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Though Creole and Cajun cuisine are famously associated with Lafayette, the plate lunch is another dish that’s close to the hearts – and stomachs – of locals. You don’t have to look far for home-cooked, gravy-smothered deliciousness when you’re in the Acadiana region of Louisiana. People here take their comfort food seriously, for reasons that will become obvious:
What is a Plate Lunch?
Better known as a "meat-and-three" in other parts of the country, Louisiana’s Plate Lunch consists of down-home, local dishes, complete with a meat, two sides of vegetables, gravy-covered rice or potatoes, and a piece of bread. Typically served cafeteria-style and containing a day’s worth of calories for less than $10, the Plate Lunch is all about speed, affordability and a good ol’ high-calorie count.
Where it all began...
The Lunch Box
The plate lunch originated in Hawai’i in the 19th century. With plantations in full swing at the time, laborers would line up for a box filled with meat and veggies on their lunch break after a hard morning’s work. Eventually, the dish – and the traditions surrounding it – made its way to South Louisiana. Instead of throwing away their scraps and unsold cuts, butchers served their leftovers to the working-class at a reasonable price – thus the iconic plate lunch was born.
Perfect for laid-back Louisiana
Rooted in rustic and traditional homestyle cooking along with convenience and comfort, the Plate Lunch fits right in with the relaxed culture of Louisiana. In Lafayette, the Plate Lunch takes on a slightly different taste, with the Cajun, Creole and Southern flavours providing a distinctive twist to the simple dish. More often than not, you’ll find Cajun inspired étouffée Plate Lunch at many local restaurants.
A long-time local staple
Laura's 2 NEXT Generation
Looking back on its history, it should come as no surprise that the Plate Lunch remains a culinary favourite for the people of Lafayette. With lunch menus changing daily, there’s a different taste for each day of the week. It’s the variety, as well as the comfort and authenticity, that makes this dish so popular. It’s a must-try for any visitor; we dare say that one cannot fully experience Lafayette without indulging in its soul food goodness.
Hungry yet? With over 50 plate lunch houses on our trail you can be sure you’ll leave nourished. Start planning your trip to Lafayette, or as we call it, Plate Lunch Paradise. Click here to find out more and for a list of top Plate Lunch restaurants.