- Photo by Jenny Montgomery
Here’s the thing about North County: There’s a lot of driving involved. It’s spread out; suburban sprawl dominates the landscape east of Interstate 5, and when it comes to restaurants, it can take awhile to locate the charms beyond the chains, particularly inland.
Daisy’s Cajun Kitchen is one of those secrets that you probably won’t stumble upon. Unfortunately for Daisy’s, the location is terrible. Fortunately for you, your adventurous spirit will look past the odd industrial-park placement in La Costa-adjacent San Marcos (1665 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road) and you’ll take my advice and give it a try.
Cajun and creole cuisine is certainly about more than just New Orleans, but I will say that there’s something magical about the Crescent City, something that makes its way into the food. I’m not sure that magic is exportable. That said, Daisy’s is a fine place to dive into the zesty flavors of Louisiana. The tiny locale is colorful, the service exceptionally warm, and Louis Armstrong will most likely be the lovely soundtrack to your down-home eats.
If you’re feeling adventurous, start your meal with some fried alligator-tail meat. Or, if that makes your belly or your conscience quiver in fear, try a dish of fried okra. The serving is ample and with a squeeze of lemon and some ranch dressing for dipping, this is a great way to try this veggie in its tastiest form.
My server kindly brought me a stack of napkins with the Shrimp Po’Boy I ordered, as there’s no neat and dainty way to consume this sandwich. The bread is soft and buttery, warm from the griddle, and stuffed full of pieces of fried shrimp, shredded cabbage, tomato slices and a bit of mayo. Each part of the sandwich tasted yummy, but the whole thing lacked oomph. It tasted like fried shrimp with some bread wrapped around it, as opposed to a cohesive sandwich with flavors melding into something greater than the sum of its parts. The sweet potato fries that came on the side were fantastic, however, with a sweet and lightly crispy batter coating each fry.
On an evening when takeout was needed, I ordered a healthy serving of Daisy’s chicken gumbo to-go and did feel a little bit of that indefinable magic waft into my kitchen when I opened the container. The creamy stew is quite peppery—that’s the first flavor that hits your tongue—but that didn’t stop me from spooning bite after bite into my mouth. The gumbo is humble yet robust, filled with enormous dark chunks of chicken and snappy slices of sausage, bound together by the rich, chestnut-colored gravy.
There are plenty of sweet, Southern dessert options, as well. Daisy’s brings its baked goods in from LeRoy’s Sweet Potato Shack in Oceanside. I found the pecan pie to be just a wee bit overdone. Stick with sweet potato.
You have to hunt for it, but Daisy’sCajun Kitchen is a tiny charmer with a big heart.
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