$13 at LaFayette Cajun Seafood

Where: LaFayette Cajun Seafood, 10829 W. Bellfort, 281-564-1388.

What $13 gets you: a bowl of passable crab bisque and either snapper Pontchartrain or blackened snapper Opelousas smothered in a diet-mocking helping of heavy, creamy, saucy sauces.

Some girls decompress by booking emergency mani-pedi sessions. I, on the other hand, turn to seafood drowning in some variation of brown butter. I can't always afford to go by Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen or Pappadeaux for my crab bisque and blackened snapper fix. So on those days my car finds LaFayette Seafood Restaurant like a wise, old horse finds a trail home.

The $3.50 crab bisque at LaFayette is chunky enough that I don't need to ask for extra crab (only $2). I usually have to pause my cream-worship to pluck bits of shell out of my mouth, but I don't mind it.

Both the snapper Pontchartrain and the blackened snapper Opelousas are $7.75. The sides of dirty rice, vegetables and potatoes are sometimes less than average but, in the end, inconsequential, as I'm there for the generous lunch portions of incredibly fresh snapper. And the sauces. Where Mandola's accents, drizzles, or elegantly tops off its filets with a mere taste of its heavenly sauces, at LaFayette, the snapper Pontchartrain is gloriously bathed in brown butter; the blackened Opelousas drowned in garlic cream sauce. I usually push the shrimp, crabmeat, or oysters that come with the sauces to the side before my very first forkful of sauce with snapper. I mean, snapper covered in sauce.

Be Advised: The restaurant sits next to a washateria. Inside, the ceiling tiles are accented by water stains that seem to expand before your eyes in the manner of Japanese horror movies. The décor is a mix of shabby Mardi Gras leftovers and A&M memorabilia. The food at LaFayette comes in green dishes so uninspiring and utilitarian you'd think back to when your college lover surprised you by tossing the paper plates and pulling out the "nice" dishes that were a present from Mom. But it's the cheap and tasty seafood I'm there for, not presentation skills, and during lunch on weekdays, the packed crowds of business professionals confirms that a little blindness goes a long way.

Where do you recommend I go for cheap Cajun food inside the loop?

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