It’s Official: This Texas Coast town is the Cajun Capital of Texas!
When you think “Texas Cajun,” what comes to mind? I didn’t realize Port Arthur had so many Cajun restaurants until I had the pleasure of visiting. As of June 2023, Port Arthur became the Official Cajun Capital of Texas! PA has now joined the other Texas towns with a unique title.
Port Arthur is truly a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, captivating every visitor, from its Cajun food, historical landmarks, and welcoming beaches.
Port Arthur is a 4.5-hour drive from San Antonio, 90 miles from Houston, 20 miles south of Beaumont, and 25 minutes from the Louisiana border.
I was hosted by Visit Port Arthur. They provided us with accommodations, meals, and attractions. All opinions are my very own.
Exploring The Traditions And Culture Of Port Arthur – The Cajun Capital Of Texas
From 1927 onward, a wave of Cajuns migrated to Port Arthur, drawn by the opportunities arising from the Great Mississippi Flood, which brought farmers in search of black gold. The presence of substantial refineries in Southeast Texas translated into significant employment opportunities. The region’s picturesque coastline, winding bayous, meandering rivers, and abundant marshlands offered Cajuns the means to support their families. They embraced a bayou-centric way of life reminiscent of their earlier years in southern Louisiana. The Cajun community took root here, carrying their language, music, lifestyle, delectable Cajun cuisine, and a vibrant zest for life.
Join us on our journey to uncover the charm and history that define Port Arthur, Texas, as the Cajun Capital of Texas.
Restaurants In Port Arthur, TX
Port Arthur is Cajun Country, and it certainly shows through their restaurants full of Cajun food choices. We explored six different restaurants that have cajun cuisine on their menu. Check out where we went and our favorite part of each restaurant.
Hamilton’s Restaurant & Bar
Hamilton’s Restaurant & Bar is a fun and quirky establishment with impressive crab balls. This was an excellent place for us to start our Cajun Culinary Journey in Port Arthur. Our waiter was terrific and a lot of fun. He had a great personality and was quick with our food and drink refills. We started with some fresh-out-of-the-oven rolls. My husband had a club sandwich, and I had a cup of gumbo and crab balls.
Home of the BBQ Crab, a must-try if you go to the Reel Cajun. I could have eaten those crabs all night and into the next day. They also offer one of the largest seafood buffets I’ve ever seen and a full menu. For my cocktail, I chose the margarita flight. There were eight different margaritas to choose from, and I chose the strawberry, shark bite, mango, and lime.
The Boudain Hut is a great local gathering with live music after 9 p.m. on Saturdays. Very casual, with a full bar and some yummy appetizers like boudain balls and gumbo.
Dylans Restaurant & Grill
Dylans Restaurant & Grill is the “fun” place to hang out. They offer a full bar with live music inside and an outdoor patio with a stage, swings, and fun things for kids to do. The staff is extremely friendly, and they really love working here. My husband had the cheeseburger, which he said was one of the best burgers he had ever had. I ordered the grilled shrimp and broccoli casserole, which was amazing. We could have stayed here all day and enjoyed every minute of our time.
Address: 8601 9th Ave, Port Arthur.
Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp
When you walk into Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp, you can tell this is a fun local hangout with great food. It is decorated with music and film memorabilia, sports on TVs around the restaurant, and great music on the speakers. I ordered a cup of gumbo, a boudain ball, and the royal oysters covered with lump crabmeat. My husband ordered the spicy beef nachos. The food was great, and my Grapezilla cocktail was perfect. It was a margarita with a bottle of Grape Crush and a shot of 3 Olive Vodka.
Address: 400 Jimmy Johnson Blvd., Port Arthur.
Judice’s In Nederland
Judice’s was a pleasant surprise for our last meal in the Port Arthur area. It is located in Nederland, but its history is tied to Port Arthur. Mama Judice brought her boudain recipe to Port Arthur in 1927.
What To Do In Port Arthur, TX
The town of Port Arthur hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year. These events often feature live music, local Cajun cuisine, and a vibrant arts scene. The Cajun Heritage Fest (usually held in April) and the Gatorfest are particularly popular and provide a taste of the region’s unique culture.
