The original location of Ragin Cajun on Richmond has been packing in the crowds for many years with its often excellent, unpretentious Cajun food. The food here makes one understand why folks become nostalgic for Lafayette and southern Louisiana. Buckets and baskets quickly litter most tables, as customers enjoy feasts of raw oysters, boiled crawfish, gumbo, fried baskets and the like. It’s also a great for take-away with its hand-eaten fare. The long-standing success has translated into three other locations and an expanded menu.
The Ragin Cajun does a great job in replicating the tastes of South Louisiana, especially with its more humble, if not exactly heart-healthy fare. Most everything is true and flavorful. The po boys are excellent, and more than stand up against just about any po boy available in the French Quarter, Central Business District (Mother’s might be the exception), or even the blue-collar west bank of New Orleans, pre-Katrina. The shrimp po boy is especially good. It is made with properly battered and deep-fried, medium-sized shrimp inside a good-quality, crusty French roll with lettuce, tomato and tartar-like sauce. In addition to fried shrimp, there are a number of other possible fillings such as fried crawfish, fried oyster, fried catfish, fried soft shell crab, boiled shrimp, grilled catfish, seafood, roast beef with gravy, ham, boudin, chicken, smoked sausage, ham and cheese, and Big Daddy’s Special (roast beef with gravy, ham and cheese). There are other sandwiches, including the New Orleans classic, muffaletta.
For a filling meal, a side or soup is usually needed with a sandwich or po boy. The former can include fries, spicy fries, onion rings, a link of hot boudin sausage, crab nuggets (deep-fried small pieces of crabmeat), deep-fried, whole jalaperios stuffed with cream cheese, or the Hot Bites (deep-fried pieces of jalapeno and cream cheese). Even a better accompaniment is a cup of gumbo or red beans and rice. Ragin Cajun serves a seafood gumbo made with shrimp and crabmeat, the Bayou Style with chicken and shrimp, and an occasional special gumbo made with chicken and sausage. All versions feature a dark, rich broth studded with white rice, and are very good, especially the ones with chicken. Both versions of the etouffee, one with medium-sized shrimp and the other with crawfish, are very flavorful.
When in season, the Ragin Cajun has the reputation for serving some of the best boiled crawfish in town. A regular-sized order might be pound and three-quarters of crawfish boiled with new potatoes and corn, though there is also three-and-a-half pounds, a normal amount for many crawfish lovers. For dessert, there is the Louisiana specialty, Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce, plus pecan pie.
4302 Richmond (west of Weslayan), Houston, Texas 77027, (713) 623-6321
9600 Westheimer (Gessner at Westheimer), Houston, Texas 77063, (832) 251-7171
930 Main (in the Tunnel), Houston, Texas 77002, (713) 571- 2422
16100 Kensington (west of 6, north of Southwest Freeway), Sugar Land, Texas 77479, (281) 277-0704
Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.
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