Dining Out: Louisiana Express, Bethesda, MD

A week or two ago I was riding to work along Bethesda Avenue on a Sunday morning (yea OT!) and caught a glimpse of metal on the ground. Being broke broke broke, I stopped and backed up. It was a Sacajewea dollar and a quarter! SCORE!

For some reason as I stood up I look left and caught a glimpse of a sign for the Louisiana Express restaurant. Hmmm, thought I as I waddled, bike still clamped between my legs, across the street to check out the menu posted out front. They had all the usual dishes and the prices looked reasonable, so I filed that away in my mental Rolodex and continued in to work. Where I wrote Mike an email- Mike is a friend of mine who’s a chef. We eat out a bit and know where to get the best creme brulee in town- so far Clyde’s in Georgetown, but next up is The Irish Inn at Glen Echo, so who knows?

Monday we’d planned to get together and it seemed the perfect opportunity to try the place out, so we did.

Louisiana Express is not like Copeland’s– less flashy, less theme-y. The porch out front has two tables, nothing fancy. Once you get inside there’s a convenience store ice cream freezer near the door, a take out counter, school ceilings, vinyl floors, etc. The wall on the right side of the restaurant is dominated by a huge mirror on which is written the beer menu. It feels like a mom’n’pop southern shack. Right off the bat it was perfect!

The dishes- etouffes, jambalaya, creole, and gumbo- come in a small and large size. We ordered the large, which is about $15 a plate and is still feeding me two days later. They were out of the blackened voodoo beer, but we had dark Abitas and started off with catfish beignets, which were excellent. Flaky, seasoned well with plenty of pepper, and served with a remoulade that was lightly sweet. We also had creole canapes- andouille with some grainy mustard.

Then we launched into dinner. I had “The Works” etouffe, which came with catfish, crayfish, shrimp and chicken and Mike had andouille jambalaya. And when it came we were SHOCKED!

Why?

Copeland’s is a great place with big food and big atmosphere, but they skimp on the seafood. Not Louisiana Express. I couldn’t find the rice on my plate, and that is how it’s supposed to be. The sauce was spicy and thick, seafood was plentiful. I didn’t eat the biscuit until a day later (they don’t keep) because there was just so much there.

For lunch yesterday I had some of Mike’s jambalaya- tomatoe-y and well seasoned with hunks of andouille- and today some of the etouffe. Picture of my yummy leftovers.

I was really surprised to find this place in Bethesda, and I will definitely go back.

I may have to start a food website.

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