It’s never easy to choose the top restaurants in a region blessed with such a history of fine cooking and a wealth of creative chefs and cooks. In Acadiana, some of the best food can be found in gas stations, meat markets, lunch places and bars. For this restaurant issue, however, we’ve tried to hone our list to the best of the best, places where you can sit down and dine, rather than wolf down the perfect link of boudin sitting on the tailgate of a pick-up truck. So take a look at this year’s 101 Dining Destinations plus our Top 10 choices and enjoy Acadiana’s restaurants. Bon appetite.


20081029-cover-thumb.jpgTOP TEN RESTAURANTS


CAFE VERMILIONVILLE
1304 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 237-0100
www.cafev.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
One of Lafayette’s oldest buildings, a 19th century inn, houses what is among its Lafayette’s finest restaurants. Known for French inspired dishes like steak au poivre and paneed veal, Café V’s addition of Chef Alex Patout brings a high level of authentic Cajun home cooking. Patout infuses cream sauces with the smoky taste of tasso, or enriches his butter sauces with crabfat, perhaps the most unctuous flavor on the planet. Cajun specialities like crawfish bisque, made the old-fashioned way, join Creole classics like turtle soup. And a slow braised duck invites black pot cooking into the white-tablecloth dining room.

CATAHOULA’S RESTAURANT
234 Martin Luther King Dr.,  Hwy. 93, Grand Coteau, 662-2275
Wednesday-Saturday: Dinner; Sunday: Brunch
www.catahoulasrest.com
Catahoula’s in Grand Coteau is housed in a classy restoration of the old general store in historic Grand Coteau. The drive into the picturesque town would make Catahoula’s a destination restaurant even if the food weren’t sensational. Chef Jude Tauzin just added a fabulous seasonal appetizer to the menu, smoky wood fire grilled oysters napped with a light white wine and cream sauce, dusted with parmesan. There’s a lot to love on this menu, from the rich crab and corn tart to the seared foie gras or a beautifully executed dish of scallops paired with creamy shrimp and black truffle rice. Tauzin plays on Louisiana themes. His seared lamb tenderloin is glazed in citrus fig demi glace, and the grilled fish of the evening, topped with crabmeat in a lime-tequila sauce, comes with a sweet potato grits cake. Desserts like pumpkin cheesecake complement the season, or go for the signature Gateau NaNa, a shortbread and pecan tart. The wine list has a depth of unusual vintages. Ask for suggestions of wines to pair with your meal.

CHARLEY G’S SEAFOOD GRILL
3809 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy., Lafayette, 981-0108
www.charleygs.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
Charley G’s menu revolves with the seasons. New fall offerings start with sautéed veal sweetbreads in a Madeira reduction, a dish that turns up rarely on Acadiana’s menus. The smoked duck and andouille gumbo has been on Charley G’s menu since the restaurant opened in 1985, with good reason. It’s a destination dish, rich enough to use as gravy if it weren’t so good all by itself on a spoon. Chef Holly Goetting is always experimenting in the kitchen, two twists on traditional sweet treatments turn savory in her hands. She layers wood grilled mahi over a wild mushroom bread pudding, or grilled salmon over roasted corn waffles. Once a month, the restaurant features my favorite way to eat, a five course tasting menu with an accompanying flight of wine. For that event, reservations are a must. 

I MONELLI RESTAURANT
4017 Johnston St., Lafayette, 989-9291
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
Chef and owner Brian Blanchard has an affinity for Louisiana seafood. His softshell crabs are dusted in flour, not dunked in batter, before they hit the fryer, so they come out both crisp and delicate, a real triumph. I Monelli’s menu changes depending on what’s freshest; right now there’s grilled grouper in a pesto chardonnay sauce topped with lump crabmeat, blackened redfish, and a new smoked shrimp and crabmeat crepe. Blanchard’s oyster spaghetti is a local favorite, and now that the weather is cooling, Italy’s classic winter dishes like osso bucco and a deeply flavored beef minestrone will be on the menu. Friday nights, bluesman Walter Jr. entertains in the back room, it’s a great place for an intimate supper — what Walter would call rhythm and roux.

ITALIAN FOOD MARKET BISTRO AND DELICATESSEN

4416 Johnston St., Lafayette, 988-9969
Tuesday-Saturday: Lunch; Thursday-Saturday: Dinner
Maurizio Principato keeps claiming he’s not in the restaurant business. For one thing, he’s managed to relocate his new, expanded store and eatery almost as obscurely as his old one. Don’t let that deter you. The Sicilian native stocks his shelves and deli case with salamis, prosciuttos and cheeses imported from Italy. Choose from among the assorted ingredients to construct the best panini in town. His dining concept is equally underground. He accepts advance seating for about 25 people, Thursday-Saturday evenings. You can order off the standard trattoria menu, but better yet, trust him with his nightly specials, dreamed up from a lifetime of cooking and eating in his native Sicily. Or call ahead, if you know what you want — perhaps his superb octopus salad, a platter of fresh mussles, and his dreamy tiramisu.

MARCELLO’S WINE MARKET CAFE
340 Kaliste Saloom Rd., Lafayette, 235-1002
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner, Saturday: Dinner
What a great concept. Pick out your own bottle on the way in through Marcello’s wine market at retail prices and pay a corkage fee. Relaxed and quirky, Marcello’s feels more like an Italian trattoria every day, which is due to owner Gene Todaro’s love of first class ingredients. The standout appetizer is Bresaola, paper-thin slices of cured beef with a scattering of Parmesan and olive oil, or try the potato chip-thin sliced fried eggplant for a starter. Chef Mallory Tossel has been working on some new dishes like a creamy truffled macaroni and cheese layered with pancetta, a special Italian belly bacon. Grilled fresh artichokes are making their debut as well. And on a chilly night, there is absolutely nothing better than a plate of Spaghetti alla Bolognese, a glass of chianti from Villa Antonori and for dessert, a little shot of Sambuca with three coffeebeans floating in it.

MAZEN’S RESTAURANT

5818 Johnston St., Lafayette, 769-4440
www.mazens.com
Monday-Saturday: Dinner
Continental cuisine meets Mediterranean specialties. Mazen’s has been consistently turning out top-notch fare since the day it opened. Louisiana classics like oysters Rockefeller and Bienville, French stars such as a delicate crepe filled with creamy lump crabmeat, and Lebanese nibbles hummus and kibbe all are offered as starters. An avocado salad stuffed with fresh seafood should come with the warning: meant for two. On any given day, one variety of fresh fish will stand in for every treatment on the menu — sautéed, grilled, or toasted, and then offered with a variety of sauces: butter, cream or olive oil, depending on your heart condition, and if you like, garnished with crabmeat. Mazen’s steaks follow the same principle; sauce choices are wine reductions or hollandaise along with a generous topping of lump crabmeat. The simple treatment allows quality ingredients to shine. True to its continental commitment, Mazen’s best dessert is the classic chocolate or Grand Marnier souffle, baked to order.
 
MR. LESTER’S STEAKHOUSE
832 Martin Luther King Rd., Charenton, 923-7284
Monday-Sunday: Dinner
www.cypressbayou.com
It’s a testament to the intimate environment, the excellent service, lavish portions, fresh baked artisan breads and an extensive wine list as well as the prime beef that has folks driving over an hour down to Cypress Bayou Casino in Charenton to eat at Mr. Lester’s. Aged prime rib, filets, porterhouse steaks and a chateaubriand for two are pepper-crusted and grilled to temperature, ensuring the proper degree of doneness for each steak. The wine list is equally exacting, with a fine collection of French Bordeaux and California cabs to satisfy red meat eaters. Or you can celebrate with lobster and bubbly, and a down home dessert — home made vanilla ice cream topped with Louisiana pecans and praline sauce, as simple and perfect as anything can be. 

