The name may say it all but Acme Taco & Burger is not your typical Mexican food and hamburgers. Everything is made fresh, traditional dishes are tuned up a notch and entrees combine flavors in unique and innovative ways.
“Our food is something special with a twist,” said owner Vic Patel. “It’s not just tacos. It’s not just burgers. It’s so much more than that.”
Patel gives two of his favorite dishes as examples. The steak and shrimp chimichanga mixes up marinated steak, sautéed shrimp, roasted poblano peppers and pepper jack cheese in a large flour tortilla, then arrives topped with poblano sauce, chipotle sour cream and guacamole.
The seafood enchiladas take flour tortillas and stuff them with Maine lobster, Gulf crab and shrimp, roasted corn and pepper jack cheese that’s smothered in a rich and decadent house-made Chardonnay cream sauce and served with a side of Acme rice and grilled veggies.
Of course there’s tacos, served in a wide variety of styles and sauces. The Mexican tacos combine crisp corn tortillas with mozzarella cheese, grilled onions and cilantro with a choice of meat and side. The Buffalo features a double-battered chicken breast or shrimp tossed in buffalo sauce and nestled in a bed of greens with blue cheese crumbles. Think hot wings meet soft tacos. There’s even lamb tacos!
For something really fun, try the OMFG taco, which stands for “Oh My Fried Goodness!” It starts with a corn tortilla and includes a choice of meat — shredded beef, chicken or pork — lettuce, tomato and pepper jack cheese that’s deep fried in the shell.
You can also make your own, choosing a protein and adding sides to round off the Mexican-style heaven in a shell.
Like the taco menu, diners can also make their own burgers or choose one of their specialty creations. The Euro Trash brings together spicy Creole mustard, roasted spinach peppers and baby Swiss cheese on a sourdough pretzel bun. Head to France with the “To Brie (Or Not To Brie)” burger with orange and onion marmalade, caramelized onions and creamy French brie. If you want to be healthy, the “Tree Hugger” serves up fresh guacamole, alfalfa sprouts, tomato slices and onions topped with Vermont cheddar on a multi-grain Kaiser bun.
In addition, Acme offers up delicious sides, extravagant nachos and soups and salads. Children are welcomed here as well, and have their own menu with entrees that come with fries and a drink for only $7 each.
The restaurant began as two separate entities that merged last year and moved to its present location at 5621 Johnston St., near the intersection with Ambassador Caffery. The new location offers a larger space, extended hours and a drive-through that’s open from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. daily for breakfast burritos, all reasonably priced.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Acme serves up brunch with specialty dishes and bottomless mimosas. Merging traditions again, there’s crab and egg enchiladas, three tortilla enchiladas rolled with scrambled eggs and topped with a poblano salsa, Louisiana blue crab and sour cream. Or a brunch burger that includes a fried egg, hashbrowns and hollandaise on its half-pound chuck patty that’s served on a homemade waffle bun.
And of course you can’t forget the traditional chips and salsa. A complimentary basket of chips and the house salsa — made with super ripe tomatoes, roasted garlic, fresh and charred peppers and Mexican herbs — arrives automatically to your table.
Holly Cure is living the America Dream. For years she waitressed and attended bar at Antoni’s in Lafayette’s Oil Center, joking to owners Bruce and Lynda Cart that she would someday buy the establishment. When the Carts decided to retire, Cure and her husband, Eli, did just that — they bought the casual Italian restaurant.
Antoni’s began as a quaint Italian café in 1996, focusing primarily on house-made pizza and calzones. Since the Cures purchased the restaurant in 2013, those traditions remain, although the couple has added on to the menu.
“We pride ourselves on using the freshest possible ingredients to create delicious fare using house-made sauces, soups, salad dressings and desserts,” Cure explained. “We have a large variety of dishes ranging from pasta to steaks, a full bar and extensive wine list.”
Cure describes Antoni’s as “elevated rustic Italian.” The restaurant features white tablecloths, an Italian-style mural and flowers adorning each table, making it perfect for romantic evenings. But Antoni’s is mainly focused on casual comfort, Cure explained.
“People in shorts will feel comfortable here,” she said. “We try to make people feel at home.”
The restaurant is best known for its basil chicken salad, one of Lynda Cart’s recipes. For lunch, the salad served with focaccia bread is only $8.50, making it an affordable mid-day treat.
Another popular dish is the restaurant’s meatballs, once a special item but now always on the menu because of the demand.
“That’s a very popular item,” Cure said. “That goes along with our homey feeling.”
Holly Cure’s favorite dish is the baked salmon with polenta cake that’s served with sautéed broccoli. Eli Cure prefers the lasagna made with four cheeses and a bolognese meat sauce.
