By Chef Alon Shaya
Lafayette is only a two and a half hour drive from New Orleans and has a completely unique culture from the rest of world. To me, it's the perfect southern town, filled with incredibly nice and beautiful people. I find myself drawn to people from there like they have some type of magical fairy blood. I will try to give some insight as to what makes it so special. Lafayette proper has so much charm in the town's center. Really amazing local art galleries and inviting bars line the streets of downtown. When I get hungry, I find myself jotting around the small surrounding towns to get my boudin and crawfish fixes.
I love getting coffee at The French Press in Lafayette for breakfast and doing some people watching on the main square.
The best food means you need to get in a car. I always go when crawfish are in season and for that you need to get to Hawks in Rayne, Louisiana. They take their crawfish so seriously; they are only open during the season and only serve crawfish. Hawk’s is one of the main reasons my wife Emily and I will take a weekend with the dogs to head out here to eat crawfish, rent a canoe and do some fishing.
You must stop at The Best Stop Supermarket in Scott. I never leave without a five-pound boudin stuffed beef tongue to bring home to my smoker. Also, they have great Cajun-marinated chickens, smokey andouille and tasso, which is a Cajun staple but also very hard to find. We will always throw a party at home a few days after returning so I can unload the crazy amounts of food I bought. Don't forget picking up a brown bag full of hot boudin which is a mandatory snack while driving to your next destination.
This is the one time I'll tell you to pass the cracklings and head to the freezer aisle. Don's Specialty Meats has sausage pistolettes in their freezer section which is a must. Follow the baking instructions on the package, and you will enjoy crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside bread rolls stuffed with spicy pork sausage.
As chefs we get spoiled by eating the most exotic and expensive ingredients. When we go out to eat, chefs will often send us their latest creations so we can give them our opinions. If you were to take a vote, most chefs would opt for a great home cooked meal over a 12-course tasting menu. At Shucks Seafood restaurant, I've had some of the best fried shrimp, corn and crab bisque, crawfish etouffee and bread pudding I've ever had anywhere. I would love to bring a chef friend of mine here to experience the simplicity and perfection of dishes many of us have been cooking for years.
Cafe Des Amis in Breaux Bridge is kind of like the perfect all around Cajun spot. Go on a Saturday for breakfast and listen to live Zydeco music while eating boudin with poached eggs and drinking spicy Bloody Marys.
Angelle's Whiskey River Landing in Breaux Bridge may be the coolest place in the world for drinking and dancing. Live music, people in amazing cowboy boots and some of the best dancing in the south.
Take Home Souvenirs
For local edible souvenirs, there is always a great variety of locally made relishes and hot sauces found in the Cajun supermarkets like Dons and The Best Stop. I will grab a bag of Cajun seasoning mix as well and use it for all of the barbecuing I do at home. It's cool because they know how to create spice blends that are spicy and flavorful without being overpowering to the meats.
THE FRENCH PRESS - 214 E Vermilion Street, Lafayette, LA 70501 | T: 337.233.9449 | www.thefrenchpresslafayette.com
HAWK'S - 415 Hawks Road, Rayne, LA 70578 | T: 337.788.3266 | www.hawkscrawfish.com | Open Seasonally
THE BEST STOP SUPERMARKET - 615 Louisiana 93, Scott, LA 70583 | T: 337.233.5805 | www.beststopinscott.com
DON'S SPECIALTY MEATS - 7301 1-10 South Frontage Road, Scott, LA 70583 | T: 337.234.2528 | www.donsspecialtymeats.com
SHUCKS! - 701 W Port Street, Abbeville, LA 70510 | T: 337.898.3311 | www.shucksrestaurant.com
CAFE DES AMIS - 140 E Bridge Street, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517 | T: 337.332.5273 | www.cafedesamis.com
ANGELLE'S WHISKEY RIVER LANDING - 1365 Henderson Levee Road, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517 | T: 337.228.2277 | www.whiskeyriverlanding.net
Chef Alon Shaya of Domenica
Shaya is a partner with chef John Besh at Domenica restaurant in New Orleans. Raised in Philadelphia, he was a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef South. While his cuisine is Italian-focused, Shaya incorporates local New Orleans ingredients and flavors into his food.
The name translates to Sunday, but this casual Italian bistro is open every day serving meals inspired by the traditional Sunday supper. They serve handcrafted pizzas made in a wood-burning oven, imported and house-cured meats, cheeses, antipasti and custom-brewed beers.
"For local seafood and fresh-made pastas." - Chef David Slater of Emeril's
"Get the charcuterie plate and the pizza and stay for the great drinks and super friendly vibe." - Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia & Milkwood
Discover our 24 Hour Guides for New Orleans
More Louisiana Features