Poche’s–Breaux Bridge, LA

Poché’s
3015 Main Highway
Breaux Bridge, LA
(337) 332-2108
Poche's

Poche’s Market, Restaurant and Smokehouse


Poche’s has become one of the best known places to get Cajun food, having been featured on Globe Trekker as well as countless travel books and guides. Located a few miles east of Lafayette, Louisiana, I watched in mid-morning as much of the local community and possibly a few tourists such as myself congregated at this “market, restaurant and smokehouse” for its popular plate lunches, with even more people picking up Poche’s famous sausage and other items to go. One of the best aspects of it is that it is not a tourist destination, but it provides an insight into the local Cajun culture which is steeped in tradition, nowhere more evident than in its food.

Poche's sign

The entrance to the restaurant and meat market

The food served here requires hours of preparation for most items, mainly because most items contain sausage or other types of smoked meat. I can say that sausage is the best item here, but really it is the delicious dishes that contain sausage and other smoked meats such as the richly flavored red beans and rice (served as a plate lunch on Mondays) or the gumbo (a seasonal dish served in the winter). I feel that I hit the jackpot by being able to try both of these dishes, but I am sure there are others that are equally good.

Plate lunches

The selection of plate lunches

The plate lunches, served from 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM, are arrayed in a counter where you can pick out a main dish and two sides. This is served daily, with a different menu each day of the week. Dinner is served after 2:00, with the same menu every day. Seasonal specials, such as the gumbo, are available all day until they run out, and do not come with side dishes.

I was happy I came during the time they had plate lunches. Not only are they reasonably priced, but I got to see a sample of true Cajun food even though I was not able to try everything.

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice

Red beans and rice plate lunch

The Red Beans and Rice plate lunch was something I was able to try, and found that the sausage in this dish is probably my favorite (the menu just calls it “Sausage”). I loved the flavors of this dish, and thought that even without the sausage this would have been the best example of red beans and rice I have tried. This was one of the items on the Monday menu, though, and is only available for a three and a half hour period once per week. (The ladies told me, though, that you can go earlier than 10:30 and still get many of the plate lunch items).

Gumbo

Gumbo

Gumbo available as a seasonal dish in winter

I ordered Gumbo thinking that it would be a light lunch (really breakfast for me), but the generous servings of meat in it provided a quite filling meal. It appears that they sometimes vary the meats, but this one had chicken, sausage, and tasso (all were excellent). The flavor of the roux, though, made this the best dish I tried and quite possibly the best dish at the restaurant.

Boudin

Boudin

Boudin

Although I really did not have the appetite for it, I did not want to miss a chance to try Poche’s famous Boudin sausage. There is no doubt they know what they are doing in their sausage making, although being the first time I had tried boudin I don’t have any others with which to compare it.

The Market
Poche’s also sells food (mostly smoked meats) to go, and a good selection of grocery items including some specialty items such as Poche’s Pralines. Many items are also available by mail order.

The Overall Picture
In my opinion Poche’s is the quintessential example of Cajun food, much as Chope’s is for southern New Mexican cuisine. I have not tried very many other Cajun restaurants, and I am not sure Poche’s is the best, but I believe it is enough to demonstrate what Cajun food can be if prepared properly.

The rating for this restaurant (one of the highest I have given to any restaurant) is based on the fact that the right combination of ingredients (such as the gumbo or red beans and rice) provided an experience as enjoyable to me as a top quality steak or similar examples of other cuisines. I do not say that Cajun food is better than other cuisines, but prepared as it is at Poche’s it can certainly be equal to others.


RATING: 27

Cuisine: Cajun
Cost: $$
Hours: 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM (6 AM to 7 PM Sun.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 27, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice, Sausage

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Beans and Rice
star 5 Gumbo
star 5 Boudin

Sam’s Southern Eatery–Bossier City, LA

Sam’s Southern Eatery
2910 Barksdale Blvd.
Bossier City, LA
(318) 658-9980
Sam's Southern Eatery

Sam’s Southern Eatery


Sam’s Southern Eatery is a chain of Cajun style restaurants based in Shreveport, and which consistently shows up on restaurant review sites as a readers’ favorite. There are several locations in the Shreveport area, and they appear to be individually owned although linked to the chain through the supply of shrimp they receive as well as following the same recipes for cooking the food.

One feature pointed out to me that made this location unique was its sale of freshly made home made cakes. The regular menu appears to be the same at all Sam’s locations, although I did notice some differences between this restaurant and the one I had previously tried in Oklahoma City (the OKC restaurant served fried rolls and this one did not).

When I went to this location in the evening hours it had already run out of some items. They had run out of red beans and rice, and they initially said they were out of gumbo but then said I could have the gumbo but they were out of the rice that went with it (I gladly accepted this offer).

