Madea’s Cajun Cafe
417 Garfield St S, Tacoma
Madea’s Cajun Café is a homey, casual diner with just a handful of tables; the food is rustic and authentic. Owned by Louisiana native Keitha Okafor and her sister Mary Williams, it opened in July 2011, just a couple of blocks from the PLU campus.
It was Okafor’s son who persuaded the two to open a restaurant and her grandmother who inspired the food. In the South, “Madea” is a term of endearment for grandmother. Since Okafor learned most of her cooking techniques from her grandma, it seemed fitting to name the restaurant for her.
There are few Cajun establishments in the Pierce County area, but Okafor’s success is not due to lack of competition. “If the food’s good, they’ll keep coming back,” she said. The food is good, and they do keep coming back.
Cajun fried pickles are a hearty appetizer, accompanied by blue cheese or ranch dressing. Tangy dill slices are tossed in a seasoned breading and served up in generous portions. Boudin sausage links and Cajun fried turkey wings are also on the menu.
Chunks of chicken, shrimp and Andouille sausage are abundant in Madea’s jambalaya. Okafor’s spice blend is complex and earthy and packs some heat. The Po-boy shrimp sandwich combines sweet batter-fried prawns on a crisp roll with a dressing lightly laced with horseradish. Also worth a try are seafood gumbo, crawfish étouffé, and red beans and rice. For less adventurous palates, the menu offers a variety of burgers.
Madea’s fare is full-flavored and rich in subtle nuances. As Paul Prudhomme said, “When the taste changes with every bite and the last bite is as good as the first, that’s Cajun.”