Cajun Food Tours offers three-hour tours full of history and, of course, food in the Tastiest Town in the South.
After spending 22 years as a history teacher turned vice principal at St. Cecilia Catholic School in Broussard, Marie Ducote-Comeaux decided she wanted to showcase her beloved city's food to tourists and natives alike. Ducote-Comeaux offers three-and-a-half-hour tours twice a day on her 14-passenger bus for the willing and hungry.
There are a minimum of six restaurant stops along the tour, and Ducote-Comeaux works with 15 restaurants to provide every Cajun staple from Nunu's boudin to Poupart's pastries - but the 10 a.m. tour, which starts on the South side, is always different from the 3 p.m. tour, which starts downtown - and there are never repeat dishes.
"It's a taste tour, so at each of the seven places, (at) some we do sit down but it's just a little taste," says Ducote-Comeaux, 47. "Some we're not even sitting down. Like, we're eating boudin in the meat department at Nunu's."
To choose the restaurants, Ducote-Comeaux started with her personal favorites. "I know where I like to take people when they come in (to Lafayette) ... and then I had to dwindle that down to those that would fit and flow into some good routes - thinking about traffic and busy times so I'm not backtracking and getting caught in the worst traffic. From there, it was those (restaurants) that were very receptive to it. The pre-requisite was they had to be Lafayette- or locally-owned places."
Among the restaurants listed on the business' website, www.cajunfoodtours.com, included are Lafayette institutions La Cuisine de Maman at Vermilionville, Gator Cove, Johnson's Boucaniere, Earl's Cajun Market, Chop's Specialty Meats, Steve n' Pat's Bon Temps Grill, T-Coon's, Keller's, Deano's Pizza, BJ's and Old Tyme Grocery.
As far as expanding the tour's variety, Ducote-Comeaux says she is "absolutely open" to including more restaurants. "I'm hoping during our busiest times for tourism and conventions that I'm doing four to five (tours) a week, so I would love to change it up a little bit," she says. "I want to have other restaurants to choose from and kind of give a break to those who keep having us. Right now, I'm going out and trying new places now, other places I'm not as familiar with, so I'm sneaking around and eating at the places where I've never eaten to see who I would like to approach to add to the tour."
Ducote-Comeaux's first food tour was in Baltimore, then she rode one in Seattle and another in Louisville, Ky. After the Seattle tour, she says she thought to herself "Our food is so much better than this. Someone should do this in Lafayette!"
Cajun Food Tours' inaugural ride was the first week of July after Ducote-Comeaux finishing the school year in May and preparing for launch in June. So far, the tours have been half tourists, half locals. Between stops, riders learn about Lafayette's history from a former Louisiana and American history teacher. Each tour is $49 per person, and custom tours are available for groups of eight or more. She is also offering shuttles to and from Festivals Acadiens et Creoles in October for visitors staying at local hotels.
"Locals have fun, but they're not being introduced to things they've never had before," says Ducote-Comeaux. "I really enjoy introducing out-of-towners to our awesome area. I'm so proud of our area and its people and its food.
"It's a crazy time to become an entrepreneur, but you have to be a little crazy to do something different."
To book a tour, visit www.cajunfoodtours.com or call (337) 230-6169.