• Gabrielle Faust

Turf 'N 'Surf Serving Up Cajun to Crave

A few years ago South Austin underwent a massive surge of development in the housing market. Towering condos and apartment buildings began to spring up block after block along South Lamar Blvd., one of Austin's main thoroughfare and cultural avenues. One such development was The 704 apartment community, which was built around the historic Broken Spoke dancehall, the oldest dancehall in Texas. As with most new housing communities in the Austin metro area, the ground floor was designated for commercial space and now includes everything from a tattoo shop, cryotherapy, a crepe shop owned and operated by members of the deaf community, to fantastic little neighborhood bar called Lavaca Street Bar. Lavaca Street Bar originally started on, go figure, Lavaca Street in Downtown Austin. However, the south location is quickly becoming as popular, if not more so, than it's elder bar.

Now, if you're going to survive in the bar scene here in Austin, you're going to need to incorporate some sort of food. And you better make it damn good food because Austinites, even the most oblivious, have amazingly sophisticated palates. To shirk this portion of the equation is to roll the dice against the odds every time. Austinites rarely "bar hop" -- they like to find a super cool watering hole with craft cocktails, a great bear selection, a noteworthy food truck, and spend some quality time with friends. Lavaca Street Bar, having been around for decades, was keen to quickly incorporate a killer little restaurant into the corner of their establishment that definitely filled a much needed culinary niche lacking in South Austin -- superb Louisiana cajun cuisine.

Turf 'N 'Surf takes the art of the classic Louisiana po boy to creative new interpretations, while maintaining a down-home lusciousness in their extraordinarily diverse fresh ingredients. Have no fear, the classics are well represented in all of their deep golden fried glory -- shrimp, oysters, and catfish -- all served on a hearty, toasted roll with with mixed greens, slaw, tomato, onion and pickle, and a gorgeous sweet and tangy remoulade, and cocktail sauce. These po boys are formidable, especially when paired with their salty cilantro fries or jalapeno hush puppies.

But that's not the end to the po boy menu! Also available in either fried, grilled, or blackened preparations are the options of tilapia, tuna, snapper, mahi mahi, red fish, and crawfish. Let's not stop there! Oh no! Let's take it to another level now with Buffalo Shrimp, Naughty Cat (catfish with bacon), Shrimp Parm (with mozzarella and marinara sauce), and Kiss Yo Mama (bacon/jalapeno-wrapped shrimp)! This is definitely taking the working person's po boy and elevating it to an eye-rolling, grinning until your cheeks hurt decadence that would probably make any bayou dweller drool with envy.

Not feeling like a sandwich? Need something even more formidable to stick to your ribs and satisfy that monstrous cajun craving? Move on down the menu to their Plates where you'll find everything the "Kick You Daddy" ribeye with buffalo sauce to a crawfish etouffee the best of New Orleans' chefs would tip their hat to. Each of these plates, ranging in price from $11 to $25, also comes with two of their delicious sides such as Red Beans and Andouille Sausage, Collard Greens with Andouille Sausage, Scalloped Potatoes, and Cajun Corn, among several others. Speaking of the Turn 'N 'Surf plates, every Wednesday night you can get an 8 oz. ribeye (cooked to perfection), salad, and a loaded baked potato for just $20!

During the two times I have dined, thus far, at Turf 'N 'Surf I have ordered the fried shrimp po boy, the jalapeno hush puppies, and the fried shrimp plate with the andouille sausage red bean rice, and coleslaw. The shrimp was fried perfectly -- golden brown and light with a sweet jumbo shrimp that maintains that nice little pop of freshness. The sides brought me right back to the French Quarter, and nearly tears to my eyes, with each bite. Collard greens slow cooked with pure love, generous chunks of mildly spicy andouille sausage, red beans simmered in cajun spices until they just melt in your mouth. And if you're a sauce queen like me, you'll definitely be asking for an extra side of that magical remoulade sauce to slather on those gorgeous shrimp!

Needless to say, I will definitely be back to try out the rest of their impressive menu and enjoy a few more fabulous Moscow Mules at the Lavaca Street Bar. If you find yourself in South Austin and craving a good dose of Louisiana cooking, be sure to check out Turf 'N 'Surf Po Boys!

Lavaca Street Bar / Turf 'N 'Surf

3121 S. Lamar Blvd.

Austin, Texas 78704


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