Cajun barbecue joint worth the drive

Brianna Sheen

When a friend first suggested I go to Rafter J BBQ after I ranted about a severe lack of cajun food in our otherwise culinarily-blessed city, I was immediately excited. Until I learned this supposed cajun-barbecue paradise was a whopping 17 minutes from campus, off 287 in Iowa Park.

But as a person of immense fondness when it comes to cajun food and barbecue alike, and as someone who knew I wouldn’t be paying, I agreed.

I was not disappointed in the slightest.

The restaurant, decked in memorabilia from Iowa Park, Wichita Falls, Texan culture, and a plethora of other knick knacks, boasted some of the best gumbo and barbecue I’ve had. And being from Houston, I’ve had a lot.

The first time I went to Rafter J’s (I ended up going twice in a week to take some friends to experience it themselves) I ordered the gumbo, which came with two sides. I received my gumbo, baked potato salad, and cajun fries (jalapenos fried in cajun seasoning) in no time at all.

No one item stands apart from the rest – they were all so satisfying. Comfort food at its finest for around $8.

Having satisfied my hankering for cajun food, I opted for a brisket and sausage plate on my return trip. Baked potato salad and cajun fries again – they’re just that good. The sausage wasn’t what I was expecting and didn’t have that smokey flavor I tend to opt for, but it was good nonetheless. The brisket was moist and the smoke ring was something for the record books, all for around $10.

My sweet tea glass never went unfilled, and I think every waitress in the building came by at least once to make sure my table was set with condiments and drinks.

Rafter J’s makes up for the 14-mile journey in quality and price. There’s good barbecue in Wichita Falls for sure, whether it be Texas Best or Daddy Bob’s Smokewagon, but if I have the time, I’d definitely pick this place for a plate of barbecue or bowl of gumbo. I may go back just for the baked potato salad.

Load up your car with some friends and make a night of it. They’ll surely thank you for showing them this hidden gem, just like I thanked my friend who convinced me to give it a chance.

Rafter J BBQ
507 SW Access Rd, Iowa Park, TX 76367
5 stars