A Eulogy for Da Bayou 

Da Bayou was a Cajun/Creole restaurant located in Temecula, California. Wing and I lived in the area for a bit, and we discovered a few hidden gems (scroll to the end of the eulogy for a list of these). Da Bayou was one. I first tried it with a couple of co-workers during our lunch break. The three of us liked it and we talked about going back to try other items on the menu. That day I ordered the etoufee with chicken which one Yelper described as way too spicy. I personally thought it was about medium and it lacked flavor. The plate came with hush puppies and they were the most flavorful I’ve ever had so I was willing to give the restaurant another chance.

I told Wing about it and we went back several times. The first time he and I went, I ordered the red beans and rice. It was a huge portion and I really enjoyed it. Wing ordered the softshell crab Po’boy sandwich and was thoroughly amazed. Each half of the sandwich had a whole crab, including its legs. Wing couldn’t stop raving about the quality. The fries that his sandwich came with were really good, too. They were sprinkled with a Cajun seasoning and hardly needed any dipping sauce.

Da Bayou Softshell Po'boy

Softshell crab po’boy

The next time, I ordered the burger. The meat had whole chile peppers, seeds and all, cooked into it. The heat was no joke, but I loved it! It came with green lettuce and fresh red tomatoes. It was so flavorful and delicious that I declared it my new favorite. Wing ordered the softshell crab Po’boy sandwich. Again, he thoroughly enjoyed his meal.

Da Bayou burger

Burger with chile pepper

Then, when we went again, Wing ordered the crawfish Po’boy sandwich to be different. He liked it, but he missed his softshell crab. I ordered the chicken and waffles. I’d never had it before and ended up liking it. The waffles were homemade from waffle batter, not from pancake batter poured into a waffle iron and declared a waffle (if you’ve never had a real waffle from real waffle batter, then you’re missing out on a much sweeter, lighter, more delicate treat). The fried chicken was really moist and they gave me about four large pieces with a ton of meat.

Wing and I have since moved back to San Diego, but one day we had business in Temecula so we gave ourselves a bit of extra time to have lunch at Da Bayou. As we travelled there (about an hour and a half drive), Wing told me he was going to get the softshell crab Po’boy again. I told him that I was going to get the burger and maybe try some fried okra or order the hush puppies. We were both practically drooling. When we pulled into the parking lot, something seemed wrong. I told Wing that I thought the restaurant might be closed, but he easily dismissed my foreboding feeling. As we walked to the front door, we saw there was no metal alligator to greet us. This ought to have been enough, but we tried the doors anyway. Locked. Wing just couldn’t believe it. He peeped through the windows. Sure enough, Da Bayou was closed. Closed as in we’ll never have their delicious food again. Needless to say, we are sad. We speak of Da Bayou fondly still.

Hidden gems that are (hopefully still) in Temecula/Murrieta area:

Anthony’s Lounge & Ristorante, Murrieta

Ayara Thai, Temecula

San Jorge Tortilleria, Murrieta

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