Mudbugs pales in comparison to Yats

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By: Bennett Fuson <bfuson@hilite.org>

First off, a spoiler: Contrary to its rather suggestive reference, Mudbugs Cajun Café on Main Street has nothing to do with mud, bugs or any combination thereof. (Sorry, gross food connoisseurs. I’m sure you’ll find an alternative.) Apparently, “mudbug” is Southern slang for a crawfish, the small, ugly cousin of a lobster that thrives in (who would have thought?) mud. Crawfish are a staple of Creole and Cajun cuisine and therefore play a big role at Mudbugs. The restaurant replaced Myron’s Café, a popular breakfast destination, during last school year, and traces of the old café continue to linger. However, Myron’s and Mudbugs are about as similar to each other as Mozart and Marilyn Manson.

Before I go any further, though, I must address a key point: Mudbugs Cajun Café is not a new concept. The local area already had Yats, the ever-popular Broad Ripple café that brought Cajun to the cornfields. To be honest, I’m a die-hard Yats fan, so I was already bearing a grudge when I went into Mudbugs, not to mention the fact that I also loved Myron’s.

Rest assured that my grudge was easily removed. Mudbugs does not copy or imitate Yats. Rather, it sets itself up as an entirely separate entity. The brightly colored walls and laid back jazz music sent out some good vibes, especially on a cloudy, rainy day.

Talking about the atmosphere is cheap, though, especially in a food review, so let’s get to the main point. Mudbugs offers 12 dishes: no more, no less. For those afraid of limited options, stop reading now. Unlike Yats, the menu stays the same, so the fear/hope of a new menu everyday is not present. Two of the dishes include the restaurant’s namesake (the Crawfish Etouffe and Crawfish Casserole) along with the possibility of being included in the gumbo. Other menu items include jambalaya (a type of stew) and po’boys, the equivalent to a Southern sub sandwich. The best bang for the buck definitely goes to the “pick three combo,” where for $8.95, any three menu items can be combined for one personalized meal. I found it helpful to choose two entrées and a side item, although it wasn’t quite what I figured.

The jambalaya and dirty rice (rice with ground beef and seasoning mixed in) came in very large portions. The shrimp po’boy, however, was surprisingly small: it was almost like a few shrimp in between crackers.

The jambalaya was probably the best item that I got the opportunity to test. It was very thick with large chunks of chicken and sausage, and just enough spice to kick up the flavor without making me shoot steam out of my ears. It was very filling, and with two other items, I had to literally force it down my throat to finish. The dirty rice and po’boy were also very good. The shrimp on the sandwich was heavily battered, but the sauce (sort of a Cajun mayonnaise) softened it up and made the sandwich worth its unfortunately small size. The dirty rice was good, but nothing about it stood out. It served its purpose as a side item, complimenting the two main dishes.

As for the price, most of the food is at least a dollar over Yats, and serves smaller portions. This is good for smaller people. I am not a small person. Mudbugs is a convenient fix for the Cajun craver, considering that it can be reached by walking distance from CHS as opposed to the 20+ minute drive to Broad Ripple. It’s also got a great, vibrant atmosphere to eat in with a laid back staff.

But as far as finding the best deal on some good old Southern dieting, it might be a good idea to keep Mudbugs in the mud a little while longer and head out to Yats.

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