austin food blogger alliance city guide 2013
a creole/cajun crawl

Hi there!  Looking for Creole/Cajun fare in the heart of Texas? Well you're in luck! This guide has been updated! Please visit A Creole Crawl |Austin's Best Cajun/Creole Fare, 2016 #ATXBestEats City Guidewhich will go live March 4th, for all the skinny on the current state of Creole affairs in Austin, and surrounding area. 

As a contributor to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide, I was happily charged with the task of providing an overview of Cajun and Creole dining in the Austin area.  The challenge was met head, or rather mouth-on, and a course was set-- over several weekdays and weekends, to sample the fare.

Mais, Cher, we were not disappointed!

When I moved to Austin from South Louisiana in the late 90's, the Cajun scene was, sadly, a desert. There was one spot downtown, offering a less-than-fresh excuse for a seafood boil, and Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, a member of the Pappas family regional chains, which still serves hundreds a day, competently. Being a single girl, visits there, even if for a bowl of their delicious lobster bisque, alone, were a rare treat, as Pappadeaux was out of reach in my meager budget, and there remained little else of a Louisiana variety that fit the bill, as far as I'd found. With no other obvious choices, free chips and salsa and two-dollar tacos became the mainstay of my miserly eating out budget.  

No gumbo, no oysters, no poboys, no etouffee, no pain perdu, no softshell crab, no crawfish boils.  

I was one homesick girl, friends. 

Mais now, some 15 years later, how things have changed.  Austin has grown by leaps and bounds, and luckily for us all, so has Louisiana's presence on the local food scene.  Big changes have come since one nasty girl, Katrina, visited the Gulf Coast, displacing and dispersing some fine creole cooks and budding entrepreneurs who have now encouraged, influenced, and transplanted themselves right into, the thick of things.  

We are happy to report, now, YES to gumbo, oysters, poboys, etouffee, pain perdu, softshell crab, crawfish boils, and MORE. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts, from budget to elegant dining, North, South, East, West, and Central--you'll find delicious Cajun/Creole fare that meets every meal, budget and craving just around many Austin corners. 

Some of our favorites include:

Breakfast and Brunch

Cherrywood Coffee House is serving up Creole breakfast fare, including pain perdu, for weekend brunch, from 10-3, along with an exceptional cup of Joe. 

Hoover's Cooking is still one of our favorite spots for a weekend breakfast and his Etouffee-smothered Grits, Fried Catfish or Chicken over Biscuits, never disappoints. 

The popular and dependable Cypress Grill, where the only thing bad about their Cajun Hash and Cypress Eggs Benedict is that I can't have them every day of the week, knows how to do brunch, as well as lunch and dinner, and they do them all quite well. 

And a recent visit to the lovely Bee Cave location of Gumbo's, found a new brunch-spot favorite. From our table under a covered patio overlooking the duck pond,  we were spoiled with friendly, attentive service and a menu that met the desires of egg-lovers and seafood-cravers alike.  Favorites included Trout George--pan-fried, topped with sauteed blue crab, over herb beurre blanc, and Eggs Sardou--the poached eggs on artichoke bottoms with creamed spinach and tasso hollandaise, the likes of which we've never seen this side of the Sabine River.  We finished with a steaming cup of strong Community brand coffee and the off-menu Chocolate Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce for which words do no justice.  Ask for it. We didn't eat again for two days. 

Rustic Revelry

Deckhand Oyster Bar, located in Round Rock, is a raucous, roaring good time where happy customers share their enthusiasm for all foods, cajun, and sports on big screens, over cold beers at either table or bar, devouring oysters as quickly as they can be shucked.  One of the first reviewed of the season that had boiled crawfish-- gulf coast crawfish, that is, a recent order was a bit on the smallish side, being culled so early in the season, but they were boiled well, released easily, with a spice level accessible to most, and served basted with what appeared to be a buttery sauce. Along with a few dozen oysters and those mudbugs, we had lots of moderately-priced decent grub at Deckhand, but the plump, fresh, briny oysters surpassed all.  Go for the oysters, and go often, but skip the weekends if peace and quiet are what you're after. It gets a touch noisy, all that slurpin' and cheerin' and all.

You ever get thirsty, friends?  You know, really thirsty?  The type of thirsty that nothing other than an ice-cold Abita Purple Haze can quench?  Well join us at the oyster bar over at Quality Seafood. Forgo the regular menu, get an ice cold Abita from the case, belly up, and slurp down a dozen or so of their plump, briny oysters on the half shell, in season.  They have some of the finest around. 

If you're itching to catch a favorite game, it's a good bet you'll find it on one of the many screens around Shoal Creek Saloon, but be forewarned--Saints and Tigers games get first billing and those are the days in which you'll find yourself among a sea of purple, or black, and gold (and that is a very fine thing.)  In season, Shoal Creek throws a Cajun-proper crawfish boil on evenings and weekends, but call ahead--dem mudbugs go fast. 

