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Austin Food Bytes – Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez!

Finding a bit of the Big Easy in Austin is no mean feat. Often imitated but never duplicated, New Orleans has always been home to some of the most distinctive culture, music, and food in the United States. I’ve searched long and hard to find you some recommendations for places to get a little (or big) taste of NOLA right here in Austin. As Mardi Gras approaches, keep an eye out for special items around town as well.

Evangeline Café
8106 Brodie Lane
Austin, TX 78745
(512) 282-2586
Monday-Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Friday, 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. (On Fridays, music starts at 10:00 p.m. when the kitchen closes.)
Saturday 11:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Evangeline Café is a funky little South Austin joint, often filled to capacity with neighborhood locals. Eclectic swampy bayou decor and live music creates Cajun country ambience, but the food is what brings people back. The fried oyster po-boy is delicious – be sure to get it with Evangeline Sauce. Dressed with lettuce and tomato on a soft French roll, the oysters are perfectly crispy and warm, and the portions are generous. If you’re not in the mood for fried food, try the grilled shrimp plate – spicy and extremely flavorful shrimp are served with dirty rice, a roll, and a side salad. The desserts are legendary, but unfortunately I was too full from dinner to try them. Next time, I’m leaving room for the bread pudding, which looked wonderful.

Crescent City Beignets
1211 West 6th Street #100
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 472-9622
Sunday-Thursday, 7:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 7:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

Crescent City Beignets is a franchise with a local branch on bustling West 6th Street. Ample parking is a plus. The decor is simple café-style with black and white pictures of old New Orleans. The service can be a little inconsistent, but I like the food and I especially recommend the café au lait with an order of beignets. (Beignets, for the uninitiated, are fluffy pillows of fried dough, doused in powdered sugar. They are especially good with rich and creamy café au lait or hot chocolate.) Crescent City also has an excellent salad, the Sensation Salad with grilled chicken. The dressing is lovely, and it’s served with four decadent hush puppies. The cafe usually also has a couple entree item choices – gumbos, étouffées, and beans and rice that can be purchased in large or small portions.
Note: I found out from several of my readers that the Austin branch closed before xmas 🙁

If you’d rather create your own New Orleans experience, local stores carry several Louisiana staples. Central Market stocks beignet mix and coffee from the famous Café du Monde in the French Quarter. To make your own café au lait, brew your coffee quite strong, and mix it with a combination of hot milk and half-and-half. This time of year, Central Market and Sweetish Hill both carry King Cakes – ring-shaped cakes covered with purple, green, and gold sugar. Sometimes the cakes are filled with custard, but they always include a little plastic baby, which you insert at the bottom of the cake. A Mardi Gras tradition, whoever gets the piece with the baby has to buy the King Cake next year. Most grocery stores carry Zatarain’s mixes and spices. For an authentic shrimp boil, purchase fresh shrimp with the shells on and boil in water spiced with Zatarain’s Shrimp and Crab Boil.

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