Shuck N’ Dive Cajun Cafe

Shuck N’ Dive Cajun Cafe- 650 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale

Be a Cajun for the night and sample the fresh oysters, fried pickles, Po Boy sandwiches and Black Board specials. Quick Bites

I discovered Cajun food from watching the Cajun TV Chef, Justin Wilson. “How y’all are?” he’d say as he opened the show every week and then began to make his reddish brown Rue adding in the Cajun Three Sisters- Green Bell Pepper, Onion, and Celery. Whenever he used tomato paste he’d wash out the can with whatever jug wine he was using and pour it into the pot. He was witty and folksy and the food was hearty, rustic Acadian-Cajun.  Justin’s long gone and if you can’t make the trip to “N’awlins” you’ll need to get over to Shuck ‘N Dive to sample some of those unique flavors. “Staz” runs the show here and can be seen making sure the food is pumping out of the kitchen, the tables are clean, the beer is flowing and the TV’s are tuned to any available LSU Tigers and New Orleans Saints game.

If you like freshly shucked Oysters, you’ve found a home. I’m told their Oysters are sourced directly from beds in Louisiana. Every Wednesday night is $1 Raw Oysters, which go well with beer…mine is Turbodog Draft Beer from Albita Brewing of Louisiana, of course!. It doesn’t get much better than that as the Wednesday crowd that searches out tables would probably agree. If raw Oysters don’t work for you, try the cooked versions. Best way is the Oysters 3-Way…I choose the Bienville, Rockefeller and Black & Blues. Now these are very indulgent dishes and not meant for dieters. Oh, just smile and scrape off the bits of cheese that dripped on to the iron skillet they’re served in…the diet will still be there tomorrow. Other starters I liked were the Fried Green Tomatoes, Country Gumbo and Red Beans and Rice, made with Andouille Sausage, Tasso and Smoked Ham. Some of the salads here are a good choice for lunch. I order the Big House with red peppers, onions and Parmesan cheese then add-on Blackened Chicken. Or kick it up a notch and order the Uptown, which adds crumbled blue cheese and candied pecans. The Down South Meat N’ 2 entrees come with choice of two sides from a list of twelve. I liked the Blackened Chicken Breast, Fried Oysters and Butterflied Shrimp entrees. Side dishes to look for are, Red Beans & Rice, Collard Greens, Tater Tots (crunchy good), and the Sweet Waffle Fries. Now that’s just the stuff on the menu. Weekly and daily specials are on the chalkboard…like Mondays Muffuletta Sandwich, which might be called “the Italian Stallion,” if I were back in the Bronx. Turns out this thing was born in the French Quarter of New Orleans and is popular not only for its namesake round Sicilian bread, but also for the Italian meats, cheese and a layer of olive salad, which gives this sandwich its distinctive taste.

Shuck N’ Dive is fun, the food is good New Orleans southern style and if Justin Wilson were still around he’d probably say you’re going to have a good time…”I Gawr-On-Tee.”

© 2012 alanEATS

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Betty’s Soul Food Restaurant

Betty’s Soul Food Restaurant- ‪‪601 NW 22nd Rd, Fort Lauderdale

Betty’s is to Fort Lauderdale what Sylvia’s is to Harlem. And like that great New York soul food restaurant, people who know good Southern cooking in Fort Lauderdale must inevitably show up at Betty’s. I’ve heard about this place forever so after further recommendations from Clean Plate Charlie and an article from Jamie Long, both from New Times, I ventured out to try Betty’s with a foodie friend who knows Southern cooking. The place has thirteen tables and seven counter stools, all full when we arrived for lunch. I’m told Betty plays to a full house every day and for many good reasons. One would be for the Fried Chicken and that’s what I came for this day. “Hello there, I hear the chicken is good here” I said to the server. “Best you’ll ever have,” she answered confidently! With our orders placed, I continued to lust over the menu. It was difficult to pass up some of my other Southern favorites like Oxtail, Beef Ribs, Smothered Pork Chops, Chicken Livers and Fried Mullet. And then there was the stuff I always wanted to try like Pigs Tails, Ham Hocks, Neck Bones and Chitterlings. Oh my! …you must never leave me alone in this place or I’ll order it all!  Regaining my composure I stuck to the plan, crispy Fried Chicken, with Candied Yams and Black-eyed Peas. The Chicken here is nothing short of amazing.  Each order is prepared using Betty’s secret wet batter and fried up as needed, served hot and cooked perfectly. After a short while I had done such a good job of striping every morsel of meat off the bones they could have reassembled it as a science project. The sides of Yams and Peas were perfect for me, but next time I need to try the Mac N Cheese, Collards, Pigeon Peas & Rice, and Cabbage.  Sadly I did not get to meet Betty on this trip, but I did chat with our server on the way out to tell her how much we enjoyed lunch, to which she replied with a big smile and a wink, “I told you it was the best you’d ever tasted!”  I’ll be back soon Betty!

Update- March 26, 2012 – And back I did go recently for another helping of that really good Fried Chicken with Collards and Mac & Cheese this time. My dining companion had the same with the Fried Okra. Everyone in the place is genuine and happy to see you, even when we walked in after the normal lunch service. Regards to Connie, our server on this visit, a person who it seemed could be in many places at the same time. And finally, I did get to meet Betty. I thought she might scold me for not coming back sooner, as I had promised. Not so, but I’ll try not to let that happen again, I’ve got far too much to try!

© 2011 alanEATS