Santa Cruz Good Times

Dec 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Loving Louie’s

diningLaissez Les Bons Temps Rouler—Let the Good Times Roll at Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar

If you don’t know the Cajun phrase “laissez bons temps rouler”—let the good times roll—then you soon will when you enter Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar in Downtown Santa Cruz. It’s painted on the vibrant murals that cover the walls of this spacious restaurant. Brightly colored scenes of New Orleans run from one end to the other, adding an abundance of pizzazz and atmosphere.


Restaurant owners Lou and Christi Caviglia are thrilled with the artwork, but it was sheer happenstance that this explosion of color came about, Lou says. Local artist Taylor Reinhold was in the restaurant one day, and he and Lou got talking about Reinhold’s murals. “He said, ‘Let me blow up your walls,’” laughs Lou. And that was the start of the restaurant’s transformation.

Taylor Reinhold, Jasper Marino, Carl Quale and Elijah Pfotenhauer belong to Made Fresh Collective, a group of artists who specialize in murals. Working every night when the restaurant closed so as not to disturb customers, the four of them took two weeks to complete the artwork on Louie’s Cajun Kitchen walls back in the summer of 2012. Reinhold is proud of the work he and his team members completed, but he is even prouder of the community murals and teaching that Made Fresh Collective does with at-risk youth in Watsonville.

The murals are packed with vibrant scenes of New Orleans—complete with trumpet and trombone players and more. As you walk from one end of the restaurant to the other, it’s as if you are taking a stroll down Bourbon Street—the center of action in this swinging musical city. Even iconic New Orleans blues singer and pianist Professor Longhair is in the mural.

dining2Lou Caviglia goes Cajun in Downtown Santa Cruz“That’s the real skyline of New Orleans,” says Lou, as he describes sections of the artwork. “There’s a local surfboard—and there’s also some hanky-panky in there,” he laughs, “but you’ll have to find that for yourself. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been part of,” Lou adds, “and I just love it. It creates a mood like I’ve never seen.”

The Caviglias originally opened Clouds Downtown in 1994 and operated the restaurant for 18 years before they transformed it into Louie’s Cajun Kitchen. Now, their youngest son, Giovanni Caviglia, aged 23, is at the helm in the kitchen, having started honing his natural talents for cooking at Clouds when he was 8 years old.

 With its new menu and upbeat vibe, Louie’s is a fun place to visit to enjoy a dinner of Cajun-style food or one of their specialty drinks at the lively bar. One of the most popular, of course, is the N’Awlins Hurricane, a five-rum infusion with three fruit juices “and more rum!”—or a Louie’s Mint Julep with Buffalo Trace Bourbon muddled with lime, fresh mint and sugar, topped with a splash of soda.

Bourbon Flights are offered, too, each flight of three with a different name. Try the ‘Call a Cab’ ($15) or the ‘Tennessee’s Finest’ ($12). Louie’s also mixes up some fabulous martinis. Try the ‘Big Louie Rita’ with Herradura Blanco Tequila ($8), or the ‘Beach Bum’ made with a blend of mango and pineapple rum.  Wines by the glass or bottle are offered at reasonable prices – as well as premium beers on tap or bottled.

And when it’s time to eat, Louie’s serves up some very tasty food. Never tried fried okra? Well, now’s your chance. And try the Shrimp & Crawfish Jambalaya; Gumbo Z’herbes; Fried Oysters; Blackened Prawn Salad; Boudin Meatballs, Fried Grits; and, of course, everybody’s favorite – Catfish.

A Mardi Gras Menu is offered, a three-course prix fixe menu of different selections for $25, including the famous New Orleans Beignets for dessert. “We ran it during restaurant week,” says Christi, “and it was so popular that we continued it.”

Let the good times roll, indeed. 

Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar, 110 Church St., Santa Cruz, 429-2000, For more information on Made Fresh Collective, visit them on Facebook.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Louie's Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar ROCKS!!
written by Trixie, January 02, 2014
I have eaten at Louie's on various occasions with friends and family and I must's the BEST! I love their Sunday brunch with Bacon Bloody Marys and don't even get me started on the Fried Green Tomatoes. Thank you to Lou, Christi, Giovanni and family. I look forward to my next dining experience with your wonderful staff and family.

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location