Where: 8 E. Cota Street, 805-963-5000, palacegrill.com
What: Cajun-Creole cooking served up by proprietors Michael and Sandy DeRousse
How much? $6 – $16.50 for lunch entrees, dinner slightly higher
The dish: Serving up smiles and dishes that go “BAM!” since 1985, this Santa Barbara mainstay is the place to go if your heart grows fond of food with “blackened” in the title. “The Palace,” as its known to locals, offers a homey ambiance filled with flavor and flair of the town lovingly referred to as The Big Easy. Huge Tabasco bottles adorn each table and the distinctive voices of the two Louisiana Louies (Armstrong and Prima) are heard in the background. Order up some authentic Cajun/Creole specialties such as crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, red beans and rice, crawfish crabcakes, and, of course, bread pudding with a souffle flair. Don’t forget to start off with the Cajun crawfish popcorn (fresh bayou crawfish dipped in cornmeal buttermilk batter and flash fried to a delicate crisp). For lunch, grab an authentic po’boy, and at dinner, enjoy some lascivious libations such as the Cajun Martini or the Hurricane Margarita. Mardi Gras is celebrated here every Tuesday with free beads and live music. Prestidigitator Mark Collier prepares magical surprises for diners on Fridays. Fabulous food, fun, and friendly service. Laissez les bon temps roulez!