D.I.’s Cajun Restaurant
6561 Evangeline Highway
Beer selection: The usual suspects, plus local Abita Amber
Food: Best crabs on earth!
I’m always in search of “the real deal.”
Not some lame Disneyfied version of the real deal. Not some corporate chain version of the real deal.
No. Just the for real, real deal.
I mean, kids are walking around these days wearing T-shirts of fake places.
“Eat at Stinky’s Fish Camp”.
“I Got Crabs at Nasty Nancy’s”.
“Get Some Booty at Blackbeard’s Saloon”.
There are plenty of real fish camps, crab shacks, and dive bars all throughout the backwoods and backwaters of America. There’s no need to make them up.
And that’s why we’re here. To find you the real deal!
Like D.I.’s Cajun Restaurant sitting on a lonely stretch of Parrish Road 97, eight miles from the nearest stop sign, in the middle of Louisiana sugarcane fields and crawfish ponds.
And I’m happy to say, D.I.’s is the real deal.
D.I. is the nickname of the crawfish farmer who owns the place. It all started when he’d invite all his friends over for big crawfish boils on his farm. Five bucks, and it was all you can eat.
One thing led to another and now half of Southwest Louisiana shows up every night.
Or so it seemed the Saturday night I pulled up in my subcompact Kia rental car.
There had to be 500 pick-ups in the gravel parking lot. The wait to get a table was over an hour. Good ‘ol boys and gals were drinking beer in the parking lot waiting for their turn to dive into the best seafood around. And that’s saying something in Louisiana.
Inside, a Cajun band was pounding out tunes. Old-timers, kids, and Cajun beauties in white cotton dresses were dancing and two-stepping to the Cajun beat.
Entirely sung in French, by the way. The real deal.
But what threw me off was no one was eating crawfish, the founding crustacean of the joint.
How could that be?
I expected to walk into a room full of head-sucking and tail-pinching, and piles of mudbug shells as far as the eye could see.
After all, tourists like me had been enjoying crawfish bisque, crawfish pie, fried crawfish, crawfish etouffee, crawfish fritters—all over Louisiana. And it was all delicious.
So what was the problem with D.I.’s?
The problem was it wasn’t crawfish season.
Oh sure, touristy places will gladly serve wide-eyed Cajun Country tourists platters of crawfish that were frozen over from last spring. And they’re still pretty darn tasty.
But that’s not the way they roll at D.I.’s.
This is the real deal. Remember?
So, if crawfish are out of season, it can only mean one thing.
It must be crab season!
And that’s what everyone was waiting in the parking lot for. D.I.’s steamed crabs.
I’ve spent plenty of afternoons sitting in the sun on the Chesapeake Bay, drinking beer and picking my way through piles of freshly steamed blue crabs covered in Old Bay.
It’s more of a social occasion than actual sustenance. In fact, I’m convinced I burn more calories than I consume when picking steamed blue crabs. Of course it’s nothing a lot of beer and hush puppies can’t solve.
So I knew I had to try some of D.I.’s steamed crabs.
But what really piqued my curiosity were the barbequed crabs.
My waitress kindly brought one out as a sample with my gumbo while I worked through the menu and my Abita Amber.
D.I.’s barbequed crab can best be described as a steamed crab that has the top shell and the “deadman’s fingers” pulled off, and then is baked with a dry barbeque and mustard rub.
As you peel, pull, snap and hammer your crab, this rub gets all over your fingers, hands, arms, lap (I wasn’t wearing a suit for this one, thank goodness), and then finds its way onto the succulent crab meat.
Colonel Sanders couldn’t know anything about finger-licking good unless he tried these.
After my first barbequed crab, I knew why my waitress was so happy to let me have a sample. Because I wanted more!
Part of what makes a place “the real deal” is when you get to try something you’ve never had before, and you love it!
Most of the things I’ve never had before aren’t ever this good! Where have barbequed crabs been all my life? I’ll never eat a boring old ordinary steamed crab again.
Oh and the gumbo was delicious as well, full of shrimp, crab, and oysters.
Not to belabor the point, but gumbo, at a backwoods Cajun restaurant, in the heart of Acadiana? Of course it was the real deal!
But man cannot live on crab and gumbo alone. Nope. That was just the appetizer.
I couldn’t come to D.I.’s without trying their famous “Blackened Catfish Supreme” – a big meaty fillet well-seasoned and smothered in crawfish etouffee. Which, to a Cajun, would sound kind of redundant since etouffee means “smothered” in French.
Smothered in what? Darned if I know.
I just call it delicious.
Each forkful of flaky catfish perfectly balanced the blackened spices and the sweet succulence of the etouffee.
On the side came a sweet potato drowning in melted butter and brown sugar, a hush puppy, and a sweet beignet – the French version of fried dough.
This was one crab feast I made darn sure I wouldn’t leave hungry.
As the crab carcasses piled up in front of me and the band played the final notes on the accordion and the room began to clear, I pushed back from the table and contemplated what exactly had just happened to me.
Oh yeah. One of the greatest dining experiences of my life just happened to me!
The. Real. Deal.
Rating: What do you think?! Bought The Shirt!!!