When I was young, my family usually did one of three things on Sundays after church. If it was warm outside, we went down to the Calcasieu River (about two miles behind our house). When it was too rainy or too cold, we usually drove down to Lake Charles, LA to eat and perhaps take in a movie. On other occasions, we would drive just a few miles farther and go eat in Sulphur, LA and then head on down to the coast or the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.
One of my favorite places to eat in Sulphur was and still is Cajun Charlie's. I would always ask if we were going to eat at "that place by the cemetery" if we drove to Sulphur. Cajun Charlie's literally is next to a cemetery. Take Exit 20 off of I-10 and turn right at the very big cemetery and there you are.
One of the first things you'll notice about Cajun Charlie's when you walk in is a few gumball machines, one of those old strength testing games, and a gift shop full of mugs, books, trinkets, t-shirts, toys, and novelties that all have a Cajun theme. Then the smell of the food hits you, and you're in love.
Cajun Charlie's has a wonderful menu that ranges from fried alligator and steaks to po-boys and boudin. A personal favorite of mine is their seafood gumbo. It is simply amazing.
Of course, if I'm going to Cajun Charlie's, I rarely order off of the menu. Why? Because they have one of the best buffets around southwestern Louisiana and southeast Texas. If you're really hungry, you'll have no problem filling up on the buffet. It offers many of the items that are available on the menu and a few that you can't get anywhere else. Want some fried catfish? It's on the buffet. Hungry for some shrimp etouffee? They've got that too. Looking for a boudin ball or sweet potato sticks? Got'em!
Everything from seafood gumbo to boiled shrimp and even that old standby, jambalaya, is available on the buffet. There's even quail at certain times of the year! This buffet is like an endless sea of choices if Cajun food is your thing.
On tap, Cajun Charlie's provides standards like Coke and sweet tea, and you can buy a beer if you'd like. They've got Community Coffee too, which is one of the best Louisiana coffees in the world.
I highly recommend Cajun Charlie's to anyone who is really hungry and really loves Cajun food. If you've never had Cajun food before (or at least not the real deal), I recommend getting the buffet. Even if you try a few things and decide Cajun food isn't up your alley, there's plenty of more traditional buffet food like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese to dine on.
Of course, no Cajun dining experience would be complete without a little Cajun and Zydeco music playing in the background. You'll here some great Cajun music and even some old school Swamp Pop pumped over the speakers while you eat.
Oh, and don't forget to check out all of the stuff hanging from the walls or standing around the restaurant. They have a pirogue on the ceiling, a beautiful pelican sculpture, and a few stuffed animals (taxidermy style, not teddy bears) lounging around the place. Heck, there's even a Cajun Christmas tree with Tabasco lights strung on it!
If you ever do get a chance to make it to southwest Louisiana, be sure to take Exit 20 in Sulphur and turn at the cemetery for Cajun Charlie's!
They have a small website, www.cajuncharlies.com, that you might want to check out as well.
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