Antoni’s offers daily specials for lunch and dinner, and staple specials on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s meatloaf on Wednesdays, a delicious blend of fresh herbs, peppers and onions topped with a bolognese sausage sauce and served with rosemary roasted potatoes, bourbon baby carrots and sautéed broccoli. Naturally on Fridays it’s fresh fillets of fish from a local purveyor, usually trout, snapper or an unusual fish such as kingklip. Lunch specials veer toward entrees quick to prepare and serve, such as pasta with vodka sauce or vegetables over pasta with a Romano cream sauce.
The EatLafayette special ties in with the restaurant’s 20th anniversary celebration this year. A meal consisting of appetizer, entrée and dessert for lunch or dinner, dine-in only, is only $20.
Glenn Murphree grew up in New Orleans, so he understood poorboys, a sandwich born in the Crescent City. When a small corner grocery store dating back to the mid-1900s came up for sale in Lafayette, Murphree bought the property and began serving poorboys to Acadiana residents.
Over the years, Olde Tyme Grocery has evolved from being a place for University of Louisiana at Lafayette students to grab a cheap sandwich in between classes to one of the most popular poorboy spots in Acadiana. Last spring, the restaurant was in the running for Best Louisiana Po’boy by the USA Today 10 Best Reader’s Choice poll, coming in second only to New Orleans’ Parkway Bakery and Tavern.
What’s their secret, besides bringing a dash of New Orleans culinary culture to Acadiana?
“We make all of our poorboys to order, and we put lots of love into each and every one of them,” said Ross Murphree. ‘They are simple but delicious.”
Olde Tyme remains closely tied to the university and most of its employees are UL-Lafayette students. After ordering at the deli counter and choosing drinks from the side coolers, diners will emerge into a seating area that’s adorned with UL memorabilia.
As expected, most people visit for the poorboys.
“Our shrimp poorboy is the number one item,” Murphree said. “We sell about 500 shrimp poorboys daily.”
Other favorites are the Olde Tyme Special, a combination of ham, turkey, roast beef and Swiss cheese, and the meatball poorboy. Daily specials run the gamut, such as muffulettas, pot roast, chicken Caesar and hamburgers. Nightly specials, which start at 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, are whole poorboys for $6, a different ingredient each night. On Fridays, Olde Tyme serves up fried catfish poorboys and fried seafood platters.
“I personally like the Zydeco Quesadilla,” Murphree said. “It’s fajita-style chicken, spicy mayonnaise and a mix of Zydeco Salsa and sour cream, with sautéed onions and bell peppers. I also really like our Gyro Poorboy Special, but that one only comes out once in a blue moon.”
When Judice Inn opened in 1947, brothers Marc and Alcide Judice advertised that their hamburger restaurant was located only a mile and a half outside the Lafayette city limits. Today, surrounded by an urban landscape and located on the busiest street in town, it’s hard to imagine Judice Inn in the middle of the countryside, with poles in front for those arriving on horseback.
The brothers were part of a family of 17 and they built the establishment themselves on family property. Judice Inn only served hamburgers with a spicy Cajun flair — an old family recipe — along with a few other menu items as a way for the brothers to earn a living. It didn’t take long for the restaurant to become popular and people began flocking to the country restaurant for those oh so delicious burgers.
“Our menu is simple and has not changed over the 70 years of business,” said Gerald Judice, Marc Judice’s son who operates the business today. “Our primary menu item is, of course, our burgers, especially our double cheeseburgers.”
All burgers are served with the original Judice sauce, mustard and mayonnaise mixture with lettuce and an onion slice on the side. Extra items include adding cheese, ham or egg on top and the burgers are served with chips, not French fries. The menu also includes sandwiches on toast bread and there are plenty of drinks to choose from, including beer, and candy bars for dessert.
Simplicity is the best way to describe Judice Inn, but it’s a business model that has proven to be successful for almost 70 years. The restaurant has earned numerous “best burger” accolades in local contests, plus been recognized in national publications and internet sites such as USA TODAY, Southern Living and Yelp and books such as “Eat Where the Locals Eat” and “Home Town Favorites.”
Scott McClaskey and Kirk Miller know pizza. They worked as regional vice presidents for Domino’s Pizza, sharing 60 years between them in the pizza business. When they considered opening a pizza restaurant in Lafayette, McClaskey and Miller searched for something new and unique. They visited numerous innovative pizza establishments, then worked out a business model over the course of a year.
“We looked at each other and asked, ‘What do we have to do to be the best?’” McClaskey explained. “We said, ‘We’re going to do this better than the other guys.’ With our years of experience, we really thought we could create something that was better than what we saw."
Pizza Artista opened on March 15, 2015, a fast-casual pizza concept that allows guests to create their own flavors in pizza. With more than 70-plus ingredients and finishes to choose from, Pizza Artista offers a wide variety of pizza combinations. The pizzas are fast-fired over an open flame and most are served in about three and a half minutes after allowing all the wonderful fresh ingredients and flavors to blend together.