PAMPLONA TAPAS BAR
631 Jefferson St, Lafayette,  232-0070
www.pamplonatapas.com
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch; Saturday: Dinner
Hemingway, bullfights and flamenco dancing. Stepping through the door at Pamplona is like crossing a magic portal transporting you to Spain. Food is served just the way we like it, tapas, or small plates that give a diner the opportunity to taste many of the dishes on the menu. Executive Chef William Annesely and chef de cuisine Orlando Amaro’s tapas run the gamut from traditional Spanish bar food like olives, cheeses, Serano ham and garlic shrimp to sensational chargrilled oysters, diver clams, stuffed squab, fois gras over grilled pears, roast baby pig, and the best french fries, spiked with chopped fresh garlic, parsley and sea salt, on the planet. Pamplona is never willing to rest on its laurels. On Tuesdays, it’s instituted a sampling wine flight to help introduce diners to the fascinating wine list that pays homage to Spain. Wednesdays, flamenco dancers stomp out a rhythm. Thursdays is International Night, featuring different cuisines from countries, cultures and regions around the world — including a month devoted to Spain.

TSUNAMI SUSHI 
412 Jefferson St., Lafayette, 234-3474
www.servingsushi.com
Tuesday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
The sushi bar that launched the sushi craze in Lafayette hasn’t slowed down. In fact Tsunami keeps getting better as more and more people become adventurous about their raw fish. Fresh fish is delivered every day to the downtown mecca, the key to keeping the taste sea spray clean. And the combinations are legion. There are actually more speciality rolls off the menu than on it; the best way to find your favorite combination is to sit at the sushi bar and talk to the chef. The perfect pairing is saki, and Tsunami has a cellar holding a variety of premium bottles, best served cold. Try the moon-colored unfiltered, or a flavor-infused saki. For those who don’t like it raw, Tsunami’s newest cooked creation is Beef Ciso Taki, thin slices of seared tenderloin with ponzu and sweetened soy sauce.


NEIGHBORHOOD FAVES

2 PAUL’S RADICALLY URBAN BARBEQUE
2668 Johnston Street, Lafayette, 232-1181
Daily: Lunch; Monday-Saturday: Dinner
2 Paul’s fuses west Texas dry rubbed, slow smoked pork and beef with Louisiana basics like Cajun rice dressing, Thai spiced cole slaw, and homemade giant chocolate chip cookies. The menu is barbecue joint simple: a handful of smoked meat plates, sandwiches, salads and sides, with one welcome addition, the Radical Rita margarita, which is a natural pairing with the spicy smoked meat.

AGAVE MEXICAN RESTAURANT & CANTINA
200 E. Vermilion St., Lafayette, 289-0000
www.agavelafayette.com
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
Agave hit the daily double when they started offering $2 fish tacos for lunch on Tuesdays. What was already a draw became a bargain to boot, and now the sunny, funkified patio fills up with weekly regulars. If you don’t have to go back to work, waste the afternoon away; more than 40 Agave tequilas are on hand at the bar, and the grill keeps cranking until late in the evening.

ANOTHER BROKEN EGG CAFE
112 Rue Promenade, Lafayette, 504-3365
www.anotherbrokenegg.com
Daily: Breakfast and Lunch
In the heart of River Ranch’s Main Street development, Another Broken Egg is your traditional breakfast diner with a Southern flare. The Mardi Gras omelette is filled with crawfish, onions, bellpeppers, tomatoes and melted cheese while the Pontchartrain croissant comes with eggs, broccoli, tomatoes and mild green chilies. Another Broken Egg also offers a diverse lunch menu of sandwiches and salads, specialty coffees, and desserts.

ANTONI’S ITALIAN CAFE
1118-A Coolidge St., Lafayette, 232-8384
www.antoniscafe.com
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
Calzone means thick crust, pizza is a thin sheet of dough, but both of them showcase Antoni’s mix and match fillings like artichokes, Italian sausage, grilled chicken, sundried tomatoes, shrimp and pepperoni. Fans of Bolognese sauce can order the winter special flavored with sausage, or tucked in between the layers of lasagne. There’s a small deck to enjoy the winter sunshine, or dine indoors in this Oil Center restaurant.

ATHENA GREEK & LEBANESE FOOD
3551 Ambassador Caffery Parkway, 988-7618
Daily: Lunch and Dinner (closes at 8 on Sunday)
Helmi and Ahmed Abdalla’s express lunch counter in the Kaliste Saloom Citgo gas station attracted such a following that the father-son team expanded with a full-fledged restaurant in the Ambassador Row shopping center. Try their homemade fried falafel or a sampler plate, which combines gyro and chicken shawarma with rice, hummus, salad and pita bread

BISBANO’S
1540 Johnston St., Lafayette, 233-0420
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
The dark cellar bar and patio, which features live music and a popular songwriters’ night, is a prime hangout for UL students and neighborhood night owls. Upstairs, Bisbano’s kitchen cranks out tasty thin crust pizzas, like the popular Shoot the Moon, which comes loaded with pepperoni, beef, Canadian bacon, sausage, mushrooms, olives, onion, green pepper and jalapenos. Soups, salads sandwiches and pastas round out the menu.  

BLUE AGAVE
3558 W Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 837-7720
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
After managing Picante for the past 13 years, Roberto Cervantes struck out on his own this year with Blue Agave, located on Pinhood at Southpark. The Mexico City native has a dynamic menu that includes Milaneza Rellena, a breaded, fried chicken breast stuffed with ham, cheese and topped with chipotle sauce; and Tabasco Style Tilapia, a seafood-stuffed filet baked with herbs, wine sauce and cheese. Happy hour, featuring $3 signature house margaritas, runs from 4 - 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

BLUE DOG CAFE
1211 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 237-0005
www.bluedogcafe.net
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner; Sunday: Brunch
George Rodrigue’s iconic blue dog paintings line the walls of this classic Lafayette eatery. Seafood wantons, crawfish enchiladas and honey glazed duck breast are standards on a menu of spirited southern fare. At the Sunday brunch, some of Lafayette’s finest musicians are on hand to entertain patrons as they dig into prime rib, made-to-order omelettes and crab cakes benedict.

BONEFISH GRILL
1912 Kaliste Saloom Rd., Lafayette, 981-0714
www.bonefishgrill.com
Daily: Dinner
One of River Ranch’s most popular restaurants, known for its lively social scene as well as its top-notch seafood and steaks. The fish is market fresh and cooked over a wood-burning grill. Specials include the Pistachio Parmesan Crusted Rainbow Trout; topped with artichoke hearts, fresh basil and lemon butter; and the tenderloin portabella pasta with piccata sauce.

BONNIE BELL’S BISTRO
407 Brook Ave., Lafayette, 234-6776
Monday-Friday: Lunch; Wednesday-Friday: Dinner;
Bonnie Bell’s big news is that the popular restaurant is moving downtown, into the old T-Coon’s building. Construction starts in November, with a December opening planned. Meanwhile, at the St. Mary location, the chef is trying out new dishes. This week, a cowgirl cut bone in ribeye, topped with Tabasco butter is making the rounds, as well as roasted Chilean sea bass with a smoked red chili sauce and crabmeat coleslaw. Go vote with your fork if you’d like to see these additions to the downtown menu.

BOULEVARD GRILLE
1120-A Coolidge St., Lafayette, 264-1117
www.theboulevardgrille.com
Monday-Tuesday: Lunch; Wednesday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Lunch
With a casual, laid-back atmosphere, Boulevard Grille specializes in Tex-Mex and American grill menu staples. House specials include the Cabarnet burger, which bastes a freshly-ground 1/2 pound patty with a delectable red wine reduction sauce, and the flavor-packed burrito in a bowl.

