On a recent road trip, I found that there’s a treasure of culinary decadence if you know where to look.

I started in Monroe with a stop at Cotton restaurant. Here, local celebrity chef, Cory Bahr, churns out classic Southern food including perhaps the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever tasted. A tip from a local sent me to Big Mama’s Fine Foods, another “Monroe must” for some of the tastiest fried chicken in the state.

Next, I visited Landry Vineyards—one of seven wineries in Louisiana with distribution all over the state. After sampling wine, it was on to Ruston, known throughout the state for its annual Louisiana Peach Fest. Though peaches weren’t in season, family-owned Mitcham Farms had some delicious homemade peach preserves worth the stop.

I rolled into Shreveport-Bossier for dinner at Herby-K’s, one of the oldest continually-operated restaurants in the city. The hospitality at this hole-in-the-wall couldn’t be friendlier, and the seafood gumbo and “shrimp buster” (fried butterflied shrimp on a po-boy roll) were a delight.

Traveling south on I-49 on my way to Alexandria, I stopped in Natchitoches to taste the famed Lasyone’s Meat Pies, a Creole-style empanada. Then it was on to Inglewood Farm, where sustainability is the guiding force behind their wide range of fresh produce, eggs, and other foods.   

On my last day, before crossing the great Lake Charles bridge, I pulled into Steamboat Bill’s for pistolettes—heavenly puffs of dough fried and stuffed with shrimp étouffée—and a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate bread pudding to round out the final stop on my trip.

In less than an hour driving west on I-10 I was back in the Lone Star State. It was great to be home but even better to have a few tasty memories from Creole Country.

To learn more about the 8 culinary trails, visit louisianaculinarytrails.com.

 

For more information:

St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana’s NorthShore

Baton Rouge

Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana

Alexandria-Pineville

Monroe-West Monroe

Shreveport-Bossier