Evangeline Cafe makes all their dressings in house, serves perfectly-prepared Cajun favorites, and features live music, Monday through Saturday.
And last, but nowhere near least, is a local 'best of' many things--Evangeline Cafe.  If you really want to get an infusion of Cajun hospitality and joie de vivre, make Evangeline's a must-go on your agenda. Delicious food (Oysters Contraband is a personal favorite--housemade chips topped with fried oysters and spicy sausage remoulade, meant to be shared.  Meant to be.) served from M-Th 11-9:30, and F-S 11am-10pm, when the kitchen closes and the fais do do begins!  Great bands play live, Monday through Saturday.  If you see Curtis, the affable mustachioed resident Tiger fan and owner, and you likely will because he greets everyone in his path, tell him Maggie sent you.

Big Easy Elegance

While Cajun food is often thought of as highly-spiced, fried fare, there are more delicate and refined  dishes embodied by Creole cuisine. Our recent trip to Gumbo's, (with individually-owned locations in Downtown Austin and Georgetown, as well) for brunch, above, reflects that elegance in food, as well as setting, as does the newest offshoot of the Gumbo's legacy (through the former Mama Roux), French Quarter Grille which esteemed food critic and writer Virgina Wood of the Austin Chronicle recounts two flawless visits, and French Quarter Round Rock, newly-opened in that quaint stone building where the original Gumbo's began. We can attest--the orange creme brulee is to die for. In fact we haven't had a less-than-perfectly-crafted dish upon any visit. If you're looking for an upscale experience, true to creole cuisine from start to finish, Gumbo's and French Quarter Grille are excellent options.

 French Quarter, Round Rock, boasts an exceptional Happy Hour, featuring delicious bites like, clockwise, from top left,  Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Oysters Rockefeller, Fried Green Tomatoes topped with Crab Remoulade, and, bottom left, Crawfish Beignets. Impossible to name the best--I recommend going hungry, and trying them all.

Off the Beaten Path

As thousands of weekend bikers will attest, Austin, and the surrounding Hill Country, is a rider's paradise. Winding roads, big skies, and beautiful scenery, are found northwest of the city on Farm to Market 1431 (FM 1431), which travels from Taylor, at its eastern terminus, to Lake Buchanan at its western, and the section on the north shore of Lake Travis, from west of Cedar Park to Marble Falls is especially scenic. When the open air finds you parched and hungry, and close to Jonestown, fate has smiled upon you, friend. Parrain's Louisiana Kitchen is the perfect stop for a cold beer or glass of wine, or twoboudin balls that are rivaled by no other in the area, some hearty grub, and some more refined, too, and on a recent visit, ice-cold oysters on the half shell that were the size of our fist.  Almost.  Of course getting there by car, while less of an adventure, is perfectly enjoyable, too.

Quality Seafood: Selling their sole six days a week, since 1938.

Provisions for the DIY'er

Fresh seafood is the crown jewel of Quality Seafood, above. Fresh and frozen gumbo fixings include gumbo blue crabshucked pints and oysters in the shell, and at least one type of shrimp (Call ahead to ensure heads-on, when available) You'll find cold Abita beer in their beverage case, too.

In Northwest Austin, discover the Cajun market and cafe, Stuffed Cajun Meat Market, serving daily specials and standards like crawfish etouffee (blonde roux), smothered green beans (just like your mama makes, if you're lucky), boudin (mildly-spiced), and more.  Skip the cornbread and ask for a loaf of Gambino's bread. They'll fish it out of the cooler in back, and it will be worth every little bit of trouble.  Hard-to-find Louisiana favorites like Blue Plate brand mayo, creole mustard, seafood boil, Camelia-brand dried beans and regionally-preferred canned veggies line the shelves. Reasonably priced prepared gumbos, etouffee, dirty rice, casseroles, and other creole delicacies stock the cooler, and andouille, stuffed shrimp, bacon-wrapped and seafood stuffed jalapenos, pork tenderloin, quail, stuffed pork chops and more, are offered fresh, daily.

Did I mention Gambino's bread??

Stuffed Cajun Meat Market has the best andouille in Austin.  Eat some there, and take some home.

A Little Bit of Louisiana-style Soul

For an experience closest to stepping into a Creole granny's kitchen, check out Nubian Queen Lola's, for Cajun-inspired soul food specials, like all-you-can-eat chicken and sausage gumbo on Fridays.  Lola will take care of you right.  I hear she's started making beignets for breakfast, but much like the Cajun way, it's hard to pin her down.  Call ahead, and don't go in a hurry (now, was your little grandmother a short order cook!? These things take time, cher.) and don't go on Sunday, because that's the day, all day, that Lola feeds the homeless.  Unless, of course, you'd like to volunteer.  Lola could use the extra hands.

Creole/Cajun on Wheels

As you likely know by now, Austin's burgeoning food trailer scene offers everything imaginable to share al fresco; the specialties of eager-to-serve chefs, at a good price.  One of the finest ways a food lover can spend a beautiful Central Texas day is to hop from trailer to trailer, sampling the cuisine for which you have a yen. Cajun/creole?  Well, we have a yen for that any day, and the food trailer scene provides a great big SCORE. Hospitable folks all proud to serve their finest.  True to the laid back, easygoing Cajun spirit, locations, hours of operation and menus may vary according to availability and inspiration. Call ahead.

