The heart of Acadiana sits in southern Louisiana, stretching from the Texas border all the way to St. Charles Parish, just west of New Orleans. Though technically not part of Acadiana, Orleans Parish has its share of Cajun culture, too.
New Orleans’ Cajun customs include chowing down on boudin balls, mirliton, and gumbo; partaking in lively fais do-dos; and exploring annual festivals like the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival, happening in early June.
The festival is a culmination of all things Cajun, though in New Orleans (and throughout Louisiana), you can experience authentic Acadiana culture year-round. Here’s how:
Dine at Mosquito Supper Club
New Orleans chef Melissa Martin and her partner Effie Michot spearheaded Mosquito Supper Club, the pop-up, reservations-only dinner club (with the occasional brunch offering) that appears in spaces across the city.
The menu selection reflects Acadiana cuisine – think Louisiana stuffed peppers, blackberry dumplings, charcuterie boudin, and tomato salads – but the event as a whole draws attention to the significance of a shared meal in Cajun culture.
Ready for a seat at the table? Each Mosquito Supper Club meal is typically $75 per person and includes a seasonal cocktail. They’re also hosting a Saturday morning Cajun Dance with a la carte food on June 20 starting at 10 a.m. Speaking of dance…
Learn to Two-Step, or Just Watch
Zydeco dancing, Cajun two-stepping, the Whiskey River Jitterbug: all these dance moves involve twists and turns that, even if the music weren’t lively (it is), create a rollicking experience miles away from stuffy, box-step waltzing. Zydeco-Cajun Dance Productions offers Zydeco dance lessons on Tuesday nights at Rock and Bowl in Mid-City for singles or couples (couples preferred).
Once you’ve fine-tuned your hobblestep or are simply interested in watching the twirling spectacle of authentic Cajun dancing, head to The Maison on Frenchmen Street or Tropical Isle Bayou on Bourbon Street, both of which regularly queue up Cajun and Zydeco music (what’s the difference, you ask? Find out.). Mulate’s in the Warehouse District is a failsafe option: they feature Cajun music and dancing nightly.
Seek Authentic Cajun Cuisine
Unlike the European influences of Creole cuisine, Cajun food finds its roots in southern Louisiana. Cajun cooking is rustic and relies on ingredients that are easy to source locally. Meaty gumbos, jambalaya, and family-style crawfish boils are just a few ways to dine as the Cajuns do – and in New Orleans, there are dozens of restaurants highlighting this style of cooking.