Fat Tuesday may have already flashed across Sixth Street this year, but you don’t need a holiday excuse to eat at Lee’s Hurricane Party, at the Longhorn Food Court, in West Campus. This Cajun trailer serves up some of the best gumbo and grub in town, year-round.
I started with the red beans and rice snack, a good-sized bowl of the traditional dish with hearty beans, white rice, smoky andouille sausage, big chunks of bacon, and green peppers. It could have used a bigger dash of spices and salt, but overall, it was satisfying. And the dark, deep-fried hush puppies that accompanied it were lagniappe.
If you thought Abel Gonzalez Jr. knew how to fry, then you haven’t tried Lee’s catfish. It may not be fried beer or butter, but the slightly salty, lush crust on the catfish was a nice golden color and the catfish inside flaky and fall-apart tender. I tried the mini po boy, served on a large garlic-buttered, toasted bun and dressed with lettuce, tomato, purple onion, and bread and butter pickles, with tartar sauce on the side, and couldn’t have been happier.
But let’s get to the real voodoo magic: the gumbo. My Louisianan lunch partner started bubbling when she saw the thick, dark roux stirring in the bowl, and on first taste, practically cried with excitement. Who could blame her? Not only was the roux homemade and done to perfection, the dish was swimming with tender okra, green peppers, celery, crawfish, baby shrimp, and even a whole blue crab. We found ourselves too busy with that blue crab, shrimp, and okra to bother with the white rice, fresh French bread, and green salad that come on the side, me eating big bite after big bite, my friend exclaiming that Lee’s recipe could compete with her grandma’s.
Lee has been so successful at bringing the Big Easy to Austin that he’s expanding. In a few weeks, you’ll find him in a big, shiny Airstream trailer (which used to be the now-defunct Salt Lick trailer), cooking up even more Cajun treats. I’ve heard blackened catfish and other less-fried delicacies are on the way. For now, be sure to show up on crawfish Thursdays, when the party includes crawfish po boys, crawfish salads, and fish, shrimp, and, most importantly, crawfish tacos. Something your grandma from Louisiana might serve? Probably not, but tasty all the same.
Longhorn Food Court. 1901 Rio Grande (512-574-7896). Mon 11–2, Tue–Thur 11–8, Fri & Sat 11–10. Closed Sun.
Posted by Megan Giller