By Dana Goolsby
LONGVIEW- New Orleans (NOLA) has an incredible and distinctive regional food tradition, but you can have a taste of NOLA in the Pineywoods. New Orleans-style creole cuisine is on tap at Johnny Cace’s Seafood & Steakhouse in Longview, Texas. For over 60 years, the Cace’s have been carving out their creole niche in East Texas and keeping their family history and legacy alive.
Stepping into Johnny Cace’s is like stepping across the threshold of a restaurant in New Orleans’ French Quarter without ever having to leave Texas. I’ve eaten my fair share of creole food in the Big Easy and Johnny Cace’s is the closest thing I’ve tasted to the flavors of Deep South Louisiana in East Texas.
As soon as we were seated the waiter brought us a festive relish tray filled with pickled okra, bread and butter pickles, corn relish and cheese spread to go with a basket of toasted crouton bread.
The service was top notch at Johnny Cace’s. Our server always had a smile and was very kind to all of his customers. We later learned what the staff at Johnny Cace’s had to smile about. Many of the employees have been employed for multiple years. Some as many as 30+ years!
With so much fresh seafood on the menu and the smells of New Orleans wafting in the air it was hard to make a choice. After much debate, we ordered spicy fried crawfish tails as an appetizer. They were hand battered and seasoned to perfection. The serving size was more than enough; therefore, we even had a few left over to take home. I made a note to try to the crispy fried crab claws as an appetizer on my next trip to Johnny Cace’s.
While waiting for the appetizer we browsed the menu again. We decided to both get meals and half them. When our waiter came we placed an order for a bowl of Creole gumbo along with the crab and “shrimp in shorts” plate.
While we waited on our food we took a moment to browse the Cace’s history wall, and looked around the restaurant. The Cace’s family history was very interesting and noteworthy. Check out the history of Johnny Cace’s Seafood & Steakhouse legacy at the end of this article.
It wasn’t long before the doors flung open from the kitchen and our meal was delivered to our table. My tastebuds could hardly wait to taste what my eyes beheld.
Gumbo is probably the most famous dish in the realm of Louisiana cooking. It crosses all class barriers, appearing on the tables of the rich and poor. Although ingredients might vary greatly from one cook to the next, a steaming bowl of fragrant gumbo is one of life’s cherished pleasures.
Cace’s Creole gumbo was a hearty and savory blend of seafood, rice, and roux. The bowl of gumbo is perfect to split with your dinner partner as a side to your meal.
We divided the crab cakes, a loaded baked potato, cole slaw and four famous “shrimp and shorts” next. Crab cakes are one of my favorite seafood dishes, so I wasn’t thrilled about splitting it, but I certainly could not have finished a full serving.
After much anticipation, the crab cakes arrived. They were delicious and moist, and practically perfect. The “shrimp in shorts” were hand breaded with the Cace’s own breading mixture, that has been perfected to a blissful state that turns into a golden, crispy covering when fried. The cole slaw was also a nice treat. It was fresh and not weighed down with mayo, which provided a great taste to compliment the other flavors on the plate.
Just as we were paying our tab Mrs. Cathy Cace stopped by our table to ask how our experience at Johnny Cace’s had been. She also asked if it was our first time to visit the restaurant. Though I had long since heard of Johnny Cace’s in Longview, this was in fact my first time to dine with them. However, it won’t be my last!
If you are craving creole cooking don’t rush off to New orleans when you can have the best East Texas has to offer. Johnny Cace’s Seafood & Steakhouse will satisfy your cravings for a dish from the Deep South!
Johnny Cace’s is located at 1501 E. Marshall St. in Longview.
Vegetarian? Johnny Cace’s has you covered!
Johnny Cace’s also offers a full service bar.
Johnny Cace Favorites:
- Charbroiled oyster on a half-shell- Cooked on grill, seasoned with secret seasoning and butter and grilled over a flame.
- Creole Etoufee- An old Cace family recipe, flavorful but not too spicy.
- Cace’s shrimp and grits…served on Sunday. Garlic cheese grits made with bacon sauted shrimp.
- Housemade coconut pie
- Cace’s New Orleans bread pudding with a rum sauce.
- Cheese Cake & Blueberry cobbler
The History of Johnny Cace’s Seafood & Steakhouse
John Cace Senior, who’s Croatian name is properly pronounced, Chah-chay, married Anastasia Evasovich in January 1916. Her father had extensive holdings of oyster beds and fishing boats in the bayous of Plaquemines Parish Louisiana. Cace married into an opportunity, and became a businessman by cultivating oysters and fishing for a living.
A year after John and Anastasia married John (Johnny) Cace Jr. was born in New Orleans. Johnny grew up working with his father at the oyster camp over the summer. There he learned how to harvest oysters, as well as catch and cook fish. Several years later the Caces moved to Shreveport and opened an Oyster and Seafood Market.
After serving in the U.S. Air Force for four years, Johnny decided he was ready to start his own business and set his sights on Longview. Johnny spent some time talking to Longview locals about possibly bringing a New Orleans-style seafood restaurant to the area.
March 10, 1949, doors opened to Johnny Cace’s Seafood & Steak House on the southeast corner of Green & Tyler streets with seating for 37 customers, and later expanded to accommodate 200 guests. Fifteen years later Johnny Cace’s would need to expand to accommodate their growing customer base. In 1964, the restaurant was moved to its current location with seating for 300, which has since grown to today’s seating capacity of 450.
By 1980, Johnny had turned over daily restaurant operations and management to his son, Gerard Cace. Cace Sr. stayed involved with day-to-day operations of the restaurant until November of 2000, when he passed away at age 83.
Gerard and his wife Cathy would operate the restaurant as co-owners until 2012, when Gerard passed suddenly while coming home from a father-daughter fishing trip. Today, Cathy continues the legacy of Johnny Cace’s Seafood and Steakhouse and keeps the family recipes alive.
UPDATE- JOHNNY CACE’S HAS CLOSED