Five Places for Cajun Boudin

Editor’s note: The Acadiana region of  Louisiana is made up of 22 parishes, mostly in the southern part of the state. At the heart of Cajun Country is Lafayette, where we set up “camp” to explore the surrounding towns in search of boudin. Here’s our report.

Mr. Wally Johnson doesn’t know why he spelled “TO-DAY” with a dash, but he did and it stuck.

The iconic red and white sign sways in the breeze, but it wasn’t the first sign Mr. Johnson painted. The first one wore out and he couldn’t bear to toss it, so it hangs above the pot that holds the Cajun specialty inside Johnson’s Boucaniere in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Boudin (pronounced boo-DAN) is a big deal in Cajun Country and in other rural parts of Southern Louisiana. Calvin Trillin and others have written about it. Websites are dedicated to it, including the Southern Boudin Trail, a documentary project from the Southern Foodways Alliance, and Boudin Link, a letter-grade ratings guide to dozens of boudin outlets.

A riff on the rural French sausages boudin noir (with pig’s blood) and boudin blanc (without), Cajun boudin is even more countrified.

To stretch the precious pork further, Acadians add rice to their boudin, making it even whiter than boudin blanc. It makes total sense. The swampy wetlands of Southern Louisiana are rife with rice fields.

Boudin recipes are a point of pride and closely guarded secrets. They vary from gas stations to meat markets (where most boudin is sold) to restaurants. Ask any local and they’ll tell you where to get the best boudin — and it’s unlikely you’ll get the same answer twice.

Most recipes are some variation of pork (usually braised shoulder meat), most times enriched with pork liver, but not always, rice, onions (generally yellow onions and sometimes scallions), red and black pepper, sometimes garlic powder, and sometimes parsley.

The soft, squishy sausage is sold by the link, but priced by the pound. Generally a link is between $1.50 and $2.00.

It’s wrapped in paper and usually eaten as a to-go breakfast or snack somewhere between the counter and the parking lot. Boudin is an original slow, fast food.

Poche’s Meat Market sits along a stretch of highway north of I-10 and the town of Breaux Bridge, about 15 minutes east of Lafayette.

Poche’s boudin simmers on low in big aluminum stockpots. It’s rice and spice heavy with plenty of moisture.

The recipe for Wally Johnson’s boudin has been in his family long before 1937, the year Johnson’s Grocery opened in Eunice, about 40 miles northwest of Lafayette.

The grocery closed in 2005, but three years later the family opened a smokehouse restaurant in Lafayette that continues to serve the family boudin, as well as other Cajun and BBQ specialties.

After 75 years of practice, the Johnson family has perfected the porky link. Balanced between pork, rice, and spice, it’s neither too wet, nor too dry — a fine specimen.

Back in Breaux Bridge, Charlie-T Specialty Meats steams boudin in a rice cooker on the counter behind the cash register.

The natural casing has plenty of snap, and the flavor is heavy on onion and light on pepper. Ask at the Breaux Bridge Visitor’s Center where to get house made boudin, and Charlie-T is on the short list.

Once upon a time, every gas station made their own, but nowadays, most gas stations buy their boudin from meat markets like Poche’s and others.

Rental cabins on the edge of Breaux Bridge may seem like an odd place to find great homemade boudin. Bayou Boudin & Cracklin, the little store in front of Bayou Cabins used to be a cafe.

No longer a full service restaurant, Bayou Boudin & Cracklin still serves up a mess of Cajun specialties, including boudin.

Cut into pieces and flavored with a good dose of liver and pepper, this boudin is thick and rich, best washed down with a glug of homemade root beer.

Don’s Specialty Meats opened in Carencro in 1993, just a few minutes north of Lafayette, and opened a second location in 2005 in Scott, on the northwestern edge of Lafayette. Don’s boudin, a favorite of the Buchanan Lofts innkeeper in downtown Lafayette, sports more meat than rice, with a subtle but building pepper kick.

 You can throw a rock in any direction in Cajun Country and likely hit a link of boudin. Most of them will be good.

