Puddin’s Po’boys ($7)
Follow @DCPuddin for food truck location; 202-725-1030, dcpuddin.com
Puddin’, an Eastern Market pop-up and food truck, serves its po’boy on a fresh sub roll from Panorama or Lyon bakeries, piled with cornmeal-fried wild blue catfish and dressed with remoulade sauce (spicy Cajun mayonnaise) and vinegar ’slaw.
Most po’boys come with lettuce and tomato, but Toyin Alli, Puddin’s owner-chef, says, “I wanted a twist on a traditional po’boy that’s served how I would like to eat it.” It’s a surprise to even her most loyal customers that Alli hails from West Africa, not Louisiana. “When I make this food, it tastes like a lot of what we eat back in Nigeria,” she says.
Bayou Bakery’s beignets ($3)1515 N. Courthouse Road, Arlington; 703-243-2410, bayoubakeryva.com
Beignets, deep-fried pastries, are a New Orleans breakfast staple. Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery says his taste almost exactly like those in the Crescent City. Served three per order, they arrive airy yet moist, piping hot and buried in powdered sugar. (Save those black slacks for another day.)
The chicory root coffee, brewed in-house, is another nod to New Orleans. “What’s exciting is seeing someone from New Orleans bring their kid here to try one for the first time,” says Guas, who grew up in New Orleans and remembers being on his “best cathedral behavior” for a trip to Morning Call or Cafe Du Monde.
Acadiana’s seafood gumbo ($25)
Acadiana’s rustic gumbo is “a labor of love,” says chef Tunks. A deep-brown base of flour, oil, spices and seasonings (known as a roux) brews for five to six hours, then celery, peppers and onions are added. This method is the “backbone of Cajun cooking,” Tunks says.
Crab, gulf shrimp, poached oysters, redfish and pickled okra are added to order, so as not to overcook, and topped with a scoop of Louisiana rice. “One of the biggest compliments,” Tunks says, “is that a lot of people from Louisiana say Acadiana does this dish just as well or better than what they’ve had back home.”