CAFE HABANA CITY
911 Betrand Dr., Lafayette, 857-7527
www.cafehabanacity.com
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Owner Rafael Garcia has brought all of the staples from his native Cuba to Lafayette. Be sure to try the pollo a la barbacoa, two dark meat pieces of chicken cooked slowly in soy sauce and butter until it’s fall-off-the-bone tender. The ropa vieja; shredded beef cooked in spanish sauce, bell peppers, onions and herbs, and the Sandwich Cubano, served with fried plantains or french fries, are other can’t-miss menu items.

CAFE ROMA
115 Stonemont Rd., Lafayette, 988-9790
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
In the heart of River Ranch, you can dine inside or enjoy fresh air while people-watching on the patio at Cafe Roma. Starters include the feta cheese rolls and Tuscan seared tuna. Popular pizzas like pesto chicken are one option, or try the avocado sandwich piled with tomato, tuna, mozzarella and garlic sauce.

CEDAR GROCERY & DELI
1115 Jefferson St., Lafayette, 233-5460
Monday-Saturday: Lunch
Lafayette’s first ethnic grocery and deli. Opened in 1981, owner Nabil Loli has an all-star lineup of 16 original sandwiches on the menu, evolving from rotating daily specials. Classics include the fried haloumi po-boy; the Labani, layered with yogurt, kalamata olives, lettuce, tomatoes, olive oil and mint; and Chicken Tandoori, which marries the smoky flavors of tandoori with tahini sauce. Meat pies, falafel sandwiches, hummus and lentil soup are other longtime favorites.

CHRIS’ POBOYS
1930 Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 234-6333
1941 Moss St., Lafayette, 237-1095
3755 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy., 981-1818
www.chrispoboys.com
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
It’s hard to beat an old-fashioned New Orleans style po-boy served in a basket with chips and a pickle, Chris’ signature item. The hands-down most popular po-boys are the fried shrimp, fried oyster and Cajun pork roast. Chris’ also stirs up stellar gumbo and pan-sauteed chicken salad.

DWYER’S CAFE
323 Jefferson St., Lafayette, 235-9364
Daily: Breakfast and Lunch; Tueday-Saturday: Dinner
This downtown institution known for its hearty breakfast and lunch also serves up a satisfying dinner. Not much changes at night, and if you’re hungry for a plate lunch, long after the lunch rush, Dwight’s serving line is open five nights a week, offering downhome fare like fried catfish, hamburger steak with grilled onions and gravy, meatloaf, baked turkey, roast beef and roast pork.

FILLING STATION

900 Jefferson St., 291-9625
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
As the name implies, The Filling Station was a gas station years ago, but today the restaurant serves up affordable Mexican and American dishes, with a sprawling open-air patio and cozy bar inside. Burgers, the Abraham bowl filled with avocado and tomato salad, tacos and a great grilled steak salad are sure bets.

THE GREEN OLIVE
2441 W. Congress St., Lafayette, 234-0004
Daily: Lunch
Located in a modest building off Congress Street for the last 16 years, Green Olive Lebanese restaurant is still owned by George Merhej. The friendly family-run business’ meatless baked eggplant is a favorite, and the restaurant also serves a variety of Lebanese dishes like hummus, cabbage rolls, kibbe, tabouli and grape leaves.

LA PIZZERIA
3809 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy., Lafayette, 989-4121
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
La Pizzeria offers a variety of popular pizzas as well as other Italian inspired treats such as calzones, pastas, soups and salads. Pizza toppings include grilled chicken, shrimp, and fresh herbs and vegetables, or try the Mirabella pasta, a vegetarian melange of zucchini, portabella mushrooms and roasted garlic in a sundried tomato pesto over angel hair. For a delectable detour, try the Middle East-inspired Low Carb Delight, a kibbe crust topped with ground meat, cheese, eggplant, and bell peppers.

OLDE TYME GROCERY
218 W. St. Mary Blvd., Lafayette, 235-8165
www.oldetymegrocery.com
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
There’s a reason Olde Tyme Grocery celebrated 26 years in business this month: it makes some of the best po-boys in town. Known for its huge overstuffed New Orleans-style po-boys (fried shrimp, fried oyster and on Wednesdays, fried catfish), Olde Tyme’s seafood po-boys get stiff competition from the Olde Tyme Special, a meat-packed po-boy filled with enough luncheon meat to make three po-boys. Monday nights, the meatball po-boy special begs to be taken home where you can let the red gravy from this gloriously messy sandwich run down your chin.

PHOENICIAN GRILL
5423 Johnston St, Lafayette, 408-3687
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
Mediterranean specialities like hummus, kibbe, grape leaves and greek salad are best explored on the sampler platters, as well as a wonderful lentil soup with spinach. For lots of kabobs, go for the Phoenician Feast platter, or try the simply grilled lamb chops.

PIZZA VILLAGE
1935 Moss St., Lafayette, 232-1418
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
This classic North side pizzeria specializes in crispy thin crusts and fresh toppings. Be sure to try the Landry Special, which comes loaded with pepperoni, hamburger, shrimp, onions and jalapenos. The atmosphere is casual — there’s a giant dining room TV for sports, and the waiters are always quick to pour each round from your pitcher of beer into a fresh frozen mug. Pizza Village is also known for its homemade spaghetti and po-boys.

POSEIDON’S GREEK RESTAURANT
103 Kaliste Saloom Rd., Lafayette, 235-9154
www.ieatgreek.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
Mediterranean options abound at Poseidon’s. From a light gyros salad or gyro sandwich to hearty traditional moussaka, Poseidon’s offers a full experience in Greek cuisine. Try the taramasalata, a traditional dip made of fish roe and olive oil, the stuffed grape leaves, and follow up with herb infused leg-of-lamb. Finish with baklava, the delicate syrup and pistachio-flavored traditional Middle Eastern dessert.

SIRO’S BISTRO
920 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 233-7476
Monday-Saturday: Lunch
This cozy lunch bistro offers fresh baked quiches, stuffed croissants, and soups served in bread bowls. Try the huge shrimp salad for a light, but filling lunch. For a hearty appetite, check out the ham and chicken cordon bleu.  

STAN’S BAR & GRILL
116 E. Vermilion St., Lafayette, 231-6901
Monday-Friday: Lunch
www.stansdowntown.com
Plate lunches like smothered chicken and traditional Monday red beans are Stan’s signature dishes, along with wraps like a Shrimp Caesar and Chicken Ranch. Bliss out with the fried chicken club sandwiche, and Stan’s grilled tuna steak with a side of vegetables is prime fare for weight watchers.

VICTOR’S CAFETERIA
109 W. Main St., New Iberia, 369-9924
Daily: Breakfast; Sunday-Friday: Lunch
Dave Robicheaux eats at Victors as does his creator, Edgar Award winner James Lee Burke. Don’t let the cafeteria-style service fool you. Breakfast dishes like omelettes and pancakes are made to order, and at lunch some of the best gumbo in town is spooned over rice. Or go for the crisp fried seafood, baked chicken and eggplant stuffing. Don’t miss out on the homemade  desserts like banana creme or lemon meringue pie.

THE WILD SALMON
813 Foreman Drive, Lafayette, 988-0052
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch; Monday-Saturday: Dinner
There’s something fishy about this place, in a good way. Salmon burgers are a lunchtime favorite, while the fresh halibut entices dinner patrons. But it’s not all seafood, and the Wild Salmon also cooks up its own home made beef burgers.

ZEA ROTISSERIE AND GRILL
235 Doucet Rd., 406-0013
www.zearestaurants.com
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Zea is a meat lover’s dream, thanks to its always-cookin’ rotisserie and carved meats, prime rib and downright addictive Thai Ribs. Fowl fans flock to Zea’s Twice Cooked Crispy Duck entree, slowly roasted and crisped with Asian herbs and honey soy sauce. Even the salads feel like grand full meals, with the seared tuna salad overflowing with gorgeous slices of fish. And it all goes down smoothly with Zea’s microbrewed beers.  

