The Cajun country super food that once required a trip westward along the I-10 is making inroads in New Orleans.
When the elderly Nook and Mother Bonin closed up shop in New Iberia many years ago, it was a sad day. Their meat market made what I then considered to be the best boudin in Louisiana—a rice, pork and liver miracle with an inexplicably funky, don’t-ask-don’t-tell taste. I knew Bonin’s was the best because I’d scientifically proven it. In the summer of 2002, I drove around Cajun country and sampled as much boudin as was humanly possible. (There’s a picture of the map I created back then on the third page; unfortunately, many of those places have since closed.) Being soft and unctuous by nature, much of the boudin I tasted sort of blended together after the first 20 or so links, so I was happy that I’d taken detailed notes from the first bite. Bonin’s didn’t require notes, however. That weird and wonderful taste is still fresh in my mind; today I’d probably call it umami. The only other boudin that’s come remotely as close to porcine perfection (which requires generous amounts of spice and grease) is the hot boudin at Trahan’s grocery store in Rayne. It was a little old lady at the annual Frog Festival out there who recommended it. If I could remember her name (no idea if she’s even still alive), I’d track her down and kiss her. Why kiss a frog to maybe get a prince when you can kiss a little old lady and be guaranteed the best boudin?
For a long time, I was making treks out to Cajun country just to stock up at Trahan’s and other places. Over the last few years, however, several boudin makers have emerged in the Greater New Orleans area. There are choices all of a sudden. So with no further ado—this is our guide to most of the local places that make and sell their own boudin. We’re not including places that sell boudin they don’t make themselves, such as Big Fisherman on Magazine Street, which sells Poché’s crawfish boudin and Creole Country’s pork boudin, or Schaefer Seafood in Bucktown, which carries LeBlanc’s from St. Amant (pork, crawfish or shrimp) where the sixth or seventh ingredient unfortunately is monosodium glutamate. Mais non, cher!
Prices are all over the place, from Gourmet Butcher Block’s $4.09/pound to Central City BBQ’s $17/pound. Once you find your favorite, you might end up sitting in a bit of traffic to get your fix. Luckily, boudin was always the optimal road food, traditionally consumed one-handed behind the wheel, or outside groceries and gas stations. At least you won’t starve on your way home!
Chris’s Specialty Foods
6251 West End Boulevard, Lakeview,
Pork, warm/frozen, $4.99/pound; crawfish, frozen, $7.99/pound (since 2015)
Boudin is Chris’s top seller for a reason. With enough rice, meat, liver and green onions, it’s a contender for best boudin in the city. But where’s the spice? Pass the cayenne, cher.
512 David Street, Mid-City, (504) 488-1263
Pork (regular and smoked), chilled,
$7/pound (since 1979)
Pasty and chewy—someone might have left the mixer on a bit too long for this particular batch, but for a company that’s been around for almost 40 years, they must be getting it right most of the time. The smoky flavor is reminiscent of coffee.
1510 South Carrollton Avenue, Uptown, (504) 510-4040
Pork (regular and spicy), warm/chilled,
$3/link; chicken, warm/chilled, $3/link; shrimp, warm/chilled, $4/link (since 2015)
This is excellent boudin, especially when served hot off the grill. Even if you don’t like chicken wings or daiquiris, the boudin alone is a good reason to come here.
1504 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard,
Central City, (504) 304-2147
Pork link, warm, $9; boudin burrito, warm, $11 (since 2016)
Toups’ boudin is served as an appetizer at the restaurant one link and one plate at a time. Chicken liver and smoked paprika come through in the flavor. (You can’t buy Toups’ boudin by the pound.)
2352 St. Claude Avenue, Marigny,
Pork, chilled, $6/pound or two links
heated to order, $10 (since 2015)
Our tasting panel was weirded out by this one. Slightly sour and darker in color—was crab boil added to the mix?
Piece of Meat
3301 Bienville Street, Mid-City,
Pork, chilled, $6/pound (since 2018)
Not at all the boudin I was expecting (neither greasy, livery, nor spicy), but Piece of Meat’s rice and pork mix is excellent on its own terms, fresh tasting and fluffy in texture. Tastes like hog’s head cheese mixed with rice—baby food for all ages.
930 Tchoupitoulas Street, Warehouse District, (504) 588-7675
Pork, chilled, $7.50/pound (since 2009)
Meaty and mushy, Cochon makes good boudin, but again, cher…
Where’s the cayenne?
240 Pelican Avenue, Algiers, (504) 265-0194
Pork, warm, $6/link (since 2017)
Served off of hot dog rollers, this boudin is probably our favorite in town, with the perfect amounts of pork, liver, spice and grease. The proprietors make it fresh every Thursday and start selling Friday and over the weekend. They usually sell out come Sunday.
Gourmet Butcher Block
2144 Belle Chasse Highway, Gretna,
Pork, warm/chilled/frozen, $4.09/pound; crawfish, frozen, $7/pound (since 1994)
This boudin probably comes closest to the kind of boudin you find out in Cajun country—and you can’t beat the price. This is the one we’ll be stocking up on to keep in the freezer at home.
Central City BBQ
1201 South Rampart Street, Central City, (504) 558-4276
Smoked pork, warm, $17/pound (since 2016)
With a nice and crispy skin right off the grill, Central City BBQ’s smoked boudin is excellent, but it’s hard not to choke on the price—$17 per pound,
Eliot Guthrie (pictured) and Ian Barrilleaux met while they both were working at Cochon Butcher (part of the Donald Link restaurant group) and opened Congregation Coffee in Algiers last year. Boudin has been on the menu since the beginning.
”Black coffee and boudin pair very well,” says Barrilleaux who was the charcutier at Cochon Butcher for eight years and has been making boudin for 10. ”I use more spice now than before, along with pork shoulder, chicken liver and Louisiana popcorn rice.”