Thought to have originated in the southern part of the state during the 19th century, jambalaya is, like its birthplace, a melting pot of cultures and a staple dish of Louisianan cuisine. Though there are many different takes on the dish, Creole style, Cajun style, even Creole-Italian, jambalaya is undeniably delicious, so The Culture Trip has lined up the 10 best Louisiana-based joints in which to try it.
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La Cuisine De Maman
Located within the grounds of Vermilionville, Lafayette’s living history museum dedicated to Acadian, Creole and Native American cultures, La Cuisine de Maman is a quaint and cozy restaurant dishing up traditional Cajun and Creole eats six days a week from its historically styled digs. The restaurant’s à la carte menu features a classic chicken and sausage jambalaya, while a buffet is offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, allowing guests to mix and match the dish with other home-cooked Southern staples like blackened catfish, seafood gumbo, corn maque choux and hushpuppies.
A lively, quirky venue located in a converted gas station in Shreveport, Marilynn’s Place proves you don’t have to stick to southern Louisiana to find a tasty jambalaya. Since owner and chef Robert Baucom opened the joint in 2011, it’s become a local hot spot with guests flocking to it for its Cajun and Creole eats, New Orleans-style po’boys and regular live music. The restaurant’s regular jambalaya is a chicken and andouille sausage-based affair, but keep an eye out for the special super jambalaya when the classic dish is jazzed up with fried chicken strips and Marilynn’s homemade ‘wow’ sauce.
A charming, cozy restaurant dishing up classic Cajun fare and good old Southern hospitality in equal measure, Merci Beaucoup is a must-do when dining out in historic downtown Natchitoches. Merci Beaucoup’s twist on the classic dish, the Cane River jambalaya, is a mouthwatering recipe mixing black-eyed peas, Cajun stewed tomatoes, seasonings and ground beef served over rice with a side of cornbread and available by the cup or bowl. Wash it down with a glass of refreshing lemonade tea, and finish with Merci Beaucoup’s famous old-fashioned bread pudding dessert with butter-vanilla sauce, whipped cream and nutmeg.
Mother’s Restaurant has been a New Orleans landmark since opening way back in 1938, and though the Amato family took over the reins in the mid-1980s, thankfully the restaurant retains its original, humble charm alongside the legendary po’boys that first made it famous. One thing chef Jerry Amato did change, however, was the menu, which was expanded to offer a whole host of new, traditional New Orleans-style dishes, one of which is the award-winning Jerry’s jambalaya. A Creole-Italian take, the mouthwatering recipe incorporates Creole tomato sauce and plenty of Italian herbs.Tony’s Seafood Market
Tony’s Seafood Market
Family-owned and operated for over 50 years, Tony’s Seafood Market, the biggest market of its kind in the Gulf South region, is Baton Rouge’s best destination for live and boiled seafood. Amongst its sprawling retail space is a hot foods deli selling, alongside other local classics like seafood gumbo, fried catfish and crawfish étouffée, what some describe as the best jambalaya in the city. While there, pick up a few of the deli’s boudin balls. They are another local favorite and available with shrimp and crab, crawfish or Cajun style.
A lively, no-frills joint that has called Decatur Street home since 1983, Coop’s Place serves some of the most highly recommended jambalaya in The Big Easy, and better yet, there are a few different kinds to try. Its signature jambalaya uses boneless rabbit, smoked pork sausage, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, rice and local seasonings, while the jambalaya supreme, once hailed by New Orleans-based journalist Ian McNulty as the best in the city, sees the dish jazzed up with the addition of shrimp, crawfish and tasso. Alternatively, opt for the pasta jambalaya in a Creole-flavored olive oil sauce.
Though it might be better known for its crawfish, Crawdaddy’s Kitchen, a family-owned and operated Shreveport restaurant opened in 2000, serves a mean jambalaya too. It comes as a standard with Crawdaddy’s grilled shrimp and grilled tilapia dishes, and guests can add the jambalaya as a side to any of the restaurant’s fare. Add to that its relaxed ‘laissez les bons temps rouler’ atmosphere and a whole host of other classic Cajun dishes, and diners could be forgiven for thinking they’re in southern Louisiana rather than Shreveport.
Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop
Opened in 2012, Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop is a laid-back, diner located at Metairie’s Galleria just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown New Orleans, and while gumbo might be owner and chef Ron Lafrate’s forte, indeed, there are five different gumbos to choose from, his jambalaya is certainly worth a look too. A Creole version, Chef Ron’s jambalaya is packed with tomatoes, smoked sausage and diced chicken and available either on its own or as a side to complement dishes like bayou scampi, Southern fried chicken and bronzed drum fish.
Rice & Roux
Fast and casual is the name of the game at Rice & Roux, a laid-back Baton Rouge joint laying claim to some of the tastiest jambalaya in the state capital. There are three different varieties to choose from, chicken and sausage, pork and sausage or pastalaya, and the dish comes as a standard with Rice & Roux’s hearty combo samplers alongside fellow Cajun and Creole classics like gumbo, boudin and crawfish pie. Better yet, Rice & Roux’s takeout service and jambalaya by the bucket menu means guests can enjoy the tasty, traditional dish at home too.
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