ZEUS CAFE
3809 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy., Lafayette, 406-9387
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
1103 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 269-1434
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
4100 Johnston St., Lafayette, 704-0344
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
ZEUS DOWNTOWN
431 Jefferson St., Lafayette, 234-8955
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
www.zeuscafe.com
You can measure the popularity of Zeus’ traditional Greek and Lebanese fare by its expansion to four locations. Lunch specials include overflowing gyro and chicken pita plates, served with hummus, feta salad and a healthy dose of garlic throughout. For dinner, go around the world with the Zeus Special Plate: a Mediterranean sampler of chicken shawarma, gyro, hummus, fried kibbe, meat grape leaves, mujadarah, and tabouli.

OLD-LINE EATERIES

A LA CARTE
301 Heymann Blvd., Lafayette, 235-8493
www.alccafe.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch
Located in the Oil Center, the lunch buffet at a la carte offers local specials like stuffed pork loin and shrimp stew, or that perennial favorite, fried chicken. Or try one of their sandwiches, the list includes crawfish and shrimp subs, a ladylike club, and a version of the New Orleans Sicilian sandwich, a muffaletta.

ALESI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT
4110 Johnston St., Lafayette, 984-1823
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Specializing in traditional home-style Italian cooking, Alesi’s is a great place to bring the family. Lafayette grew up on Alesi’s pizza, as well as staples like spaghetti and meatballs and Veal Parmesan, which comes topped with a generous amount of herb-infused red sauce.

BAILEY’S SEAFOOD & GRILL
5520-A Johnston St., Lafayette, 988-6464
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner; Sunday: Brunch
Owner Ema Haq has been honing classic French and Cajun dishes for Bailey’s menu. Try a crawfish burger for lunch. The nightly fish specials include Trout Evangeline or a stuffed filet with roasted pepper sauce. The Sunday brunch features prime rib, leg of lamb, crawfish cakes and Eggs Benedict.

DEANO’S PIZZARAMA INC.
305 Bertrand Dr., Lafayette, 233-5446
www.deanospizza.com
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
The pie may be of Italian origin, but it’s been fine tuned to accommodate local tastes. The Tee Rex is loaded with meats, including smoked sausage and bacon. Marie LeVeaux features Blue Point crabs, sauteed mushrooms, and onions. The Muffalata Pie is baked on an olive oil crust with ham, salami, mozzarella cheese and Italian relish. But the crowning achievement is the Cajun Executioner, praised far and wide for its generous toppings of pepperoni, hot sausage, spicy shrimp, fresh onions, bell peppers and a truckload of jalapenos.

GROUND PAT’I
2303 Johnston St, Lafayette, 234-5689
2512 Kaliste Saloom, Lafayette, 704-0070
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
The Johnston Street location has been a Lafayette institution since 1981. Individually owned, the menu has stayed rock steady, with burgers topping a simple menu that includes steak, fried catfish and fried chicken sandwiches, chef salads toped with grilled chicken or tuna, and a grilled catfish plate. For those who get hungry between meals, it’s reassuring to know the restaurant stays open from 11 in the morning until 10 at night, and 11 on weekends.
Founded in New Orleans, now with 11 restaurants franchised only in Louisiana, the Ground Pat’i on Kaliste Saloom has a much larger menu. In addition to the famous burgers, lots of salads and sandwiches sprouted on this menu, as well as grilled salmon and mahi-mahi, steaks, ribs and pork chops. There’s no topping the Banana Caramel Cheesecake Xango, a signature dessert made by wrapping the cheesecake in a thin pastry crust, deep frying it, and serving it with ice-cream and whipped cream.

GUIDRY’S REEF
1508 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 237-2860
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
Focus on the fresh lump crabmeat au gratin at Guidry’s Reef. Oysters are just starting to come in following the interruptions of the summer’s hurricanes, and Guidry’s is getting their first taste of them fried. On chilly nights, go for the gumbo, and look for boiled crawfish later in the season.

JUDICE INN
3134 Johnston St., Lafayette, 984-5614
www.judiceinn.com
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
For more 60 years, the family-owned Judice Inn has been serving up little hamburgers with just the right amount of spice and grease. One’s just not enough and two is sometimes too much. The burgers are dressed with a top-secret sauce. They’ve never heard of French fries here, so just order a bag of Zapp’s potato chips and an ice-cold 8-ounce bottle of Coke to wash down your delicious Judice experience.

LA FONDA RESTAURANT
3809 Johnston St., Lafayette, 984-5630
Tuesday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
La Fonda has sustained Lafayette’s thirst for margaritas, Tex-Mex and partying since the doors opened in 1957. But beyond Mexican calling cards like Carne Asada, the house favorite steak is an off-the-menu filet mignon or ribeye topped with sauteed onions and cheese dubbed the Don Briggs Special. One of the best kept secrets — La Fonda has some of the finest fried chicken in town.

PALACE CAFE
135 W Landry St., Opelousas, 942-2142
Monday-Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Three generations of the Doucas family have operated the Palace, across from the St. Landry Parish Courthouse, since 1927. The menu offers Cajun specialties like crawfish etouffee, bisque and crabmeat-stuffed eggplant in addition to steaks, fish and salads. A local fave is the smothered calves liver and onions. The Greek salad and deservedly famous baklava are nods to the family’s Greek heritage.

PHARES
3502 Ambassador Caffery Parkway, Lafayette, 504-3002
www.pharesrestaurant.net
Tuesday-Sunday: Dinner
The Pares family has been in the oyster business for over 35 years, and father Jack is keeping a close eye on son Chad’s restaurant. A perfect dinner at Phares is a dozen raw oysters, a dozen of their fire roasted oysters sizzled with butter, garlic and Parmesan, then another dozen raw for dessert. When oysters are out of season, crabs are in. Go for the Softshell Crab Explosion that’s topped with lump crab meat and served with crabmeat stuffing, pan potatoes and grilled veggies.

POORBOY’S RIVERSIDE INN
240 Tubing Rd., Broussard, 235-8559
www.poorboysriversideinn.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner; Sunday: Lunch
Windows overlooking their own private swamp are a clue to the strengths of this menu, and seafood is the star at Riverside. Maine lobster (boiled, broiled and stuffed), crabmeat-stuffed fish topped with crawfish and mushrooms, or the simple delicacy of lump crab meat sauteed in butter are all winners here.

RUTH’S CHRIS STEAKHOUSE
620 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 237-6123
www.ruthschris.com
Daily: Dinner; Friday: Lunch
The bar is discretely dark and has comfy armchairs, best for deep conversations and icy martinis. Start with another kind of martini — lump Crabtini in an up glass, or the Asian seared ahi tuna. Their steaks are like butta, of course, served sizzling hot straight from the broiler and begging for a big California cab from Ruth’s Chris’ superb wine list. Sides include creamy potatoes au gratin, asparagus with hollandaise, and creamed spinach. Desserts are just as classic, like the creme brulée or bread pudding with whiskey sauce.  

LATIN FLAVORS


COYOTE BLUES
5741 Johnston St., Lafayette, 988-3668
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Braxton Moody’s hit on a winning recipe with Coyote Blues’ fresh Tex-Mex with a Louisiana fusion and mesquite-burning grills. Some of the best margaritas in town are shaken up behind the popular bar. Check out the pecan-crusted Coyote Crab Cakes, served with mango butter and salsa, or the smoked duck quesadilla with twin blueberry and raspberry chipotle sauce, or the hibachi-grilled quail.

EL PORTILLO

1934 Moss St., Lafayette, 237-1188
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Expect a laid back atmosphere and savory Mexican favorites like tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, and shrimp dishes packed with large Gulf shrimp. On Tuesday through Saturday, El Portillo offers 2 for 1 margaritas, but on Sundays and Mondays, the happy hour specials runs all day long, making for even happier hours.

