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Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Lafayette, Louisiana. During that trip, I ate. I ate a lot. When you visit Lafayette, and you’re looking for where to eat in Lafayette, you’ll come away with a lot of lip-smacking food options in Lafayette. I enjoyed a lot of variety thanks to the travel bloggers conference I was a part of, TBEX. Lafayette Travel hosted hundreds of bloggers in town for a few days, and when I say they wined and dined us, I really mean they dined and dined us. More than once I walked away saying I needed to fast after enjoying all the amazing food in Lafayette.
I know when most people think about food in Louisiana, it’s natural to think about New Orleans. Let me tell you, you’re missing out on regional specialties if you never eat in Lafayette.
Let’s dig in to find some of my choices for the best places to eat in Lafayette.
Lafayette is the largest city outside of New Orleans. Located in South Louisiana. Lafayette is home to Cajun country. The Cajuns, or Acadiens, have roots as far back to the 1700s when they were expelled from Canada. Settling in Louisiana, they have a unique culture not found in other parts of the United States. And of course, Cajun cuisine is at the heart of every good story.
Another reason to visit Lafayette? Not only are they the Happiest City in America, but they’ve also earned USA Today’s Best Food City in the USA. Throw in some live music from a Zydeco band and you have yourself a party!
Learn more if Lafayette is worth visiting with a review from How We Find Happy.
About Cajun Food
Let’s talk about the food and what makes Cajun food, Cajun. I’m sure you’ve heard of Cajun food, with dishes such as sausage gumbo, crawfish étouffée, and red beans and rice. Alternatively, you may have heard the term Creole and wondered what is the difference. In simplest terms, as it was described to me on my New Orleans food tour, Creole is city and Cajun is country.
But simple doesn’t do it enough justice. While Creole is considered native to New Orleans, it arouse out of French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences. Cajun food, however, is based in the Acadian region of Louisiana, which has its basis in the Canadian Acadians that fled their home.
Cajun food has a lot of basis in hearty, farm-raised meats. Often these are one-pot meals such as gumbo and jambalaya (which crosses into Creole cultures). One-pot meals are perfect for large social gatherings and Lafayette is also home to a number of festivals, making these Cajun dishes a go-to.
Boudin is another specialty that seems to be based solely in Cajun dishes. Residents of Lafayette take their boudin very seriously. In fact, links of boudin were used as a “ribbon-cutting” at the Festival Acadiens et Creole. Boudin is a type of blood sausage, though blood is rarely used any more due to FDA regulations. Boudin is made more often now as a mixture of seasoned ground port with rice, called Boudin blanc.
Cajuns are fond of their boudin and everyone has a favorite way to eat it and a favorite place. On my Cajun Food Tour, we heard tales that families will taste test and argue over where to find the best boudin to eat in Lafayette.
Cajun Food Tour
If you want to get to know a city, go on a walking tour. If you want to get to love a city, go on a food tour. That is how I felt joining Marie Ducote-Comeaux on her Cajun Food Tour Bus. To say she’s passionate about her Cajun heritage and the food that goes along with it is an understatement.
The Cajun food tour took us to locations in Lafayette and some additional cajun destinations in nearby towns. The comfy bus seats 14 and you’ll stop at five different locations throughout Lafayette and neighboring towns. During the drive, Marie tells you about the history of Lafayette, Acadiens, Cajun culture, Boudin and so much more.
Locations may vary depending on time of day, time of year, etc. The following is our experience.
Marie also has a tour that operates in Breaux Bridge and an All-Day Cajun Experience.
If it’s your first time in Lafayette, Marie is guaranteed to show you great places with local food. Book your Cajun Food Tour here for flexibility and free cancellation.
Cajun Market Donut
We started our tour with Cajun Market Donuts, for melt-in-your-mouth donuts with a cajun twist. Marie will tell you that she doesn’t use melt-in-your-mouth lightly but in this case, it’s true. We had blueberry donuts and boudin kolaches, which is boudin wrapped in a light savory dough.
