Lafayette is a buzzing city perched on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana's Cajun and Creole cultural hub boasts a lively and vibrant ambiance.
In recent years, foodies and culinary travelers will have picked up on the buzz around Lafayette. New Orleans has long been lauded for its food culture, but now Louisiana has a new challenger when it comes to cuisine. Lafayette is well on its way to becoming one of the top food destinations in the USA.
For foodies looking to travel to Lafayette or locals in search of somewhere new, it's hard to go wrong. In fact, the biggest challenge will be working out what not to eat and what to leave off your itinerary. If you are planning a food tour or just looking to explore the best Lafayette has to offer, here is a comprehensive guide to the city's best foodie delights.
Strictly for meat lovers, the Cajun creation known as boudin (not to be confused with the French blood pudding) is exceptional. Variations abound, but it all starts with pork, followed by rice, and goes from there.
You can try boudin all over Lafayette, but for the ultimate experience, why not try the Cajun Boudin Trail, which takes you on an open-air tour of the finest boudin in and around town. You can grab your boudin to go and enjoy it outside or in one of Lafayette's beautiful parks, making it a safe and truly pleasant way to enjoy one of the classic delicacies of Cajun cuisine.
Gumbo is one of Louisiana's signature dishes, and no foodie worth their salt should leave the state without trying this rich, flavorful dish. It all starts with a cooked down oil and flour mixture called a roux, followed by adding almost anything else from vegetables to seafood.
Charley G's Seafood Grill is one of the best spots in town to try gumbo, and offers a great selection from classic seafood to the more experimental smoked duck and andouille! They have a comfortable outdoor seating area and offer live piano music seven days a week in the bar.
Pretty much the ultimate in comfort food, this classic sandwich was named after the local dock workers who pioneered this cheap, easy, mouth-wateringly delicious bite to eat. Whether you crave seafood, deli meats, or looking to try something unexpected, a Lafayette po'boy is a beautiful experience.
Po'boys are casual, easygoing food, and best eaten on the go. Grab something traditional from Olde Tyme Grocery, or something more unexpected from Pops Po'boys, before strolling Downtown to grab a seat at a nearby parklet for one of the most authentic culinary experiences in Lafayette.
A proper crawfish boil is one of Louisiana's great community traditions. While an invite may be hard to get, you can get the delicious taste of crawfish anytime in Lafayette without the hullabaloo of a large gathering.
Louisiana Crawfish Time is a seasonal joint open only when the crawfish are good (from January to June) and offers Acadiana's finest hot tails and cold half-shells. Best of all, their drive-thru is open seven nights a week, perfect for those who prefer to eat in the comfort of your own home when the craving hits!
BBQ and smoked meats
Boucanieres or smokehouses are a staple of Southern soul food, and for meat lovers, there's nothing quite like properly smoked specialty meats. From smoked pork sausage and tasso to the slow-smoked deliciousness of brisket and pulled pork, serious Louisiana BBQ is a real feast and something to explore at leisure.
Johnson's Boucaniere is one of the finest smokehouses in Lafayette, having been in business since 1937! They are also strong supporters of local music and participate in multiple events and festivals throughout the year.
You can't really say you've experienced Southern cuisine until you've explored the greasy, exquisite delights of fried chicken. If you've never tried fried okra, then you are going to be in for a treat before you even get started on the chicken itself.
Mama's Fried Chicken is a bit of a drive from Lafayette (about half an hour), but the perfect offerings at the end of the journey make it well worth it - this is probably the best-fried chicken in the state, and possibly the country! Grab a sharing bucket and get your hands dirty - fried chicken is meant to be shared!
Of course, Lafayette is not just about soul food and comfort cuisine. The Cajun culinary traditions have been taken up by a range of outstanding local chefs and given the fine dining twist. The city boasts some truly exceptional and sophisticated dining choices for those in the mood for something a little fancier.
Manny Augello of Bread and Circus Provisions is a James Beard Award semi-finalist, and his food is a real breath of fresh air (quite literally, as they have a great outdoor dining area!).
Cafe Vermilionville on the other hand is as sophisticated as it gets, offering a matchless fine dining experience, with courtyard dining and live music, which completes a wonderfully romantic ambiance.
Lafayette is a serious haven for foodies and should be on every culinary traveler's list. You won't go far or wrong with the guide above, and full, satisfied bellies are guaranteed!