EL RANCHITO
415 Cameron St., Lafayette, 235-3297
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
When you think El Ranchito, think authentic Mexican cuisine; you won’t find Tex-Mex here. There’s authentic soft corn tacos, hand patted and corn husk wrapped tamales, enchiladas with a green tomotillo sauce and caldo ­— a Mexican version of beef and vegetable soup. In addition to the regular menu item, El Ranchito offers daily specials throughout the week, with fried chicken and stuffed pablano peppers on Wednesday, and on the weekends, your choice of a seafood soup or goat barbecue.

EL TEQUILA
1809 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette,
234-0446
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
From the Flores family, the fine folks who brought El Portillo to Lafayette, comes El Tequila. With a menu loaded with options — from quesadillas, fajitas, vegetarian dishes and overwhelming combination dinners — El Tequila also offers smaller versions of its signature dishes daily for its lunch specials, like the Quesdilla Rellena and the wonderfully named Speedy Gonzales. If you’re feeling especially brave, try the Monster Margarita.

GUAMAS
302 Jefferson St., Lafayette, 267-4242
www.guamas.com
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch; Tuesday-Saturday: Dinner
This popular downtown Caribbean restaurant serves great food in a vibrant setting. Guamas offers a variety of Caribbean dishes like the seasonal ceviche, black bean soup, delicious yucca, plantains and black beans. Try the tasty Cuban sandwich, stuffed with ham and pork loin cooked in a garlic and lemon sauce, served with pickles, mustard, and swiss cheese, with a side of fried plantains. Or for bigger appetites, order the Cuban-style Seafood Paella, which feeds more than six, which you must order a day in advance.

NINFA’S
4650 Johnston St., Lafayette, 988-2333
www.mamaninfas.com
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
You can mix it up at Ninfa’s with the Mixta Diablo, a combo plate of their spicy Shrimp Diablo and two fajitas; or try the redfish tacos, grilled or fried quail with chile Verde, or even a rack of barbecued baby back ribs. If you’re not going for the Prickly Pear margarita, a nice touch is the aqua fresca, a light, non-alcholic drink made with seasonal fruit.

PICANTE MEXICAN RESTAURANT
3235 NW Evangeline Thruway, Carencro, 896-1200
3910 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy., Lafayette, 993-8810
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Both locations offer great southwestern cuisine, like the signature Chile Colorado, very hot tender chunks of beef tips in a Pasilla Chile Sauce. Don’t miss the fresh, chunky guacamole, made tableside. Chef specialty Camarones Surenos are jumbo shrimp stuffed with cheeses and chiles wrapped in bacon, coated with a spicy batter and fried until crispy or try the Rellado Des Res, chili and cheese stuffed steak. On weekends, Picante on Ambassador serves up a Mexican breakfast to night owls with a case of the munchies.

TACO TORRO
1605 N. University Ave., Lafayette, 267-3449
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
Cook Maritza Garcia spikes her tacos with chorizo, a deeply flavorful Mexican sausage that makes everything taste better. Favorites include the de parillada, grilled steak and onions with chorizo, and a truly amazing de buche, pork stomach that gets its punch from chorizo as well. Tamales authentically wrapped into corn husks, and a wonderful south-of-the-border cooler, agua fresca, which is a blended drink of fresh fruit, sugar and water, round out the simple menu.


PLATE LUNCH PLACES

ANTLERS
555 Jefferson St., Lafayette, 234-8877
Monday-Friday: Lunch
Mama spoiled us rotten. Louisiana home cooking is so good we hold restaurants up to a high standard, and nothing is judged more critically than rice and gravy. Antler’s has been in Johnny Walter’s family for decades, and the devotion to the deep brown stuff is evident in the plate lunches on the menu. There are Antler’s smothered chicken die-hards, pork chop acolytes, and now a new dish, rabbit fricassee, to wow gravy pilgrims. Another local fave is Antler’s soft-shell crab poboys; don’t forget to ask for sweet potato fries on the side.

COUNTRY CUISINE
709 N. University Ave., Lafayette, 269-1653
Daily: Lunch
This local landmark was former President Bill Clinton’s choice stop during a recent swing through Lafayette. Owner Roy Williams picked up many of his savory soul food dishes from a young age, when he  worked in the kitchen by his grandmother’s side on the family farm in Duson. Try the crawfish or shrimp etouffee or drop in for Williams’ popular Sunday barbecue, but be forewarned, this is slow food at its best. You will wait. But it’s worth it.  

CREOLE CAFE
1227 N University Ave., Lafayette, 266-4648
Monday-Saturday: Breakfast and Lunch
Creole Cafe’s country breakfast attracts a crowd and its bargain prices can’t be beat. But the real deal is at lunch time, when soul food plate lunch junkies load up on pork stew, smothered chicken, round steak and ribs. For the biggest bang for your buck, try the humongous Mondo Burger.  

CREOLE LUNCH HOUSE
713 Twelfth St., Lafayette, 232-9929
Monday-Friday: Lunch
Merline Hebert has built an industry on her famous meat-stuffed breads. Her quaint neighborhood restaurant operates out of a modest-sized house and is a quintessential stop for anyone in search of Lafayette’s best plate lunches. The killer chicken fricassee is criminally good, as are the silky butter beans and spicy stuffed pork chops.

EMA’S RESTAURANT
1895 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 233-0502
Sunday-Friday: Lunch
If you’re looking for comfort food ­— in the form of southern and Louisiana cuisine — look no further than Ema’s. Proprietor Ema Haq has been honored as a Louisiana Restaurateur of the Year award, and it’s no wonder. The atmosphere’s casual, the food’s delicious and the staff’s hospitable. Menu items range from local favorites like liver and grilled onions and chicken fried steak to crab cakes and roast turkey.

GALLAGHER’S
405 E. University Ave., Lafayette, 261-0493
www.eatgallaghers.com
Sunday-Friday: Breakfast and Lunch
This popular cafeteria close to UL, praised for its home-cooked plate lunches now serves breakfast. Daily plate lunches include red beans and rice, cabbage rolls, fried pork chops, shrimp stew, crawfish etouffee, stuffed bellpeppers, smothered chicken and chicken fried steak. On Sundays, don’t miss out on the barbecue where you can feast on chicken, pork loin, ribs, pork steak, pork chops and brisket.

GARY’S
104 Lamar St., Lafayette, 235-2921
Monday-Friday: Breakfast and Lunch
Formerly a neighborhood grocery, this corner plate lunch joint is known for it breakfast burger — a fried egg and bacon served atop a fully dressed traditional hamburger. Tuesday’s Gary’s makes the best chicken stew in town, or try their crawfish etouffee.

HUB CITY DINER    
1412 S. College Rd., Lafayette, 235-5683
Monday-Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Sunday: Breakfast and Lunch
2207 Kaliste Saloom Rd., 983-0428
Daily: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
This family-style diner is awash in ‘50s decor and offers affordable homestyle cooking. Hub City’s three-way hamburger steak, a 9 ounce steak is served up the way you want it, with either cheese, gravy, or onions. Catfish Louisiana is a catfish filet fried, either grilled or blackened, and served over crawfish etouffe. The Sunday brunch at the Kaliste Saloom location offers a buffet brunch, with special items items not available on the regular menu, like smoked salmon, eggs benedict, croissants and mimosas.

JEFFERSON STREET PUB
500 Jefferson St., Lafayette, 232-5040
Monday-Friday: Lunch
In the old bank building on the corner of Jefferson and Congress streets in downtown, Jefferson Street Pub serves daily plate lunches like hamburger steak, country fried steak, parsley garlic chicken breast, chicken tenders, and tilapia and shrimp either grilled, fried or blackened with a vegetable of the day. Regular menu items include chicken and sausage gumbo, shrimp and okra gumbo, hamburgers, sandwiches, salads and wraps.

