photography by Kevin Marple Shrimp, chicken, and sausage gumbo

Restaurant Review: The Free Man

This Deep Ellum spot serves tried-and-true Cajun classics.

There’s nothing particularly complex about Cajun cuisine. It’s soul food from the Bayou, and, when it’s cooked properly, you can taste the spicy, swampy love. Likewise, there isn’t anything surprising about The Free Man. Filling the former Sol’s Taco Lounge space, it looks like a typical Deep Ellum bar and grill: brick walls, concrete floors, and a long, narrow space dominated by a bar and beer-soaked revelry. However, owner John Jay Myers—a former musician and fixture of the Dallas music scene for several years—is onto something with his new place. It exudes a welcoming vibe. Performed nightly, live jazz music spills out onto the street when the door opens. A waiter seats you immediately, offers you a glass of sweet tea, and hands you a menu littered with tried-and-true Cajun classics. All are competent interpretations. Some are exceptional. Rich, buttery roux and crisp peppers dominate the crawfish étouffée. It was a spicy treat. The fried oyster po’ boy was dressed with a mile-high layer of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and a smoky remoulade. A chunky olive spread saved The Free Man’s perfunctory-at-best muffuletta. And gumbo—the holy grail of Cajun cuisine—was warm and comforting like a good gumbo should be. The Free Man might not deliver the best Cajun fare in Dallas, but it certainly shows you the love. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

For more information about The Free Man, visit our restaurant guide.

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