For the last few months, Ive been on a Cajun kick. Im looking for the best cooking Louisiana has to offer, right here in DFW. My friends claim this area is no place for Southern food, so I thought Id put that to the test once again. (Theres just no way I can pass up being right.)
So my taste buds took me to Bayou Cat in Arlington.
It is about to celebrate its third year this February. Perfect timing, considering crawfish season unofficially starts in the same month. But until then, Bayou Cats specialty catfish should keep your hands (and mouth) busy.
The signature entree, the Bayou Cat basket ($7.90), includes a heap of fries and a whole crispy catfish (with bones) that barely fits in the basket; underneath the thinly battered crispy exterior is a tender and flakey fish.
Im obligated to mention the gumbo its a Louisiana staple, after all. At Bayou Cat, it has a soupy, celery-flavored broth, complete with bits of tender fish and shrimp. It was taste-bud love, as my palate has always had a soft spot for the Cajun trinity of bell peppers, celery and onions.
Bayou Cat also serves frog legs (2 for $3.70), which puts my total tally of frog-leg eating to three. (Theyre not very popular in Texas.) And yes, they taste just like battered chicken wings.
The sides were fairly typical coleslaw ($1.25-$2.50), buttery hushpuppies ($1.50-$2.50) and fried okra ($1.90). But dont miss out on the mysterious-sounding but tasty meat pies. They look exactly like the savory empanadas you find in Mexican cuisine. (Mexican and Cajun cuisines have roots in Spanish cooking.) The Louisiana meat pie ($1.70) is full of ground beef and spices, with a pronounced onion flavoring, while the crawfish meat pie ($2.49) includes rice and roux with crawfish.
Another customer favorite is the red beans and rice (small, $2.90; large, $4.90), which isnt exactly a side dish the large option might as well be a cauldron of beans, rice and sausage in a creamy, mildly spicy and well-seasoned stock.
But thats nothing compared to the out-of-control portions of Bayou Cats po boys (the menu even states theyre overstuffed). Each can be ordered with catfish ($7.50-$7.90), oysters ($7.50-$7.90), juicy smoked sausage ($6.90-$7.50) or shrimp ($7.50-$7.90) on soft yet crispy French bread (or Texas toast).
The sausage and shrimp po boys are the most popular. Of the two, the fresh and crispy shrimp po boy got most of my attention; it includes a generous schmear of rouille (a sweet, mayolike dressing), onions and crunchy pickles.
And thats the sweet, lip-smacking taste of being right again.