Although Lynda and I enjoy the abundance of options for dining in Houston, we often find ourselves returning to favored spots.
The original Ragin’ Cajun South Louisiana Kitchen at 4302 Richmond Avenue is such a place. I have been a customer of the restaurant since the mid 1970s. The venue, including the exterior façade, the classic Cajun music, the interior décor with long family picnic-style tables and regional memorabilia on the walls, and especially the food, could have been transported directly from southern Louisiana.
The menu features a variety of fried, grilled and boiled (crawfish, anyone?) food. Lynda and I frequently split a Mandola’s Seafood Combination, which includes four shrimp, four oysters, a catfish filet and a stuffed shrimp. We sometimes will stop in just for a bowl of gumbo - seafood or chicken and sausage.
For great Cajun food to take home, we really like a place just down the street from the Ragin’ Cajun, Hebert’s Specialty Meats at 4714 Richmond. Hebert’s is known for Turducken, stuffed pork chops and deboned chickens stuffed with shrimp, rice or crawfish; but is also is a really great source for frozen gumbo.
Of course, there are many other places to get great Cajun food in Houston and throughout Southeast Texas. I must say that the very best place in the state (and maybe in Louisiana) to get boudin is at Nick’s Grocery at 3149 39th Street in Port Arthur. The boudin, made and sold by the Nicotre Plagman family in the Golden Triangle for more than 50 years, has earned the grocery store the reputation as “The Boudain King”. (Boudain is the way the delicacy is spelled by some Southeast Texas Cajuns.)
We have recently visited some interesting restaurants on the road in other parts of Texas.
A very pleasant stop was at the Comfort Café in Smithville. It looked like a regular family restaurant in a nice small town, but inside we learned that it is a program of SerenityStar New Earth Recovery. The menu has a variety of choices for breakfast, lunch or desert, but it includes no prices. It is a “pay what you can” establishment. The wait staff is comprised of recovering addicts. There was very little proselytizing. Lynda and I had hamburgers and they were excellent.
We had really great Chicken Fried Steak Breakfast Platters at Maxine’s Café in Bastrop. The steaks come with two eggs, home fried potatoes and oatmeal or grits, and toast or buttermilk biscuit.
“It was an absolutely, thoroughly enjoyable experience,” Lynda said about the restaurant and the town. Bastrop offers a rich harvest of classic Texas folklore and architecture.
From time to time we visit places that are not worthy of such praise; and I generally don’t feel a need to say so. But there is one “don’t bother” advisory I would like to share.
The Pickett House Restaurant in Heritage Village in Woodville was a real disappointment. The restaurant advertises boarding house style service, with all you can eat fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, country vegetables, cobbler, biscuits and cornbread and a variety of cobbler. We arrived about 1:15 p.m. for Sunday lunch and even though there was no crowd, the service was poor, the food was not hot and there was absolutely nothing welcoming or hospitable about the experience. We were sorry we went out of our way to eat there.