Places to Eat in Lafayette, Louisiana
One of the things that makes Lafayette the “Happiest City” is the cuisine. People in Acadiana live to eat — and talk about their next meal. So many international cultures, from Cajun to Creole, French and Spanish, have had an influence on local food, and chefs and cooks continue to evolve the area’s most popular dishes. Sure, you can find great gumbo, etouffée, po’boys and even snowballs in Lafayette, but you’ll also see fresh-caught local seafood, sushi, tapas, tacos, gyros, samosas and pad thai on area menus.
The city has restaurants overlooking the Vermilion River, family-friendly buffets, plate lunch dives, po’boy shops, pizza joints, drive-thru daiquiris, fine dining and everything in between. The EatLafayette promotion that runs from June through September is a great time to try more than 100 participating local restaurants.
10 Don’t-miss restaurants
Blue Dog Café
For a side of local art by the late George Rodrigue with your Cajun cuisine, look no further than this Pinhook spot. Menu favorites from Chef Ryan Trahan — crowned 2018 King of Louisiana Seafood — include seafood wontons, crawfish bisque, crabmeat tortilla salad, crawfish enchiladas and honey-glazed duck. A Sunday brunch buffet is also served with live music and free mimosas.
Located on the site of Lafayette’s first inn, this local institution features historic architecture, elegant cuisine and an outdoor courtyard. Keep an eye out for resident ghosts while sampling some crawfish beignets, turtle soup or Steak Louis XIII.
Lafayette has no shortage of Greek and Lebanese influence, and one of the best places to experience it is by having lunch at this deli and grocery. Muffalettas, falafel, gyros, kibbi, grape leaves and more traditional dishes make up the menu.
Creole Lunch House
Known for its stuffed bread and homestyle plate lunches, this off the radar spot has been serving local favorites like chicken fricassee, red beans and sausage and catfish coubillion for close to 30 years.
Don’s Seafood Hut
One of Lafayette’s oldest establishments, Don’s Seafood Hut on Johnston Street is known for its charbroiled oysters, hush puppies, gumbo, bisque, seafood platter and seafood dinners.
Rated the best Cajun restaurant for the ninth year in a row by Times of Acadiana, Fezzo’s is a wonderful place to eat. Specializing in seafood, steak and even offering an oyster bar. Fezzo’s has three locations to serve you in Acadiana.
The French Press
This brunch favorite downtown serves an Acadian Breakfast Sandwich with bacon, egg, cheese and boudin on grilled Evangeline Maid Texas toast, in addition to dishes like Grits & Grillades and chicken and waffles, along with flavored mimosas.
Authentic Italian cuisine can be found at this Ambassador Caffery spot, with specialty pizzas, calzones, pastas, salads and sandwiches on the menu. Gluten-free and low-carb options are available as well.
Olde Tyme Grocery
Topping TripAdvisor’s list of “Top 10 Bargain Dining Restaurants,” Olde Tyme is the place for po’boys and snowballs in Lafayette, this grocery dates to 1982. Weekly specials include $6 whole po’boys starting at 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Murph’s Olde Tyme Snowball Stand is open from April through September right behind the grocery.
Overlooking the Vermilion River, Ruffino’s has a passion for local and seasonal ingredients. With Italian specialties like Veal Parmesan to wood-fired pizza, Cedar Plank Redfish and an excellent wine list, Ruffino’s represents Lafayette’s only Italian-Creole fusion restaurant.
Iconic Lafayette Foods
A sausage casing stuffed with meat and rice, this breakfast delicacy can be found at boudin shops and gas stations all over Acadiana.
French bread gets layered with meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise for the ultimate sandwich.
A sort of Cajun stew that starts with the holy trinity and ends with sausage, chicken, seafood or okra, the key to gumbo is making a roux.
Crawfish or shrimp get smothered in a roux-based sauce and served over rice topped with green onions.
A summertime treat, shaved ice is covered with sweet syrup in a variety of flavors.
What’s the difference between Cajun and Creole?
The easy answer is that Creole food has tomatoes and Cajun doesn’t, but of course it’s a bit more complicated than that. Many ingredients in the two cuisines are similar, so the difference is really in the style. Cajun food — descended from the Acadians — is famous for having lots of flavor, sometimes spicy, and seasoning comes from cayenne pepper along with the “holy trinity,” a mixture of onion, bell pepper and celery. Creole cuisine includes New Orleans culture, as well as Italian and African, and its dishes feature creamy soups and sauces. There are versions of both Cajun and Creole gumbo and jambalaya, so look for the presence of tomato to tell the difference.