Beneath the glaring, wide-eyed stare of dozens of original Blue Dog paintings, the dance floor churns with dancers jitterbugging to the irresistible Zydeco beats. Dulled from countless hours of use, the silver washboard and spoons nevertheless catch the morning light as the musician strummed along with the accordion, drums, and guitars. Waiters shuffle between tables with small plates of boudin and icy bottles of beer. The clock hasn’t even struck noon yet. Just another weekend in Cajun Country.
All summer long, since we started hosting with Airbnb, we’ve relished every opportunity to share our favorite cultural hot spots with curious and eager visitors passing through Southwest Louisiana. So imagine my excitement when I found out about the launch of a new Zydeco scene happening every weekend in downtown Lake Charles! But before making any recommendations, a little “research” needed to take place first. After a thorough investigation, a Saturday morning trip to Blue Dog Café now sits firmly at the top of my “Must See and Do” list and here’s why.
The Blue Dog Café
Honored as one of Louisiana’s most beloved ambassadors, Acadian artist George Rodrigue brought to life one of Louisiana’s most recognizable figures, the Blue Dog. Against a moody, swampy backdrop, this bright-eyed, azure-colored dog proudly sported everything from Saints jerseys to Mardi Gras regalia. Over the years, the Blue Dog made guest appearances in cookbooks and on wine bottles. And since 2000, it’s been the face of its namesake Lafayette restaurant.
Enamored with Cajun “joie de vivre” traditions, Rodrigue placed Louisiana’s famous cuisine front and center in much of his art. As well as numerous local celebrity chef portraits such as Justin Wilson, Paul Prudhomme, and Emeril Legasse. So it was only natural when Rodrigue brought together the very best of Cajun culture – visual art, cuisine, music, and overall love of life – into his flagship Blue Dog Café. And since 2015, Lake Charles has had the honor of continuing Rodrigue’s vision by supporting Blue Dog’s second location.
At the helm of Blue Dog Café, Chef Ryan Trahan continues to make a name for himself. In 2017, Trahan caught the eye of Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine where they deemed him a “Chef to Watch”. And for good reason. Just recently he was dubbed the reigning King of Louisiana Seafood in this year’s Louisiana Seafood Cook-off.
And now his dishes like Pork Fried Catfish, Pan Seared Crawfish Cakes, and down-home favorite Buttermilk Pie remain top sellers on Blue Dog’s new menu. On Saturday mornings, sample some of his savory finger foods. Such as sweet and spicy Cracklins, refreshing Redfish Ceviche, and delectable Andouille Tacos found on his Zydeco Lunch Menu
Pairing great food and original art with authentic local music remains central to Blue Dog Cafe’s purpose. And what better way than through their Saturday Zydeco Lunch series? Doors open at 10:30 with a $5 admission and the band takes the floor from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. For a look at upcoming bands, visit Blue Dog Cafe’s website! So, who’s on for this Saturday?