What we eat in south Louisiana
Traditional dishes abound in Cajun country, like étouffée, gumbo and velvety crawfish bisque, all specialties of area restaurants.
Traveling through South Louisiana means visiting the heartland of Cajun cooking. This is the area called Acadiana, or Cajun country, a region where many diverse peoples developed a distinct culture together and where everyone shares a passion for great food.
Traditional dishes abound, like étouffée, gumbo and velvety crawfish bisque, all specialties of restaurants like Soileau’s Dinner Club in Opelousas or Robin’s in Henderson. In the larger cities, you’ll find chefs crafting fine-dining experiences with classic Acadiana flavors.
In Lafayette, for instance, Café Vermilionville serves a grilled filet mignon stuffed with crawfish while at Pujo Street Café in Lake Charles the redfish is covered with crabmeat. Some restaurants also have live music on the menu, like Café des Amis in Breaux Bridge, home to the famous Saturday morning “zydeco breakfast.”
Not all Cajun cooking is spicy, though those who like it hot don’t have to search very hard. After all, South Louisiana is the birthplace of Tabasco hot sauce, which is produced by the McIlhenny Co. on Avery Island. Visitors can tour the factory and sample various Tabasco-flavored foods at the Tabasco Country Store.
Each spring, South Louisiana succumbs to crawfish fever, the irresistible urge to eat as much spicy boiled crawfish as possible. Test your capacity at Gator Cove in Lafayette or D.I.’s Cajun Restaurant in Basile, which offer boiled shrimp and crabs as well.
All across South Louisiana, you’ll find butcher shops producing a cornucopia of traditional meat products, from the andouille and tasso (a Cajun-style ham) that season many dishes to popular snacks like boudin rice sausage and cracklin’s (or gratons). One of the largest purveyors for this type of smoky goodness is Don’s Specialty Meats in Scott, which is housed in a gleaming modern facility yet – like so much great cooking in this region – remains deeply steeped in delicious local tradition.