A-Z: A Complete Southeast Texas Cajun Food Guide
The Must-Eat Dishes in Beaumont
A Cajun, Creole, Southern, Texan food bible of the many must-try bites in the area served up alphabetically. Bon Appetit!
A healthy meat that’s high in protein and low in fat, fried alligator tail is said to taste just like chicken. When in Rome, right?
Available at the area seafood shacks and a Southeast Texas delicacy, whole blue crabs are locally sourced from the Gulf of Mexico. The name is a bit deceiving as the crabs are not actually barbecued, but rather deep-fried with the shell-on and doused in a zesty Cajun seasoning.
A thick and creamy dessert made from Texas Toast, cream, eggs, oil, and butter; this sweet, rich concoction is a staple of the South.
Texas BBQ is generally categorized by smoked meats that are cooked low and slow over wood chips with a preference for beef over pork with brisket (breast) the overwhelming favorite cut. It can be served on it's own or as a sandwich.
Where to Get It: Boomtown BBQ
A staple of Cajun cooking, boudin is a seasoned pork sausage. It can be added to a variety of dishes and served several ways, but is commonly rolled into balls and deep-fried with rice. Zummo Meat Co. is a well-known local purveyor.
Despite its status as a bottom feeder, deep-fried or blackened catfish is a delicacy down South. Many locals have fond memories of weekly family fish fry’s, a tradition that goes back generations. The filet may or may not be topped with Pontchartrain, a white wine cream sauce.
A roux-based fish stew, this deep Southern-Cajun dish is a homey plate you'd eat at a family supper. Typically made with stewed redfish, red snapper, or catfish and reduced in a spicy tomato broth, it's usually served over rice,.
Where to Get It: Richard's Cafe
Freshwater crustaceans said to taste like bite-sized lobsters; crawfish are a coveted seafood delicacy that is available seasonally from Mardi Gras through mid-July. Served by the pound and boiled with sides like corn and potatoes, it’s a messy, finger-licking feast.
Rolled corn tortillas filled with meat, cheese, and beans, enchiladas are a traditional Mexican dish that’s then slathered in a savory sauce and served on a plate with rice and beans. You have your choice of proteins from chicken to shrimp.
A Cajun/Creole dish consisting of shellfish smothered over rice, etouffee is typically served on a plate vs. gumbo, which is more of a soupy stew. You generally choose either crawfish or shrimp to be the star of the show.
A Tex-Mex favorite, fajitas are served in a sizzling skillet that is as notable for its presentation as it is for its taste. Strips of grilled meat come on a flour or corn tortilla with onions and bell peppers. The dish was traditionally made with skirt steak but can also include carne asada, chicken, or other variations of meat and seafood.
Chicken that’s been seasoned, battered, and deep-fried, crispy, juicy fried chicken is a typical family meal down South. The dish is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, gravy, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, corn and/or biscuits.
Where to Get It: Big John's Grill
Fried Green Tomatoes
Intentionally served underripe, fried green tomatoes are a staple Southern side dish. Coated in flour or cornmeal and pan-fried to a delicious crisp, they're a firm and tangy treat masked as a way to get your greens.
Where to Get It: Rodair Roadhouse
Roadside seafood shacks abound in our region, which typically offer platters of fried prawns or salt and pepper shrimp with fries through casual counter service.
Another Cajun delicacy with French roots, frog legs are said to taste like fried chicken wings. They’re mild in flavor and rich in protein and potassium.
The official state food of Louisiana, gumbo is a Cajun/Creole stew served over rice made of a mixture of shellfish and meats. The roux (thickening base) is the most important component. Who has the best ultimately comes down to personal preference.
A distant relative of paella, jambalaya is a “jumbled” rice mixture comprised of proteins, vegetables (onion, celery, and bell pepper), and stock. It typically includes some form of smoked sausage plus a seafood component like shrimp or crawfish that is cooked together in a casserole.
A doughy European pastry stuffed with a sweet or savory filling, the Southeast Texas variation is traditionally filled with sausage or pepperoni, cheese, and/or jalapeños. They’re a great grab and go breakfast or afternoon snack.
A deli sandwich that originated from the European immigrants in New Orleans, a traditional muffuletta is topped with olive salad, salami, ham, Swiss cheese, provolone, and mortadella sausage.
Where to Get It: Jason’s Deli
Whether you’re a health nut or just a nut, pecans are the unofficial state food of Texas and used to add a bit of crunch to just about any dessert. They enhance everything from sticky buns to logs, but pecan pies are also wildly popular, especially from Amelia Farm, a restaurant set on a working pecan orchard.
Where to Get It: Amelia Farm and Market
A hearty, bready Cajun dish, pistolettes are either stuffed with a cheesy, shellfish mixture (preferably crawfish) or served sub-style like a mushy po'boy. They are available as either an appetizer or entrée.
A traditional Louisiana hoagie, po’ boys are almost always topped with fried seafood (shrimp or oysters), or sliced meat served that’s served on a crisp French bread.
A hot, gooey melted cheese dip served with tortilla chips; this Mexican-inspired appetizer is a real crowd-pleaser and one of the unofficial dishes of Texas. It may or may not be topped with chile (ground beef), peppers, or jalapeños. Carmela’s ranks in the top 10 of the entire state.
Red Beans and Rice
Another Creole staple, red beans and rice is a Monday dish made with pork leftovers from Sunday supper. A pot of beans and ham or sausage served over rice; it’s a basic, homey New Orleans-style plate.
Where to Get It: Crazy Cajun
Smoked beef or pork ribs are another Texas BBQ staple. Spare ribs are generally what you can expect to find, but baby backs are also prevalent, which are a bit meatier. They are cooked low and slow until they’re so moist they fall off the bone, and then are lightly seasoned and sauced.
Shrimp n’ Grits
A traditional low country dish served at breakfast, grits are a creamy grain mixed with butter and milk. Thick, smooth, and mild-flavored, they take on the flavor of whatever you serve them with, in this case, shrimp.
Meat links hand-stuffed into casings, homemade sausage is a local delicacy pioneered by Zummo Meat Co. Many of the recipes have been passed down from generation to generation like those at Patillo's, the oldest family-owned barbecue restaurant in Texas and the oldest black-owned barbecue joint in the state.
Where to Get It: Patillo’s Bar-B-Q
The difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex can be summed up by a few key ingredients found in the US that are scarcely found outside the country. These include beef, shredded yellow cheese, wheat flour, and black beans combined into a few delicious dishes like soft-shell tacos. It may be Americanized, but it doesn’t make it any less tasty.
Where to Get it: Tacos La Bamba