530 W. Pinhook Road, Lafayette (Map) - 269-1550
With plate lunches in a posh atmosphere, Abacus might be one of Lafayette's best kept secrets. The deco building has gleaming hardwood floors, sleek lines and a nice dark bar. A buffet menu rotates through the week, stuffed turkey wings and barbecue brisket are faves, but there's a bigger universe at Abacus. Daily braised fish, multiple salads and usually a superb gumbo are on the buffet line. The chef's award-winning creole bread pudding is also served daily.
600 Lamar St., Lafayette (Map) - 237-4509
Daily: Breakfast and Lunch
Freetown folks know of this stellar lunch place. It's located on the corner of Stewart and Lamar, and regulars will put the Superette's burgers up as the best in town. Plate lunches are served daily with a traditional seafood dish on Fridays. It also acts as a neighborhood bodega where you can nab a few groceries with your breakfast or dinner.
555 Jefferson St., Lafayette (Map) - 234-8877
Monday-Friday: Lunch; Dinner: Downtown Alive! Fridays
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 since 1940, 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 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.
302 Carmel Drive, Lafayette (Map) - 235-4052
Monday-Friday: Breakfast and Lunch
Burger Best is a tiny hole-in-the-wall so small there's only room for the two cooks. You can eat lunch in your car or better yet, take the sumptuous plate lunches off to the park for a picnic. Go for a fried egg and cheese breakfast sandwich early, the like-you'd-make-it-at-home $1.50 burger, or a daily selection of hefty lunches. If cabbage rolls or smothered steak are on the menu, they're a winner.
CHAMPAGNE'S GROCERY & DELI
716 Souvenir Gate, Lafayette (Map) - 235-6733
Tucked away in the heart of Lafayette's Saint Street neighborhood is a little market and deli that turns out poboys, boudin and classic meat-and-three-side plate lunches. Fried chicken on Wednesdays, pork roast on Thursdays, shrimp stew Fridays. You know the drill. All the veggies are 50 cents per scoop, so build a veg meal out of the sides if you're not hungry for the full plate lunch. Also, you can build your own slush puppies on Champagne's own slush puppy machine.
709 N. University Ave., Lafayette (Map) - 269-1653
They call it authentic Creole cuisine, and that's exactly what it is. Owner Chris Williams inherited the landmark restaurant from his late father Roy, who picked up many of his savory soul food dishes when he worked in the kitchen by his grandmother's side on the family farm in Duson. Try the crawfish or shrimp etouffee, pork roast with mac and cheese, smothered round steak with hearty rice dressing or drop in for Williams' popular Sunday barbecue. But be forewarned, this is slow food at its best. You will wait. It's worth it.
CREOLE LUNCH HOUSE
713 Twelfth St., Lafayette (Map) - 232-9929
Merline Herbert has built an industry on her famous meat-stuffed breads. Her neighborhood restaurant operates out of a modest-sized house and is a quintessential stop for anyone in search of Lafayette's best plate lunches and a conversation in Creole French. The killer chicken fricassee is criminally good, as are the silky butter beans and stuffed baked chicken. Regulars rave about the stuffed bread, which is not to be missed.
5520 Johnston St., Lafayette (Map) - 981-4849
Daily: Breakfast and Lunch
If you're looking for comfort food -- in the form of Southern and Louisiana cuisine - look no further than Ema's. Menu items range from local favorites like liver and grilled onions and fried chicken with garlic mashed potatoes crawfish cakes served over angel hair. The Sunday Brunch offers carving and omelette, soup, salad, buffet and dessert stations. The atmosphere's casual, the food's down home and the staff's hospitable.
104 Lamar St., Lafayette (Map) - 235-2921
Monday-Friday: Breakfast and Lunch
Formerly a neighborhood grocery, Gary's has been around for 60 years, and this corner plate lunch joint in Freetown is known for its breakfast burger - a fried egg and bacon served atop a fully dressed traditional hamburger. On Tuesdays, Gary's makes the best chicken stew in town, or try its Friday crawfish etouffee. Look for its sign proclaiming its "World Famous Breakfasts" then sit on one of the benches outside and watch the trains roll by. If you're missing Gary's while away, hamburger patties are sold so you can enjoy them anywhere.
HUB CITY DINERwww.hubcitydiner.com
1412 S. College Road, Lafayette (Map) - 235-5683
Monday-Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
This family-style diner is awash in '50s decor and offers affordable home-style cooking. Breakfasts are hefty like the sweet potato pancakes with Steen's syrup or the Cajun smoked sausauge omelet packed with sauteed onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes and (of course) Louisiana Smoked Sausage. Lunches and dinners feature blue plate specials like Hub City's three-way hamburger steak, a 9-ounce steak served up the way you want it, with either cheese, gravy or onions.
3701 Cameron St., Lafayette (Map) - 837-0445
3431 Pinhook Road, Lafayette (Map) - 261-0581
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. The plate lunches are different every week so stop by a lot for the variety of offerings, and be hungry when you do - the portions are generous, to say the least.
1904 W. University Ave., Lafayette (Map) - 593-8006
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 fall-off-the-bone ribs, Friday, fried catfish and shrimp, and Saturday, don't miss the fried pork chops. Try everyone's favorite side, the black-eyed peas. They taste as though your mom made them.
2011 W. Pinhook Road, Lafayette (Map) - 205-9570
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. Dig in to the white beans and rice, which are now available daily after many requests.
2310 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy., Lafayette (Map) - 406-2440
Tucked away in a strip mall near Dulles Drive, Noah's serves a set plate lunch menu. Try the Tuesday trifecta of smothered chicken, smothered steak and lasagna if you miss out on Monday's grilled pork steak or meatball stew. Seafood Fridays, go for the smothered okra and shrimp. Although the plate lunches are delicious, if it's a burger you're craving Noah's offers a juicy selection with a choice of french fries or onion rings as a side.
107 E. Main St., Lafayette (Map) - 289-5270
Monday-Saturday: Lunch; Friday: Dinner during Downtown Alive!
Pat's Downtown offers a wide variety, whether it's poboys, loaded baked potatoes, salads, fried catfish, crawfish etouffee, sandwiches or wraps. Try the Pat's Special - two pieces of fried catfish topped with crawfish etouffee. You also must try Pat's bread pudding and peach cobbler, and don't forget about the daily plate lunches.
1900 W. Pinhook Road, Lafayette (Map) - 233-0422
Monday-Saturday: Breakfast and Lunch; Sunday: Breakfast only
T-Coon's boasts 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. Stop by for breakfast beignets - if you go on a Friday, stay for the local favorite, catfish courtbouillon.
THE LUNCH BOXwww.lunchboxmenu.com
3909 Moss St., Lafayette (Map) - 233-8298
Daily: Lunch; Thursday-Friday: Dinner
Don't let the plate lunch, poboy and gumbo daily menu (not to mention the name) 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. Find every day's offerings on their website, where the menu is organized by day. Locals rave about the po'boys like the shrimp, cat fish and sausage, which come fried but can be grilled upon request.