JOHNSON’S BOUCANIERE
1111 St. John St, Lafayette, 269-8878
Tuesday-Saturday: Lunch
Johnson’s Boucaniere’s daily lunch specials include smothered sausage and potatoes, red beans and rice, sausage and tasso sauce piquante, and smothered pork chops and sausage. Based on the recipes developed at Johnson’s Grocery in Eunice over the course of its 68-history, Johnson’s also offers pulled pork sandwiches and sausage po-boys daily, as well as specialty smoked meats like tasso, sausage and beef jerky, and boudin.

JOSEPHINE’S CREOLE RESTAURANT
830 S. Main St., St. Martinville, 394-8030
Monday-Friday: Lunch
Josephine Cormier knows Creole food. Her staple menu items include stuffed turkey wings over cornbread dressing, smothered pork over dirty rice, or the superb barbecued ribs from the pit out back. Cormier opens the doors early, and it’s not unusual for her to sell out the menu items by noon.

LANDRY’S CAFE
3701 Cameron, Lafayette, 261-0581
Monday-Friday: Lunch
While Denise Landry is duly famous for her hamburger steak and chicken-fried steak plate lunches, her real claim to fame is her cornbread dressing. And that’s only one of eight side dishes, including corn macque choux and mac and cheese. Her lunch place gets so busy at noon time, regulars know to show up at 11 a.m., or wait till after 1 p.m.

LAURA’S II
1904 W. University Ave., Lafayette, 593-8006
www.lauras2.net
Daily: Lunch
No one’s ever left Laura’s II hungry. This soul food landmark is known for its home-style cooking, bargain prices and heaping portions. You can eat right around the week: Tuesday it’s smothered chicken, Wednesday look for hamburger steaks, Thursday go for barbecued ribs, Friday, fried catfish and shrimp and Saturday, don’t miss the fried pork chops.

THE LUNCH BOX
3909 Moss St., Lafayette, 233-8298
www.lunchboxmenu.com
Daily: Lunch; Wednesday-Friday: Dinner
Don’t let the plate lunch, po-boy and gumbo daily menu lull you into thinking the Lunch Box is only for noon time. Thursday night is steak night, Friday evenings offer an ocean of seafood, and Sundays everything from pork roast to chickens is pulled off the barbecue grill.

NIMBEAUX’S
2266 S. College Road, Suite A, Lafayette, 233-3131
www.nimbeaux.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch; Friday-Saturday: Dinner
Nimbeaux’s lays claim to “the best fried catfish in town.” Its laid-back, casual atmosphere is perfect for dining on the restaurant’s specialty seafood menu items, especially crawfish dishes, steaks, and daily lunch specials like Friday’s catfish with a side of shrimp stew. Wrap your hands around one of their mouth-watering burgers, which weigh in at half a pound.

PAT’S DOWNTOWN
107 E. Main St., Lafayette, 289-5270
www.patsdowntown.com
Monday-Saturday: Lunch; Friday: Dinner (during Downtown Alive!)
Pat’s Downtown offers a wide variety whether it’s a shrimp po-boy, a loaded baked potato, salads, a fried catfish plate lunch, a pork chop sandwich or even wraps. Try Pat’s Special, a pair of fried catfish filets topped with crawfish etouffee and a slice of bread pudding for dessert. There’s tables inside, outdoors, or Pat’s will deliver on call-in orders of 10 or more.

RUBY’S RESTAURANT & CATERING
315 Rue Louis XIV, Lafayette, 989-0222
Sunday-Friday: Lunch
Overflowing Creole and Cajun plate lunches are cook Ruby Sharlow’s specialty. Fried catfish, stuffed pork chops and chicken fricassee are staples, and health-conscious diners can also get baked meats and brown rice.

SHINEY D’S
501 N. University, Lafayette, 236-9939
Daily: Breakfast and Lunch; Monday-Saturday: Dinner
Shiney D’s is the new kid on the soul food heavy block of University Ave. between Four Corners and the interstate. But that doesn’t mean they have too much catching up to do. The weekly plate lunch list includes winners like stuffed turkey wing, short ribs and old fashioned shrimp and egg stew. They offer lighter fare like grilled chicken and shrimp salads, and Sundays, the wait for their barbecue lunch is measured in minutes, not hours.

T-COON’S RESTAURANT
1900 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 233-0422
Daily: Breakfast and Lunch
T-Coon’s boast some of the biggest and heartiest plate lunches in town. Fried chicken, fried catfish, smothered rabbit, stuffed pork chops, brisket, and red beans are entree heaven, complemented by equally satisfying sides ranging from cornbread dressing to macque choux. Breakfast is a true eye-opener, with mammoth omelettes and homemade biscuits.

WEEKEND DRIVES


BLACK’S
319 Pere Megret St., Abbeville, 740-4266
Tuesday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
Once you’re here, it’s hard to leave this Abbeville landmark. The old wooden bar, brick clad walls and Abita beer on tap are part of the charm, but it’s the oyster trifecta at Black’s that keeps diners in their seats. Start with a dozen on the half shell, then a dozen of the smoky charbroiled oysters, and finish with a plate of crisp fried oysters. Sure there are distractions like fried shrimp and catfish, but Black’s has long been the mecca for oysters once the winter winds blow.  

BON CREOLE LUNCH COUNTER
1409 East Saint Peter St., New Iberia, 367-6181
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner; Sunday: Lunch
Bon Creole doesn’t know the meaning of restraint, their seafood po-boys are so over-stuffed you’ll have trouble getting your mouth around them. Sandwiches made with shrimp, oyster, soft-shell crab and crawfish are joined by a homemade hamburger po-boy. They boil seafood at night, and the excellent seafood gumbo is New Orleans style, thick and redolent with shrimp and crabmeat. Sundays, the barbecue pit flames chicken, sausage, pork chops and ribs.

BRENDA’S DINE IN OR TAKE OUT
411 W. Pershing St., New Iberia, 367-0868
Monday-Saturday: Breakfast and Lunch
This tiny family-run breakfast and plate lunch restaurant has earned its share of big accolades, with coverage in The New York Times and Gourmet magazine. Owner Brenda Placide makes great standards like fried chicken, barbecue ribs and red beans and rice but her smothered cabbage with sausage is the house specialty. Fridays, every kind of seafood winds up on her combo plate.

CLEMENTINE DINING & SPIRITS
113 E. Main St., New Iberia, 560-1007
www.clementinedowntown.com
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
A beautiful antique bar welcomes you into an award-winning restaurant. The local artwork and live music featured at Clementine on Friday and Saturday nights create a lively, Louisiana atmosphere that accents the traditional cuisine. New Orleans Barbeque Shrimp with crostini — jumbo shrimp in a tangy barbecue sauce served with rice and crispy herb bread — is great to share, or for meatlover’s try the Worcestershire beurre blanc-topped filet mignon medallions in a pastry crust. Clementine is justifiably famous for their bread pudding, don’t skip dessert.

COMEAUX’S CAFE
104 S. State St., Abbeville, 898-9218
Monday-Friday: Breakfast and Lunch; Saturday: Breakfast
Comeaux’s Café is the place for breakfast in Abbeville. Don’t miss the pain perdu or french toast, dusted with powdered sugar. Be sure to douse it with Abbeville’s Steens syrup, a local, molasses-flavored favorite. Grilled biscuits with ham is another winner, or segue into lunch. Cajun classics like crawfish etouffee sit side by side with the restaurant’s renowned hamburger steak.

DUPUY’S OYSTER SHOP
108 S. Main St., Abbeville, 893-2336
Tuesday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
While the oysters on the half shell are their calling card, Dupuy’s offers a wide array of menu items — like seafood quesadillas, softshell crabs and crabcakes, steaks, pasta dishes, Oysters Rockefeller, and crawfish fettucine.

