10 Years of Mardi Gras Revelry at Evangeline Cafe

Curtis Clarke and crew still bring les bon temps to Southwest Austin

Like a good Mexican, I love a raucous fiesta filled with music, dancing, and lots of good food and drink. So, it is no surprise that I have a strong affinity for all things Louisiana. I discovered Evangeline Cafe shortly after it opened in 2004, and there's still no finer Cajun-style fare or atmosphere in town. And apparently, many share that opinion.

Curtis Clarke, the Lake Charles native who took a chance on the tiny spot tucked in a far-off shopping center on Brodie Lane, is about to celebrate the tenth Mardi Gras at the beloved Evangeline Cafe.

Curtis Clarke with food that makes him proud (Photo by John Anderson)

My husband and I know Clarke well — we are fortunate to live but 15 minutes away and we dine there every chance we get, from a quick but filling lunch to a leisurely dinner accompanied by a couple Abitas and a side of live music. And although it is usually packed on any given night, nothing compares to Mardi Gras. "It is our biggest night by far, every year", Clarke says with a smile that never seems to leave his face. "It is always balls-to-the-wall over the top."

Empty tables are rare at Evangeline Cafe (Photo by John Anderson)

Because the small restaurant cannot hold the sheer number of people that keep pouring in throughout the day on Mardi Gras, Clarke started taking over the few parking spots directly in front of the restaurant, setting up a tent to accommodate party-goers who can't physically fit inside. For those who get there early, the restaurant serves its full menu on a first-come-first-served basis, but late comers can purchase a bowl of red beans and rice, chicken and sausage gumbo, or creamy crawfish Evangeline, as well as beer, in the tent outside. People often bring a truck, find a parking spot, and tailgate while listening to the live bands.

Curtis greets the crowd from the bar (Photo by Will Larson)

Although the official party doesn't kick off until 6pm, "people pile in for lunch just because it's Mardi Gras," says Clark. "Hell, we are having live music on Monday, which is now officially called Lundi Gras," he chuckles. Traditional Cajun musician Mark Viator will be doing the honors that night.

On Mardi Gras, the party starts with Gumbo Ce Soir, playing their own brand of traditional Cajun fiddle tunes, followed by New Orleans-style piano music from the Dan Holmes Group at 8pm, and closing festivities is the house favorite Charles Thibodeaux and the Cajun Aces.

Although loaded with fun, the Mardi Gras festivities at Evangline are a family-friendly affair, well-suited for people who want to have a great time without the obnoxiousness that often accompanies these parties elsewhere. Good food, good music, good fun – just right for me. Like the logo on the back of their t-shirts says: "Old Austin didn't die, it just moved South." Here's to another 10 years of les bons temps at the little South Austin Cajun cafe that brings Louisiana to Austin every day.

Evangline Cafe

8106 Brodie Lane 282-2586


Monday- Thursday, 11am-9:30pm; Friday & Saturday, 11am-10pm

The Best of Austin: Restaurants ballot is here! Nominations can be made now through Monday, August 22, at midnight. Vote now at vote.austinchronicle.com.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Claudia Alarcón
Savory Characters
Savory Characters
Cooking up the next generation of cocktails

Feb. 6, 2015

Calling the Shots
Calling the Shots
The women defining Austin's cocktail culture

Jan. 23, 2015


Mardi Gras food, Cajun cuisine, Evangeline Cafe, Curtis Clarke, Crawfish Evangeline, gumbo, red beans and rice, Charles Thibodeaux and the Zydeco Aces, Dan Holmes Group, Gumbo Ce Soir

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle