Looks Like The Cajun Experience Closed at 1825 18th Street, NW

1825 18th St. NW

Dear PoPville,

Any word on what’s up with The Cajun Experience on 18th Street in Adams Morgan? Their website is down and no one is answering the phone. Also, the recent Yelp reviews are horrible. I used to really like this place and I had high hopes for them, but I can’t seem to figure out what happened! I have a LivingSocial deal for this place…guess I’ll try to get a refund.

Wow, just last week I noticed a banner announcing new managment:

But I stopped by over the weekend to check in and the banner was gone and the place was deserted:

We judged the Cajun Experience back in March 2011. We we first learned that they would open in the old Inti Peruvian space by Lauriol Plaza back in Dec. 2010.

25 Comment

  • For whatever reason, it seems to be really hard to do anything Cajun-themed very far from Cajun country. And for the record, New Orleans and Cajun styles of cuisine should not be confused with one another. They are very different and come from very different places.

  • The food was good, but the service was probably the worst I’ve experienced in DC. Not surprised that it would go out of business based on that.

  • This is not surprising but still sad. They were failing quickly and had signs up giving discounts for people who pay in cash – showing they had cash flow issues and were about to shutter.

    I live a block away and kept giving them more chances, but it never really pulled together. The food was fine, but not outstanding. That’s a hard tradeoff to make for a Cajun place: authenticity vs meeting customer expectations. They weren’t so amazingly authentic that people would make a trip to them, and most customers probably found the food heavy and not particularly amazing.

    They had a nice outdoor space that people never knew about, so they never got Lauriol spillover (which is Zabb’s entire business model at this point). They place wasn’t run well, but it wasn’t a disaster. Sorry that it failed, I really had hoped it would turn things around.

  • They started off really well, but at some point began to rapidly decline. Seems like poor management did them in. First couple of times I went, I thought this place was excellent and would be an enduring hit. Last times, it seemed confusion, poor service, and constantly being out of basic items was the order of the day. The Yelp reviews reflect the shift; I wonder if the folks who own the original Leesburg location stopped running the day-to-day here?

    • For me the turning point was when just about the entire waitstaff walked out of the restaurant, (cook staff included) on NYE 2011/12. I heard waiters checks were bouncing and even saw a cook or dishwasher guy come in to ask for his paycheck – he left without it. Who knows if he ever got paid. The service went downhill too and they never seemed to get their act together. I wonder if one of the owners took the money and ran off with it, leaving them scratching their heads as to which bill they were going to pay first.

  • maybe someone should try less than mediocre mexican food there.

  • the last time i went in, my whole party got food poisoning and we saw a mouse. i’m glad it’s gone.

  • Went there two weeks ago and I’m still waiting for them to bring me the beers i ordered and the ketchup i asked for. Also if you have something on your menu that says ask about our Abita beers on tap you need to have more than Budlight and Miller light on tap…

  • As a South Louisiana native, I gave the place a couple chances, and I really wanted to like it, especially since I heard the owner was a fellow Louisianian. Unfortunately, when I looked at the menu, it said that its Crawfish Etoufee was made with the “holy trinity” of onions, green peppers, and GARLIC. Umm, no. The Cajun “holy trinity” is onions, green peppers, and CELERY. You can’t get something like that so fundamentally wrong and have a chance to stick around.
    I guess this is why my mom always warned me to never eat Cajun food outside of Louisiana.

  • I have some vouchers from The Capital Deal for that place. I have never been, but somebody owes me a refund!

  • Agree with everyone’s comments below. I frequented the restaurant when it first opened and even enjoyed a couple of crawfish boils. But change in management and lack of customer service and clear communications were its downfall. As a Cajun, I was really disappointed with how things turned out. Good food is never worth terrible service. I can make it on my own.

  • I heard the original management ran away with upwards of $100k, and they had a large tax lien. Subsequent management/ownership wasn’t able to save the sinking ship. They definitely used the strategy of selling vouchers to provide short-term cashflow, perhaps with the strategy of gaining repeat customers and getting their name out there. But ultimately, inconsistent (but generally good) food, bad service, and an inespecably large financial hole did them in.

    They also should have taken the bars down from the windows to make the space more inviting. I’d love to see something more fast casual in that space- a cafe like Cafe Sorriso in Woodley Park or a Pound Coffee.

  • This place killed my dog and poured lemon juice in my eyes while I was sobbing.

    Just kidding! The food and service did suck though.

  • While I’m not surprised to see them go, I would think a dive bar could kill it here. Serve only the basics of bar food if anything. Hell, a place that served grilled cheese with decent cheap beer would be great. People waiting for Lauriol could pre-game, as could people going/coming from AdMo.

  • I never had the chance to eat here, but I had purchased a living social voucher to try it out. I think you can request a refund through their website like I’m doing. Shame. http://help.livingsocial.com/articles/what-is-your-refund-policy

  • It was such a shame to see this place go from The Cajun Experience to the Cajun Worst Experience over the course of the last 6 months. Up until Dec. 2011 they had some of the best food and live entertainment that wasn’t your typical Dupornt/AdMo fare. After the New Year, management fired the chef and the entire staff and it never recovered. I gave it one last chance in late January and waited more than 20 minutes for a glass of water and over an hour for my meal.

    • Duke, the mgmt. did not fire the chef. The chef (Tom) quit because he was disgusted with the place and tired of not getting paid pay period after pay period. The owner skipped town (overseas) with a large chunk of the money and they were left holding the bag (an empty one at that). Sex scandals in the bathroom, vandalism in the alley behind the restaurant. It was time for them to shut the doors on that place.

  • The best example I saw of this place going down hill was it’s Steak Diane. When they first opened up, the ribeye steak they used was a huge cut of choice meat and they topped it their great etouffee. It was an interesting spin on an old steakhouse dish that was fantastic. At the time, it really was one of my favorite steak dishes I’ve had in DC.

    Just after the New Year, we went back to specifically have the Steak Diane. We had talked about it all week. We put in the order and (45 mins later) out pops this thin overcooked rubbery piece of meat. I’m not sure if it was even beef. The menu hadn’t changed the description of the dish and the price was the same, yet here was this terrible cut of meat topped with “ettoufe” that was really just brown water with flower mixed in. It was terrible. Maybe the most dramatic difference in the quality of a restaurant’s food that I’ve seen in such a short time span.

  • Does anyone know what is the name of the owner?

  • The service was mediocre at best. Food was okay. I had two deals for them. I used one and just filed for a refund for the other. I wish the Peruvian place had never closed.

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