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BEST CAJUN/CREOLE RESTAURANT Phoenix 2003 - Voodoo Daddy's

Sometimes Cajuns and Creoles like to fight over food. Cajuns tend to think Creoles are stuck-up, what with their French-inspired cuisine and fancier ingredients. Creoles tend to believe that Cajuns are at best bourgeoisie, given to snacking on such lower-level swamp critters as alligator, crawfish and, yes, even squirrel. Voodoo Daddy's doesn't have squirrel, and it doesn't have luxe dishes like deep-dish rabbit and foie gras pie. But it does have an impressive enough selection of New Orleans-style dishes to keep even the most orthodox Cajuns and Creoles happy. We appreciate the casual but excellent fried green tomatoes, the gator bites (marinated chunks of alligator dusted in corn meal and fried in peanut oil), and the fragrant frog legs piquant (sautéed in peppery tomato-based sauce, simmered with andouille sausage and green olives over long grain white rice). When we're feeling a touch fancier, we go for the Oysters Bienville (a dozen fresh shucked Louisiana gulf oysters topped with cheese, breadcrumbs and herbs, broiled until golden on top), or duck confit salad (sautéed duck mixed with salad greens, onions and a warm balsamic vinaigrette topped with duck cracklings). We always finish up with a fine dessert: French bread pudding with raisins, pecans and whiskey sauce. Let the two camps duke it out; all we can say is, ooh wee, these vittles are all good.

Readers' Choice: Voodoo Daddy's

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