The Austin Chronicle

Let the Good Times Roll

Good food to get you in the mood for Mardi Gras

By Sarah Hamlin, March 4, 2011, Food

Sambets Cajun Deli and Firey Foods Store

8650 Spicewood Springs #111, 258-6410
Monday-Thursday, 11am–8pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-9pm

This storefront sandwich shop evokes the spirit of po'boy dives along the river road outside of New Orleans, across the bayou in New Iberia, and along the back roads of small Southern Louisiana towns. That spirit includes some creative enhancements like the crawfish poblano chowder and Boudilicious po'boy that will make this your Louisiana po'boy shop in Austin.

First, let's talk the standards. Sambets' seafood gumbo tastes bold with seasoned roux, plenty of crawfish and shrimp, and an artistic hint of sage. Yummy. The fried shrimp po'boy tastes exactly like one turned out by those river road, bayou seafood shops: light and crispy French loaf, plenty of perfectly fried shrimp, mayo, and tons of lettuce and tomatoes. Just like back home. The muffaletta was all about the sauce – a juicy, peppery, celery-y olive mix that dripped at every bite. Perfect. Olive. Mix. The crunch of the house-baked bun gave way to a moist and yeasty center that complemented the olive mix, which in turn combined with the ham, salami, and cheese to make this muffaletta heaven: Close your eyes, chew slowly, and savor every nuance.

Now, let's talk enhancements. The crawfish poblano chowder fulfilled all expectations of tastiness, with a creamy base, tons of crawfish and poblano peppers to make your taste buds sing. The Boudilicious po'boy – about 3 pounds of sandwich – sported a boudin link in a perfect po'boy loaf, smothered in crawfish étouffée, and topped with about a half-pound of fried crawfish. The Cajun gods smiled on this one, cher. Bring a friend, or bring at least half of it home.

Other fare includes oyster, crawfish, catfish, and roast beef po'boys; boudin, chicken, and sausage gumbo; red beans and rice; and jambalaya – combos of which are offered as lunch specials. The store itself is chockablock with hot sauces, and you can buy Mardi Gras beads next to the register. Once you order at the register and grab your drink, it's a short wait until your food arrives at your table. The menu includes additional interesting items like blue crab, gator, fried pickles, and get this: dark-chocolate-covered bacon. Next time, after my sublime muff, I'm gonna have to try dat, mon ami.

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