Foodies travel far and wide to get a taste of something they can savor far longer than the time it takes to finish a meal. They look for culture, experience and, of course, quality cuisine. Having traveled the world and tried all kinds of delicacies, I have come to realize that my home town in Southwest Louisiana offers the foodie an unrivaled experience in each of these categories.
It’s common knowledge that Louisiana harbors some of the best cajun, creole and seafood dinners in the world, but locals in this area know fairly well that variety is truly the taste of life. And Southwest Louisiana serves it up unlike any other place.
So, if your coming to visit Louisiana and looking for a good meal, here are my top 10 local spots that you may not find on the typical travel sites “where to dine” list.
10. Peking Garden
2433 Broad St
Peking Garden is a local treasure. It’s our Diamond in the Ruff! It’s the best Chinese Food around and has been for years! I love the place for it’s over the top decor much like what you would see in the Chinese New Years parade! It’s cool… Not something you see every day. The food is served traditionally, in big servings to share with the family. If you’re looking for an experience, Peking Garden is where you will find it.
9. Nina P’s
1600 W McNeese St
“What Southern Living is All About” is the slogan and it fits them all too well! Nina P’s is a family spot! The owner is a spicy blonde who has a passion for her business which is evident! The food is the closest you’ll find to home cookin’ outside of the home! Their reputation is solid. So solid, that after a fire that would have put any restaurant out of business, the city rallied around them to reopen and now they are doing better than ever! The burgers and beignets are all the rage! You gotta check out Nina P’s on your way through the Lake Area.
104 W Pujo St. Ste 100
You wouldn’t usually associate gourmet hotdogs with Louisiana, but Botsky’s does it right! This small eatery in the middle of downtown is a local favorite for many reasons. First of all, there is so much variety! You can choose your choice of dog. Whether it be sausage, turkey, Kobe Beef wrapped in cabbage or served on a freshly toasted bun, you really cant go wrong. Then there are the toppings. The chili is a crowd favorite, but the red beans will have you coming back for more. My personal favorite is the CajunKraut (Sauerkraut with a cajun twist). The options are endless and it’s kid friendly as well. The decor is modern, sleek, and comfortable.
It’s awesome, it’s fresh and it’s always busy during lunch!
335 E Prien Lake Rd
“Lake Charles Tradition” as they boast is truly its namaste. Tony’s is cozy, cute and comfortable! I love the place and me and my family frequent as often as possible. I like to dine in rather than order take out, because the environment is seriously amazing. They’ve been around since 1968 and haven’t changed much over time! The Tony’s special pizza is addictive! This is a must for a traveling foodie! It’s family owned and operated which is easy to see! One of the owners is always there to greet you, cracking jokes and making you feel like your part of the family!!
5614 Gerstner Memorial Blvd
If you’re looking for a traditional plate lunch, come to Hackett’s. I must warn you though! If you eat from Hackett’s you will fall into a deep sleep after your meal! I am not kidding! You have been warned! Hackett’s is packed every day. It closes at 2pm, so people are always lined up ready to order as soon as the doors open! This place is a local tradition for the food lovers of our area! It’s a little out of the way, but stays busy so you know they are doing something right!
5. KD’s Diner
240 W Prien Lake Rd
There is absolutely no place like KD’s! It always gets a unanimous vote when thrown into the “where should we eat today” lotto! KD’s is everything you want in a diner! Everything. It’s funky, down to earth and totally over the top all at the same time! It’s open 24 hours a day and serves any and every type of guest. Given the hours, you’ll always find the local police dining next to a few youngsters trying to shake their buzz. Everyone in town knows and loves KD’s and you will too!
719 Ryan St
Luna is all about culture! It’s a mixture of rock-n-roll, hippie vibes and all american tradition. This place is cool.. Like really cool! It’s the epicenter of downtown and is a huge part of the local culture. I could write for days about why I love Luna, but I’ll keep it simple. Let’s talk about the food! Okay… This cuisine is unique. The cosmic sauce is out of this world! You can use it as dipping sauce or a nice condiment for your burger. It really doesn’t matter because it tastes good on everything. The fried mushrooms are my appetizer of choice. As for an entree, you have to try the Uranus Burger! It’s a huge grilled or fried pork chop sandwich! This place is a local favorite for a reason!
3. El Tapatio
2624 Gerstner Memorial Dr
El Tapatio…. Oh the love I have for El Tapatio. So much love, I indulge weekly in the Tacos de Carne Asada with no remorse! This place is banging and all the locals love it! Only a few staff member speak English and the food is served piping hot and the decor is similar to the dives in New Mexico! It’s just perfect! When you leave you will be smelling like tacos! And who doesn’t love the smell of tacos!! I mean, El Tapatio is the place to be!
3620 Gerstner Memorial Blvd. Ste H
Now lets trail our way into traditional Louisiana cuisine with this poboy deli! Situated in a little hide away strip mall on Highway 14, this deli is now known as “Lake Charles best kept secret”. How to describe this place…. Passion is the word! The owner bought the original shop and tripled the business in just a year! The Spicy Boiled Crawfish Peaux Boy put them on the map! But I kid you not when I say that I have seen a Facebook friend post one of the famous “What Im Thankful For on Thanksgiving” posts and listed Buffi’s Cabbage and Tasso soup as number 1! You can see the passion in the product. Everything is fresh, delicious and served with a smile! I love this place! Oh! And the deserts are homemade! This is a must have!
I know I said I wasn’t going to list the restaurants you’ll find on the traveler’s guides, but how could I do a top 10 in Louisiana without a Seafood joint.
Tried and true should be the slogan for this Cajun restaurant. The owner started the business first from a shrimp truck, then slowly climbed to the peak of restaurant perfection over the years! Steamboat Bill’s has been featured in many best of columns and for good reason. Quality Quality Quality! The crawfish are spicy! Get napkins ready because your sinus’s will be clear after a pound or two. But seriously, point and pick on the menu! Everything is good! If it’s not, it doesn’t last long in the place! The owners love to please and will do anything to make a guest happy. This is a Louisiana classic and will be for years to come! If you didn’t know, now you do!
There are so many great places to eat in Southwest Louisiana, and I couldn’t fit them all on this top 10 list. So here are just a few honorable mentions:
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