A visit to two classic eateries on a road trip from Breaux Bridge to Shreveport
photo by denny culbert
Set deep in the heart of Cajun Country, Café Des Amis of Breaux Bridge has served its patrons some of the best modern-infused Cajun fare for over 25 years. Located only a few miles northeast of Lafayette, this local favorite has garnered praise from not only locals and tourists, but from renowned publications such as Smithsonian Magazine and The Independent. While it might be a bit of a trek for some, the trip out to Breaux Bridge is well worth it for fans of both Cajun fare and fascinating history.
The untrained eye may not notice much different from any of the generic, faux “mom and pop” stores out there today, but a closer look will reveal the authenticity behind Café Des Amis is no cash-in. The restaurant is housed in what once served as a general store for the surrounding community dating back to 1890. A fire four years later resulted in extensive repairs and the adding of a second story – space which soon housed and sold caskets. Almost exactly a century later, the building found a slightly more cheerful use when former state representative Dickie Breaux opened up the restaurant to the public, serving primarily catfish dishes until their menu and customer base grew.
Nowadays, the cuisine offered by Breaux and company is as varied as it is tantalizing. Visitors can’t go wrong with their signature Crawfish Pie, a house-made etouffee encased in a delicious puff pastry dough. Café Des Amis’ dinner menu is also renowned for its classic oven roasted duck served with a pepper jelly syrup glaze. For the early risers, the restaurant also features breakfast Tuesdays through Saturdays where customers can sample items such as the Couche Couche, a traditional Cajun cereal blend of cornmeal and milk topped with either syrup or sugar – seemingly simple, but delicious nonetheless. Not-so-early-risers should stop in during Sunday brunch for their decadent Oreille de Cochon, comprised of beignets stuffed with boudin and topped with powdered sugar.
Saturdays are particularly special at Café Des Amis for their Zydeco Breakfast series – a regularly rotating collection of Cajun musicians showcasing the staple genre of the region. As the tempos increase, diners are encouraged to grab a partner and join in on the small dance floor in front of the stage. The shyer of us can stay at our seats while sipping on a house-made Bloody Mary.
Café Des Amis is one of those rare places that manages to successfully blend a region’s history with modernity, finding the perfect balance between appetizing meals made by professionals and a homegrown feel you simply can’t fake. It’s well worth the trip to Breaux Bridge to experience both amazing food and culture you can’t find anywhere else in the country. 140 East Bridge St., Breaux Bridge, (337) 332-5273.
Up north, in Shreveport, visitors can find a restaurant very similar in spirit to Breaux Bridge’s café. Since 1936, Herby-K’s has been a respected eatery within the community, serving up some serious Cajun plates for a wide range of customers, from the area’s railroad workers back in the day, to the casual foodies of the present. Herbert “Herby-K” Busi Jr. made the restaurant a regional household name way back in 1945 after introducing the Shrimp Buster to his menu. As the name would imply, this imposingly huge offering is essentially an open-faced butterflied shrimp poor boy, with the battered seafood served on toasted, buttery French bread along with a side of their legendary Shrimp Buster sauce.
The trimmings are simple, some fries and coleslaw, but that’s really all you need for the apex of Louisiana eating.
Herby-K’s also features a range of other classic bar bayou offerings, including catfish, crab, and frog leg platters. If seafood isn’t your thing – we’ll try to not hold it against you – visitors can also get a massive cheeseburger that doesn’t play around. Stop in for some classic eats and history, and leave sated, smarter, and slightly larger. 1833 Pierre Ave., Shreveport, (318) 424-2724.