Their traditional and whole wheat dough is made from scratch daily and aged to perfection for flavor and texture. For those with special needs, Pizza Artista offers vegan and gluten-free options. All produce is fresh and their mozzarella, naturally smoked provolone, smoked Gouda and cheddar cheeses are 100 percent real cheese, all cut by hand daily.
In addition, Pizza Artista offers specialty pizzas with a local flare, such as the Classic Cajun topped with andouille, tasso and sausage (their biggest seller) or The Boucherie filled with boudin, cracklin’ and Steen’s syrup.
“They’re just incredible pizzas,” McClaskey said.
Seafood lovers will want to try the Seafood Sauce Piquant with crab, crawfish and Gulf shrimp. For a little of both worlds, there’s the Swamp Daddy, featuring all the Cajun meats as well as shrimp, crawfish and crab.
New pizzas designed by the chef are rolled out quarterly, such as the Fig & Awesome comprised of brie, chicken, smoked tasso and provolone cheese. The Caribbean mango chicken was a quarterly special that diners raved about and it eventually became part of the menu.
“We would have had major disappointment if we pulled that one,” McClaskey said.
Hospitality is part of the success of Pizza Artista. Servers greet you upon arrival, put together and cook your pizza in record time and if you end up not liking the creation you assembled, you can start again.
“If diners don’t like their pizza, they can make another,” McClaskey said.
Always innovative, Pizza Artista offers an automatic hand-washing station for its guests, a kids’ station and an outside seating area for when the weather is cooperating. The restaurant located in the Times Plaza Shopping Center, between the Armed Forces Service Center and Tansations, also offers its space for celebrations such as birthdays and fundraising events.
Mention EatLafayette at the register this summer and receive 10 percent off your meal.
There are great restaurants in Lafayette and fabulous bars as well, but Social Southern Table & Bar combines the two, offering a hip, innovative place to enjoy locally sourced cuisine, hand-crafted specialty cocktails and real Southern hospitality.
“It's all about being true to who you are: sharing with friends and family and enjoying each other’s company over a good meal,” explained Charlie Goodson, who owns the restaurant with Chef Marc Krampe and Jody Ferguson.
On one side, the establishment offers comfortable tables that’s more conducive for dining. On the other, three larger tables align more with those who enjoy Social’s unique spirits as much as its farm-to-table cuisine.
Either way, diners may enjoy “speakeateries,” or social plates for two, such as pork belly sliders, “krab nachos,” chicken-fried green tomatoes and Kimchi frites, hand-cut russets with house-made kimchi, onion, cilantro, spicy mayonnaise and a fried farm egg. There’s also specialty sandwiches and salads and “supper plates” featuring items such as tenderloin medallions, shrimp and grits and pulled pork.
Some of the most popular items continue to be the smoke-fried chicken-n-sweet potato biscuits with a local ghost pepper honey and decadent Social flatbreads, which are created on-site in a wood-burning oven.
“The ingredients are always fresh and that is the cornerstone of our farm-to-table approach,” Goodson said.
Goodson’s favorite dish on the menu is the Chef’s Line Caught Fish of the Day.
“It’s always the freshest fish and paired with locally inspired sides,” Goodson explained. “It’s the chef’s time to shine and changes daily.”
Social offers special events on a monthly basis, including Lessons in Libations, a fun class that teaches participants how to make their own craft cocktails. The $32 event includes two drinks, an appetizer and ingredients and bar equipment to take home.
“It’s a lesson in cocktail making,” Goodson said. “We pick a different item every month. It helps familiarize people with the ways to make a classic cocktail. It’s a lot of fun.”
Social Hour (Happy Hour) happens from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays with discounts on cocktails with a Louisiana twist, such as Sazarac and Louisiana Mule, as well as macro brews and classic cocktails. Whiskey Wednesdays serves up $5 Buffalo Trace Old Fashions and “Saturday Suds” from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. sells list beers as two-for-ones.
The Eat Lafayette Special at Social features a grilled Beeler’s pork chop with braised cabbage and Creole mustard crème fraîche with a glass of wine for $22 as part of Tuesday Chop Night. (The special is only available on Tuesdays.)
Beer lovers will adore The Tap Room in River Ranch with its 40 beers on tap, many of which are locally brewed. But that’s not all. The bar-restaurant also serves up craft cocktails, gourmet hot dogs and artisan flatbreads.
In other words, The Tap Room is an ideal gathering place for food, spirits and great company.
“It’s a friendly neighborhood bar,” said Charlie Goodson, who owns the restaurant with Chef Marc Krampe and Jody Ferguson.
