2011 W. Pinhook Road
Raising the Bar
Mint, lime, sugar, soda.
Rafael Garcia moved to Lafayette from Havana, Cuba, as a political refugee in 1998 and began serving up mojitos with his own imported recipe 10 years ago when he opened Café Habana City with his family. His refreshing mixture makes it the quintessential summer drink, and he will happily serenade customers with songs from his homeland while creating the restaurant’s signature concoction.
Though legends of the mojito’s origin date back to the 1500s, most agree that the mojito was invented by pirates in the Caribbean when the Bacardi rum distillery opened in Cuba in 1862. Mojito’s root word, “mojo,” means to dress or season, referring to the muddled mint that gives the rum flavor. Garcia’s recipe uses the classic fresh mint leaves, squeezed lime juice and sugar, but he uses ginger ale (regular or diet) instead of the traditional club soda. Those looking for a taste of Cuba can find two-for-one mojitos at Café Habana City all day, every day, as well as home-style Cuban food. Garcia serves up 14 kinds of mojitos, from original, mango and coconut to varieties with cosmopolitans, margaritas or amaretto. On Fridays, Garcia “brings a little piece of the Caribbean” to Lafayette for a weekly Latin night, converting the restaurant to a dance club, pumping Latin music through the speakers until 2 in the morning. Café Habana City is located at 911 Bertrand Drive and is open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. — Story and photo by Elizabeth Rose
Café Habana City
911 Bertrand Drive
|Bon Temps Grill's apple and tasso
stuffed pork chop
Nom Nom at Bon Temps
By Katie Macdonald • Photo by Robin May
When it comes to traditional Louisiana food, there’s little that locals haven’t tried, much less perfected. From dark, thick gumbo and creamy crawfish étouffée to crispy strips of fried alligator, everyone and their mother has sampled the staples of Cajun cuisine.
But brothers Patrick and Steven O’Bryan aren’t afraid to buck tradition at Pat and Steve’s Bon Temps Grill, 1312 Verot School Road in Lafayette’s booming south side. There, the Erath natives have crafted a unique menu that embraces familiar Cajun cuisine while introducing new ingredients and techniques.
From the NOLA Shrimp & Grits, large shrimp and just-spicy-enough jalapeno cheese grits, to a crawfish pot pie filled with crawfish étouffée and topped with a simultaneously gooey and crispy Gruyere crust, the Bon Temps Grill’s menu is filled with twists Steven likes to call “urban Cajun food.”
“We don’t want to be that same old fried seafood platter Cajun restaurant,” Steven says as he describes how the brothers developed their menu.
“We spent many weeks in Steven’s bedroom writing ideas on big dry-erase board,” Patrick says. “We would say a particular food we wanted on our menu, then figure out how to make it unique.”
An example of this brainstorming is the restaurant’s take on alligator: BBQ Alligator Doria, a cheese and boudin-stuffed alligator grilled on the restaurant’s titular mesquite wood grill. It is accompanied with grilled vegetables and a choice of sides.
“I don’t know anywhere else where alligator isn’t fried strips,” Steven says laughing.
This gator certainly is different. Instead of the chewy chicken-like quality associated with fried alligator, the Doria is extremely tender and highlights a variety of spices in the stuffing and meat.
The boudin stuffing, as well as the sausage used in Bon Temps Sausage and Boudin Board appetizer, is from NuNu’s Fresh Market in Youngsville, highlighting the duo’s dedication to use local ingredients when possible. The restaurant’s executive chef Alexis Cupich utilizes homegrown produce when it is in season and incorporates local products like Steen’s cane syrup.
Our visit’s final experience with the O’Bryan twist is their Bananas Foster Bread Pudding, a massive dessert you’ll want to share. The bread pudding is made with fresh bananas and Myers’s Dark Rum, topped with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and drizzled with homemade Bananas Foster sauce. The inspiration for the dessert, the brothers say, came from a desire to blend the delicious flavors of two of their favorite desserts.
Bon Temps’ EatLafayette special is a choice of either $5 off dinner with purchase of $25 or more or half-priced bottle wine any day. (You can get both deals on Tuesdays.)
Open for two months now, Bon Temps Grill is the brothers’ decades-long dream. Both grew up with Cajun cooking in nearby Eunice and then paid their way through college at UL Lafayette by bussing and waiting tables at local restaurants like Café Vermilionville, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Copeland’s. Following their graduations, they remained in the food industry.
They chose to build Bon Temps Grill in the former Louisiana Crawfish Time because of its proximity to Lafayette’s fast-growing south side. “This side of Lafayette is booming, and there is not a whole lot of restaurants on this side of town,” Patrick says. He also describes how the location is perfect for both workers and families because it lies just outside of Lafayette’s traffic-clogged center.
But perhaps what was most exciting for the brothers was the chance to build a restaurant that reflected their vision of a “come as you are” environment. With the help of family and friends, they completely remodeled the restaurant with cypress and bricks from their family’s old farm in Abbeville. The result is a warm and clean atmosphere that radiates character — from the handmade wooden tables to the bar Steven’s father-in-law built himself — and a bon temps.
Bon Temps Grill
1312 Verot School Road
Happy Hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
• $2 domestic longnecks
• $1 off all pints and wine by the glass
• half off all well drinks
• Tuesdays are half-priced bottled wine
CURRENT COUPON PROMOTION
• After your first visit get a coupon for a free appetizer on your second visit
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Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
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The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
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By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
Three bedroom in Port Barre or two bedroom in Opelousas
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
“I am only getting a little nervous about two projects — the proposed Sasol GTL facility [not the new ethylene plant] and the proposed G2X facility — both in Lake Charles. They need a hefty difference between oil and natural gas prices to make sense.”
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Lower oil prices also might slow the growth of oil production in parts of the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because it will no longer be so profitable.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
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State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.