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)!

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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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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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Dinner at FARMiCiA (Philadelphia, USA)

It seems as though new diners to FARMiCiA fall into one of two categories: they either love this Old City restaurant and want to come back every week, or they hate it and don’t understand what the buzz is about. I happen to fall into the former category, and I’m thrilled that my most recent Thurs-date happened here.

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When we first arrived, we were immediately seated by one of the front windows, which gave us an opportunity to spend some of our time people-watching. It’s a good thing we had this view because our waiter was a bit too hands-off, and we quickly learned that we wouldn’t be seeing much of him throughout the evening. Since we weren’t impressed with our waiter, I thought we’d be falling into the category of people that didn’t like FARMiCiA, but I was proved wrong by the time our first courses came out.

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My vegan friend started with the Capellini and Sauteed Tofu. Her appetizer was a hearty plate that came with roasted tomatoes, mint, pine nuts, and red chili. While she said it was incredibly spicy, she loved it and mentioned that it was some of the best vegan food she’s ever had.

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I opted for the French Lentils and they were also delicious, although my favorite part of the dish was definitely the huge serving of baked goat cheese that came on top. The salad was one of the most filling ones I’ve had due to the cheese and the amount of lentils that came over the lettuce, but it was so nice and savory that I finished every last bite. I didn’t know how I was going to eat the rest of my dinner, however, I felt like I could try and power through.

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After our appetizers, our entrees came out pretty quickly. I ordered the Duck Breast and my love for FARMiCiA was further cemented by my first bite of this. The duck had a nice crispy skin to it and was cooked perfectly. The sweet sun-dried cherry glaze that came with it was a perfect accompaniment to the tender meat. The simplicity of it all was something that I definitely appreciated.

008The sugar snap peas on the plate were also really satisfying. In fact, throughout the whole meal, the only thing I could critique was my wild rice. As a Persian girl, I probably judge rice much more harshly than any other aspect of a meal, and this rice was just not up to par. While it wasn’t great, I was so full from all of the other things on the plate, that I hardly even cared that the rice missed the mark.

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The other main course we tried was the Fresh Corn Risotto Croquettes. These two croquettes were large and were tough for my friend to finish because her first course was also filling, but she had only fantastic things to say about it. She couldn’t stop raving about the sweet potato crisps that adorned the plate and said that it was the her favorite part.
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For dessert, I got the Orchard Fruit Crisp that came with apples and pears. It was a delicious, warm way to kick off the Fall season and end our meal. While FARMiCiA could use a little face lift in the waitstaff, the food outweighs the bumps they have in serving. I’m already anticipating coming back and can’t wait to try out some of the other phenomenal, farm fresh food they have on their menu.

Farmicia on Urbanspoon

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The Farm and Fisherman- Washington Square (Philadelphia, USA)

This was my first experience at a farm to table BYOB in Philadelphia. I had been trying to get reservations at this 30 seat restaurant for over a month. Somehow I was always too late and never got a spot for their weekend dinner rush. So I started stalking the team on Twitter and alas they had a last minute cancellation and I was in…and when I say I was in, I mean I was reaaaaaaally in.
We walked in to an elegant dining room which without the signs outside looked like it could have been some one’s fancy dining room. In fact we were treated like we were at a family’s home. From our server Ben who took care of us to the nice and bubbly manager, Judy, who literally wined and dined us. I could not have asked for a better experience.  I would have been sold on the service alone…but the food…oh the food. For the whole 3 hours I was there, I was in heaven. When it all ended, I didn’t want to leave and wished I could experience it all over again.
The menu changes daily in order to provide the freshest pick of the day. There are four courses and four choices under each course. There were four of us and we decided to get one of each and share everything. This was really the best way to experience our meal since every single dish was exceptionally intricate and delicious. It would have been a shame not to experience it all.
It started off with a bang. Beau soleil oysters served on a bed of salt rocks topped with hackleback caviar, cinnamon and a tint of blood orange. Small purple herbs were sprinkled throughout the dish making it not only great to taste but also great to look at.

The oysters were so fresh I swear they may have been fished out of the ocean that same day.

