No Mardi Gras parade this year? No problem, cher. There are plenty of Cajun and creole restaurants in Dallas to spice up your year. As a Louisiana native, I judge Cajun restaurants based on four Louisiana staples: po-boys, gumbo, daiquiris and bread pudding. (You thought I was going to say beignets, didn't you?) There's no greater tell to legitimate Cajun cooking than the spice choices, freshness of the seafood, and the clear presence of lagniappe.
You can always tell when a jambalaya recipe has been perfected and passed down with love from their Mawmaw or Mamere, or when that roux and holy trinity (onions, bell pepper and celery) are deglazed with a deep amber beer like south Louisiana's own Abita Amber Lager. Here are some local Dallas favorites that promise authentic Cajun dishes, naturally served up with plenty of love.
Charlie's Creole Kitchen in Lower Greenville has unbelievably authentic gumbo and fresh seasonal picks. Don't forget to order their not quite photogenic, yet very delicious boudin balls and fried green tomatoes while you're there for the gumbo!
The Dallas location of the favorite Texas Cajun restaurant chain, Razzoo's Cajun Cafe, also is home to great gumbo. Order a bowl of their seafood gumbo, or try their Cajun favorite, Chicken Tchoupitoulas. (I'll help you out - that's pronounced CHAA-puh-TOO-luhs.)
Po-Boys and Beignets All Day
You'll practically feel like you're in the French Quarter at The Swamp Cafe. Start off by ordering their shrimp po-boy and crawfish étouffée, then finish the meal with their Cafe Du Monde style chicory café au lait and beignets, luckily for us, they are served all day long.
Another Deep Ellum favorite, Le Bon Temps, is a sugary haven for beignets and coffee. Get the sweet treats served traditionally (their Classique) or mix it up with stuffed or topped beignets! Their boozy bananas foster bites are my favorite.
Why daiquiris? Rum, the staple ingredient in the delicious drink, is made from Louisiana grown sugar cane and produced in distilleries all around southern Louisiana. While Southern Classic Daiquiri Factory in Bryan Place offers way more than just drinks, their name speaks for itself. Wash down their spicy Catfish Atchafalaya (pronounced ah-CHA-fuh-LIE-ah) with one of their signature frozen daiquiris, offered both in store or to-go.
If you think about it, crawfish was made for social distancing. It's often best enjoyed at home among family or friends, and while peeling, you must be careful to not touch anything until you've washed your hands really, really well. Keep the party within your pod and pick up crawfish from Deep Ellum's The Free Man Cajun Cafe & Lounge or Lower Greenville's Ragin' Crab and enjoy at a park picnic or at home. Not sure how much to order? Depending on your hunger level and crawfish peelin' skills, plan to order about 3-5 lbs. per person.