On our way from Austin to New Orleans, we stopped for the night in Lafayette, Louisiana. Deciding that a crawfish dinner was in order, we headed over to Don's Seafood Hut.
We started with a bowl of seafood gumbo.
Not the prettiest to look at, but boy was it tasty - really intense seafood flavor. Unlike most gumbos we've had, the base was relatively unthickened. It reminded us of a bisque without the addition of cream.
Although it is fairly late in the season, there are still plenty of crawfish to be had. Don's offered 5lbs for $10 - just a wee bit cheaper than they go for in San Diego... They came out in the traditional bucket.
We ordered them medium spicy, which ended up being fairly mild. That was fine, though, since it was the taste of the crawfish we were after. Our clearly out-of-towner crawfish eating skills quickly had friendly locals at a nearby table giving us crawfish extraction advice. Five pounds of crawfish later, we were happy, messy and completely satisfied.
The next morning we hit the road for New Orleans. We decided to take the more scenic US 90 instead of I-10 and do some stops along the way.
Our first stop was Avery Island, where Tabasco pepper sauce is made.
The Tabasco factory tour is definitely not worth going out of your way for. If you do go, skip the video (it's basically just an extended Tabasco commercial) and go straight to the more interesting view out over the production floor.
Also on Avery Island, and more worthy of a visit, are the Jungle Gardens, a 250-acre park created by Ned McIlhenny (son of Tabasco inventor Edmund McIlhenny). It houses an egret sanctuary. And alligators. And alligators eating egrets. If you are made uncomfortable by the reality of the food chain in the animal kingdom, avert your eyes...
We stopped in at the Southdown Plantation House museum in Houma, and had a great personal guided tour. The house itself is quite interesting to walk through, and our guide had a lot of insight into local history.
We had been planning on having lunch at the Yellow Bowl in Jeanerette (they were apparently one of the first restaurants to serve crawfish etouffe), but it unfortunately wasn't open on Tuesdays. We ended up at Spahr's, in Des Allemands instead.
The place has a really nice setting right on a bayou, and a family-friendly atmosphere inside. Unfortunately, I hate family-friendly - it felt like eating in a Denny's.
The food was pretty lackluster as well. The mini-crabcakes were the best thing we had, but were overly gummy.
The fried crab claws had no flavor at all (unless you count "fried" as a flavor...)
We also had the house specialty - "catfish chips", which are small pieces of fried catfish. The "chip" idea is that the meat comes just from the belly, but I couldn't really tell - it just tasted like mediocre catfish.
Despite our Spahr's experience, we really enjoyed driving through this section of Louisiana. Definitely more interesting than just barreling down the I-10.
Don's Seafood Hut
4309 Johnston St
Spahr's Sea Food Restaurant
3682 Highway 90 E
Des Allemands, LA