Brenda’s Diner

As we ate our way through lunch of fried chicken, fried pork chops, red beans with sausage, rice and gravy, candied yams, and smothered cabbage, we looked at each other and smiled ear to ear. Brenda’s is the sort of restaurant we pray to find.

Each dish Brenda Placide served us that day was just about the best version of itself that we have had since, maybe, forever. The hard-crusted pork chop was audibly juicy inside, with an earthy tenderness that had us gnawing to the bone. The chicken had a more fragile crust; its juices burst forth at first bite. The red beans were New Iberia HOT; the yams were spicy-sweet; the smothered cabbage, rich with nuggets of garlicky sausage, brought new honor to the vegetable kingdom.

We ate this magnificent food in a tidy little dining room where a CD of Southern gospel music set a rapturous tone. When we asked Brenda Placide’s daughter Tealeab if the voice we were hearing was that of Shirley Caesar, she did a double take and grinned ear-to-ear. “You like gospel?” she said. When we nodded yes, she said, “You’ve got to hear Debra Snipes. She is from around here.” Unable to find the CD, she put on her coat and disappeared for a while, leaving us to oo and aah over the food while the other gospel recording lifted our spirits heavenward.

Meanwhile, Tealeab’s mother did a poor job of answering our questions about exactly why and how the food she cooked was so delicious. “It’s from my mamma’s kitchen,” she said. “I couldn’t tell you how to do it because she never taught me to measure anything. You add seasoning and spice until it’s right.” It occurred to us that we could study Brenda Placide as she cooked, taking scrupulous notes about every grain of every ingredient she used, and we couldn’t in a lifetime make food like this. It would be like watching Isaac Stern play the violin, then copying his every move.

Such a likable place! Humble, indeed, but once you are inside the tiny home (with seats for no more than 20), you feel the warmth of honest hospitality. It is well-worn and yet immaculate, its walls a gallery of gratitude: prints and posters celebrating African-American culture, as well as photos marking the achievements of Brenda’s kin (graduations, weddings, reunions). We never felt so at home as when Tealeab returned with the Debra Snipes CD in hand. She had used a felt maker to sign the plastic case from herself and her mom, with love to us, and she insisted we take the uplifting music along on our trip. It turned out to be a great CD, but it was not the only inspiration we received from our visit to this humble diner in the Queen City of the Teche.

Directions & Hours

Closed Now
  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed

What To Eat

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Smothered Cabbage

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Red Beans

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Pork Chops

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Fried Chicken

DISH

Brenda’s Diner Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Brenda’s Diner?

3 Responses to “Brenda’s Diner”

Jane & Michael Stern
Jane & Michael Stern

December 24th, 2012

Previous reviewers have detailed the charming atmosphere, and the welcoming demeanor of the owner and staff, of Brenda’s, so I will skip straight to the food. My family and I went there for the first time today and, I can assure you, we will return.

Between us, we ordered the pork bones, chicken stew, and turkey necks, all true soul food done with excellence. If you are not familiar with these kinds of dishes, do not be intimidated or put off by their seemingly humble descriptions. They are served with rice and gravy, and each one is a plate of slow-cooked, silky, rich deliciousness with just enough seasoning to be perfect in their simplicity. It would be difficult to choose a favorite from among the three, but I might have to say the pork bones were the general winner.

Come prepared to get into your food, not just figuratively, but literally; you will want to use your hands on much of this. My little boy was a pro. My husband and I are new to New Iberia, and my visiting parents from Washington, DC actually found the recommendation for Brenda’s on Roadfood. None of us were disappointed.

My only regret is that we did not order the fourth offering of the day, the meatballs and gravy, so that we could have broadened our experience of Brenda’s skill. I was not a huge fan of the red beans, but I was probably in the minority. We did get an order of peach cobbler for dessert as well, and it is the kind I make — a spoonable dumpling-like thing — but Brenda uses a little nutmeg and cinnamon in hers, and it is delicious. Hubby and I will definitely be returning.

Reply

Jane & Michael Stern
Jane & Michael Stern

March 5th, 2011

The small converted house in a rundown neighborhood was deceiving as I drove up. Inside, Brenda’s is quaint and charming, and I was greeted with warm smiles from Brenda and her daughter.

I ordered the fried chicken for lunch, which was as good as any I’ve had, including my own. The surprise was when Brenda brought my lunch out, which included a small portion of every entree and side dish she offered for the day. “I wanted you to try all of my food, I hope you like it.” The food and hospitality, it’s all good.

Reply

Jane & Michael Stern
Jane & Michael Stern

October 26th, 2005

I’m originally from New Iberia, LA, moving to NC in ’87. Have been a happy viewer of Roadfood.com for a few years and after doing a web search for LA found that only Brenda’s Diner was listed in my hometown. I had never heard of Brenda’s Diner until my search at Roadfood.com. My wife, daughter, and I visited Brenda’s on Oct. 21st, 2005. I asked the owner, Brenda Placide, how long she’d been open. She said 16 years (and that is why I’ve never heard of the place, since I moved away 18 years ago).

This diner was not a pretentious place. Very modest, it had a Freedom From Slavery motif, and was clean. The food exploded with flavor once you took your first bite. I had a fish po-boy and it was incredible, with a nice crunchiness. The flavor of the po-boy dressing was a delight. The french fries were old-fashioned, homemade. I also had some smothered cabbage with rice that was out of this world.

My wife and daughter had the shrimp stew. They offered me a taste and it was scrumptious, the stew having the consistency of one cooked for many hours. As a side dish my wife enjoyed some string beans mixed with small potatoes. My daughter had a peach cobbler and loved it. I usually don’t like peach cobbler but I had a taste and this was one peach cobbler I can recommend.

Brenda’s Diner is the BEST place to get a real good home-cooked meal, and I’d recommend it to ANYONE. If you travel along I-10 in southern Louisiana, take a little side trip south to New Iberia, get directions, find the place and you’ll think that you’ve died and gone to heaven.

Reply

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