Next up we visited Ton’s in Broussard, where we learned what plate lunches are. A plate lunch is essentially a special offering of a main dish with 2 sides. Ton’s has different daily specials for plate lunches. What makes them special is it’s a 3rd generation run restaurant, along with many 3rd generation employees. It’s where I learned to dip my potato salad in my gumbo. Try it next time you have it!
NuNu’s Fresh Market in Youngsville
You would think going to a market or a grocery store would not be on your list of places to eat in Lafayette, but if you haven’t gone to NuNu’s, you’d miss out.
Located in Youngsville, NuNu’s has an extensive meat selection that spans the entire back of the store. Pair that with their deli counter, and you get a buffet of choices. We sampled boudin, cracklin’, and chicken sausage, to name a few. NuNu’s is a local favorite and Marie states she never seasons her own meat anymore. She buys everything at NuNu’s.
Another restaurant with a family story, Fezzo’s is a beautiful restaurant named for the nickname of the owner. Fezzo is a Cajun word from the french word for a spool. Here we sampled charbroiled oysters and fried gator. This delicious food was just part of their selection of oysters and was worth a visit.
Finally, our food tour brought us to Poupart’s Bakery for their signature King Cake. King Cake, named for Three Kings Day, is a traditional pastry served on January 6th.
Whoever finds the baby Jesus in the King Cake is King for a day. Legend has it, folks in New Orleans loved a good party (go figure, right?) And in search of a good party, whoever found the baby Jesus, had to host a party the following week. This continues right up to Lent because while they may enjoy a good party, they were also good Catholics.
Now, King Cake is served between Three Kings Day and Mardi Gras and is typically decorated with Mardi Gras colored sugar. The King Cake at Pouparts was delightfully soft, with a melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese filling.
Poupart’s claim as the only French bakery in Louisiana means they don’t just have king cake. Their counters are filled with delicious-looking authentic french pastries.
You might be familiar with the brand name of Bordens, yet not realize it. They were typically known for the small cans of sweetened condensed milk you might use in your recipes.
Borden, with their trademark Elsie the Cow in a sunflower logo, made many other dairy products.
Additionally, they operated a chance of ice cream stores. While the company is no longer what it once was, the last remaining Borden Ice Cream Shop is in Lafayette, Louisiana. Stop in for an old fashioned ice cream sundae, at the counter, and gaze upon their collection of memorabilia.
Olde Tyme Grocery
You’d think a place named Olde Tyme Grocery would be a grocery store, but it’s not. It’s the pace for the best po’boys in Lafayette.
A po’boy, short for poor boys, is a sandwich from soft french bread, lettuce, tomato, and your choice of meats, shrimp, gator, crab, or deli meats. The Olde Tyme Special is made from ham, turkey, and roast beef.
Olde Tyme Grocery is a favorite among the college kids at the University of Louisiana.
Vestal, located in Downtown Lafayette, is a highly-rated restaurant specializing in oysters and seafood dishes. While at an event at Warehouse 535, we dined on their crawfish bisque. Crawfish is another popular cajun dish and Vestal’s was creamy and full of flavor with a hint of that popular cajun spice.
Johnson’s Boucaniere is both a place where you can pick up specialty meats like boudin or a variety of smoked sausages, or you can go in for breakfast, a plate lunch or sandwiches.
Check out their Sunday BBQ + Brunch with beignets, biscuits and gravy, and much more. This is a popular place to eat in Lafayette, so be sure to allow enough time to enjoy.
Bonne Vie Macarons
Another hidden gem in Lafayette is Bonne Vie Macarons. We also sampled their macarons during the event at Warehouse 535, and let me tell you, they were the most delicate pillowy macarons I’ve ever had.
La Cuisine de Maman
Another one of Lafayette restaurants I tried was La Cuisine de Maman, located inside of the Vermilionville historic center. This unique spot serves traditional southern fare. Located on the Vermillion river, the entire location shows you the history and local tradition of Lafayette and if you’re lucky, you may enjoy some live cajun music.
Festivals in Lafayette
If you really want to get a taste of the best restaurants in Lafayette, attend one of their many festivals year-round. These festivals are guaranteed to have dozens of Lafayette restaurants, roadside stands, and food vendors servicing up their best dishes. Plus, you’ll be entertained with some live zydeco music while you enjoy some awesome food.