I’m fully convinced that it is almost impossible to have a bad dining experience in Portland (foodwise anyway). Brian and I were deciding where to go for dinner – we were thinking of what we couldn’t get here in Vancouver and narrowed it down to Creole / Cajun food.

We found a spot not too far from our hotel called Tapalaya. It’s Creole/Cajun food, tapa style. That might be sacrilegious to some, but it’s a great way to try different dishes without having to bring 10 people to eat!

The restaurant is low key and eccentric, hosting live music once a week.
We ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken – Mary’s chicken with Bourbon syrup ($8). The breading on the chicken was very crunchy but not too thick, the meat inside was still very tender. What really made this dish was definitely the bourbon syrup they served on the side. Even if you’re not that big a bourbon fan, it gave the chicken a complexity of sweet and slightly smoky flavour that kept me going back for more.
The Popcorn Shrimp with cocktail sauce ($7) is a lot nicer than other places I’ve had popcorn shrimp. The main reason is that the shrimp is still tender and slightly moist with a bit of a bounce back. Unlike other places that tend to overcook the shrimp.
tapalaya-8912Gumbo with rice ($10) – a good portion, the meat in the gumbo was tender. The rice that came with it gave it an even more heartier thickness to the dish.
Cornbread topped with melty honey butter ($2) – When this first arrived to the table I had one big question mark over my head – is that…ice cream? No…it’s a big whopping serving of delicious honey butter. I love cornbread and they way they make it here is nice – moist and large, with the complimenting soft and creamy butter.
Pulled Pork Mac n Cheese – I believe this was on their fresh sheet when we were there but I hope they do keep it on their menu because it was my favourite dish of the evening. Just the combination of tender pork and a hint of sweetness from the creamy sauce. The pork flavour just really helped this dish be the absolute best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. It’s a little heavy, but worth ordering!
Nightly Seafood Boil ($16) – Finally our “main dish”. When it arrived, we weren’t expecting it to be a large bowl full of seafood – otherwise maybe we wouldn’t have ordered so much on the side! In any case, I’m not complaining – for $16, this seafood boil was a steal. In the bowl we had what seemed like a never ending supply of crawfish and the andouille sausage, potato and corn that is boiled along with it. It would be a sin not to have the vegetables and sausage, as they’ve absorbed all the flavour from the boil. The crawfish is bigger than what we’ve experienced here in Vancouver and juicy with more flavour.

If you’re looking for a Southern experience, I’d definitely recommend Tapalaya! The amount of food you receive for the price is great value and trust me, you won’t be able to get anything remotely close to this here in Vancouver!

Food: 4.5

Service: 4

Value: 4.5

Ambiance: 3.5


Visit their website here: Tapalaya.com

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