Joey's: Cooking home cookin’ for 30 years. By Emily Henagan

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                                               Photo by Emily Henagan

Nestled within an unorthodox building that resembles somewhere your rich aunt would live rather than a place you would frequent to clog your arteries with a Turducken sandwich, Joey’s Deli is a Lafayette mainstay that makes you feel at home — and that’s not just because its exterior resembles a house.

The menu items are a marriage of comfort food mixed with innovative approaches and refined ingredients, silencing those, “I bet I could make this myself” patrons. Simply, they can’t. Only Joey’s can do it right, because not just anyone can take a pulled pork sandwich and transform it into a discussion-worthy eating experience that trumps reality television talk at the water cooler. The pulled pork, which is accented with just the right amount of tangy barbecue sauce, sits cradled in a divine jalapeño sourdough bun. The subtle hints of jalapeño awaken taste buds and magically elevate the pork. Try the sandwich with the homemade sweet potato fries, and this becomes the epitome of Southern eating. 

Open from 10:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. for lunch, Joey’s offers a diverse array of daily specials that range from wraps to pasta. The shrimp and tasso pasta incorporates signature Cajun ingredients the way they should be: through layered seasoning and local meat and seafood. Although the hearty, delicately prepared shrimp echoes the loudest on the palate, the tasso cooes comfortably on it as well. The sauce is not overbearingly rich, but the meal is luxuriously fulfilling enough to lull one to sleep. Be sure to arrive early at the Bertrand Drive restaurant because everyone from business big wigs to hungry housewives snatch up the daily specials quickly. Also, get there promptly so you can snag a table by the curtainless windows, which bathe the high-ceiling dining area in natural ambiance.

If you are in the mood for something to get you through your daily grind, opt on the lighter side for the grilled chicken breast on focaccia bread. Coming it at around $9, this sandwich is stuffed with fresh tomatoes, baby spinach, homemade pesto sauce and a grilled chicken breast that is all blanketed in provolone cheese.  It is satiating and makes you feel like spring is just around the corner.

Pat yourself on the back for choosing such a healthy option and reward yourself with Joey’s cake balls. These homemade delights come in milk and dark chocolate — the gourmet versions that fill your palate with a cascade of indulgent cocoa and sugar.

If you do not feel you can size up in the cooking department, Joey’s offers prepared meals and frozen foods for you to pass of as your own to friends and family. The soups and bisques are among my favorites and sit in a class all their own. Grab the crab and corn bisque, which intermingles lump crab meat, cream, corn, potatoes and homemade stock. The bisque is reminiscent of a slow-cooked, well looked-over version you would engorge in while lounging in your neighbor’s kitchen.

The plethora of cuisine choices is not the only reason this restaurant has withstood 30 years (as of Oct. 6) in Lafayette’s unforgiving restaurant scene. It’s the warm staff who politely coerce the orders out of you and the namesake himself, Joey, who glides throughout the store with one of the most admirable work ethics, that truly distinguish this place from others. 

Reserve seats to revel with the kind-hearted staff and a surprise Italian guest on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. for Joey’s 30th Anniversary Italian Wine Dinner. Return on Oct. 8 to sample Joey’s latest hit item, local grass-fed beef. Cap off the celebrations by attending the Holiday Food and Wine Extravaganza on Oct. 27 from 6-8 p.m. Challenge your taste buds with more than 80 types of wines and spirits. Feeling lucky on this day? Joey’s will be selling raffle tickets with seven cases of wine up for grabs; the raffle proceeds will benefit Hospice of Acadiana.

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