Several blocks off of Main Street in the Argenta District of North Little Rock lies a hidden gem. At 606 North Olive Street, you’ll find Mr. Cajun’s Kitchen & Catering, a local restaurant serving the best Cajun food in the Metro area. Chef Lesly Bracely opened the establishment earlier this year, and its popularity
quickly took off. Bracely is a North Little Rock native, and he says that his interest in cooking was formed at an early age.
“When I was a kid, I’d always help my mom out around the kitchen, from washing dishes, to checking on things in the oven. That’s
where my love for cooking comes from.”
He received his professional training at the Culinary Institute of New Orleans. “My love for food is deep and Cajun food is one of my passions, it’s actually what led me to New Orleans,” said Bracely. He returned to the Natural State in 2005 as a result of Hurricane Katrina and soon began working at Ristorante Capeo, also in Argenta. After awhile, he relocated to Texas to work in several capacities before returning back home to Arkansas.
Bracely built a reputation for himself through his local family catering business, which he ran for over 12 years, prior to opening Mr. Cajun’s Kitchen. “The goal was always to open my own restaurant but I didn’t want to do it until I could do it the right way, and this year felt like the right time.”
The rotating menu of Mr. Cajun’s Kitchen features some of the best authentic Cajun food north of the Louisiana border. There are so many amazing options to choose from. A few specialties include the Cajun seafood box (which includes crab legs, shrimp, Andouille sausage, corn and potatoes); jambalaya; shrimp and grits; crab cakes, served over Cajun rice; a shrimp boil; and gumbo. The menu also includes fried catfish, surf and turf, several pasta options, and blackened salmon, and periodically features Cajun oxtails (a rarity in the area) and turkey wings. The house dessert is banana pudding. It is worth noting that everything is seasoned to perfection and the portions are generous.
While Bracely admits that there have been certain challenges associated with the pandemic, he says for the most part, the restaurant has fared pretty well, due to the support of the local community. Prior to the mandate that restaurants switch to takeout only, Mr. Cajun’s had dine-in space accommodating around 25 people. Following the pandemic, Bracely hopes to expand the restaurant, adding an outdoor dining space and a Louisiana-style daiquiri bar. “I want people to walk in and have an experience that reminds them of an actual space in New Orleans.”
Mr. Cajun’s Kitchen & Catering is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m., and Saturday from noon-5 p.m. Due to the popularity of the restaurant and social distancing guidelines, it is highly suggested that you place a call-in order. Follow the Mr. Cajun’s Facebook page for daily specials and updates.