Spahr’s Seafood3682 Highway 90 E
About 40 minutes south west of New Orleans sits a a tiny town in Cajun country called Des Allemands. It’s not really mentioned in any travel guides or tourism sites and there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about it. And yet, twice Des Allemands (pronounced dez-ahm)* has managed to put itself on my radar in a big way.
First, it’s where my very favourite band of all time (Down) filmed the video for my very favourite song of all time (Stone The Crow). The clip was filmed at an old abandoned bar called the Smile Inn and captures the essence of smokey, swampy Southern Louisiana. Here, see for yourself:
Situated on the less travelled Hwy 90, Des Allemands is also right at the point where you’ll find yourself needing either a recovery or preparatory drink en route to/from NOLA. In Louisiana, as long as your beverage has a lid and a straw, it’s not in violation of any open container laws. Meaning, you can sip on your alcoholic daiquiri/beverage/cocktail while you drive and not be breaking any laws (!!!). Thus, the geographical location of the town combined with relaxed alcohol laws have seen the emergence of two restaurants, Spahr’s and Frank’s Lounge, each claiming to have the best bloody marys around. It’s a bit of a local rivalry.
There’s nothing fancy about either place, both take residence in unassuming buildings with little signage. You’re likely to be eating next to a mix of local shrimpers in their Cajun Reeboks (white rubber boots) and travellers just passing through. We stopped in at Spahr’s Seafood, which was rebuilt after a fire in 2002 but has been operating in Des Allemands for nearly 44 years.
Whether you’re staying or taking your order to-go, the bloody mary will come in a styrofoam cup wedged inside a souvenir plastic travel cup. And folks, this is a great bloody mary. It’s a simple recipe made from just a few ingredients, but the flavour is on point and it has a lovely gentle spice. The tomato juice is diluted enough that its not coating your mouth with an unpleasant film and the consistency also means you’re not going to get full off a cocktail. Basically, this is the drink equivalent of a classic diner burger – simple but well made and effective.
Spahr’s also offer a full menu of classic fried Louisiana seafood, serving the kind of platters where you can have 5 different items and all will come out golden brown.
After spending nearly a week in New Orleans I suppose I had a bit of an eating hangover, but the food at Spahr’s was just too much for me to handle, particularly before midday. Perhaps I’d been spoiled by a series of amazing meals in the city, perhaps I had ruined my liver and internal organs trying to take on the French Quarter. Whatever the reason, I didn’t love it. Maybe the trick is to go in the late afternoon with a few beverages already imbibed.
But if you do ever find yourself hauling ass down Hwy 90 between Houma and New Orleans, stop for a spell in Des Allemands and help settle the great bloody mary debate – will you be Team Spahr’s or Team Frank’s?
*In Louisiana you quickly learn that anything you learnt during high school French classes will be pretty useless, because most things are pronounced differently in Cajun French. So annoying. Particularly when you think you’re being all clever by pronouncing it with foreign flair.