LITTLE RIVER INN
833 E. Main St., New Iberia, 367-7466
www.littleriverinnnewiberia.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
Little River Inn is the place to go for Maine lobster ­— boiled, broiled, stuffed, or surf and turf with your favorite steak. New to the menu, Bon Ton Poulet passes a good time as a dish of grilled chicken with pesto sauce on a bed of spinach Rockefeller. Seafood stuffed tilapia dazzles under an extravaganza of crabmeat, crawfish and mushrooms. Stroll off your dinner down historic Main Street and be sure not to miss the famous Trappey Oak, right outside the restaurant.

MYRAN’S MAISON DE MANGER
1023 Neblett St, Arnaudville, 754-5064
Daily: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Myran’s porch overlooks Bayou Teche, and it’s the right place to settle in for boiled crawfish. There are eggs for breakfast and a stunningly good shrimp poboy at lunch, but it’s boiled crawfish and shrimp that draw folks in the door, and Myran’s is one of the few places that offers boiled seafood at lunch time.

PAUL’S PIROGUE
209 E. St. Peter, Carencro, 896-3788
www.paulspirogue.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch; Daily: Dinner
The shrimp is so fresh at Paul’s Pirogue you can still taste the sweet brine of the sea when you bite into their stellar po-boys and platters. Local faves are the signature Crab Pirogue, sauteed lump crab meat served over a bed of greens and andouille, the Green Gumbo, made with spinach, andouille, potatoes, white beans and if you ask, lavished with some of their jumbo lump crabmeat, and heaping platters of boiled seafood. Save some room for Gateaux Sirop, a Cajun country cake made with pecans and dark cane syrup.  

THE RIVERFRONT RESTAURANT
503 W. Port St., Abbeville, 893-3070
Sunday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
Having a cocktail on the deck overlooking the Vermilion River is a perfect way to start a meal at the Riverfront, which is known for its Eggplant Evangeline, fried eggplant medallions topped with crabmeat béchamel sauce. Fried seafood platters are also popular, as are the Riverfront’s black Angus beef steaks.

SHUCKS!
701 W. Port, Abbeville, 898-3311
Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday
Everyone knows that Shucks! is known for some of the best raw oysters in southwest Louisiana (get ‘em pan-broiled, fried, or stuffed if you like), but new owners David Bertrand and Bert Istre have also tweaked and expanded the menu a bit. There’s crab cakes, fried alligator, shrimp remoulade, duck and andouille gumbo, and a new oyster stew recipe that’s winning raves.

WHITE LINEN

BELLA FIGURA
100 Camelia Blvd., Lafayette, 216-6660
Monday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner; Sunday: Dinner    
It’s thumbs up for the Italian-Cajun fusion at Bella Figura. A concept that started off as the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen has evolved into one of the most elegant restaurants in town, with a roomy terrace for al fresco dining coming into its own now that the weather is turning cool. New items on the menu are an authentic Italian antipasti plate for starters, a purely Louisiana salad of jumbo lump crabmeat with fresh arugula, avocado and citrus, and a few new twists on the pasta course. But the big attention getters are all in the entrée column: pan seared redfish with scallops; braised shortribs over a saffron polenta cake; Cioppino, a seafood stew; braised duck and sweet potato risotto; and a dish called Brasiola, a beef tenderloin stuffed with mozzarella, asparagus and proscuitto. For a palate-clearing finish try owner Jack Ainsworth’s ice-cold limoncella. It’s sweet enough to be liquid dessert, but packs a high-octane punch.

CATAHOULA’S RESTAURANT
530 West Pinhook Road, 266-5332
www.catahoulasrest.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
The sister restaurant to Catahoula’s in Grand Coteau, Catahoula’s on Pinhook is housed in a restored  art deco building near University Ave. The menu is less pricey then the original, but that doesn’t apply to the quality of the food — lunch time stars are the crabmeat and tomato Napoleon salad or a rich fried eggplant medallion topped with shrimp and crabmeat. A new dinner item is the cornmeal crusted scallops in a pineapple chipolte butter sauce, and don’t miss out on the sides, airy sweet potato mash, goat cheese and herb grits and bacon braised greens.

NASH’S RESTAURANT
101 E. Second St., Broussard, 839-9333
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
Located in a 19th century mansion in Broussard, Nash’s offers upscale Italian cooking, specializing in seafood. Try the signature Veal Orleans, sauteed baby veal topped by jumbo lump crabmeat in a cream sauce, or the shrimp and spinach lasagne. Nash’s stands by their steaks; a house fave is the Pepper Steak, a New York strip, grilled and served with a demiglasse.

ASIAN CONNECTION


BONSAI SUSHI BAR
4409 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy., Lafayette, 993-3330
Monday-Saturday: Dinner
400 Jefferson St., Lafayette, 232-8333
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
www.bonsaisushibar.com
The sleek new restaurant recently opened downtown with a cool urban chic bar. Bonsai is known for jazzing up traditional rolls with Cajun spice — fusion sushi. Menu highlights include a stellar baked salmon wrapped around snow crab, and the Bonsai special, a roll packed with tempura shrimp, crab, fried crawfish and oyster, avocado and cucumber. Or try their oyster roll, a deconstructed oyster poboy — lettuce, creamy Asian mayo and a jalepeno pepper spike.

CHUNG KING RESTAURANT
5451 Johnston St., Lafayette, 988-3486
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
With its own sushi, a varied menu of Chinese and Japanese favorites and a loaded buffet, Chung King has something for everyone. Menu favorites include the Happy Family special, which pairs shrimp or beef with scallops and vegetables, and the Shanghai Shrimp, served in a zesty tomato sauce.  

MAE SON NOODLE HOUSE
4807 Johnston St., Lafayette, 406-0850
Tuesday-Saturday: Lunch and Dinner
The noodle house introduced Pho, a Vietnamese beef and noodle soup to Lafayette, and has generated a loyal following of folks who now know how to eat soup with chopsticks. Lao, Thai and Vietnamese rice and noodle dishes offer a wide variety of southeastern Asian flavors. Try the Larb, a Lao beef salad, Thai eggplant in a rich brown sauce or the tender springrolls, dipped in a fiery garlic/chili sauce.

MASALA
2208 Kaliste Saloom Rd., Lafayette, 981-6373
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Masala installed a clay tandoori oven to capture the authentic flavor of meat roasted at high temperatures. Their mixed grill of chicken and lamb is a perfect entree to the world of Indian spices. Try the Chili Chicken which marries ginger, garlic and red and green chilis in a pungent sauce, or the smooth rich Saag, a sauce of creamed baby spinach and fenugreek over a choice of lamb, chicken or paneer, the restaurants homemade cheese. There are a wide range of vegetarian dishes, including a lunch-only special dubbed Street Food. Pani Puri and Papdi Chaat, are two versions of Punjabi curbside finger food made of wheat wafers topped or filled with a mixture of potatoes, onions and chick peas, served with spiced yoghurt.

PIMON THAI
3904 Johnston St., Lafayette, 993-8424
www.pimonthai.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner
The newest addition to a very popular menu is Sriracha, a fried shrimp appetizer coated with a light sweet and hot sauce then dusted with cilantro. The ginger-garlic soup with rice has a magical healing quality both for body and spirit, or try the irristable Sriracha, a yellow curry with potatoes, ask for shrimp. Pad poi zean, adds clear noodles to a stir fry of meat and vegetables. Pad talay is a seafood combination stir-fry with lemon grass and galangal root sauce. Don’t skip the creamy rice pudding for dessert.

