent the past two and a half in this town and being an avid foodie, I’ve tasted my way through town and can confidently list my favorite places to dine which is quite personal to my taste. I hope you enjoy my picks.

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1. Dark Roux |3524 Kaliste Saloom Road | (337) 504-2346

Dark Roux is Lafayette’s newest farm-to-table restaurant focusing on serving local foods and telling the story of Louisiana foods. The menu features local farmer’s and suppliers such as Gotreaux Family Farms, Mary Mary Markets and Bread & Circus Provisions. Favorites include boudin balls for appetizer and boudin benny for brunch. The restaurant also has a bar and pantry stocked with local products. On weekends a live band plays outside making it the perfect place to brunch or have a romantic dinner with your loved one.  (see menu).

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2. Bread and Circus Provisions | 258 Bendel Road | (337) 408-3930

It all started with a condiment and charcuterie stand at the farmer’s market at the Horse Farm in Lafayette and evolved into a restaurant last year and brought with it a breath of fresh air to the local Lafayette dining scene. This hip restaurant features local favorites with a modern and unique twist. (see menu).

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3. The French Press |  214 E Vermilion St | (337) 233-9449

Chef Justin Girouard spins out some delicious local fare with his own personal touch. He makes his own boudin (not blood sausage as in France but Louisiana’s version of boudin: a mix of sausage of pork, rice, and cayenne).  A great place for brunch and lunch. Everything on the menu is delicious but an all time favorite  is the Cajun Benedict (see my post dedicated to the Benedict…because it is that good)!

French Press

4. Bon Temps Grill | 1312 Verot School Road | (337) 706-8850

Bon Temps Grill is where we take our out-of-town guests for a good local meal. Bon Temp Grill serves “Swamp Edge” cuisine in an urban Cajun atmosphere.  The restaurant layout is cool and the food is fantastic. Favorites include the tuna tartar served with a side of potato chips and the buttery bbq shrimp. Don’t leave without tasting the bbq shrimp, it is absolutely to-die-for! And if you are bold enough try some of the frog legs.

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5. Pamplona Tapas Bar | 631 Jefferson St | (337) 232-0070

While it is hard to find any other types of authentic foods in Lafayette there are a few hits that should not be missed. Pamplona Tapas Bar is our favorite go-to spot for tapas and wine. The restaurant features Spanish cuisine en par to many tapas we’ve tasted in Spain. The cocktails are unique and delicious as are the large variety of spanish wines. So if you are looking for something other than your traditional cajun, hit up Pamplona located in the heart of downtown Lafayette.

6. Saigon Noodles |2865 Ambassador Caffery Parkway |

One of the few authentic vietnamese restaurants in Lafayette, Saigon serves up some of the best vietnamese dishes in town. Located in a strip mall the place can easily be missed. Favorites include the bbq short rib meal served with rice and salad and the large variety of pho to slurp through. Saigon Noodles recently opened a sister restaurant on Johnson street called Blu Basil Wine & Grill.  

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7. The Saint Street Inn |

The Saint Street Inn was founded by Nathan Stubbs and Mary Tutwiler, two journalists turned chefs determined to keep the cooking local. Seafood from the Gulf, produce from Acadiana’s farms and innovative cooking set the table for an inspired menu.  Nestled in the heart of one of Lafayette’s oldest neighborhoods, The Saint Street Inn also plays host to a variety of community events, from benefits and fundraisers to live music events and cookoffs. Both the kitchen and bar stay open late and there’s always a spot on the big front porch to sip a local brew and watch the sun go down.

8. Johnson’s Boucaniere | 1111 Saint John St| (337) 269-8878

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Johnson’s Boucaniere opened in 1937 in Eunice, La and relocated to Lafayette some years ago.  Boucaniere which means ‘smokehouse’ in english is a popular spot for lunch in Lafayette. At JB they smoke all of their speciality meats which include pork sausage, pork and turkey tasso and beef jerky. They also serve plate lunches from their in house made smoked meats which are made fresh weekly. Make sure not to miss this one.

9. Pop’s Poboys | 740 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, LA 70501 | ((337) 534-0621)

I’ve never been a fan of Po-Boys (shocking!) until I tried Pop’s. Pop’s Poboys opened in April 2015 and is located in beautiful downtown Lafayette. Chef Collin Cormier and team bring eclectic flair to Louisiana’s favorite sandwich and beyond. Their twist on the traditional poboys are out of this world delicious. Favorites so far include the Banh Banh shrimp and the Hot Hot for all those fried chicken lovers out there.

