Located in south-central Louisiana, Lafayette is a welcoming city known for its Cajun culture. In fact, it was named “Best Food City in the USA” by Rand McNally and “Tastiest Town in the South” by Southern Living Magazine! What better way to become acquainted with this vibrant culture than through its famous cuisine? I asked for recommendations on local favorite places to eat in Lafayette, and my experience was wonderfully satisfying.
Dining in Downtown Lafayette
Wandering Lafayette’s charming downtown proved to be a fantastic food experience. We went to Carpe Diem Gelato, where the owner, Silvia Bertolazzi, makes her gelato daily with flavors ranging from salted caramel, to almond fig, to Louisiana favorite Mayhaw berry. There was a piano on the front patio, and she explained that local musicians come during the week to play, write music and have gelato. What fun!
For dinner, a popular place to stop is Blue Dog Café, as much for the food as for the famous art. Local artist George Rodriguez displays more than 150 prints of his famous Blue Dog image, which line the urban-style brick walls of the restaurant. Blue Dog features tasty Cajun cuisine with a nouveau twist. Make sure you try one of their Blue Dog Martinis, which perfectly complement the Cajun spices. I enjoyed mine with a dish called “Treasures of the Bayou,” consisting of fresh shrimp, crab and oysters with artichokes in an herbed white wine cream bisque – an absolute treat for seafood lovers! Blue Dog also serves a famous brunch on Sundays accompanied by live music.
Dining and Dancing at Randol's
If you want to see how locals of all ages enjoy good food and Cajun dancing on any given night in Lafayette, then head to Randol's! I immediately felt at home in this family-style restaurant with its relaxed atmosphere and colorful murals on the walls. Definitely try the crab fingers appetizer, handpicked right there on the property, and the blackened catfish étouffée. Both crabs and catfish are homegrown at Randol's, as are the fresh herbs flavoring the tasty and generous seafood dishes. As I finished my plate, I heard the first beats of the Zydeco band coming on, and already the first people were taking to the dance floor.
Po’ Boys at Old Tyme Grocery
In Louisiana, one of your ultimate food goals should be to find the best local po’ boy, a sandwich usually filled with fried seafood or meat and served on a crusty baguette. In Lafayette, the most popular po’ boys can be found at Old Tyme Grocery. They’re so popular that you might encounter a line of hungry patrons waiting for a taste of the famous shrimp po’ boy. Make sure you bring cash, as Old Tyme Grocery doesn’t take credit or debit cards. In the summer, enjoy a snowball (shaved ice with flavored syrup) at Murph’s, right behind the grocery.
If you want a foodie tour of Louisiana, combined with the charm of a smaller city, Lafayette should definitely be on your itinerary!