Anyone who has savored the rustic home cooking of Southwest Louisiana will immediately understand the allure of Boudreaux’s Cajun Market and Cafe.
As its name declares, Boudreaux’s is as much a seafood and meat market as a restaurant, much like the roadside outposts selling sausage and crawfish that dot Cajun country. What makes Boudreaux’s so surprising, though, is that it’s located in the historic section of downtown Duluth.
Quaint or chaotic
Call it quaint or chaotic, the scene is unabashedly authentic. The center of the bare bones retail space is filled with long communal tables. The perimeter is a mishmash of coolers and shelves holding an array of Louisiana products — etouffee and fish fry mixes, file powder, dried red beans and assorted hot sauces. At the order counter, a towering board lists the market price of everything from fresh Louisiana grouper and shrimp to alligator, crawfish sausage and de-boned, stuffed chickens.
Owner Paul Many and his Cajun cohorts run things with a kind of small business acumen that shifts between sassy and solicitous. Regulars are acknowledged with local chitchat. Anyone they don’t recognize is asked, “Have you been here before?”
Boudreaux’s sells around 300 po’ boys a day, according to Many. It’s easy to see why. The classic New Orleans sandwich ($6.95-$12.95) comes in nine different varieties, including catfish, sausage and tuna, served with two sides.
The special French bread, with its flaky crust and airy center, is dressed with leaf lettuce, tomato and spicy remoulade sauce.
Lightly breaded and fried oysters or shrimp are sure bets. But the fried grouper ($10.50) po’ boy, stuffed with a pair of huge fillets, is more than a meal.
The rest of the menu holds plenty of delights, but some dishes take a bit of getting used to. This isn’t the spicy, blackened stuff many people have come to associate with Cajun cuisine. Real Cajun has more in common with soul food. Think highly seasoned but not always hot.
Seafood gumbo ($5.50/$7) is the color of muddy water, flavored with a healthy dose of file powder and thyme, and studded with oysters, shrimp and bits of fish. Red beans and rice ($7.95) is thick and rich with chunks of smoked ham. Buttery crawfish etouffee ($14.95) is a profusion of tail meat in creamy sauce with a trinity of onions, green bell peppers and celery. Jambalaya, barbecue shrimp, and lemon butter grouper are among the other choices, and boiled Louisiana crawfish, blue crab and soft-shell crab are available in season.
Boudreaux’s weekday lunch buffet ($10.95) might feature the likes of catfish sauce piquante, Cajun pot roast, low country boil or collard greens with sausage.
There’s no beer or wine, but diners are welcome to bring their own or fetch soft drinks from a cooler.
Twice a month, starting April 10, there will be live music out in the parking lot, where you can bring your own coolers and lawn chairs and enjoy the sounds of Cajun, zydeco, blues and jazz.
Boudreaux’s Cajun Market and Cafe, 3067 Main St., Duluth 770-814-8388
Signature dish: Po’ Boys
Entree prices: $9.95-$12.95
Hours: 10 a.m. -2 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays; 10 a.m. -8:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Lunch buffet: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays. Closed Sundays-Tuesdays.
Credit cards: Yes
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