People may come to the South for the food, but they stay in the South after becoming hopelessly entangled in Mardi Gras beads. Enjoy the former without the frippery with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Cajun fare at The Cajun Experience. Included on the Washingtonian's Cheap Eats 2010 list, The Cajun Experience serves up fresh, slow-cooked southern sustenance in two locations—a historical Leesburg abode for a sit-down dining experience and quick take-out at the Purcellville location. Owned and operated by Louisiana natives, The Cajun Experience invites you to fasten your bayou bib and sample family recipes dating back more than eight generations, such as the crawfish etouffee, full of ambrosial arthropods steeped in a creamy butter sauce ($13/$14), or shrimp maque choux, a piquant blend of shrimp, smoked tasso, and sweet corn ($12/$13). Pair Louisiana's own Abita brew ($3.50 for 12 oz.) with a fried crawfish or Andouille sausage po' boy ($9+), all of which are hermetically sealed with a fleur-de-lis wax stamp. Further upping the Delta factor, sultry sweets such as Cafe Du Monde beignets ($4) and bread pudding ($5) are served free of charge Mondays through Thursdays with the purchase of that day's special.
The Cajun Experience
In 2009, Southern Louisiana native Melissa Crosswhite decided to show the nation's capital what Cajun cuisine is really about. With eight generations of family recipes in her hand, she set up shop in a historical 18th-century home. Soon enough, the mouthwatering aromas of her spicy étouffée, jambalaya, and gumbo filled the house and out onto the street, where it started drawing crowds from Maryland, Washington DC, and West Virginia. Today, diners enjoy meals prepared from those same trusted family recipes, including blackened chicken, alligator, and fried oyster po' boys. All sandwiches are made with New Orleans' famous Leidenheimer bread, spicy chipotle sauce, and the laments of a poor, poor boy. Guests enjoy their meals on a quaint patio or amid the historic home's Mardi Gras masks, crimson walls, and vintage touches. Chef Crosswhite's dessert skills can put a sweet cap on any creole feast with pecan pie and authentic Café Du Monde beignets.