Gumbo

Gumbo

Gumbo without rice

The Gumbo was my main order, and it was a very good one. They were out of the rice that usually came with the order, but I thought the gumbo was very good anyway. The flavor of the roux was really a lot better than the one I had tried in Oklahoma City, although the shrimp and other ingredients were about the same at both restaurants. This was not the largest size gumbo they had, but was nevertheless filling if you ate it with side dishes.

Fried Shrimp

Fried shrimp

Medium sized order of fried shrimp

The sign on the front of the restaurant says “Home of the Jumbo Shrimp,” and this is to be taken seriously. I think these are actually prawns, but in any case this order of eight shrimp really seems to be enough for three people although two of us with great effort managed to eat it (and enjoy it very much).

My dining companion ate the side dishes, and they were reported to be very good as I have found them to be in the Oklahoma City Sam’s.

Cake

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

This location features home made cakes made by a third party, with about eight or ten varieties available. The restaurant recommended peanut butter and reviews also indicate this is one people particularly like, but I thought the chocolate I ordered was quite satisfying (you probably can’t go wrong with any of the flavors).

General Comments
This was not the absolute best fried shrimp I have ever had, but it was close, and I can see why it is the featured dish of the restaurant. Keep in mind, though, that the pieces are quite big. In my mind about three or four pieces per person is about right if you eat it with side dishes or a small gumbo.

The gumbo is what I enjoyed the most, though. I feel that it is a special treat to get gumbo as good as the one here, and ones with comparable flavor are not available in most parts of the country.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Cajun
Cost: $$
Hours: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM (closed Sun.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 27, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Gumbo, Fried Shrimp

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Fried Shrimp
star 5 Gumbo
star 5 Chocolate Cake

Sam’s Southern Eatery–Oklahoma City, OK

Sam’s Southern Eatery
7011 W. Hefner Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 498-3107

Sam’s Southern Eatery is a rapidly expanding chain of Cajun style restaurants based in Shreveport, Louisiana, and which has recently opened several locations in Oklahoma with more planned. My first visit to this location and one in Shreveport were within a two week period, and as a result I was able to compare the recently opened location in Oklahoma City with a well established one.

I believe this location was still working out some of the details when I went, and the fact that the staff admitted this to me makes me more anxious to return. Probably a restaurant’s honesty and transparency is the most important factor to me other than the food itself, and the staff here left a very good impression on me.

As for the food, I didn’t think it matched what I got in Shreveport, but certain items were nevertheless very good. In case you wish to have a review in a nutshell, I will just say to do yourself a favor and order the red beans and rice (it is worth going just for this).

Gumbo

Gumbo and side dishes

Gumbo, fried roll, red beans and rice, cole slaw

Mostly wanting to know how the food here compared to Louisiana, I ordered a bowl of Gumbo. Whether it is very authentic or not, I thought it was flavorful. The shrimp tasted as if it had been frozen and there were not many vegetables, but still it was enjoyable. The most striking thing I thought was noticeable was that the broth had a very light color. Overall the gumbo was fine but not exceptional.

I thought the Red Beans and Rice was exceptional, and the recipe was successfully transported from Louisiana. It had a good smoky flavor, and I think this is the best item at the restaurant (that I have tried, at least).

The Cole Slaw was fine and better than at many of OKC’s barbecue restaurants, with the cabbage being noticeably fresh. The flavor was strong on the vinegar but not too much so.

The Fried Roll tasted very good but after the meal was the only thing I was tasting, so I probably do not want to repeat this experience (I think they offer a choice of either the roll or cornbread, and if so I will take the cornbread next time).

Other Comments
Each Sam’s restaurant is individually owned, and the food varies from one location to the next. The chain does give them the recipes and I believe supplies the ingredients (so that the food quality is constant). In comparing the Shreveport and Oklahoma City locations I found that the recipes for the gumbo were different (although the quality of the shrimp used was the same), the Shreveport restaurant ran out of red beans and rice when I was there (the Oklahoma City restaurant had plenty of everything despite being packed with customers), and each restaurant has its own “extras” (the Shreveport restaurant had home made cake for dessert).

The biggest seller at Sam’s is the shrimp. I did not try the fried shrimp at this restaurant, although the shrimp in the gumbo was equivalent to the one in Shreveport. The fried shrimp comes in very large pieces (my dining companion and I shared an order of 8 shrimp in Shreveport and we really thought 6 would be enough for the both of us).

Almost everything at the Oklahoma City location was good, but I think the lesson with the fried roll was that you shouldn’t fry something that is already good before you fry it (the Shreveport restaurant didn’t serve this item, perhaps for a good reason).


RATING: 21

Cuisine: Cajun
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: I do not believe so, but I’m not sure

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 14, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Item: Red Beans and Rice

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Beans and Rice
star 4 Gumbo
star 5 Cole Slaw
star 3 Fried Roll