Crawfish étouffée is drizzled with a healthy dose of silky buttered sauce, while spiced gumbo dances in a dark, delicious harmony of rice, beans and shrimp. Quality Cajun food is rare in Nashville, but Papa Boudreaux’s Cajun Café and Catering Co. in downtown Franklin may be the only stop we need.
Owned and operated by Brad and Guy Bader, brothers and New Orleans natives, Franklin’s Papa Boudreaux’s branched off from their father’s (yes—he’s Papa) location in Santa Fe, TN, back in 2011. Faith and family are major cornerstones within the restaurant’s bright, decked-out walls; contemporary Christian music plays from the speakers, and the small staff includes their wives, Erin and Landrianna, cousins and a pair of nonrelated employees who have been indoctrinated as honorary Bader family members.
Most everything on the menu is made to order, and typically, it’s just Brad and Guy in the kitchen whipping up their down-home family recipes. Although Brad graduated with a degree in food safety, the brothers’ primary and most vital education on Cajun flavors happened while growing up with their father in The Big Easy.
“Everybody cooks at home, and everyone has their own little twist on étouffée and gumbo,” says Brad. The Baders’ twist tends to tone down the spices in order to appeal to the average Franklinite; but if you want it hot, don’t be afraid to ask—they’ll spice up most any menu item and, in their words, make it gospel.
When it comes to the menu, Papa Boudreaux’s seafood gumbo is a clear standout with its hearty helping of sausage and rice. Both brothers agree, as do we, that it is the one dish they would choose to take with them to a deserted island.
Another fantastic option is the crawfish étouffée, with added fried shrimp. The creamy, comforting étouffée is balanced perfectly by the crunchy, battered shrimp and dusting of fresh herbs. Not a shrimp person? No problem! Papa Boudreaux’s is unique in that most everything on the menu is available for customization. You can choose to add Andouille sausage, shrimp, crawfish, redfish, catfish or a surprise chef’s choice to any of their pastas, grits or rice dishes.
If you’d rather take a New Orleans tour of multiple items, check out their Make Your Own Sampler or Family Style options. If all that still isn’t enough to satisfy, stop in Monday through Wednesday and take a seat for Papa’s All-U-Can-Eat extravaganza at $19.95 per person. Though we weren’t brave enough to accept the challenge, we don’t doubt folks’ ability to stomach much more Cajun goodness than their money’s worth. Just be sure to wear stretchy pants during your visit.
Off the menu, there is plenty of excitement in the Papa Boudreaux’s pipeline. The restaurant caters all sorts of events, hosts can’t-miss crawfish boils and even has plans to eventually launch a small-batch line of bottled, homemade spices. So stop in, eat well and laissez les bon temps rouler, friends!
Papa Boudreaux’s is located at 328 Main St. in Franklin. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. View the full menu at Papaboudreauxscajuncafe.com and reach them at (615) 807-2324.
Read here about SB’s first trip to Papa’s, the Santa Fe location!