Recently my brother and I stumbled onto Roux Dat, a casual and inexpensive Cajun/Creole spot near Trader Joe's in Capitola. It stays open through the afternoon (daily 11:30a to 8p), making it a good spot for us to grab an early dinner.
You order and pay at the counter, then the food is delivered to your table. The cashier/server checked in with us a couple times, almost more attention than at a table service establishment.
Fried green tomatoes, $3.50, were so good with greaseless, crunchy cornmeal crust jazzed up with salty-spicy creole seasoning and served with piquant creole mayo.
Stews (ten varieties!) can be ordered as a half-half combo, $10.50, along with a choice of white or brown rice. This is Santa Cruz, after all, and the menu has gluten-free and vegan options too. Shown in the upper half is the Crawfish and Andouille Maque Choux and below, the Spicy Shrimp and Corn Étouffée. The butter-enriched étouffée seduced with silken mouthfeel then popped with the sweet crunch of corn and firm shrimp. But it barely registered as spicy warm. In contrast the maque choux was nose-running hot, intensely smoky and much more robust and layered with flavor. After tasting that, a return taste of the étouffée seemed almost wimpy. The crustaceans in both stews were tender and sweet, not overcooked at all. And while not loaded with protein, there was enough in each portion to satisfy. The brown rice was still firm but not too chewy. Two baguette rounds of garlic bread were intensely salty and highly spiced with creole seasoning, that started to get monotonous at this point.
These are but a few of the bottled hot sauces available on the tables here. But I had no need to doctor my food.
Bag of Beignets, $4.75, includes four pieces and a housemade maple sauce for dipping. The beignets were piled high with scoops of powder sugar that obscured their flat, dead as a doornail lack of loft. Tough and hard, not something I&#39;ll order again here.
Housemade pralines, $2.75, went home with us. While not chewy, these had a softer, pliant texture and lots of pecans. Good stuff.
The lemonade's house-squeezed, $2.50, and you help yourself at the drink station, adding simple syrup from a squeeze bottle to taste. I blended mine with some home brew ice tea to make an Arnold Palmer.
Our meal was $32.91 before tip, and plenty for two hungry people to share. We'll certainly be back, perhaps to try the po' boys or muffuletta though it will be hard to tear us away from those Creole stews.
3555 Clares St
Capitola, CA 95010