#34 Goin’ to Lafayette

You non-Cajun readers might have the impression that Cajuns are a bunch of barefooted, foul-mouth, uncouth folks who go around shooting and making a gravy out of everything that moves. Well, you pretty much got dat right (just kidding), but every now and then we country Coonasses yearn for a taste of civilization. Whenever we’re craving a night out on the town or a little fine dining, we put on our shoes, jump in the pickup truck, and take a trip to town, which for most Cajuns means one thing…we’re goin’ to Lafayette.

Believe it or not, there are just some things you can’t get at the local Super Wal-Mart. Fashion, for instance, is not one of Wal-Mart’s strong points (who’d have thunk it?), so most Cajun lady folks like to do their shopping in town, either at the Mall of Acadiana, Super Target, or one of Lafayette’s many discount stores. While the women folk are shopping, the men can go down to Academy and load up on hunting and fishing gear, catch a gun and knife show at the Blackham Colosseum, or just hang out at the nearest bar and drink the time away while we wait for the women to finish shopping.

Lafayette’s a lot like any metro area, just scaled down a bit. Name a chain, and it’s probably got it. One notable exception is a shortage of Starbucks on every corner. Starbucks is replaced by CC’s Community Coffee Houses, though not at every corner. If you’re hungry, there are plenty of dining options, since Lafayette has one of the highest number of restaurants per capita of any US city (at least that’s what someone told me). There’s a nice mix of national chains and local restaurants. You can go to Chili’s or choose one of our unique local eateries.

After the shopping and eating is done, Lafayette has plenty of entertainment options. Whether you’re watching a UL sporting event, a concert at the CajunDome, or listening to bands at Downtown Alive, there’s always something to do.

When I left Louisiana back in ’98, the only ethnic foods were Chinese, a Lebanese place, and one Thai restaurant. Since then, Lafayette has experienced a renaissance of sorts. If you’d have told me back then that Lafayette would someday have over five sushi restaurants, I’d have fallen down laughing. The downtown Lafayette area has been built up with plenty of new restaurants and shops. South Lafayette continues to add new strip malls and has a growing suburban area. I’m not sure what’s fueling this growth, other than a booming oil industry. I just hope we’re not setting ourselves up for another 80s style bust. Now, if Lafayette can just get some good jobs and half decent schools, it might just lure some of us remote Cajuns back.

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23 thoughts on “#34 Goin’ to Lafayette

  1. I’m actually going to Lafayette in a couple of weeks. I really miss living there. I get annoyed when I hear people talk shit about Lafayette. Pimon Thai is actually a really great restaurant I must say.

  2. Oh you forgot about all of the world class festivals- i.e. Festival International de Louisane, which National Geographic named one of the best world music festivals in the world.

  3. There’s always something that gets left out. Otherwise, these posts would become an unreadable 1000 word mess. Anyway, my omissions gives people something to talk about ;).

  4. Allons a Lafayette, babay! It IS the best city in Louisiana.

    I remember when I was a little girl growing up in the country between Milton and Youngsville, my Mamma would take us “to town” to buy shows at Greenwood’s. Man, I used to get so excited.

    Now, it’s a metropolis with the dysfunctional traffic to prove it. And when you go through River Ranch, you might as well be in a suburb of Dallas.

    However, the “Hub City” is the pride of Acadiana and I love to talk up Lafayette with these rednecks in Alabama. I also love seeing all the cajuns invade the Redneck Riviera.

  5. I’ve lived in the Dallas area for the last 10 years. It’s a nice place to live, but it’s not the same as being back home.

  6. Ha ha — I can tell you haven’t been in Lafayette in a good while! There are Starbuck’s coffee places springing up like mushrooms after a summer thunderstorm. Giving Community Coffee a lot of competition! Can’t beat Community, though. Lots of local restaurants are advertising now that they serve the resurrected Mello Joy.

  7. I was comparing it to the Dallas Metro area (where I live), where they literally have Starbucks across the street from each other. Anyway, I’m not a big fan of Mello Joy. From what I understand, the Mello Joy name was bought, but that’s the only resemblance this new company has to the old one. Community is still the best IMO.

  8. “I was comparing it to the Dallas Metro area (where I live), where they literally have Starbucks across the street from each other. ”

    I hear ya, but guess what, we have something even better. We have two Starbucks not across the street from each other, but one right behind the other on the same lot!!! No lie. Remember the one inside Barnes & Noble? Well, it’s still there, but they built a new one on the same corner where that old Chevron used to be. It shares a small building with T-Mobile (I think). So now you have a choice: You can go inside B&N and linger over a Starbucks latte’ and a coffee-stained book, or if you’re on the go, just drive thru at the Starbucks next to the B&N parking lot. Convenience at its best!

  9. You really start to appreciate Lafayette once you move away; I lived between downtown and UL, near Old Tyme Grocery (mmmmmmm!). I just worry that gentrification and suburban explosions will undermine Lafayette’s unique inherent charm and beautiful nature.

    Oh, Zeus and La Pizzeria are my favorite restaurants in the city. And may I suggest the chocolate peanut butter protein shakes at Planet Nutrition on Johnston St?

  10. As a new Lafayette resident, I don’t leave two streets: Johnston and Ambassador Caffery. Oh, and I know of four Starbucks (Starbucki?) within a 5 mile radius just in one direction. And both feature a Starbucks across from… a Starbucks! Sure, one’s in a store, and the other is a standalone, but still.

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  13. That was a great read, I was lucky enough to grow up in Lafayette but I moved away in 87 and never moved back, we do visit when we can and always enjoy being home. If you ever went to the caravelle lounge in the 80’s you might have been served a beer by my mom.

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