Cajun Cave

At Roadhouse dance hall, the party starts at 2 p.m. every Saturday

Every now and then, someone opens the big metal exit door and a shaft of blindingly bright sunshine slices through the cool, dark interior of Roadhouse Cajun Bar-B-Q. It takes your eyes awhile to adjust to the dark again.

When you're partying at Roadhouse, it's hard to remember that it's actually mid-afternoon outside the pitch-black bar, dance hall and restaurant. Especially since the band starts playing at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and everybody's pretty much tanked by the time the music ends at six. It's a sort of early-bird special for music, food and booze lovers.

Today's Saturday, and the performance features a six-person zydeco band. (On Sundays, it's always a blues show.) The show was in full swing when we walked in around four-thirty, and the dance floor is packed. A muscular young black man with braided hair under his white straw cowboy hat is leading a line dance. In his tight blue jeans, big silver belt buckle and high-heeled cowboy boots, he has the rapt attention of the dozens of women following his lead.

The brisket comes with a side of fun at Roadhouse.
Troy Fields
The brisket comes with a side of fun at Roadhouse.

Location Info


Roadhouse Cajun BBQ and Honky Tonk

11902 Old Galveston Road
Houston, TX 77034

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Outer Loop - SE


Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Boudin: $2.50
Brisket plate: $6.95
Brisket sandwich: $3.95
Crawfish étouffée: $7.95
Peach cobbler: $1.50

11902 Galveston Road, 281-481-8736.

When the band takes a break, some recorded music comes on and a seemingly mild-manned suburban housewife walks out on the dance floor and starts doing a raunchy pole dance. My date and I look at each other in utter amazement as the crowd cheers her on.

I'm drinking Budweiser and eating boudin spread on saltines and doused with Tabasco sauce. The boudin at Roadhouse is meaty and moist, though not very spicy. The hot sauce helps a lot. I'm used to squeezing boudin out of its casing onto crackers (or into my mouth). Squeezing the hot goo out of a shiny length of pork intestine like toothpaste out of a tube makes some sensitive types queasy. But the boudin at Roadhouse is thoughtfully pre-skinned, which makes for a much more genteel dining experience.

When the band starts up again, my date wants to dance, but unfortunately I'm wearing sandals. Next time I'll wear my dancing shoes, I promise her. Unable to scoot my boots, I find a diversion in the form of five giant television screens lining the wall behind the bar. All are tuned to sports events, including three intensely close college football games. Two guys who look to be in their early thirties are sitting at a table next to ours. They're also watching football while drinking shots and beers.

The tables at Roadhouse are extra-high because the seats are all barstools. The tall seating proves dangerous to one of the guys at the next table. He topples forward out of his stool when an overheated woman in a white blouse suddenly grabs his arm and begins to drag him toward the dance floor. He's protesting that he doesn't know how to dance, but the woman, who's larger than he is, will not be denied.

His wide-eyed friend grabs his beer and makes a break for it, but it's already too late. Another woman swoops in and cuts him off like a linebacker breaking up an option play. On the dance floor, the two hostage dancers move stiffly and look annoyed while all around them whites and blacks, people young and old, jump energetically to the washboard-driven beat.

Roadhouse Cajun Bar-B-Q is located at the corner of Dixie Farm Road and Galveston Road across from Ellington Field. It used to be called Pe-Te's Cajun Bar-B-Q. The walls of the cavernous space are covered with hundreds of license plates from every sector of the planet, along with photos of the astronauts who frequent the place. The lighting on the dance floor is supplied almost entirely by neon beer signs. Throughout the hall, stolen golf course markers inform you of par and distance to the pin.

The eccentric barbecue restaurant and Cajun dance hall was founded by Les "Pe-Te" Johnson, who also hosts the Cajun music show Pe-Te's Cajun Bandstand, which airs early Saturday mornings on KPFT/90.1 FM. After 25 years of barbecue and dancing, Pe-Te got tired and closed the place five months ago. It was revived and reopened recently, and the new owners have kept things pretty much unchanged.

As the musicians whip the crowd in double time, we get up and check out the kitchen. I sample the Cajun barbecued brisket plate, a generous portion of extremely tender beef slices served with a coffee-colored, vinegary-tasting sauce and several slices of white bread.

The meat has a faint smoke aroma and tastes a little watery, as if it was steamed. I suspect it was smoked awhile and then finished in the oven until it became tender. The ribs are much better. They have a smokier aroma, and although tender, they aren't quite as watery. The sides, pinto beans and finely chopped slaw, taste pretty generic.

My dining partner gets crawfish étouffée, which turns out to be very bland. There's a good amount of crawfish mixed in with the onions, green peppers and celery, but the étouffée sauce tastes utterly unseasoned. I try drenching it with Tabasco sauce, but the hot sauce ends up making it taste way too vinegary. The peach cobbler, made with canned fruit and a thick pastry crust, isn't exactly homemade, but it's still tasty.

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