In a long row of Indian places on E. 6th street, Mara’s Homemade can easily be missed. But this small place that serves Cajun specialties deserves some attention, at least for the fact that its regular menu lists alligator.
Gator Bites 6/10
Gator Bites is an $11 appetizer that is easily shareable among 3-4 people. The gator bites consisted of small pieces of white Louisiana alligator meat marinated in a Cajun sauce, dusted in seasoned cornmeal, fried and served with Remoulade Sauce for dipping. Our waitress informed us that the alligator is shipped from Louisiana, fresh, and is deep fried on premises.
The bites looked and tasted like chicken nuggets, but were slightly smaller in size and a bit tougher and sinewy in texture. They went very well with beer.
Fried Pickles 7/10
Fried Pickles ($6) were prepared and served the same way as the alligator bites. I was actually more in love with the fried pickles than the alligator. The pickles were deliciously sour, and that burst of flavor was a real surprise each time you bit into something deep fried because our brains are trained to expect some kind of meat rather than a pickle in breaded/deep-fried form.
Crawfish, the southern name for crayfish 6/10
Crayfish/crawdads/crawfish are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related. 98% of crayfish harvested in the US come from Louisiana, where the standard culinary terms are crawfish or ecrevisses. Louisiana crawfish are boiled live in a large pot with heavy seasoning (salt, cayenne pepper, lemon, garlic, bay leaves, etc.) The crawfish at Mara’s Homemade were as red-hot as they looked. They were unbearably spicy but really fun to play with. I personally liked to dangle them by their little feelers and looking them in the eyes before eating them. They look like tiny lobsters the size of shrimp, and are really good in $16 crawfish cheesecake (quiche with pieces of crawfish) but not so great on their own.