Everyone has that one favorite uncle. He gave you your first beer. Brought you to that concert your parents didn't know about. Let you borrow his sports car that weekend. Sure, you love your other uncles, just not like you love THAT uncle. The same holds true for Lafayette's love affair with boudin. We love all of them, but we all have a favorite.
I had yet to try the boudin from Johnson's Boucanière. Every time I tried to get a link or two, I was met with the two most offensive words any food lover can hear:
Although I was disappointed, I took it as a sign of the quality of Johnson's boudin.
And why should I have doubted it? Since opening its doors in Eunice in 1937, Johnson's has made a name for itself. Specializing in smoked sausage, tasso and boudin, Johnson's has been a staple in the Cajun community for generations. Now, under the direction of Greg and Lori Walls, they have expanded their business and now offer enough sandwich options and plate lunches to satisfy the hungriest of customers.
The restaurant, located at 1111 St. John St, is reminiscent of a meat market. An old cash register sits front and center on the counter behind an out of commission meat scale. Black and white photos of the store in Eunice line the walls next to original folk art. Homemade desserts tempt you as you place your order, and CDs by local musicians sit next to the register. Johnson's is an homage to a simpler time, a time when food was simple and good. Meat smoked, sold, then eaten.
M.G., the cashier, was quick on the draw when asked to suggest three menu items that I HAD to sample. First, the Parrain Special.
This sandwich created in honor of Bob Carriker, creator of boudinlink.com, consists of a fried boudin ball placed between two slices of American cheese. After being topped with Johnson's special BBQ sauce the sandwich which is prepared on an Evangeline Maid bun is grilled and flattened. This thin, crispy treat explodes with flavor.
BBQ is not BBQ unless you have pulled pork. The Pulled Pork Poboy did not disappoint. Spending 11-13 hours in a smoker, the pulled pork is tender beyond comprehension.
The smoke flavor is present in every bite while the pork is still juicy. Piled high on a toasted Evangeline Maid poboy bun, every bite is warm, crunchy and mouth watering. Try ordering the BBQ sauce on the side and dipping your sandwich.
What would a smokehouse be without ribs? Johnson's up the ante with their boneless slow smoked country style BBQ ribs. Smoked for 5-7 hours, these bad boys would fall off the bone, if they had them.
With a punch of heat, these ribs let you know they mean business, but aren't going to leave your mouth blazing. Tender and smokey, these ribs are made irresistible with the addition of Johnson's homemade BBQ sauce. Make sure to order an extra side of this addictive sauce. It will no doubt find a home in your refrigerator and you will fight the urge to put it on everything you eat.
The star of my visit had to be the boudin. Darker in color than most boudins I've tried, this boudin had an almost creamy consistency.
I'm not sure the reason but can only speculate that it is due to the amount of liver used. The flavor, and mix of meat:rice:onions was a nice balance. The casing didn't have a hard snap; I enjoyed the amount of flexibility and chew. It reminded me that each link is made by hand, with love, on site. With just enough kick to let you know that it was skillfully seasoned, each link offered consistent flavor.
Not to get in the crossfire of the boudin war, I think it is safe to say that with its focus on traditional culture and recipes, Johnson's Boucanière is an "Eat This, Lafayette" favorite for boudin, smoked meats and BBQ plate lunches.
Visit Johnson's Boucanière on Facebook for hours of operation and more information about their menu.
1111 St. John St.
Lafayette, LA 70501