Rise & Dine!
Some of the best spots for breakfast and brunch in Acadiana.
Corn maque choux crab cakes with two poached eggs, lobster hollandaise sauce and a side of home fries from The French Press.
photo courtesy of the french press/denny culbert
If you’re looking for local landmarks, nothing marks tradition more than perfect breakfast and brunch spots. From fine dining to country store sandwiches, Acadiana offers a variety of options to appease an early (or not-so-early) morning appetite. Here are four breakfast and brunch highlights:
Café des Amis
140 E. Bridge St., Breaux Bridge
Café des Amis’ legendary Zydeco Breakfast started as a fluke more than a decade ago.
“Some locals were hosting people from the U.S. French Embassy,” says Mark Roberthon, Café des Amis’ executive chef. “They wanted to have a zydeco band and feed them breakfast. All these people showed up, and we’ve been doing it every Saturday morning since. It just kind of happened.”
Roberthon believes the magical combination of great food, music, locals and tourists makes the mornings work.
“If the local people who come to dance didn’t show up, the tourists wouldn’t know what to do,” he says. “It just works, but the locals make it bloom.”
The Eggs Begnaud, crawfish étouffée on a biscuit with eggs on top, is the most popular morning entree.
“It’s kind of like a Cajun eggs Benedict,” Roberthon says.
Beignets and Eggs Des Amis (a biscuit with a boudin patty, eggs and Swiss cheese) are also popular choices with locals and tourists.
In addition to the Zydeco Breakfast from 8:30 to 11:30 on Saturdays (the café opens at 7:30 if you want to get there early to grab a seat before the music starts), Café des Amis serves breakfast on Fridays from 7:30 to 11 and brunch all day Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner on other days. Check the Web site or call for more information.
The French Press
214 E. Vermilion Street, Lafayette
Before or after – or instead of – church, Sunday brunch at The French Press is akin to a religious experience.
Every now and then, you run across a dining experience that you recommend unequivocally, knowing that whoever goes will find something to appreciate and enjoy.
The French Press in Lafayette is one of those places.
Justin Girouard, chef and owner, wanted to provide Lafayette with a different choice for breakfast and lunch. He succeeded.
“I knew that Lafayette was a food-friendly town, so we decided to give it a try,” Girouard says. “Apparently, it’s working out.”
Indeed it is.
Plenty of French Press faithful go weak in the knees at the mere mention of the French Press Benedict, black bean crab cakes with corn bread-crusted fried-poached eggs and roasted tomato hollandaise.
Drew Zeigler enjoys the whole French Press experience. “My favorite is the grits and grillades with poached eggs and a side of truffle fries,” he says. “I think it’s really refined dining in a casual atmosphere. It feels more like you’re having brunch in New Orleans than in Lafayette – not that I don’t love Lafayette.”
Zeigler gives special props and credit to chef Girouard: “He’s brilliant. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve eaten breakfast anywhere else since they opened.”
Another favorite is one of The French Press’ signature drinks, the French 75.
“It’s a cocktail that my wife’s dad wanted us to put on really badly,” Girouard says. “It’s champagne, lemon juice, cognac and simple syrup. It’s a classic recipe. The staff is required to measure each cocktail. Consistency matters.”
Girouard attributes part of the restaurant’s success to the great atmosphere inspired by its French Quarter style.
And he’s right: The atmosphere is great. But any French Press die-hard will tell you that it’s not the atmosphere that keeps them willing to wait up to an hour for a Sunday morning table.
The French Press is open Wednesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant also offers dinner service on Friday and Saturday nights.
13923 Louisiana Highway 35 S., Kaplan
Suire’s Grocery, 3 miles south of Kaplan, is a sportsman’s breakfast paradise.
Joan Suire, Suire’s Grocery’s manager, says it’s the BLT or BLT with egg that the hunters love.
“They say your hunting’s not complete if you don’t have a BLT from Suire’s,” she says.
Apparently lots of hunters agree because last year, on the opening day of duck hunting season, the little country grocery went through 32 pounds of bacon.
“When they get out of their blinds, some of them call and some of them just head this way,” Suire says. “There’s no time limit to our menu. If you want, you can have the shrimp poor boy, turtle sauce picante, fried fish, hamburger steaks or whatever you want for breakfast – and some people do. Basically, it’s whatever your stomach can take.”
Hunters, along with anyone else who happens to be traveling Louisiana Highway 35 between Kaplan and Cow Island, know where to stop early in the morning (and throughout the rest of the day) to get their fix.
“On any given Saturday morning in duck season, the first hunter comes in about 7:20, and that’s it. From that point till the afternoon, I don’t get anything else done except serve hunters what we’ve got to offer.”
Duck season starts the second weekend of November, but both versions of the BLT remain popular throughout the year. So does Suire’s Grocery’s divine chicken salad sandwich. (God gave the recipe to one of the Suire sisters after she prayed and asked for it.)
“Prayer doesn’t just work for my sister’s chicken salad recipe,” Suire says. “It’s what works for the whole business.”
Suire’s is open for lunch and dinner, as well. You can call or check the Web site for complete hours.
109 W. Main St., New Iberia
James Lee Burke and his fictional detective Dave Robicheaux both enjoy Victor’s. So does just about every other New Iberian you know – plus the ones you don’t. Open for breakfast seven days a week, Victor’s is a New Iberian institution.
No, it isn’t a fancy place, but if you’re looking for a taste of down home, the made-to-order omelets and pancakes will cure what ails you, and Victor’s Cafeteria’s consistency is one of its most endearing traits.
Second-generation owners Victor and Catherine Huckaby credit Victor’s father with setting the standard of excellence.
“He opened it more than 40 years ago,” Catherine Huckaby says. “It was the first cafeteria in town. He served good quality food at good prices. That’s what we’ve continued to do. We still have some of the same customers from 40 years ago.”
Simplicity reigns at Victor’s. Their most popular breakfast items? French toast, eggs, grits, toast and sausage.
“We serve 3,000 eggs a week,” Catherine Huckaby says.
Other local favorites include sweet potato pancakes, omelets and scrambled eggs.
“We also serve egg white-only omelets and egg white-only scrambled eggs,” Catherine Huckaby says. “We aim to please.”
When given the option, Victor’s serves Louisiana products, including pure cane sugar, Steen’s syrup and Bernard’s honey.
James Lee Burke isn’t the only celebrity who’s a Victor’s regular. George Rodrigue and quite a few Louisiana governors also frequent Victor’s.
“For some reason, Victor’s is a hot spot for future and present politicians,” Catherine Huckaby says. “If you’re running for anything, I guarantee you that you’ll visit Victor’s Cafeteria.”