Spicy South in the cold North


2711 W College St, Bozeman, Mt 59718

Café Zydeco’s slogan “Git’ Some South in Your Mouth” does not disappoint, with the flavor and spices I felt as though I actually had “some south in my mouth.” This Cajun-style restaurant offers many different dishes reminiscent of any American restaurant found in places like Louisiana or any other state commonly using the term bayou.

If you’ve read any of my previous restaurant reviews you know that I’m relatively inexperienced when it comes to food. My idea of a delicious meal has been an unflavored dish usually consisting of some sort of cheese and most often accompanied by noodles or some other variety of carbohydrate. But in my quest to develop and broaden my food preferences, I am more than willing to expand and enter dangerous territory of accompanying flavors like the dreaded pepper or, heavens forbid, the onion.

I’ve heard of things like gumbo and jambalaya before but I’ve always shied away from spicy and vegetable-filled dishes. These “traditional” or quintessential Cajun-style dishes intrigued me the most and seemed most important for me as an introduction to this otherwise unknown southern food genre. That being said, I already knew I’d order one of these two options on Café Zydeco’s menu so their large and varying menu wasn’t as intimidating as it will be when I come back to try something new. I decided on the gumbo: a soup filled with rice, sausage, and chicken, as well as Cajun flavors and accompanying vegetables. My date happened to order the jambalaya which, lucky for me, I was also able to try.

Before we ordered I took the opportunity to note our surroundings and the environment in which we’d be dining. The first thing I noticed was the unclear style in which to dine: seat yourself or wait to be seated. Upon walking in, the menu is displayed directly in front of the door so while we waited for our server to get our order, we could peruse the menu and check out the other offered items. There are many! From sandwiches, to soups, to a kids menu there’s something for just about anyone. The next thing I took note of was the music. Zydeco, according to dictionary.com,  literally means “a blues-influenced type of Cajun dance music popular in Louisiana and Texas, and usually played on accordion, guitar and violin.” It was pretty loud and made for louder than normal dinner conversation but the music fit the Cajun style food and accurately portrayed their dining theme.

After a couple minutes someone showed up and asked for our order and we asked for gumbo and jambalaya, both in small sizes. We got fountain drinks and found a place to sit. After about ten minutes of waiting our food was announced by a searching waiter. He set it all down, and I learned the meals come with toasted bread wrapped in foil. For small orders we both had plenty of food we did not even finish. I didn’t think I would eat the bread but found it was a good way of neutralizing the fiery feeling the gumbo gave me. It was spicier than I’m used to, but as previously noted that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. After a few bites I tried my date’s jambalaya — after the fire was put out — I was able to enjoy the aftertaste it left me. The jambalaya was significantly spicier than the gumbo but still enjoyable.

Our whole order was just over $20 a good deal for two people. I am happy with my choice of Café Zydeco and will be returning as soon as I can.