Why Beaumont is the Texas capital of Cajun cuisine and culture

Beaumont, Texas’ unofficial Cajun capital, crawls with the outdoors adventure, delicious food scene, and Cajun spirit that befits this animal-packed region. The city is unmistakably Texas, but there’s also no denying the influence of the Cajuns that began to grow in the 1840s when the first French settlers from neighboring Louisiana migrated to the area, bringing with them their traditions and cuisine.

© Jacob Rhodes / Lonely Planet

Located in southeast Texas, Beaumont is full of wetlands and fauna. Take a pontoon boat on the nearby Neches River, Lake Sabine, or the Gulf of Mexico, and you’ll spot a variety of creatures from alligators to birds, with waterways brimming with crayfish and fresh seafood.

But you don’t have to be a nature lover or a connoisseur of Cajun cooking to enjoy Beaumont. City residents love it for its many museums, restaurants, city parks, and downtown art scene. Pull your shoes on and dive into our favorite ways to enjoy this Southeast Texas gem.

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Several locations along the Cajun Food Trail and throughout Beaumont spawn first-class mud bugs © Courtesy of Visit Beaumont, TX

Eat

Beaumont Restaurant offers great food thanks to its location near the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana. There’s also the local Cajun Food Trail, filled with all the etouffee, gumbo seafood, boudin, and lobster you can handle. The Trail is a mobile passport program, where you win prizes for dining at participating venues. Don’t miss Floyd’s Cajun Seafood and Steakhouse, which has more than 70 years of combined experience in Cajun cooking, or stop by Crazy Cajun for etouffee lobster, red beans, and rice.

If you’re here during lobster season, the many spots along the Cajun Food Trail and around town will bring out top-notch mud bugs – just ask a local and they’ll lead you in the right direction. Don’t leave town without breakfast pastries at Rao’s Bakery, a Beaumont establishment that has been open since 1941. For brunch or a New American dinner, try J. Wilson’s crab cake or shrimp and grits.

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Beaumont has plenty of flavor south of the border to offer © Courtesy of Visit Beaumont, TX

Don’t forget to try some Tex-Mex staples, too, as Beaumont has plenty of flavor just south of the border. Carmela’s Mexican is best known for its restaurant and fajitas, and Tacos La Bamba offers authentic Mexican tacos, tortillas, and more.

For a true southeast Texas mix, check out Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp for “Mexicajun” items like Boudin quesadillas, seafood nachos, and shrimp tacos. Elena’s Mexican Restaurant is another gem serving authentic Mexican food and Tex-Mex dishes. Choose from a variety of tacos or enchiladas, sip a cold beer, and enjoy your meal on the patio.

For dessert, La Real Michoacana offers homemade ice cream and great Mexican desserts. Try the mangonada (mango syrup with chamois, red sauce and chili powder), or banana chunks with your choice of ice cream flavors.

Texas Tidbit: In Texas, lobster season is generally January through May or June, so if you’re in Beaumont during those months, load up on lobster at a local boil or restaurant.

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Natural adventures abound among the cypresses, swamps, and coastal wetlands of Beaumont © Courtesy of Visit Beaumont, TX

game

Natural adventures abound among the cypresses, swamps, and coastal wetlands of Beaumont, which also has the largest Texas alligator population. In Gator Country, watch an alligator feeding show, feed a Sulcata tortoise, or take a swamp boat tour – your guide will discuss the ecological significance of the bio while pointing out the wildlife.

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Beaumont is home to more than 285 species of birds each year, including the pink Roseate Spoonbills © Courtesy of Visit Beaumont, TX

If birding interests you, you’re in the right place – Beaumont is home to more than 285 species of birds each year, including pink Roseate Spoonbills, red-winged birds, pelicans, egrets, ducks, pigeons, and more. At the Cattail Marsh Scenic Wetlands and Boardwalk, try to spot as many species of birds as you can, or head to the gravel trails to hike, bike, jog, ride, or photograph the wildlife. Cattail Marsh is a wildlife sanctuary with about 900 acres of wetlands. Walk the trail for stunning views of the marsh and visit the excellent education center to learn about this important ecosystem.

Texas Tidbit: If you have kids, download the Beaumont Birdie Passport and have fun finding feathered friends in private birdhouses around town. Once there are at least 10 stamps in Birdie’s passport, take him to the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau for a lavish Beaumont Birdie.

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Cattail Marsh is a wildlife refuge with about 900 acres of wetlands © Courtesy of Visit Beaumont, TX

enjoy

Back in town, history buffs will love the McFaddin-Ward House Museum, a colonial-style Beaux-Arts home built in 1906 that includes original furnishings, a carriage house, and gardens. The McFaddins built their fortune from cattle, milling, rice farming, real estate, hunting, and oil, and the family lived in the house for 75 years, often receiving guests with elegant parties. Today you can take guided tours of the house and its three furnished floors, as well as the grounds – and learn about this slice of local history along the way.

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Download the Beaumont Mural Guide and see the incredible artwork across building facades © Courtesy of Visit Beaumont, TX

Looking for some fun outdoor art? Walk, bike or scooter your way through Beaumont with the Beaumont Mural Guide and see great works of art across building facades – see if you can find Janis Joplin, Frida Kahlo and the scales of justice. For a little relaxation, head to the Beaumont Botanical Gardens and make your way through acres of vibrant flowers and garden paths.

Above all, take the time to enjoy the ancient Cajun culture. From the kitchen to music and soul, you’ll want it “laissez les bon temps roulée!”

Texas Tidbit: On your mural tour, check out “Beaumont Betty,” a colorful and vintage portrait of every woman. Inside the mural, see if you can find a hidden Easter egg and an oil painting—an ode to Beaumont’s oil past.

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