Even if you can't make it down to the Big Easy, you can still celebrate with some tasty Cajun and Creole fare here in Chicago all year round. Satisfy those gumbo, po' boy and shrimp and grits cravings with a hearty Southern feast before the start of Lenten season—or any season—at one of these 11 great spots.Read More
11 Essential Cajun and Creole Restaurants in Chicago, Mapped
1. The Angry Crab
Few things are as representative of Southern cuisine than a seafood feast. One of last year’s biggest surprises offers a variety of fresh catch—from crab legs and shrimp to crawfish and lobsters—for diners to get their hands on. Include a generous BYOB policy and you can understand why it’s one of the longest waits in town at the moment. There's also a newer location in Wicker Park.
2. Luella’s Southern Kitchen
Cajun fare has seen a bit of a renaissance around these parts in the past few years and Luella’s is one of the newer spots doing great things in the kitchen. The menu offers a fine take on Southern cooking with contemporary creations like a Creole-flavored roasted beet salad as well as traditional dishes such as chicken & dumplings and shrimp po’ boys.
3. Pearl's Southern Comfort
Having a varied spread of dishes is always a good thing so head to Pearl’s for Cajun small plates and other Southern-inspired comfort foods. Sample a bit of everything by feasting on smoked pork poutine, crispy boudin balls, Mississippi catfish bites, savory crawfish cheesecake and more. The menu also offers a variety of barbecue options and big plates like blackened catfish and a double cut pork chop.
4. Maple Tree Inn
Tucked away out in Blue Island is one of Chicagoland’s most authentic Southern restaurants. The proclaimed “Louisiana Brasserie” offers just about every Cajun and Creole dish imaginable. It’s as close to the French Quarter as you’ll get around here with items like grilled oysters, N’awlins bouillabaisse, crawfish etouffee, hickory buttered BBQ shrimp and plenty of other classics. Don’t skimp on dessert (or the large selection of draft beers) either as sweets include beignets and bread pudding.
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5. Heaven On Seven
Jimmy Bannos' popular downtown Cajun eatery has been around for three decades and is always a solid lunch spot for classics such as jambalaya, red beans and rice with andouille, and a variety of po’ boys.
6. Big Jones
One of Chicago’s top destinations for Southern cooking features a comforting menu of beignets, boudin rouge and other charcuterie, Cajun-style gumbo, shrimp and grits, and more educational and historic Southern recipes. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the famous fried chicken, an Edna Lewis recipe that fries the bird in leaf lard, ham drippings and clarified butter.
7. Nita's Gumbo
Gumbo is an essential part of any good Cajun meal version here is the real deal. It’s a nice zesty stew loaded with popcorn shrimp, scallops, crab meat, chicken and Andouille sausage with the right amount of spice. Even better, the restaurant tosses whole chicken wings in the savory roux to make tasty gumbo wings.
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8. Buddy Guy's Legends
Legendary Chicago blues artist Buddy Guy calls this club home and frequently performs here. Enjoy dinner and a show like you would on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans and take in live music seven nights a week. The menu features soulful selections like Cajun popcorn (fried crawfish tails), etouffee, and fried oysters.
9. Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe
It’s best-known for its barbecue but you can also find plenty of Cajun dishes on the menu at Chuck’s Café. Next time pass on the delicious ribs and brisket and try a po’ boy instead, or one of the many other specialties like crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, and the Southern fried catfish dinner.
10. Wishbone North
A popular breakfast and brunch spot in Lakeview, Wishbone will satisfy that Cajun craving in the morning with favorites like jambalaya omelet, shrimp and grits, crawfish cakes, and blackened catfish.
11. Ron's Cajun Connection
While it’s not located in Chicago or its outlying suburbs, Cajun Connection is too good to ignore. If you’re ever out near Utica, stop in for “swamp to table” cuisine. You won’t find alligator po’ boys at many other places and the rest of the menu is equally authentic. Boudin sausage, Gulf shrimp, frog legs, fried oysters, Jamba-2-Fay (etouffee over jambalaya) and catfish Acadian are just some of the dishes that have lines spilling out the door. You can even sip on a hurricane with your meal; all that’s missing are the lax open container laws.