Let the Good Times Roll

Good food to get you in the mood for Mardi Gras

Curtis Clarke at Evangeline Cafe
Curtis Clarke at Evangeline Cafe (Photo by John Anderson)

Evangeline Cafe

8106 Brodie, 282-2586
Monday-Thursday, 11am-9:30pm; Friday, 11am-10pm (music starts after kitchen closes); Saturday, 11am-9:30pm
www.evangelinecafe.com

Louisiana native Curtis Clarke presides over this authentic Louisiana-style roadhouse in far South Austin. The rustic decor, large selection of Abita beers, live zydeco music, and bread regularly imported from the famed Langlinais Bakery in Lafayette serve to enhance a vibe that is pure Acadiana. We recently journeyed down to Evangeline for a gustatory exploration of some newer menu items and were immediately reminded of just why we love this place.

Start any meal here with a basket of the signature house potato chips with Evangeline sauce for dipping ($2.99) and you can't go wrong. From the appetizer list, we chose the new Gator Bites ($8.99) and discovered the toothsome chunks of lightly fried alligator meat were firmer than chicken, but still tender, and not at all reptilian in flavor. The newest sandwich on the menu is the New Orleans-style muffaletta ($8.99) – meat and cheese piled high on a delicious seeded bun from Langlinais, dressed with Clarke's own chunky olive salad that drips down the chin with every bite. It's as good as the ones at Central Grocery, but without the drive.

Our knowledgeable server pointed us to the menu's best entrées, and we could not have been happier with his suggestions. The stuffed pork chop ($14.99) is a gargantuan, bone-in beauty stuffed with the house boudin and pecan pesto, napped with a rich brown gravy. The porcine behemoth is nestled on a bed of rice and paired with a luscious, homey side of okra and tomatoes stewed with bacon. This delectable example of pure South­ern comfort would set you back a good $30 at any steak house in town – don't miss it. Another winner is the Gold Band Creole ($14.99), starring seven jumbo Gulf shrimp that are butterflied, battered in house-made bread crumbs, and perfectly fried. The wonderful shrimp surround a tangle of fettuccine nood­les tossed in creamy Creole sauce, crowned with a gold band of Parmesan cheese.

As always, Clarke has a party planned for Mardi Gras, and it's best to go early if you want a seat inside the restaurant. There will be live zydeco music from 5 to 10pm, and a tent in the parking lot to accommodate the overflow crowd. Go hungry, stay late, and have fun!

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