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Photo courtesy of Pop’s Poboy website

For desserts and coffee these three are my go-to in town for quality coffee and sweets:

10. Carpe Diem! Gelato-Espresson Bar | 812 Jefferson St, Lafayette, LA | (337) 534-4155

If you crave real gelato and dreams of being back in Italy make your way to Carpe Diem located on Jefferson street to get your cravings fulfilled.

11. Reve Coffee Roasters | 200A Jefferson St, Lafayette, LA 70501 | (337) 534-8336

Reve is a micro-coffee roaster servicing the greater Acadiana area (and beyond) in the retail and wholesale of freshly roasted, specialty grade coffee beans. Be careful as their coffee is addictive!

12. The Lab | 1042 Camellia Blvd. #6, Lafayette, LA | 337.889.5782

The Lab handcrafted coffees creates delicious coffee flavors that are hard to find around here. Not to mention their delicious baked good and house-made gelato. Located in the beautiful River Ranch neighborhood the Lab is definitely a treat.

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Have I missed any of your favorites? Please feel free to share as I continue to eat my way through Lafayette!

(Please note some of the photos are taken from the restaurant’s online gallery: French Press, Johnson’s Boucaniere, Saigon Noodles, Jolie’s, Olde Tyme Grocery + Bread and Circus).

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Addicted to Fried Chicken since 2010- Rusted Rooster (Lafayette, LA)

There is something about fried chicken and biscuits that has me completely hooked. Growing up in Canada I never had fried chicken (unless you count KFC) but moving to the south opened up a whole new culinary door for me. From fried chicken,gravy and biscuits to the more traditional cajun dishes such as gumbo and red beans and rice, let’s just say I’m hooked. I recently discovered the Rusted Rooster, a small non-pretentious diner style joint on Saint Landry street in downtown Lafayette. Seems like the secret is already out and I’m the last to know as there is quite a wait for lunch and breakfast. Their fried chicken is out-of-this-world delicious as is their selection of burgers, sandwiches and breakfast staples. Their morning hash brown has me craving on a weekly basis. For those seeking a healthier alternative to fried goodness, fear not, as you can order everything grilled.

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Rusted Rooster
105 St. Landry St.
Lafayette, LA 70506
(337) 534-4135
Facebook.com/RustedRoosterLafayette

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Dark Roux (Lafayette, LA)

We were so excited to try out the newly renovated Dark Roux (formerly Brick and Spoon) in Lafayette. Everything from the fresh decor, to the food, drinks and service was perfect. The food is farm to table, focusing on local produce and ingredients and the menu is a perfect blend of traditional cajun with a modern twist.

image_6imageimage_1We started our meal off with a bag of beignets which were like no other beignets I’ve had in Louisiana- round and fluffy with a hollow inside. image_2

For our main dishes, we ordered the chicken biscuits and traditional benny.  The chicken biscuits was a serving of perfectly tender and surprisingly flavorful fried chicken topped with a sunny side up egg and white gravy on two biscuits. It was so delicious I was almost tempted to order a second order. image_3The traditional benny consisted of fluffy buttermilk biscuits, a delicious house cured ham, collard greens, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. The Count ate it up in seconds but was left hungry for more as it does not come with any sides. Advice to the hungry ones, order some sides! image_5Both the Count and I were very impressed with the food at Dark Roux. The prices are a tad bit higher than your average breakfast/brunch spot in Lafayette but I can only assume that is because of the use of local and fresh ingredients. Either way, we will definitely be going back. 
image_4Dark Roux on Urbanspoon

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“Swamp Edge’ Cuisine at Steve & Pats Bon Temps Rouler (Lafayette, LA)

From Philadelphia to Lafayette, our latest move has landed us in the heart of Cajun country. And while many locals enjoy the likes of shrimps and grits and shrimp and sausage gumbo in their homes, we have to scavenge the country looking for good cajun food. This is how we found Steve and Pat’s Bon Temps Rouler, a modern restaurant serving traditional and innovative cajun food (see menu). 

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Whenever Gumbo is on the menu I never fail to order it. Gumbo, especially a good home-style gumbo is a traditional Souther Louisiana which quickly became a favorite with my tastebuds. The Smoked Bird & Andouille Gumbo at Steve and Pat’s was no exception.

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The meal started with the Tuna tartar. A generous portion of chopped raw tuna served on top of fresh lime marinated avocado in a bed of  citrus ponzu sauce, served with home made potato chips. It was a creative spin on the traditional tuna tartar and definitely one of my favorite versions.

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Next came the creamy Bbq shrimp and grits….followed by another….and then another (it was that good). The Jumbo shrimps were cooked in New Orleans style BBQ sauce which was creamy, buttery and oh so good served over roasted jalapeno cheese grits.

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The Count ordered the Garlic Panneed Frog Legs for our guests because when in Cajun country, we must eat like the cajuns. Frog legs are perhaps the one thing that I have never tried and am not willing to try but by the bare bones that remained on the plate I assumed that it was one tasty leg of a frog.

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The Seafood Creole Cobb Salad was a great salad for those who love their seafood. Generous portions of lump crabmeat and shrimp served with a few pieces of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, apple wood smoked bacon, cheddar, boiled egg and red onions. The large portion makes it a great main dish however, I found that the proportion of seafood to mixed greens was a little too much.

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Bon Temps Grill on Urbanspoon

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The French Press (Lafayette, LA)

Our latest move has brought us down to the heart of Louisiana: Lafayette. And after two months of settling in I am finally discovering the food scene. Of course, it is not Philadelphia, New York or New Orleans which makes the Hungry Nomad very hungry and in constant search of good food. That is how I was led to the French Press which in my mind is the greatest thing to hit this town. Innovative meals and funky spaces are a rarity in this part of the country and I long for my days spent dining in Philly and New York. But walking into the French Press I felt like I was right back in the city.

1-image_2 Owners Justin and Margaret Girouard have created a funky space where local hipsters and hungry diners blend in perfect harmony. The restaurant features many of its original pieces left behind from its original tenants.  High ceilings, peeling paint, exposed brick  and concrete floors give it a certain old time charm. But what makes this place filled with hungry diners and a line up out the door is the fantastic and innovative food.

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Chef Justin Girouard has created an award-worthy menu consisting of creative dishes which will certainly leave you wanting more (see menu). Our brunch started off with a perfect bloody mary topped off with pickled okras, spicy beans and olives. And while it did take a good 15-20 minutes for our drinks to come out it was well worth the wait. Ironically, it was the french press coffee which took longer than anything to make it to our table. 3-image_7

The cajun benedict was the highlight, a perfectly plated eggs benedict topped with the house gumbo. What an amazing dish. I polished my plate clean and as a result will be going back just for my weekly intake of this wonderful concoction.

4-image_9 5-image_12Our table also ordered the stuffed french toast for dessert. It was bursting with a soft creamy cream cheese topped with a berry-champagne compote. Another to die for dish!

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The verdict of our first brunch at the French Press? Best brunch spot in Louisiana. If you are planning a trip through Louisiana, the French Press is an absolute must.


 

The French Press on Urbanspoon

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Emeril’s Delmonico- Central City (New Orleans, USA)

I walked into Emeril’s Delmonico with high expectations since it was my first time at an Emeril Lagasse restaurant. We wanted to try at least one of his three restaurants before leaving New Orleans.  The choices were Emeril’s Delmonico, Emerill’s and Nola Restaurant. We decided to try Delmonico’s given the location and type of food. Emeril’s Delmonico is located in the historic garden district right on St. Charles in a beautiful building and serves traditional creole food.  We were seated at the piano bar while we waited for our table. Towards the end of the night people were dancing and the ambiance was fantastic. The decor is elegant and full of history.
We were immediately greeted at our table with water and a basket of bread and butter. The server was very attentive and went through all the specials and answered all our questions. 
Our first starter dish was the dry aged New York strip carpaccio, arugula, caper and pecorino. The description sounded delicious and the presentation was great; however I was very disappointed with the actual taste. I love beef carpaccio and order it often whenever it is offered on a menu. However, this carpaccio dish was covered in a mayonnaise sauce and capers. I attempted to clear the sauce to the side but it still took away from the rich flavors of the meat and pecorino cheese. Typically, this dish is served plain with shaved pieces of beef, pecorino cheese, arugula, drizzled with olive oil. Overall, neither of us liked it and weren’t impressed. 
The next starter dish was the barbecued shrimp over baked grit cake. Now, this dish was what I expected of an Emeril’s restaurant. The flavor, presentation and creativity were all there. The barbecued shrimp sauce was one of the best we have had in New Orleans (second to Mr. B’s). I have never had grits served as a cake and really enjoyed it.
For the main course, the Count ordered the dry aged moulard duck breast served with sweet corn choux, Swiss chard, roasted poblano and cheddar grits drizzled with a house made tasso jam ($29).  The meat was so dry which was a surprise since duck is a fattier meat and tends to be juicy. Overall, it was not a dish worth $29. It certainly didn’t taste like a $29 dollar dish although the presentation and service were five star. 

The next entree was the jerk spiced lamb sirloin served with pickled pork braised collard greens, black eyed pea cake, mango chow chow and house made pickapeppa sauce ($32).  I don’t know what it was about the dish but I really disliked it and couldn’t touch plate. I am not a picky eater at all but there was something with this dish that did not sit right. I expected a lot more and was disappointed as soon as I took the first bite.  

