I’ve been to New Orleans three times and eaten my way through the city on each trip from oysters at Acme to Bananas Foster at Brennan’s. But with New Orleans hogging the culinary spotlight the rest of Louisiana often gets overlooked. And that’s a shame. There’s good creole and Cajun food to be had across the state and often in settings more casual and family friendly than the Crescent City’s most famous dining rooms.
Here are a few places in Louisiana outside of New Orleans where you can eat very, very well.
Randol’s sits 15 minutes outside of downtown along a stretch of strip malls. But don’t let that dissuade you. When Crayfish are in season you can have them in any number of ways. The best is steamed, tossed with Cajun spices and brought to the table heaped on a plastic tray. The éttouffée is spicy, the jambalaya spicier. The boudin balls are outrageous. Don’t worry though, you can shake off all the calories two-stepping to live Cajun music most nights.
Yes, Landry’s Seafood Restaurant is inside a casino hotel. But go even if you aren’t gambler because the chef in the kitchen knows his way around oysters. If the shrimp and oyster casino is on special, order a plate to share. They’re too rich to eat more than one (or two), but well worth trying. If they aren’t on offer, consider the fried oysters in crayfish gravy or old-school Rockefeller. The rest of the menu offers slightly tweaked versions of Cajun and creole favorites.
Jay Ducote’s Gov’t Taco might seem Mexican at first glance but it clearly has a Cajun soul. Look for cane-glazed carrots, crayfish, crispy chicken skin, pimento cheese and other distinctly southern flavors between the folds of your flour-and-corn tortillas. The molasses-mustard catfish taco with corn maque choux, crispy greens and hot sauce is a winner.
The St. John Restaurant, a casual joint in this town 18 miles of south of Lafayette on the Bayou Teche, offers casual Cajun fair including frog legs, several alligator dishes and a good variety of gumbos, bisques and fried thing local seafood. The shrimp Remoulade is thoroughly traditional and worth a try if you’re a fan of capers. Perfect for an easy bite after the nearby swamp tour or canoeing on the river.
Oxlot 9, a stylish restaurant in this weekend-getaway town, offers a changing daily menu of haute dishes with seasonal Louisiana ingredients. Think crayfish and local mushrooms atop a plate of homemade gnocchi, or foie gras paired with pecan butter or collard green marmalade. Frog legs come with pickled celery and rabbit with Tasso ham and sweet potato hash. This is probably not what your Cajun grandma cooked, and better for a date night than dinner with the kids. But the flavors are Louisiana and entirely yummy.
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Eileen is a journalist whose work has appeared in the HuffPost, U.S. News, Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Parents.com and many other publications. She has traveled on five continents, three of them with her daughter. She calls New York City home. You can read Eileen's blog at Familiesgotravel.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
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