One night in Lafayette, LA

lafayette central park

From Austin, we had a long day of driving to spend the evening with friends in Lafayette, LA. We stayed at the Scott KOA, but didn’t really spend any time there, except for walking the dog. It seemed pretty nice, with all the usual KOA amenities, situated around a little lake. Our main criterion for choosing a campground in Lafayette was (can you guess?) proximity to a brewery–specifically, Parish Brewing. Since we would be in town so briefly, J had done some research and decided we should target Parish.

We’d gotten some Lafayette eating and drinking recommendations from a fellow diner at the Indian food and Texas beer pairing dinner we so loved in Austin and planned to eat at Pop’s Poboys (she also recommended Parish Brewing, and a visit to Avery Island, the home of Tabasco sauce, which we didn’t have time for). But that went out the window after talking to our local friends, because they informed us that crawfish season had begun early and they wanted to take us to their favorite crawfish restaurant, Hook & Boil. Hook & Boil catches crawfish daily on the chef’s family’s 3000-acre farm, and serves them in a bright, airy restaurant with an inviting yard, where we chose to sit. Apparently the window for pleasant outdoor dining is relatively narrow in Louisiana, but conditions were perfect that January night… well, until later at the bar when the humidity kicked in and we had to towel off the table.

The others started with boudin eggrolls. Billboards advertising boudin line the highway approaching Lafayette, and J and I were very curious about this mystery food we’d never heard of. Boudin is a Cajun sausage, and make sure you don’t say “BOO-din,” as you’ll instantly brand yourself a tourist. Try it in a sloppy French style: “boo-DONH.” It was J’s first taste of boudin and he liked it, but said it was very rich. We agreed that the cane syrup (an old Southern staple) drizzled atop was not as good as maple syrup.

crawfish at hook & boil, lafayette

Then came the stars of the show: heaping platters of freshly boiled Louisiana crawfish. Our friends showed us how to eat them–basically pinch the meat out of the tail like you would eat a shrimp, and treat the claws like little crab claws (but don’t expect to find much claw meat). We opted not to suck out the heads. Eww. When you’re done, you celebrate by putting crawfish carcasses on your fingers, of course.

crawfish carcasses on my fingers

Alas, our dinner took longer than expected, and we did not make it to Parish before the taproom closed, but we enjoyed Parish beers all night at dinner and after at Wurst Biergarten. Wurst, in downtown Lafayette, has a fantastic outdoor space with long tables, music, multiple bars, and I see on their website that they offer yoga, art, and fitness classes in the mornings: they want to contribute more to the downtown culture than just being a bar.

the lab, lafayette

In the morning, on our friends’ recommendation, we recuperated with coffee, tea, and a to-die-for almond croissant at The Lab. They take their coffee brewing experiments and R&D very seriously, and the friendly and knowledgeable barista let us sample a few of the science project-looking cold brews.

lafayette central park

We wanted to entertain Bugsy before leaving town, so our friends sent us to Lafayette’s Central Park (technically called Moncus Park). Once developed, the 100-acre former horse farm will include gardens, a water park, an arboretum, a sculpture garden, and more, but right now it’s mostly just rolling fields dotted with giant oak trees and crossed by a forested ravine. The picture of Bugsy at the top of this post shows one of the ancient oaks. On a misty weekday morning we had it all to ourselves, and playing there was the perfect way to close out our quick stopover in Lafayette.

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