Restaurant: Papa Roux, Indianapolis, Indiana
When it comes to food, there are certain cuisines that I absolutely love. Seriously. From Italian to Indian to Greek and more…there is something about the various tastes, seasonings, and textures of each different type of food that just awakens my palate every time.
One such cuisine that I love to eat, but haven’t had much of it in the past…oh…8 years…is Cajun!
I love Cajun food, and not just because it famously is known to be spicy. I mean, we all know that I like it hot and spicy…but there is something so comforting and simplistic, even when the dish is anything but easy. As a vegetarian, a lot of Cajun food doesn’t fall into my diet. As a Celiac…it makes it even harder. We have a couple of small chain Cajun places around here, but they aren’t making the real deal. I forgot just what I was missing up until Saturday afternoon, when Cathy and I followed up our Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest with a lunch date with our good friend, Greg.
As you guys know, Greg can be quite particular about the places and foods that he eats. Well, for years now he has been raving about the food at a local Cajun place called Papa Roux. And he always pointed out that this particular place had plenty of vegetarian options…as well as gluten-free. While we are in Indianapolis quite often, we never seem to be there at a decent time to actually go to Papa Roux. So, we default to a personal favorite – Cheeseburger in Paradise.
But…NOT. THIS. TIME.
I was excited to try out Papa Roux. With all that Greg had talked it up to be, I was happy that he decided that would be our place to meet and eat that day. Cathy and I arrived just as Greg had pulled in. So we had good timing. Papa Roux may not look like much from the outside, but don’t let the dive atmosphere turn you off or away. Go inside. And you’re in for a treat.
Upon entering, you are greeted at the counter where you place your order. I had to look at the options for me, and finally decided that I was going to get the Spicy Tomato Creole ($8.00). I ordered an unsweetened iced tea with that (that’s free, by the way!) and then let Cathy get her order in. Cathy opted for the Chicken Po-Boy ($9.00) with a handcrafted lemonade to drink ($2.00). And Greg went for the Spicy Bean Chili ($8.00) with an unsweetened iced tea as well. You pay there, put a name on the order, and go find a table.
At the table, you get to choose your sides. This was exciting. You can choose as many as you want and as often as you want. When you dine-in at Papa Roux…the unlimited sides are free and unlimited. Honestly. I knew my creole was going to be spicy, so I went with something soothing and refreshing. Applesauce. Greg got the Coleslaw and something else, which I don’t recall. And Cathy opted for the Red Beans and Rice.
Our drinks arrived and we were invited to sign the autograph wall. Yes…the walls inside Papa Roux are covered in signatures. It’s a really cool, very nice touch. So, both Cathy and I added our signatures to the graffiti. And, after a little bit of a wait (they cook to order!), our food was soon arriving.
The first thing I noticed…Cathy’s Chicken Po-Boy was bigger than her head. She said she’d be lucky to make a dent in it. But after she pulled it apart, ate the chicken with the spicy mustard and coleslaw mixed in and not much of the bread, she managed a bit more than expected. The star was the stuff inside, not the giant, thick bread, for sure! Greg let me try the chili that he ordered, as he had raved about it for as long as he’s raved about the restaurant itself. He said it wasn’t as spicy as usual, and I had to agree…because my Spicy Tomato Creole was spicier than his chili.
So…how was the Spicy Tomato Creole? Spicy!! And that’s a good thing. It had this nice, rich flavor…like an amazing marinara, with a kick. The heat was perfect…for me. Some might have said it was too much, but I didn’t find it to overwhelm or completely kill my palate. Nope. This was amazing. Before I was a vegetarian, my mom would make a fantastic shrimp creole for Thanksgiving each year…so the creole definitely caught my attention. I loved the chunks of tomato and onion that were throughout, lending a bit of texture. And the spice definitely didn’t overwhelm but I wasn’t underwhelmed either. It said “spicy” in the title, so I wanted spicy. And it delivered, for sure. I was impressed. The stew, itself, came with small servings of rice that were dished on the side…just the right amount. The applesauce was delicious too…not sure if they make it, but the cool, soothing nature of it was a nice compliment to the spicy creole stew I was devouring.
We were all quite happy with the food, the prices, and the experience overall. I can see why Greg raves about Papa Roux all the time. I already want to go back and try more of their gluten-free and vegetarian stews. Really fell in love with the place. The atmosphere is great. The service is good. And the food…beyond fantastic. And any reservations I might have had about just how gluten-free the food was going to be was put to rest when the person who took our order at the counter asked if it was a dietary preference or an allergy. YES! A place that truly gets it.
Thank you, Greg…for finally getting us to Papa Roux to try the amazing food and take in the place in person…instead of through your mouthwatering stories of what you’ve had there. Thank you, Papa Roux, for giving me a safe, delicious, and spicy meal that day. It was just what I needed.
And soon…I’ll be back for more. I can’t wait.