The Original New Orleans Poboy and Gumbo Shop-- Chief, and chef, Darold, comes to us by way of the tempest, Katrina, and now 'representin' the creole way on South Congress.  A fine spot from which to watch the finery, and oddities that make up SoCo, if you close your eyes for a moment, listen to the New Orleans sounds streaming from the speakers, soak up the aromas of fried seafood in the air, and feel the sun on your face, you just might imagine yourself transported to a levee, watching the riverboats go by.  Darold, a genuinely nice man, makes a great oyster poboy, and his lovely hostess, see picture, right, provided snippets of delightful dinner conversation on our visit.

Bud's Poboys, It took a little bit of hunting down, but when we did, we found the trek worth every bit of trouble.  Bud's Poboys, now in its new location in the Mueller Development, serves up a mahogany-rouxed Shrimp Gumbo that did not disappoint, and the special of that day, a rare but stuff-of-which-a-Cajun's-dreams-are-made Softshell Crab Poboy, was fried crisp and light, best-dressed, and pressed between two slices of perfectly toasted New Orleans-style bread.  This fella knows his Cajun stuff.

Sambets is back!  From the deep fried turkey fire of 2011 that broke the hearts of displaced Cajuns city-wide, Sambets has risen from the ashes and parked it's smoke-stained dreams in a food trailer in Rosedale.  So excited were fellow local foodies to hear this news, local reviewers began a revered buzz, and one customer  so enthusiastic he offered a bite of his muffuletta while I waited for my order. I ran into one of my besties at lunch there, unplanned, in it's first few days of operation (cause we know good food, cher) and counted it a great bit of fortune that we could share the roast beef and gravy, and fried oyster poboys,  the shrimp gumbo, and red beans and rice.  If I were forced to reveal the best bite of that day, it would be the fried oyster poboy, but it's just splitting hairs, y'all, because Sambets Cajun Roadside Cafe is putting out great food on Burnet Road. 

Nettie's Place, located on South First, another of the newest kids on the creole food trailer block.  Long-time friends and Southern transplants, Linette and Annie are "working to bring great Cajun comfort food to Austin" with casual favorites like their highly-praised fried okra with dipping sauce, fried catfish, and country gumbo, a lighter roux-based gumbo with chicken and sausage served over rice, garnished with potato salad, much as they do in the bayou areas of Louisiana.  They've received glowing marks on local review boards, and while a recent visit caught me without proper payment, I do intend to make the trip, again, soon.  The menu posted, which had additions not listed online, alone beckons me!

Beignets!  I did a James Rockford-esque middle of the road, 180 degree turn when that word shouted at me from across the road, and I'm here to tell you that piece of daring-do was rewarded sumptuously. Three warm, soft pillows-- slightly crisp exterior, dusted in a storm of powdered sugar.  Sugar Addicts Bakery, located next to the Shell Station on Medical Parkway, serves gloriously plain beignets, breakfast beignets, lunch beignets, and a little bit more.  The best, maybe only, beignet I've had outside of the French Quarter, and dare I say inside the Quarter, too?  Oh, friend, they are just that good.  Get there.  Take extra napkins.

While not an exhaustive overview (but, yes, somewhat exhausting), we've covered all of our favorite Creole/Cajun spots. It's really quite a feat-- almost torturous, I tell ya.  But we take our mission seriously, as do the other fifty plus bloggers who are a part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2013 City Guide.  Collected by former AFBA Publicity Chair and big-guns-blogger, Jodi Bart, the guide covers every food, drink, and dive worth noting in the fair city.  We hope you find it useful in planning your way around town. 

Do you have any to add?  Maybe some hole in the wall we haven't yet discovered? Did we miss a favorite dish?  Questions about a specific location? Please don't hesitate to leave your thoughts in the comments, below.  We're always looking for a new place to try!


  1. I'm in LOVE with that picture of you with powdered sugar on your lips. Adorable!!

    1. Hey, friend! Thank you! Goofy picture, but of a goofy girl, so I guess that is appropriate. lol I have to thank you for reading alllllll the waaaayyyy down there! Dang that's long. lol

      Have a great weekend,

  2. We should make a date to meet at Nettie's! Or Evangeline's..... or any of them! ;)

    1. High five, girl. I'd love to!! I'll be back down to that area after Spring break, so let's make it a plan!

      Thanks for dropping by my friend!

  3. Awesome! I am going to use the heck out of this list.

    1. Great, Lisa! Please let me know of your experiences so I can consider that for next year's post, too.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. New Orleans Bar and Grill fun atmosphere and Cajun food is so good! Food comes out piping hot which is a great thing!

  5. Want to give you a head's up. Mulatte's in Leander is a tiny hidden gem. It is owned and operated by a Mackenzie's bakery relative, and if you are a true Coonass, then you know Mackenzie's Bakery. It is delicious. My husband and I have been a few times and nver disapointed. Try the shrimp and grits-to die for.

    1. Thanks so much for the tip! Any place that serves shrimp and grits is on my places to visit, but Mulatte's was not on my radar. I appreciate the head's up and look forward to visiting.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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