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.