Tunnel Mole Drops $13 at Ragin Cajun in Downtown

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Where: Ragin Cajun III, Downtown Tunnel, 930 Main St., T-320, 713-571-2422

What $13 gets you: Great bottom feeding for bottom feeders

If you're a hungry tunnel denizen (i.e. a bottom feeder) and have a cannibalistic craving to eat another bottom feeder (e.g. a fried catfish), wiggle under the McKinney Place Garage. The latest offshoot of the wildly popular Ragin Cajun, at 4302 Richmond, is holding court, spewing out wonderful Zydeco music and seriously crisp fried or gumbo'ed Cajun food.

The Mandola establishment offers some heart-healthy offerings, approved by a nutritionist: "just ask for no butter or oil," advises the menu. When in Rome, however, let 'em pile up a box with not-too-shabby French fries, fried catfish fillets and a po'Boy bun slathered with butter (we bit in to research this article and discovered a biscuit-like flavor, so unlike the blandness of a major competitor).

The Catfish Fillet Basket we craved -- along with, we're guessing, the other seafood baskets: Crawfish Tails, Fried Shrimp, Fried Oysters, Chicken Tenders or the seafood combos -- can feed two. But we're glad we went alone.

Because it's $11.99, we asked what a to-go order it would be after tax.

"We've gotta keep it under $13," we said timidly when our cashier did a double-take. "It'll be $12.98," she announced proudly. What she said next -- in jest -- reminded us of Louisiana's swampy roots, especially when it comes to finances: "and a $5 service charge!"

We joined her in laughter and, ever the joker ourselves, just as proudly threw our two cents in the tip jar.

Next time, we're trying the Boudin Balls appetizer (3 for $3.99) -- maybe a couple -- some Corn on the Cob (2 for $1.79) and a Big-Ass Iced Tea (our name for it, not theirs). That might create an even bigger tip.

Recommended? You better believe it, cher.

The canned music is really, really good, and although the tunnel location is cleaner than Bobby Jindal's conscience, they try to recreate the coon-ass icehouse feel with an abundance of Cajun bumper stickers, Rodrique art and Swamp State sports memorabilia. "A Bad Day at LSU…is Better Than a Good Day at Tulane" -- you get the picture.

Bonus point: No limit on the lemon wedges you can snare for your seafood (or tea). Too many establishments hoard theirs like Citrus Nazis. – Tunnel Mole

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