Our Five Faves

Best Cajun cuisine

Posted March 19, 2012

Being from New Orleans, I grew up eating Cajun cuisine - gumbo, jambalaya, boiled crawfish and fried fish.

Moving to North Carolina was difficult because I had become accustomed to eating that food. I was homesick when we tried some seafood places around here because it just didn't taste like home. Then, I discovered some great Cajun food in the Triangle!

Here are our Five Faves places to grab some of native Louisiana food: 

Battistellas (Raleigh) - This place had me at their artwork of New Orleans on the wall. The food is authentic, as it should be since its owner and chef Brian Battistella is a Louisiana native. I recommend the crawfish etouffee or fried catfish, then finish with their amazing bread pudding served warm with a white chocolate sauce. Battistellas

Papa Mojos (Durham) - This was the first Cajun place I went to in the Triangle. Their jambalaya blew me away! Definitely reminiscent of home, especially with its use of Andouille sausage. Don't forget to try their gumbo while you're there. 

Shuckers (Wake Forest) - Oyster bars are hugely popular in the New Orleans area. You can even get fresh shucked oysters at the airport. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find an oyster bar in Wake Forest. Shuckers has a great menu featuring oysters on the half-shell (steamed or raw), Middleneck clams, mussels and shrimp. Their crab cakes are probably my favorite, but another great item on the menu is the Big SOB - a steamboat filled with oysters, shrimp, clams, mussels, crab legs, corn and Andouille sausage. 

Big Easy (Raleigh) - Two words: Banana's Foster. This traditional New Orleans dessert features bananas sauteed in a bourbon rum sauce over their homemade bread pudding and topped with vanilla ice cream. Just like back home. Other menu standouts: the Alligator Bites (yes, real alligator), seafood gumbo and crawfish etouffee. Their jambalaya is good, but even I found it a bit too spicy at times. 

Rey's Restaurant (Cary) - A favorite of WRAL's Ken Smith and Gerald Owens, this place offers popular New Orleans dish Turtle Soup, in addition to entrees like blackened tuna and grouper topped with New Orleans crab butter. Finish off your night with their Banana's Foster or bread pudding with white chocolate sauce. 


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  • BeHereNow Mar 23, 2012

    My family is from around Lafayette, so I know what real Cajun food tastes like and how hard it is to find outside of Louisiana. Y'all should do yourselves a favor and go to the Gulf Rim in Hillsborough. The owner Joe is from LaPlace and he knows what he's doing. The gumbo and red beans are top notch. and everything else on the menu is good too.

  • mrsmojo1 Mar 21, 2012

    Papa Mojo's Roadhouse has beignets on their Sunday brunch menu and they are the real thing. Their gumbo is amazing, made with the dark roux that it is supposed to be made with. Crawfish are flown in fresh when in season for their crawfish boils. No one makes it as good as mamma's or Tmeme's but this is my fave hands down.

  • Myword Mar 20, 2012

    Battistellas is a kind of artistic take on cajun, so it costs a little more than your basic red beans and rice, but man, it is good. Everything I have tried there has been wonderful.

  • luvstoQ Mar 20, 2012

    Another Pelican here that would love to have some true cajun food. But, alas, I'm with mark234, the best cajun food I've had here comes from my own kitchen. We go down once a year to get as much "fix" as we can, then bring bunches of stuff back. The one thing I can't make is a "crawfish boil", and boy do we miss those - not paying the high prices occasionally available at the Farmers Market. We bought some once, but a lot of them were dead (nope, not boiling those). I do get to Cafe du Monde for my beignets, and bring a years supple of Community dark roast coffee back, but oh, we miss those good restaurants - not the "blackened anything" though - that's not anything cajun.

  • Poleaux Mar 20, 2012

    I’ve only been to three of these places and they all have their strong points, but as for food, I prefer Batt’s the best. Papa Mojo’s is a fun place to eat and they have some of the best live music around. Big Easy makes an incredible Muffuletta, which is hard to do outside of NOLA.

    To be honest though, the most authentic Cajun food around here comes out of my kitchen. I have all the hard-to-find ingredients shipped up here from the Acadiana area , where I’m originally from, and I whip up all the spicy lovin’ my friends and I can handle. In fact, this past weekend I made an alligator and tasso fettuccine… ca cest bon!

  • bigboohoo Mar 20, 2012

    Are you insane? How can you even say you are from Louisiana and recommend any of these resturant except for Battistellas? Maybe your momma was one of odd cooks that didnt get it right but my momma did and I know good food. I go home to NOLA twice a year to get my fill and I tell you I dont go out here in Raleigh looking for good Louisiana food. I know better. Raleigh has some fantastic places to eat but I dont say they are Cajun resturants and if you do .. shame on you!

  • lauraleigh Mar 19, 2012

    Oh, boy. I see a trip to Raleigh in my future. Just the very mention of etouffe makes my mouth water. mmmmmmm.....

  • dwntwnboy Mar 19, 2012

    AMEN T-to-the-watts (can't put your screen name in a posting, it's "obscene" according to the auto-censor 3000)!!! I've been a fan of Battistellas since they were up in that dump of a hotel that used to be the Ramada Inn at Crabtree- they were the ONLY reason to go up there, and were like a little secret. Glad they are close to dwntwn and I can go on a regular basis- give me a good blackened shrimp po-boy and I'm a happy camper!!

  • Vstrom Mar 19, 2012

    Rey's should not even be on this list. I've been there three times, never been impressed. Over priced and most things on the menu have some kind of sauce to over-power any decent flavor the food should have.

  • Krimson Mar 19, 2012

    Battistella's... Everything else is just glorified Zatarain's...