RIKRAK
832 Martin Luther King Rd., Cypress Bayou Casino, Charenton, 924-3334
Wednesday-Sunday: Dinner
For some fine dining to bring you luck at the slots, try Rikrak’s Beef Shitake, a prime 8 oz. filet mignon topped with butter poached lobster and shitake mushroom vinagrette. Seafood lovers can opt for the grilled sea bass, a soy- and fresh herb-marinated sea bass that’s charbroiled and topped with jumbo lump crabmeat and pickled ginger saute. There’s a full sushi bar as well.

ROYAL PANDA
2418 W. Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, 233-6368
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Snow crabs, boiled shrimp and sushi are always in abundance at Royal Panda’s huge buffet, which also offers Chinese-food mainstays like lo mein, fried rice, and beef and broccoli. Royal Panda will also serve sushi a la carte by request.
 
SHANGRI-LA RESTAURANT
4702 Johnston St., Lafayette, 988-4588
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Whether you’re in the mood for seafood or meat off the sizzling Hibachi grill or some imaginative sushi rolls, Shangri-La has options for every palate. Two of its sushi rolls are longtime favorites: the Ragin Cajun, which includes crab paste, crab stick and avocado topped with baked chili crawfish, and the Shangri-La, made with tuna, salmon, crab, avocado, and bonito flakes. For a nice sampler, Shangri-La offers a rotating selection of rolls at 50 percent off from 4-6 p.m., and 9 p.m. to closing, nightly.

TSUBAKI SUSHI
3564 Ambassador Caffery Parkway, 981-3111
Tuesday-Sunday: Lunch and Dinner
Seared pork-stuffed dumplings are a good starter at Tsubaki Sushi. Follow up with the baked salmon roll, filled with salmon, crunchy shrimp, mussel sauce or the popular Rock n Roll, that has shrimp tempura, masago sauce, cucumber and spicy mayo.

CAJUN


CAFE DES AMIS
140 E. Bridge St., Breaux Bridge, 332-5273
www.cafedesamis.com
Tuesday: Lunch; Wednesday-Thursday: Lunch and Dinner; Friday and Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Sunday: Breakfast and Lunch
Housed in a historic 1920s general store building renovated by owner Dickie Breaux, Cafe Des Amis is world renowned for its quintessential Cajun cooking and Saturday morning zydeco breakfast. Eggs over grilled boudin patties, eggs topped with crawfish etouffee, powdered sugar capped beignets,  oreille de cochon, couche couche, and andouille cheese grits are the right fare to keep you dancing till noon. There’s all kinds of country dishes from crawfish cornbread to crawfish pie and a one-of-a-kind gateau sirop for dessert.

THE ORIGINAL DON’S SEAFOOD & STEAKHOUSE
301 E. Vermilion St., Lafayette, 235-3551
www.donsdowntown.com
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
What began in 1934 as Don’s Beer Parlor, is now a downtown landmark. This family-owned restaurant is known the world over for its fresh seafood, top-rate dark roux gumbos, exquisite crawfish bisque, crisp hushpuppies, and a first rate Old-Fashioned from the bar. Don’t miss out on the crabmeat au gratin or the overflowing seafood platter featuring stuffed crab, stuffed shrimp, fried shrimp, fried catfish, fried oysters, crawfish fettucini and a choice of sides.

DON’S SEAFOOD HUT
4309 Johnston St., Lafayette, 981-1141
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
If you’re looking for seafood, then look for the big sign on Johnston Street for Don’s Seafood Hut. Whether it’s boiled, grilled, baked or fried, Don’s serves up frog legs, fish and shrimp year around. And you would remiss in passing up their seafood gumbo. Perennial favorites include frog legs, shrimp and oysters en brochette and crabmeat etouffee.

LAFAYETTE’S CRAWFISH, STEAK & SEAFOOD, INC.
1025 Kaliste Saloom Rd., Lafayette, 216-9024
www.lafayettes.com
Monday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner; Saturday: Dinner; Sunday: Brunch
Lafayette’s runs the gamut from bare-knuckles boiled crawfish to a haute items like Cane Glazed Duck Breast with Blueberry Demi-Glace. Cajun-inspired favorites are Stuffed Red Snapper smothered with crawfish etouffee and Seafood Eggplant Pirogue Louis, a fried eggplant boat filled with shrimp, crabmeat, and crawfish sauced with Parmesan cream sauce. Come Sunday, brunch is a cornucopia of fresh fruit and salads, soup, a carving station, omelets made to order, and the quintessential New Orleans brunch dish, eggs Sardou.
     
MCGEE’S LANDING
1337 Henderson Levee Rd., Henderson, 228-2384
www.mcgeeslanding.com
Tuesday-Saturday: Lunch; Friday-Sunday: Dinner
McGee’s Landing serves boiled crawfish in its natural environment, overlooking the waters of the Atchafalaya Basin. Other right-out-of-the-swamp specialties are grilled or fried alligator, stuffed shrimp, crawfish etouffee, or everything all on one plate in the Henderson Lake Platter. Live Cajun music on Sunday afternoons only adds to the allure of a bona fide southwest Louisiana hot spot.

PAT’S FISHERMAN’S WHARF
1008 Henderson Levee Road, Henderson, 228-7512
www.patsfishermanswharf.com
Daily: Lunch and Dinner
Pat’s is the place to eat a heap of boiled crawfish on the porch overlooking Bayou Amy. The Shrimp and Lump Crabmeat Camp Style Etouffee can’t be beat, catfish come five to a platter, fried bone-in, and to top it all off, under the same roof, at Pat’s Atchafalaya Club the best bands in Acadiana will keep you dancing till the wee hours.

PREJEAN’S RESTAURANT  
3480 I-49 N., Lafayette, 896-3247
www.prejeans.com
Daily: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Preajean’s Napoleon, a crisp potato cake stacked with a lump crab cake, poached egg, Hollandaise sauce and smoked tasso, is the hands-down winner on the breakfast menu, but be sure to order a side of their super creamy grits. The house favorite Shrimp Sassafras is four large fried shrimp wrapped in smoked bacon, stuffed with tasso and pepper jack cheese. Prejean’s also serves a great Crawfish Enchilada. If it’s fish you’re after, consider the grilled red snapper stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat.  

RANDOL’S RESTAURANT & CAJUN DANCEHALL
2320 Kaliste Saloom Rd., Lafayette, 981-7080
www.randols.com
Daily: Dinner
The live Cajun music kicks off every night at 6:30 p.m., providing the ambiance for Randol’s menu of Cajun and Creole classics and its fried seafood platters (shrimp, crawfish and oyster, of course, as well as soft shell crabs). Randol’s won a Gold Medal in the Culinary Classic for its White Lake Dreaming Crab Cake, made with lump crab meat and béchamel cream and served with a Parmesan cream reduction and basil garnish.

ROBIN’S RESTAURANT
1409 Henderson Hwy., Breaux Bridge, 228-7594
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner Saturday dinner
Robin’s may well be the sleeper of Acadiana restaurants. Their gumbos are distinctly different, each one tasting of the essence of whatever seafood it is made of — shrimp, crab, oyster, or all three. Crawfish bisque is excellent here, as are hard to find dishes like frog legs fricassee, and a beautifully subtle crabmeat au gratin. Ask for the wine list, if you get a tattered computer print out, it’s the real deal, with deep selections of some of the best wines in the world, sold nearly at cost. Dessert gets a lot of attention as well, thanks to two signature ice creams: Tabasco and home made fig that was conceived to tempt American cooking icon Julia Child.

YELLOW BOWL
19466 Highway 182 W., Jeanerette, 276-5512
Wednesday-Friday and Sunday: Lunch; Wednesday-Saturday: Dinner
One of the oldest restaurants in Acadiana, the Yellow Bowl is credited with being the first restaurant to fry crawfish tails. Their crawfish bisque and etouffee are legendary, fried catfish comes bone-in, and the seafood platter is too big for any one person to finish.

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