The approximately 2,300 miles that separate Bend from New Orleans' world famous Cajun cuisine has recently been reduced to a mere drive across town. That's right; the unique and storied flavors of Acadian-inspired Cajun cuisine have arrived in Central Oregon. No need to wait for some one-off bacchanalian trip to New Orleans, the ambrosial smell of the "Big Easy's" holy-trinity (bell pepper, onion and celery) has arrived in Bend.
We are talking about heartwarming Gumbo, wonderfully seasoned Jambalaya with Andouille sausage, creamy Shrimp and Grits, deliciously "muddy" Blackened Catfish, perfectly spiced Crawfish étouffée and the ever humble Po'Boy sandwich.
And, what's more, Fat Tuesdays offers more than the Cajun essentials. The menu is packed with southern-inspired dishes and drinks. Not to be missed are the fried pickles. Rolled in a cornmeal based batter and seasoned with dill, the pickles are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside (piping hot as well so give them a minute before you take a bite). For a rare choice that does not come out of the deep fryer (we are talking southern cuisine here, after all), try the white wine and garlic sautéed Riverboat prawns. For drinks, I recommend the vodka-induced Sweet Tea. It is not quite as festive as the very sweet and also popular Bayou Juice but provides a great twist to a southern classic. There is also a selection of Louisiana beers on tap. Once the glasses are empty and the plates wiped clean do not shy away from indulging in, ney, pigging-out on Fat Tuesdays' most popular dessert, the truly delectable bread pudding.
Hard to imagine it has taken so long for a Cajun-inspired restaurant to show up on the scene in a place as food and restaurant friendly as Bend, which is what owner Vince Parker thought when he first visited the town. "Bend has the same friendly southern hospitality similar to [my] home in Louisiana and with all the food choices [in Bend] there hasn't been an authentic Cajun restaurant featuring 'tried and true' southern favorites," says Parker with an authentic southern accent not commonly heard in this part of the country.
Originally from Monroe, Louisiana, Parker arrived in Bend via the Bay Area where he had opened a similar restaurant to Fat Tuesdays. But with his children now living in Bend, Parker has made Central Oregon his new home. And, with him, Parker brings cherished family recipes, a love of southern hospitality and his trusted executive chef, Dee Green.
Parker also wants to use Fat Tuesdays as a place to share his love of music, in particular and in some ways expectantly, the blues. That means Bendites can look forward to live blues music on a weekly basis. "Bend loves their music and what better way to enjoy the Nawlin's vibe and energy than with free live blues supporting local and northwest talent during lunch and every Friday and Saturday night," says Marketing Director Lara Wettig.
Fat Tuesdays is slightly off Bend's well-trodden restaurant path, but worth a visit when you are in the mood for a festive and family friendly restaurant that promises a robust dose of southern cuisine and hospitality.
"My philosophy is to have customers come as guests and leave as family," shares Parker.
61276 S Hwy 97, #140
Happy hour all day every Tuesday.
Live music every Friday and Saturday.