Listen for murmurs of Cajun French spoken on street corners and the ubiquitous sound of zydeco music wafting from bars and restaurants.
Lafayette, Louisiana, is the heart of Acadiana – the French Acadian region of Louisiana – and the capital of Cajun and Creole cuisine. Here, fresh, local ingredients inspire a range of regional comfort foods, in which you’ll taste the influence of Spanish, French and Caribbean cultures. Don’t leave town without sampling the best of Acadiana at these iconic local restaurants.
With a fertile, tropical climate and water just about everywhere, Lafayette has a bounty of vibrant flavors that come from its own backyard.
Where to try it: Social Southern Table & Bar focuses on belly-filling, farm-to-table fare and craft cocktails.
Fresh produce at the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market at the Horse Farm
From soft-shell crabs and shrimp, to oysters and crawfish, there’s always a fresh catch of the day on the menu.
Where to try it: Cajun Claws Seafood Boilers prepares local seafood every which way, specializing in crawfish and shrimp boils. Open seasonally, Hawk’s Crawfish uses a specialized cleaning method called purging that guarantees ultra-clean, extra-delicious crawfish. Both restaurants are just a short drive outside Lafayette. Visit in May to attend the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, celebrating the freshwater crustacean.
Classic presentation of shrimp and corn polenta, a local favorite
Pronounced boo-dan, this sausage casing stuffed with rice, pork, onions, green peppers and seasonings is a source of heated debate over whose recipe is the tastiest.
Where to try it: Bayou Boudin & Cracklin serves up hot sausages and its popular accompaniment, cracklins (fried pork skin and fat). Don’s Specialty Meats has been voted among the best in Acadiana and offers a variety of ingredient combinations. Try the “boutine,” a cross between boudin and poutine (French fries and cheese curds tossed with gravy), at Wurst Biergarten.
Boudin, regional specialty of rice, pork, onions, green peppers and seasonings in a sausage casing
Consisting of a gravy-covered meat and starch, a pair of vegetable sides and a simple piece of bread served on a single plate, the plate lunch has long been a low-key local staple.
Where to try it: The hole-in-the-wall atmosphere at Acadian Superette is the perfect setting for a homemade plate lunch. In Scott, The Best Stop Supermarket serves up Cajun delights in a friendly atmosphere, and Billy's Homemade Boudin and Cracklins offers a wide selection of specialty meats. Kartchner's Specialty Meats is another lunch favorite, presenting hearty plate lunches Monday through Friday and barbecue plate lunches on Sundays.
Satisfying cravings with plate lunch dishes inspired by Cajun, Creole and Southern flavors
Choose Your Gumbo
Gumbo is a must-try Louisiana dish – and for good reason. The variations in this savory, spicy, soup-like dish served over rice are practically endless.
Where to try it: Prejean’s is famous for its authentic gumbos, and sells cookbooks so you can make it at home. The smoked-duck-and-andouille-sausage version at Charley G’s is so popular that they ship it around the country. La Cuisine de Maman serves its rich gumbo at Vermilionville, a Cajun living history museum.
Ready to enjoy a bowl of hearty chicken and sausage gumbo
Fly into Lafayette Regional Airport via Louis Armstrong New Orleans International (MSY), the closest international airport to Lafayette, as well as other major cities such as Houston, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia. From New Orleans, chartered bus and train service to Lafayette is available, or rent a car for the two-hour drive.