These five — Johnson’s, Poche’s, Charlie-T, Bayou Boudin & Cracklin, and Don’s — are some of the best.

Is it crazy to build a trip around a boudin hunt? We don’t think so. In fact, we ran into a couple from Houston on the same mission. But if it is, call us nuts. And happily stuffed.

Details:

Where to stay:

Buchanan Lofts
403 South Buchanan Street, Lafayette, LA
337-534-4922

Where to eat boudin:

Johnson’s Boucaniere
1111 Saint John Street, Lafayette, LA
337-269-8878

Poche’s Meat Market
3015 Main Highway A, Breaux Bridge, LA
337-332-2108

Charlie-T Specialty Meat
530 Berard Street, Breaux Bridge, LA
337-332-2426

Bayou Boudin & Cracklin’
100 W. Mills Avenue, Breaux Bridge, LA
337- 332-6158

Don’s Specialty Meats
730 I 10 S Frontage Rd  Scott, LA
(337) 234-2528

Resources:

Southern Boudin Trail

Boudin Link

10 replies
  1. Victoria Corrigan
    Victoria Corrigan says:

    Sounds dee-lish, Gwen…
    In your travels, did you ever run across boudin served in a po’ boy sandwich – or as part of a plated supper – rather than as a grab-‘n-go snack?

    Reply
    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Thanks Victoria! And yes.. boudin po’boy, fried boudin balls, boudin “patty melts”, etc.

      Reply
    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Greg & Lori… thanks so much. A highlight of the boudin trip for me was meeting Mr. Wally Johnson, and your entire gracious staff.

      Reply
  2. Nolan
    Nolan says:

    Been eating boudin for over 50 years…taking boudin tours to South Louisiana from Natchitoches. Johnson’s was one of our favorites, the wife is a Fontenot from Eunice. Now our favorite is T-Boy’s Slaughter House near Mamou… They win big at the Lafayette Boudin Festival, and I had chosen it before there was any festival… 😀

    Reply
    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Oh Nolan… now you are making me wish I had another trip to boudin country in my immediate future! Thank you for the update. Appreciate it!

      Reply
  3. Tom
    Tom says:

    In between or as part of your next food tour of Acadiana, You should check out some of the GREAT Lunch only restaurants. At places like Dwight and T-Coons and many others, you can find some truly cajun staples like Catfish Courtibillion, Etoufee, and many other smothered meats over rice delights. Poche’s I know has a lunch room too.

    The tourists get lured to the night restaurants with the bands but then will get the restaurant food which is good too but is often something prepared in 20 min or so. I am not trying to be negative towards them.

    But cajun and creole cooking is long term big batch cooking which is what the Lunch houses do.

    Just to clarify, I now live in Atlanta but grew up in Lafayette. I’m not even Cajun but do admire that culture.

    Reply
    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Tom, thanks so much for commenting and that’s a great Ideal. We did eat at Dwight’s and in Poche’s lunch room. Such an amazing gastronomical gift, that area of the country. I hope you get back there soon, too.

      Reply
  4. Rick
    Rick says:

    1) There is NO “DAN” syllable, or “DAN” sound in BOUDIN. “BOU-denh”

    2) How could you have missed the famous “Best Stop” near Scott, LA. ? Even “Don’s” Family sneak off to Best Stop for their boudin !

    3) There are literally hundreds of places offering boudin in “Acadiana”; about a half-dozen have been both good and consistent. In addition to Best Stop, Charlie-T’s and Comeaux’ come to mind.

    Rick

    Reply
    • Gwen Ashley Walters
      Gwen Ashley Walters says:

      Hi Rick! Thanks for adding your insight. Not sure how I missed “Best Stop” but I hope I can make it back to the area. I love the food (obviously) and more importantly the people, who are as genuine as can be.

      There are dozens of places offering boudin, but I only included places that make their own in house. As you may or may not know, most of those dozens of places order boudin from a smaller number of producers and just resell it. I only listed 5 places (mostly because I was only there a brief time).

      Reply

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