Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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323 Jefferson St.
December 15, 2003 6:29 PM
Mike Dwyer is a wonderful salesmen. No one makes lunch sounds as good as he does. You will hear his pitch as you approach the cafeteria area of Dwyer's Café, where he enumerates the day's choices, one by one, with pride and exuberance to make appetites growl. It's a joy to hear him; but in fact, this food needs no hard sell. It is superlative plate lunch.
Parenthetically, Dwyer's hamburgers are excellent. But it's the hot lunches we love. Dwyer's a meat-and-three affair, the daily meats including such expertly-cooked stalwarts as smothered pork chops, lengths of pork sausage, roast beef with dark gravy, and chicken fried steak with white gravy. One day in the winter, Mike was pitching crawfish fettucine, a fabulous cross-cultural Franco-Italian-Cajun noodle casserole loaded with high-flavored crawdads. Among the notable side dishes are dirty rice, eggplant casserole, red beans, and sausage jambalaya. On cold days, you can get gumbo or chili.
Good as lunch is, Dwyer's is also a notable breakfast opportunity. We love the tender sweet potato hot cakes with their faintly crisp edge (which Mike says he added to the menu for low-carb dieters!). When you order pancakes, the waitress will ask what kind of syrup you want: cane or maple. Sugar cane is a major crop around here, and the pancake syrup made from it is thick, dark, and resonantly sweet … but not at all white-sugar sweet.
Dwyer's is a Lafayette landmark that goes back to 1927. It was then Mr. and Mrs. William Stinson first opened a café. Twenty years later, Stanley Dwyer became their head cook; and in 1965, Mr. Dwyer bought the place. Today it is in a new location and Stanley's son Mike runs it. Having been a downtown fixture for so long, it is the place citizens of Lafayette come to meet and greet, especially in the morning. While there is some counter seating, as well as tables for four along the wall, the center of the dining room is arrayed with tables for eight, where friends and strangers share breakfast and cups of locally-roasted Community Coffee. In this place, it is customary to get up and help yourself to coffee refills when waitresses are otherwise busy.
Sweet Potato Hotcakes
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