Next came the cauliflower and mushroom salad.  A mix of greens, hen of the woods and trumpet mushrooms, almonds, cauliflower and goat cheese were elegantly presented.
The mushrooms tasted earthy. Each bite was a blend of all the above ingredients which when mixed together resulted in one of the most amazing salad creations I have ever tasted.
At this point we were already oohing and aahing over the food. But what came next left us all speechless. Have you ever had a vegetable steak? And I don’t mean that frozen vegan stuff you can by at wholefoods. I mean a steak that tastes so good that you forget there is no meat and in fact wish meat could taste like it. If not then I highly recommend the bloody beet steak that chef Lawler has created. Not only was the presentation of the beet colorful and beautiful but the taste was amazing. Who knew beet could be so good.
As a child I went out of my way to avoid eating beet which was ever so popular in my motherland being sold on cold winter days in food stands lining the streets of Tehran. These days I can’t seem to get enough. Of course, eating a bloody boiled beet on its own is not quite the same as having it presented beautifully with purple edible herbs, yogurt, pan drippings and aged balsamic. This beet is cooked whole in a cast-iron pan under a brick and removed when the skin gets crispy and splits. Who knew there was so much beauty in beets?
On to the second course. First came the grilled Spanish Mackerel served over granny smith apples with a mix of coriander, mustard oil and radish. The mix of the mackerel with the apple was again new to my taste buds and I absolutely loved it.
The mackerel was so fresh it may have started swimming out of the plate had it not been grilled to perfection. The apple mix complimented the fish perfectly.
The next dish was one of the top winners of the night (although they were all winners in my mind). Papperdelle with Wyebrook lamb shoulder ragu served with the most delicious tomato sauce, Parmesan and fennel seeds. A dried egg yolk was brought over and shaved on top to give it that extra touch.
This is a dish that I always order when ever offered on a menu and so can say I have a basis for comparison. I’ll keep it short and simple- it was the best.
Another second course on the menu were the Barnegat sea scallops. It was served over smoked barley, creamed kale, sweet potato and maple syrup. I loved ever single ingredient in this dish from the smoked barley to the creamed kale. The importance is in the details and Chef Lawler has really got that down.
The next dish was brought out by the famous chef himself. This was one of the most amazing mix of flavors and textures I’ve yet to taste in my 30 years. What was this mystery dish? The poached Wyebrook farm egg served over cracked rice, green wheat, farro piccolo, quinoa and squash. The texture of crispy, creamy and crunchy flavors mixed with the poached egg yolk was out of this world. I highly recommend you to order this dish if it ever finds its way on to the daily menu.
For the main course we picked three of the four dishes offered. First up was the Hudson Valley Dorade served with creamed carrots, fennel, parsnips and cardamom for added flavor.
Of the two fish we had that evening I definitely preferred the Spanish Mackerel. However, I did love the presentation of this plate. Triangular shaped pieces of dorade served over an orange colored puree topped with shaved pieces of carrots and parsnips. It was a work of art.
Old spot pork loin from Wyebrook farm came next, served with sea island purple cape beans, beech mushroom, purple kale and pork belly pastrami. If you love pork then this dish will blow your mind away. The Chef purchases the animal whole and breaks it down piece by piece dispersing into various parts of the meal (if you are lucky enough you can sign up for one of their courses where Lawler teaches you how to cut meat at home).

This pork dish is the real thing- served over beans drizzled with barbecue sauce and sprinkled with bright purple pieces of kale. A culinary masterpiece.

I rarely if ever order chicken when out at a restaurant. Mostly because there are so many other things that I always want to try and chicken seems so ordinary. Having tasted the Lancaster chicken baked in hay at Farm and Fisherman has made me think twice about my attitude towards chicken. This was my favorite main course of the night. I have never tasted a more flavorful chicken in North American where chicken is tasteless and bland. Perhaps it was because the chicken was local and organic or perhaps it was the magic performed in the kitchen that made this chicken so flavorful. I guess I will never know.
The chicken was baked in hay and served on top of farmer’s cheese spaetzle, bacon and mustard greens. A simple and hearty dish which hit all the right spots.
For dessert we had the layered chocolate ganache and the warm apple pie. Layers of chocolate divided by a thin wafer topped with whipping cream and powdered sugar. Need I say more?

The warm apple pie was so fresh, so warm and so perfect.

Perfect seems to sum up my experience at the Farm and Fisherman. A perfect and magical dining experience.
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