As a result of the above, a side plate of fries were ordered. The fries themselves were not crispy. The skin was soft and some of the insides hard. However, the tart lemon sauce which it was mixed in was good. Perhaps that is why the skins were soft and soggy. 
We should have known to leave without having dessert but decided to try something else to sweeten our taste buds . Two chocolate cheesecake bites were ordered. Again, nothing special. Nothing to remember. And nothing to set apart Emeril’s Delmonico from all the other wonderful restaurants in New Orleans. For the prices and and name, we  both thought we were in for a real treat only to leave the restaurant disappointed. There are so many wonderful, delicious and reasonably priced restaurants in New Orleans. It does depend on what you are looking for. If you are looking for a classy and elegant ambiance then you will enjoy this restaurant. However, if you want a really great New Orleans dining experience I would recommend going to one of the many other great restaurants (Mr. B’s and Commander’s Palace to name a few). 
Emeril's Delmonico on Urbanspoon
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Royal House Oyster Bar- French Quarter (New Orleans, USA)

I’ll admit that I rarely dine in the French Quarter (with the exception of our beloved Mr. B’s). Not because there aren’t great restaurants in the area but mainly because many of the places are overly touristy and well plain and simple I don’t like Southern fried food. There I said it.
But when friends and family are in town and you have spent the day walking around the quarter with the water bottle being your best friend, you will get hungry and will end up eating anywhere and anything in site. On this particular day, I was showing around my cousin who had travelled all the way from Switzerland to be a part of our wedding day.  Hungry and famished we found ourselves at the Royal House Oyster Bar.

Perhaps we went at an odd time in the day (around 4 p.m.) but the place was half empty. We asked to sit upstairs on the balcony. The second floor was emptier. Yet it took a good 15 minutes for someone to greet us at our table. Apparently they hadn’t noticed us sitting on the balcony. The ambiance: dull at best. It wasn’t the happiest of places I’ve visited in the quarter.

Cousin hates raw oysters and rarely eats fried food in Europe and I was on a pre-wedding health cleanse. That really limited our choices. I begged Cousin to try a po-boy while she was in town and so she ordered the fried shrimp po-boy with a side of fries. As for myself, I ordered a cup of gumbo and a blackened grilled shrimp salad.

The cup of gumbo was your average tasty gumbo; however, lacked anything special to make it memorable.

The shrimp po-boy, I was told was good. I’m not a fan of po-boys! I’m probably one of the only people living in the South that doesn’t enjoy a good po-boy. Maybe its because I’ve never had an exquisite mouth watering one down here. But every time I have had it, I haven’t really enjoyed it much. Perhaps its the combination of all that white bread and fried meat that has led me to dislike it so much. I like my sandwiches on the healthier side and definitely not fried.


The salad was good. The sauce was ordered on the side which I hoped meant that it was a bit healthier. Overall, I can’t say that I was impressed by our meal. Perhaps those going for their oysters have a different opinion, after all it is called the Royal House Oyster Bar and maybe that is what they specialize in. As for the rest, I am not so sure.

Royal House Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon
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Chewie’s Steam and Oyster Bar(Vancouver, Canada)

A New Orleans inspired restaurant in the heart of Vancouver? This I had to try. It had been a while since my last trip down to NOLA. Craving some fried chicken and Cajun inspired dishes I headed to Chewie’s Oyster Bar in Kitsilano. The place is inspired by Rodney’s Oyster House in Yaletown but with a Southern twist.  Mr. Chewie himself and the staff are all ex-Rodneys staff, who spent some time in New Orleans learning from the best and bringing their favorite recipes home to Vancouver for all of us to try. 

The atmosphere was lively yet laid back. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about each dish. The menu offered fresh oysters in addition to their Cajun dishes. We tried the fried chicken and Jambalaya. Not being a fan of oysters limited our choices to the main menu. 

The Jambalaya was the typical Jambalaya dish I’ve had in New Orleans- although in all honesty I haven’t had that much Jambalaya, usually choosing to go with the Gumbo instead. My dish- the Southern Fried Chicken was served with a honey drizzle, mash potatoes and green beans. The chicken was marinated in buttermilk for two days and tasted tender and juicy.  However, I felt that it lacked in flavor. I had to add a lot of salt to make it flavorful. If you like your food less salty then you will enjoy this dish. For dessert, we just had to try the beignet inspired by Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. It was served with a side of creamy vanilla sauce and was delicious and probably not so light on the calories. 

All in all, this was a great place to spend the evening: great ambiance, an all male serving staff, great food and great service. 

Chewie’s Steam & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon
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