The Tap Room is located in the Village of River Ranch, within the Mainstreet buildings near the intersection of Settlers Trace and Camellia Boulevard. The ambiance is upscale but relaxed, worldly but local. For instance, beer lovers may sample Lindemans Framboise of Belgium or Terrapin beer from Athens, Georgia, but also numerous South Louisiana beers, including Parish and Bayou Teche brews of Acadiana.
Gourmet dogs run the gamut as well, including the “Yakov Smirnoff” reuben-esque hot dog, a 100 percent beef frank on a white bun with grilled cabbage slaw, shredded Swiss cheese and Russian dressing, or the “Frito Bandito,” with its cheddar cheese, diced onions, sliced jalapenos and Fritos. For the all-American fare, try “The Tap Out,” a frank married with chili, sliced jalapenos, diced onions, shredded cheddar cheese, spicy mayonnaise and pickle relish.
Elegant flatbreads, hot wings and soft pretzels with Creole honey mustard round out the menu.
Specials at The Tap Room are numerous. Happy Hour is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with $1 off drafts, $2 off specialty cocktails and $2 off wine by the glass. A “Reverse Happy Hour” is noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and includes the same discounts.
All day on Mondays it’s half price on Tito’s Vodka, wings, hot dogs and flatbreads. On Tuesdays, trivia night begins at 8 p.m. with two-for-one Bud Lights with a purchase of a hot dog. Ladies drink at half price on Wednesdays and there’s live music from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursdays with $3.50 Jack Daniels and Crown all night.
But the fun and specials don’t end on the weekends. Bomb shots cost $5 after 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights and Sundays are Fundays with $5 domestic buckets, $2 Bloody Mary’s and $3 mimosas all day long.
The Tap Room’s Eat Lafayette Special is a lovely tuna salad with a spring mix, Asian slaw, spicy aioli and sweet potato sticks paired with a glass of Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc for $16 or without the wine pairing at $9.50. It’s an excellent meal combo to beat the heat of summer. In addition, their new summer cocktail is a Milan 75 comprised of Malfy Italian gin, elderflower liquor, lemon juice, simple syrup, fresh blackberries and Prosecco.
Hub City Diner is aptly named, an all-American diner that attracts locals and visitors alike in the center of town. On any given day, you’ll find regulars walking through the doors being greeted by restaurant staff, even owner Jimmy Guidry.
“We’re all about supporting local and we’re very personal,” explained restaurant manager Jen Patin. “I feel it’s like Cheers and everybody knows your name. That’s the good feel about the place. And that’s why people keep coming back.”
The restaurant began as Stansbury’s Café back in 1965 in the infancy of the Oil Center, the commercial neighborhood that surrounds Hub City Diner. The original restaurant was founded by Lafayette restaurateur Charles Goodson, Chef Pat Mould and advertising executive and local foodie George Graham.
“The concept was a 1950s diner but with more of a Louisiana twist to it,” Patin said.
Guidry, who has years of food and bar experience throughout Lafayette, purchased the restaurant in 1998. The ambiance remains the same: vinyl booths and chairs, checkered floors, nostalgic photos on the wall — even a ceramic Pelican that’s dressed like Elvis.
“That’s ‘Pelvis,’” Patin said. “He’s an Elvis pelican.”
Hub City Diner is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and some of the original recipes, such as the Catfish Louisiana, are still on the menu. On weekends, the restaurant draws in the breakfast crowd for its extensive menu of omelets, pancakes, egg combos and beignets. On weekdays, Oil Center employees head to Hub City for its healthy dishes, salads, sandwiches and burgers.
“Our lunches are super busy because we’re quick,” Patin said. “You can get served a great, inexpensive meal in less than an hour.”
Patin’s favorite dish is the turkey sandwich that’s grilled on marbled bread with onions and Swiss cheese then dressed with lettuce and tomato and served with sweet potato fries. Guidry’s menu item of choice is the grilled shrimp and fried green tomato salad topped with the Hub City remoulade dressing and set atop romaine lettuce with cucumbers and tomatoes.
Local favorites continue to be the “2x2x2,” featuring two eggs, two sausage patties, two pieces of bacon, hash browns or grits and 2 fluffy pancakes for breakfast and the 3-Way Hamburger Steak, more than a half pound of lean ground meat loaded with cheese, onions and brown gravy that’s served with mashed potatoes for lunch and dinner.
And don’t forget those burgers, which come in a wide variety of styles and flavors, from feta bacon and mushroom to the spicy garden burger made of a black bean patty for vegetarians.
“Our burgers are some of the best in town,” Patin said.
Bottom line, there’s something for everyone at Hub City Diner.
“You can come here with 10 people and everybody will enjoy something on the menu,” Patin said.
The Hub City Diner Eat Lafayette Special is a spinach Florentine-stuffed meatloaf served with mashed potatoes, a choice of vegetables, a cup of soup and a personal size piece of bread pudding for $8.99.