An Early Look at Bayou Bakery

A Louisiana-born chef brings the Big Easy to Courthouse.

Beignets and "porkorn"—caramel corn with bacon—are two of the New Orleans-inspired sweets on David Guas's menu. Photographs by Chris Leaman.

>>For more photos of Bayou Bakery and its menu items, click here. 

Bayou Bakery has been open a little more than two weeks, but the New Orleans-inspired restaurant in Courthouse already has regulars.

“There’s one guy who has come in at 7:15 everyday,” says chef/owner David Guas, a New Orleans native who made his name as a pastry chef for the Passionfood Hospitality Group (Ceiba, Acadiana, and others).

Guas says this particular regular is a fan of the breakfast sandwich—a house-made biscuit with Benton’s bacon or turkey sausage, egg, and cheese. Other breakfast items on the chalkboard menu include beignets and house-made croissants. Among the lunchtime options are sandwiches such as the “arm drip,” a roast-beef po’ boy with gravy, Swiss cheese, and sautéed onions; and Guas’s warm “muff-a-lotta” with olive salad.

The nighttime menu is divided into three sections: meat and cheese (like boudin sausage and pimento cheese), lagniappes (small dishes such as deviled eggs), and a hot-plate special that changes nightly—one offering is shrimp-and-crawfish jambalaya. Next to the cash register is a glass case with desserts from Guas’s James Beard Award-nominated cookbook, DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, New Orleans Style, including red-velvet cupcakes and pralines, as well as other treats like bittersweet-chocolate brownies. Customers can wash it all down with Counter Culture coffee and a selection of wine and beer, including Abita, a brew from Louisiana.

While the kitchen has the ethos of a white-tablecloth restaurant (local purveyors, making lots in-house), the vibe is decidedly casual. Diners order and pickup their food at the counter, and seating includes a leather couch. A shelf of reading material—Anne Rice novels, Southern Living magazines, the New Orleans Times-Picayune—provides entertainment, as does a flat-screen TV mounted on the exposed-brick wall. Guas’s presence is not just in his menu: He painted the rustic red doors himself and cut boards of pressed sugar cane for the tables. The funky stained-glass pieces in the windows were made by his cousin in New Orleans from salvaged window frames, and his wife decoupaged the bathrooms with sweet (women’s) and savory (men’s) Southern recipes.

Overall, the place is comforting—and a little whimsical: A sign asking diners to bus their own tables reads “This ain’t ya mama’s house.” But it already feels like a second home to some.

Bayou Bakery, 1515 North Courthouse Road, Arlington; 703-243-2410; Open Monday Saturday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—which starts tomorrow. Sunday hours are coming next year. Breakfast $1.75 to $3.75, sandwiches $5 to $7, meat-and-cheese plates $4 to $8. For the full menu, click here.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.