District of Columbia County, District of Columbia
October 13, 2004
Pat's of Henderson can be a little difficult to find, and it is about a 20-minute drive from Lafayettem, but the drive is worth it, as the food, service, and atmosphere are all great. If anything, the restaurant's off-the-beaten-path location helps to keep it the authentic local place it's always been. Sure, tourists and travelers on the interstate are welcome (the restaurant does have several billboards on I-10), but most of the customers are locals, and that's part of what makes dining at Pat's such a good experience. It's a place where you can be completely immersed in the local culture.
Pat's is literally located at the end of the road. To get there, head east of Lafayette on Interstate 10 and take the Exit 115 for state highway 347. Turn south onto highway 347 and be ready to make a quick left turn onto highway 352 to head east into the small town of Henderson. Continue straight down the road until you cross a bayou; the road ends at a levee and another road. Pat's will be on your left (provided I remember these directions correctly!). The restaurant is sandwiched between the bayou and the levee holding back the Atchafalaya Basin, an enormous swamp between Lafayette and Baton Rouge. In fact, because of the Atchafalaya Basin, it's important when heading to Henderson to eat at Pat's from Lafayette that you do not miss the exit from Interstate 10! Otherwise you'll end up on the bridge (locally known as the Atchafalaya Swamp Freeway) over the swamp, and it will be a good six miles before you get to one of the two exits in the middle of the swamp on the interstate where you can turn around and go back.
The food at Pat's is quite good, with a large selection of Cajun-seasoned grilled and fried seafood available. On nice evenings, you can dine on the balcony overlooking the bayou, where the locals frequently go by in their small boats bringing in their catch of fish. You may also see some wildlife, including alligators, turtles, and rabbits. Just beware of the mosquitoes, which can quickly ruin the outdoor dining experience if they're out in full force.
Overall, Pat's is worth the short drive to experience some very good Cajun cooking and the local culture. The restaurant can be a little busy when large groups are present, but I've always found the service to be fast and friendly, and wait times for a table are rarely very long.
From journal Lafayette, the Capital of Cajun Country