Museum of the Gulf Coast
At the Museum of the Gulf Coast, we were treated to some live music by a wonderful band that played some amazing Cajun zydeco music. The fiddle player, David Varnado, has played the fiddle for some of the best country music artists in the industry, like Loretta Lynn and Glenn Campbell. The other two musicians, Jude Marrow on the rhythm guitar and Jim on the accordion created some amazing zydeco music for us to enjoy.
The Janis Joplin exhibit and the car replica are some of the best things I’ve seen at a museum. It was so colorful and showcased the musicians’ free-spirited personality.
There was also a tribute to The Big Bopper, an American singer, songwriter, and disc jockey from Texas. His best-known song compositions were” Chantilly Lace” and White Lightning.
The American history of the big refineries and the petroleum industry were interesting exhibits for us to check out, mainly because my husband works for one of the refineries in Port Arthur.
There is also a Sports Hall of Fame with such legends as Jimmy Johnson and Bum Phillips, and my husband was pretty excited about this part of the museum.
The Port Arthur Boardwalk
The Boardwalk is located behind City Hall and the Jefferson County Subcourthouse. It goes along the Port Arthur Seawall and is a great place to relax and catch a glimpse of ships passing by.
The Oil Refineries
You’ll drive through some oil refineries on your way to the Sea Rim State Park and Pleasure Island. It was pretty cool for my husband as he works for Valero, one of the largest oil refineries in the county. It’s also great for artsy photography if you catch the clouds just right.
Sea Rim State Park
Sea Rim State Park is a 20-minute drive from downtown Port Arthur. Experience beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico while walking along the beach. You can drive and camp on the beach, and every weekend, the park rangers have hands-on crabbing demonstrations and fishing demonstrations. This was one of the most enjoyable things we were able to experience. There is a boardwalk to explore and shell collecting opportunities everywhere. You may even see some critters along the Gambusia Nature Trail.
I recommend getting a state park pass while traveling through Texas so you can visit as many state parks as possible. But if you don’t have one, Sea Rim State Park’s entry fee is only $6 per person.
Dutch Windmill Museum
The Dutch Windmill Museum has a self-guided tour that showcases Tex Ritter, his family, and the history of Nederland. The House of Acadia is located next to the Dutch Windmill and showcases the history and settlement of Nederland. Many French nationals came from Southwestern Louisiana to settle in the area.
Maison Beausoleil Cajun Home
The Maison Beausoleil Cajun home is one of the historic sites in Port Neches by the Neches River that has been closed for renovation but is a must-visit if you are in the area. You may even catch some of the many cat residents that have made the area home.
With over 70,000 acres, 14 miles long and 7 miles wide, Sabine Lake is formed where the Sabine and Neches Rivers meet and is best known for fishing for flounder, redfish, and speckled trout. Sabine Pass is a natural outlet from Sabine Lake into the Gulf of Mexico. Many local restaurants serve meals that include the fish out of Sabine Lake and Sabine Pass.
Pleasure Island was created from deposits dredged to form the Intracoastal Waterway and is 18 miles long. You can fish from piers, public parks, the jetties, and even launch your boat in the Marina. Bird blinds are set up for epic bird watching, where you may catch a pair of Whooping Cranes flying by. Be careful – this is Gator country, so you’ll want to watch for them as you hike through the area.
Where To Stay In Port Arthur, TX
There are many choices for hotels in Port Arthur. We stayed in a king suite at the Hampton Inn, a Hilton brand hotel. It was very clean and nicely decorated, with beautiful art features. The spacious suite offered a mini kitchen, a living room area, and a large bedroom with a king-sized bed. The bathroom area was also extremely large. The Hampton Inn offers complimentary breakfast, which has the best bacon ever. I even made a furry friend named Chase, as this hotel is pet-friendly.
We Can’t Wait To Go Back To The Cajun Capital Of Texas!
We had such a great time exploring the Cajun Capital. It’s a great weekend getaway for great food, fun, and exploring. Our hotel suite was roomy and allowed us to relax between restaurant visits and excursions. Our favorite part of the trip was listening to the Zydaco music at the Museum of the Gulf Coast and strolling along the beach at the Sea Rim State Park. We will definitely be back for a visit because there were still so many more great restaurants to check out and more places to visit.
Be sure to check out the Port Arthur Visitor Center’s website often, as some great events are coming up in 2024. So, when are you going to visit the Cajun Capital of Texas?