|Photo by Paul Kieu|
"This is far more difficult than I could have imagined. Even just picking the categories was tricky. I could do a Friday 15 and not cover everything I'd want to say about Lafayette dining."
1. Eating on the Cheap- I don’t think you can really do much better than Patacon Latin Cuisine when it comes to stretching a dollar. The eponymous “patacon” sandwich, which is essentially a Venezuelan torta with pressed and fried plantains for buns, packs a financially responsible wallop, flavor-wise. It’s also a great way to demonstrate how worldly you are to your friends. With exotic but familiar dishes, folks will think you’ve discovered a new continent.
2. Neighborhood Hangout- Being that I live in the Saint Streets, it has to be Saint Street Inn, though I know I’m likely neither the first nor the last name drop SSI on these lists. That place really holds a special place in my heart as my first waiting job, my first exposure to a lot of new and innovative concepts in local cuisine and where I’ve met some of my favorite folks in the local food scene. What else would you really want from a neighborhood joint than a place that makes you feel cozy and introduces you to gastro-curiosities like Indian ayurvedic cuisine. They’re fearless over there.
3. Late Night Hangout- At this point I’m sure it’s just redundant, but can anyone honestly say there’s a better late night than the one at Bread and Circus? Traveling as much as I have, I can safely say what Lafayette lacks more than anything else, being a college town full of heavy eaters, is a pizza by the slice joint. Thankfully, once a week, my boss Manny Augello fills that void at like three bucks a slice, which is competitive with the cheap traffic cone sized ones you get in NYC and Brooklyn. The difference here is that Manny will make the crust, the sauce, the dough AND the pepperoni. Plus cause I work there I never get to write about how fantastic that place is. Few people know this, but I actually followed Manny to B&C from my previous job just because I liked his food so much. It was sort of like following a prophet into a desert, except the pay’s not as good. Kidding.
4. Introducing Lafayette to Out of Towners- That honestly depends on the part of Lafayette I think someone would gravitate to. If want I folks to luxuriate I take em to French Press. It’s odd to think of it this way now, but that’s become a reliable standby for me when once it was a very much a I place I took folks for novelty. “THEY CANDY BACON OVER THERE!!!” Shows you how far we’ve come as a dining community that French Press is one of a big gang now when it comes to progressive and couture dining. For some reason I always take people to Meches. That’s probably cause I’ll take any excuse to eat a doughnut.
5. Dining Solo- Dining solo is something I do fairly often. But one of my weirder traditions, let’s say, is eating a big ol’ cheeseburger on my own after I’ve drank too much the previous evening. I do it alone to hide my shame from anyone I know. Plus it's quieter on the old headache. As I get further north of 30, the hangovers get worse but the cheeseburgers get more sophisticated. It’s scientifically proven that Judice Inn will reverse liver damage due to alcohol abuse (must double down with grilled onions, extra sauce, extra patty), and the spicy mayo and poblano pepper on the Jefferson Street Pub “JSP” burger will sweat out every ounce of rye in my body.