Time to gas up the Econoline and hit the western roads towards what was once known as ‘millionaire’s row’.
It’s an hour from New Orleans to Spuddy’s Cajun Foods in Vacherie, Louisiana, home of Maitland “Spuddy” Faucheux’s roadside diner and meat market. We got wind of Spuddy the way we learn of most things in Louisiana, by talking to strangers in dark, smoky bars.A kindly stranger’s ears perked up when she overheard us talking about andouille a few weeks ago and she immediately inserted herself into the conversation to inform our group that Spuddy’s is the best she’s ever eaten.
We take a lot of notes in situations like this.
St James Parish is gorgeous. Rolling over the Gramercy Bridge you’re afforded a view of thousands of acres of deep, lush green farmland. Thousands of cows call St James home and the aforementioned Perique tobacco industry has a strong foothold here.We’re practically foaming at the mouth when we walk into Spuddy’s in ‘downtown’ Vacherie. For a tiny rural diner Faucheux’s menu is surprisingly long but we quickly vector in on what we reckon the best options are: an andouille po boy and a big, mixed platter of fried catfish, shrimps and onion rings.
Soon enough, Simone, our waitress comes rolling a food-laden cart out of the kitchen and immediately begins piling the dishes onto the table. The fry cook exhibits a skilled hand on the hand-cut onion rings but the itty bit shrimps are a sad affair. They taste of iodine and are so small it would take upwards of a hundred of them to even begin to feel full. The catfish fares better and benefits greatly from an odd dredge that is reminiscent of batter you find on certain southern fried chickens.
The andouille po boy is delicious but suffers from a paucity of meat. Instead of a long tube of sausage the cook has sliced up a few discs and fried them before placing them on the loaf. What there is of the meat is good and features a strong flavor of bacon. We wonder if perhaps Spuddy puts a little sodium nitrite in his farce? Dressed means mayo, lettuce, tomato and pickles and all the garnish lends to a nice symphony but the voice of the andouille is nearly strangled due to scarcity.If you make the trek to Spuddy’s definitely exercise the “over-stuff it for $3 more” option so you’ll have the Louisiana standard of meat overflowing off the table and onto the floor.
We raid the refrigerated meat cases at the front of the cafe and load up a few bags full of Faucheux’s superb sausages and prepare to roll back to New Orleans.We’ve eaten andouille from St John The Baptist all the way to Avoyelle’s Parish, and Spuddy’s is some of the finest we’ve discovered. Once back home in the 9th Ward we immediately cooked up a kettle of field peas with plenty of the old-time charcutiere’s handmade sausage and the pot was pure dynamite.
Faucheux opened his little Cajun meat joint back in 1989 and has weathered the traditional ups and downs of Louisiana life including multiple economic busts and plenty hurricanes. “How did he get to be known as Spuddy” “Well I reckon it’s cause he’s shaped like a potato” one of the waitresses laughs.“We’ll be sure and tell him you said so next time we come out”
The staff’s laughter echoes as we make our way out into the old gravel parking lot and point East toward home.
Spuddy’s Cajun Foods
2644 LA-20, Vacherie, LA 70090
Hours of Operation