“Any event that went down—Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mardi Gras—everyone was at our house because they know we cooked,” Steven Gillam said.
When the Gillams moved to Texas in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, they brought their love of cooking and hosting traditions. Cajun Skillet opened in 2016 for catering, and a food truck was later added to bring their food to different communities. In September 2020, Cajun Skillet’s brick-and-mortar location opened as a result of their food truck success.
Cajun Skillet specializes in New Orleans and Cajun food, which Steven describes as using simple ingredients to build “layers of flavor.” Steven said cooking was an inherent talent passed down from his mother and grandmother, for whom the Catfish Olivia dish is named after.
New Orleans or Cajun restaurants are not common in Central Texas, Steven said, and people from Dallas and San Antonio have sought out Cajun Skillet for its food.
Steven said gumbo is the quintessential Cajun dish, and this is the test for guests from Louisiana who know their Cajun flavors. Shantrese said some guests have the mindset of, “If your gumbo is right, I can try some more.”
Their menu is constantly evolving with specials like a Monte Cristo sandwich or smothered chicken. There are also recipes that can be brought out that focus on aspects of soul food or Southern cuisine.
“Even with the New Orleans flavor, there’s still a Southern side that you can go in-depth with,” Shantrese said.
Each of the chefs has specialties that have helped build the Cajun Skillet menu. Shantrese makes desserts, bread pudding, beignets, etouffee, and—her favorite—a five-layer macaroni and cheese. The dish includes cayenne, pepper, paprika and salt to elevate a simple dish with layers of flavor, she said.
Steven cooks the restaurant’s shrimp, catfish, gumbo, po’ boys and gravies.
“They call me the gravy whisperer,” Steven said. “I can make a gravy out of almost anything.”
The Gillams have lived in Cedar Park for more than 15 years and have watched the city and area grow around their family. Now, they will watch the city build around their restaurant as the upcoming Bell District, a $350 million mixed-use development, will be built next to their restaurant.
Looking ahead, the restaurant is working to procure its liquor license to serve beer, wine and daiquiris, and to create a happy hour menu. Steven also said they hope to bring their food truck out more often.
“Going to different communities [and] going to office buildings [will] make sure that everyone experiences Cajun Skillet,” Steven said.
Shantrese and Steven Gillam recommend these dishes for Cajun Skillet newcomers.
- For lunch: Shrimp Po' Boy, $14.50: fried shrimp on toasted french bread with mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles and remoulade
- For dinner: Catfish Olivia, $16: two blackened catfish with dirty rice topped with crawfish étouffée
- For brunch: Shrimp and Grits, $10: polenta grits, cajun gravy and fried or blackened shrimp
251 N. Bell Blvd., Ste. 101, Cedar Park
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., closed Mon.-Tues.
The restaurant has limited seating. Online orders are recommended.