Larry Judice has been doing Cajun cuisine a long time. Nearly 33 years ago, the Texan-born butcher planted his Louisiana roots in Groves when he purchased his father’s Cajun grocery store. Today, Larry’s French Market and Cajun Restaurant, the “Cajun honky tonk” of Southeast Texas, is known as the site where it all began.
“We’ve got a unique thing goin’ here, because we’ve got live music, great food all in a great family atmosphere,” Judice told The Examiner. “When this place is packed out, it’s people of all ages—families, friends, and everybody’s having a good time.”
For Judice, it was important that his destination restaurant provide folks with a true Cajun experience—fantastic food, friends, family and fun—this might explain the large dance floor in the middle of the restaurant.
“Ya’ll eat, ya’ll have a good time, and then there’s the dancin’ part. We call that Cajun aerobics,” he said. “You can eat and then work it off with some Cajun aerobics so you don’t feel too bad.”
Larry’s offers Cajun aerobics every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night led by live entertainment (for free on Thursdays), but the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet for $29.95 will beckon you from the dance floor throughout the night for a few return trips—gumbos, barbecue crabs, softshell crabs, boiled shrimp, shrimp etouffe, crawfish fetuccini, crawfish etouffe, a full salad bar, dessert and all the fixin’s.
“You know when people come in who are watchin’ their weight, I tell ‘em our food is fat free, and they always look at me like how can that be?” Judice mused. “And I’ll say the fat’s free, it don’t cost nothin’ extra.”
Of course, with Cajun aerobics and a Cajun menu overseen by a Cajun gentleman, we know you’re wondering about he handles the beloved Cajun crustacean.
“I buy my crawfish big,” Judice began. After all, he knows what folks want in their platter of crawdads. “I will spend the extra money to make sure that we get big crawfish.”
Crawfish are sold in three and five pound orders, each including corn, potatoes, dip, and one jalapeno pepper for those who like to kick it up a notch.
“People always say ours are seasoned just right—they’re not too spicy, they’re not too salty, they’re perfect,” he said. “And we cook to order, so when you order your crawfish, they’re fresh.”
Judice is armed with two large crawfish boilers, but he’ll be the first to tell you that preparing crawfish the right way is a meticulous process. He’s in and out of the cooler checking on his bugs and he can be spotted lurking near the boilers with a spoon, making sure all of his crawfish are healthy.
If you’re one of several Southeast Texans on the annual crawfish crawl, we can guarantee you’ll hit Larry’s more than once.
Be warned, though, because as one diner was leaving Larry’s, he was overheard saying he had entered “a food coma,” a common ailment shared by many regulars at Larry’s.
When The Examiner returned to follow up on the gentleman’s condition he was unable to comment, as he was tied up in a Cajun aerobics session on the dance floor.