Cajun Cafe at the Market Review
In March, I visited a close and old friend Brooke in New Orleans (I know I know, why the heck does it take you so long to review a place, Sarah?! Forgive me, my head has been buried in the figurative sand that is college). During my few-day trip, we decided to eat any and all cajun/creole food I had heard was to die for there. While items like poboys and beignets were on the list, one obvious entree to be consumed during this road trip was jambalaya. The question was, where?
After a quick trip to Cafe du Monde (quick being the key word… Brooke and I only had a certain amount of time on the parking meter, and had to make our visit at the French Market FAST!), we headed to the French Market and began
browsing fast-paced-walking around.
We suddenly stopped when we came up to this festive, bright little cafe on the side. In big bold words their chalkboard sign read: JAMBALAYA, CRAWFISH ETOUFFEE, GUMBO, and RED BEANS AND RICE. Although we had just consumed our share of beignets, we knew this was the place we had to stop at to get my real feel of New Orleans Cajun-Style food — The Cajun Cafe at the Market.
The little cafe is small and quaint, and colorful, which is probably what grabbed our attention so quickly. There were numerous chalk signs saying things like “Vegans Eat Here” and “Kids Burgers and Hot Dogs,” showing that this little place caters to any and all tourists, no matter how picky.
Along with the food suggestions, there was a cute little drinks display, bearing the words “ICE COLD WATER” among other terms like “sweet tea” and “can of soda.” How festive and bright are their displays? It just puts you in a happy mood to be sitting up at their little bar there.
They had every drink imaginable from the obvious water and sodas to Monster energy drinks, Minute Maid, sweet tea, Powerade, and little barrels of various-flavored fruit punch. Brooke and I had just enjoyed a latte over at Cafe Du Monde, so we decided on just having water, but I couldn’t keep from snapping a shot of the whole display! I love places that make their drink options visible like this. Especially in a fast-paced and busy atmosphere like the French Market. It makes the selection that much easier.
While we were deciding on what we would eat, I checked in on FourSquare and noticed that quite a few people were recommending the Cajun Cafe at the Market as the go-to place for hot sauce. Apparently, while lots of shops on Bourbon street and around the market have a variety of hot sauces to purchase, the Cajun Cafe has a great selection at a reasonable price. Just look at the variety there on the shelves in that picture! I wasn’t in the mood to buy any since we were already sitting down to try a new cajun meal (and let’s be honest, my heartburn won’t allow for it), but I can see why people would come there for that specific purpose.
Cajun Cafe at the Market Food Review
Finally, by looking around at what others were eating at their small bar, we decided on an order of Veggie Jambalaya, and an order of Crawfish Étouffée. While we waited for them to make up our food, we were in a prime spot for people watching. And let me tell you, the people watching is FABULOUS at the French Market!
In a decent amount of time, our plates were ready and presented to us. The Crawfish Étouffée came in a sturdy ceramic bowl, while the Jambalaya was delivered in a paper to-go carton, with decorative black-and-white paper wrapping around the delicious-smelling entree. The Crawfish Etouffee had a hearty scoop of rice placed in the middle, and both dishes were served with a wedge of bread.
I’m one for a kick of spice in each mouthful, so the Veggie Jambalaya was hands-down my favorite. Each bite produced the savory, spicy flavor that accompanies a jambalaya dish. It had enough heat to have me reaching for the water bottle every couple of spoonfuls, but not so much that I was sweating or breaking out the Prilosec. I was a bit apprehensive to get the veggie jambalaya (I chose this option as I wasn’t in the mood for sausage), but I’m so glad I did. The heaping helping of veggies was the perfect amount of food to keep me full, but not over-stuffed, while allowing me to enjoy the delicious flavors of the dish. Every bite I consumed reminded me I was in New Orleans and finally getting to grub on some real, downright authentic cajun food.
Brooke took a liking to the Crawfish Étouffée, partly because it was the milder entree of the two. However, I can’t blame her fondness over the dish. As I write this, I’m craving a serving, myself. The dish was creamy and flavorful, but without being as spicy as most cajun dishes. You have the flavor of the crawfish without it being too fishy (you know, that taste which gives it away that the meat in your meal used to swim in the water), and the spices soaked into the rice, which was cooked perfectly. Each spoonful screamed of the perfect cajun comfort food, and left you with a smile on your lips. We seriously couldn’t help but murmer “Mmm!” with each bite!
Brooke and I left with satisfied stomachs and smiles on our faces after tasting the two dishes. I’m not sure that the employees at Cajun Cafe had seen two little blonde girls scarf down cajun food so quickly, but hopefully they took it as a compliment that we sincerely enjoyed our meal.
I definitely recommend trying out The Cajun Cafe at the Market if you’re in New Orleans and looking for some good cajun/creole food while taking in some sight-seeing. While it may have a busy, hurried vibe (depending on the time of day), and seating may be scarce (Brooke and I got lucky and grabbed someone’s seats as they were just leaving), the food is spectacular, and you can avoid the seating issue by getting your meal in the cute to-go cartons and taking walking to one of the many available tables along the French Market area. They’ve not only got their great food going for them, but they’re an ace on location, cooking up food smack dab in the middle of the French Market!
How many of you have been to New Orleans? Where was your favorite place to eat while you were there?