Mardi Gras season begins Tuesday, and what better way to celebrate than with some Louisiana cooking.
- Hidden in a bare-bones Davie shopping center, longtime favorite Creolina’s may not be in the most upscale surroundings, but the food is among the best around. The tiny dining area is brightened by cheery yellow walls and French Quarter pictures, but a big chunk of the business is takeout. The menu is a mix of Cajun and Creole favorites and Southern specialties including country-fried steak, ribs and shrimp and grits, all at bargain prices. The Cajun Combo: jambalaya is packed with chicken, sausage and shrimp and crawfish etouffee overflows with sweet shellfish and red beans and rice (or gumbo). Signature red beans and rice with snappy smoked sausage are reminiscent of New Orleans while corn bread, macaroni and cheese or collard greens are surer bets. End on a sweet note with the house-made bread pudding and bourbon sauce big enough for the whole table to have a small bite.
- Another restaurant and bar that has stood the test of time, Lauderhill’s Rosey Baby caters to locals. The early crowd comes for the food (including fresh-boiled crawfish), the later one for a full bar and live music or karaoke. The menu is dominated by seafood and Cajun specialties like boiled blue crab, grilled oysters Parmesan, blackened or fried catfish and coconut shrimp, but also includes salads, burgers, ribs and steaks. Fried crawfish taste like sweet popcorn shrimp, chicken wings are plump and crispy, and fried catfish is crunchy on the outside with a cornmeal crust and moist inside. Other highlights include spinach dip, ribs and lightly sauced, tomato-based tasty jambalaya, available with or without seafood. Skip the doughy hush puppies, forego dessert and enjoy a Hurricane or a French Quartertini while you listen to live music.
- Pompano Beach newcomer French Quarter opened in December and is still trying to find its niche. It has potential despite inconsistencies in food and service. The setting is comfortable yet classy, a cross between a restaurant and a bar. There are plenty of flat-screen televisions for sports viewing, a large bar in the center of the restaurant and a bar area outside. For dinner, grab a cozy booth and sip a Hurricane. The menu is a mix of traditional bar and grill favorites, Cajun specialties and some modern twists like spinach salad with fried oysters, and Cajun catfish tacos. For more traditional New Orleans fare, go for po’ boys with fried seafood, muffuletta, crawfish etouffee and jambalaya. A Velvetta-like crab queso dip and a thin seafood gumbo were disappointing, but shrimp creole had just the right kick and a good helping of shrimp. Red beans and rice were tasty, and corn bread and hand-cut onion rings were big winners.