Food and drink are Louisiana’s equivalence to heart and soul. And there are tons of passionate chefs and entrepreneurs thriving in Lake Charles, LA. Of course, there are several local staples that cannot be missed – a “Darrell’s Special” po’boy; ham, turkey, and roast beef drowned in roast beef gravy served on a crunchy yet soft French loaf, an extra-large seafood platter from Steamboat Bill’s on the Lake, and you can’t visit Southwest Louisiana without sampling boudin and cracklins’ along the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail.
But, there are loads of new local culinary treats worthy of the trip. Crying Eagle Brewing Co. is one of the newest additions to the Louisiana Brewery Trail, and their beers are delicious! A local favorite is the crisp, rice lager “Louisiana Lager.” It pairs perfectly with Cajun seasonings like cayenne, fresh herbs, and The Trinity. Take a tour or just enjoy a few brews. You could easily spend an afternoon here. *Local Tip: Visit the first Thursday of the month for Food Trucks Invade! Crying Eagle also has an outdoor beer garden and live music, so be sure to check their calendar for events.
Another beer-centric restaurant is Rikenjak’s in Lake Charles where you can taste beers from around Louisiana and also enjoy live music on the outside patio area or near the inside stage. While you’re sampling the local libations, make sure Yellowfin Vodka and Bayou Rum are on the list. Both are distilled using 100% Louisiana sugarcane and are 100% delicious. Take a tour to learn how these craft spirits are made. You’ll love the homegrown, from the ground up stories of both these businesses, not to mention the samples!
While you are in the area, you can experience a variety of brunches and a special Zydeco lunch at Blue Dog Café. Saturdays at lunch, head over the Blue Dog to soak in the Creole culture and Zydeco music by local artists such as Sean Ardoin, Rusty Metoyer & the Zydeco Krush and more. You’ll be able to dance off the calories of lunch in no time. What also makes Blue Dog a special find is that the art on the walls is produced by Louisiana artist George Rodrigue, and the executive chef is Ryan Trahan who was named as the 2018 winner of the Louisiana Seafood Cookoff as well as the King of the American Seafood, representing the state of Louisiana this past August.
Other brunch opportunities are a Jazz Brunch at Luna Bar & Grill, which also happens to be voted the most popular restaurant by locals in 2018, and you can try out other creative brunches at Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill at L’Auberge Casino Resort or another downtown tradition, Pujo St. Café in Lake Charles. Or, for a quiet breakfast spot with local products and organic coffee, The Bekery offers quiet options to relax with friends and family.
For truly authentic, Southwest Louisiana experiences, you can taste boudin from the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail. Boudin is one of the area’s favorite finger foods, and the delicacy comes in a variety of flavors and formations – from fresh, hot links to deep, fried boudin balls. As you eat your way across Southwest Louisiana, you can check out attractions or take a road trip down the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. Boudin is hearty, and it’s just the type of food that is perfect for getting your energy-level up for exploring Mother Nature’s beautiful landscapes in Southwest Louisiana.
In addition to these local products, there are several farmers’ markets with a proud community of local producers of fruits and vegetables, meats, honey, jams, and spices. Foodie craftsmen like Pops and Rockets with gourmet popsicles and organic juicers Pure Press Juicery have taken their farmer’s markets popularity and grown into full culinary experiences to enjoy outside of market days.
Of course, in Southwest Louisiana, there is much to celebrate with the area being the festival capital of the state. Depending on when you travel to Lake Charles, you can check out events with food contests such as the Gumbo Cookoff held during Mardi Gras every year or the annual Boudin Wars event, for example. Also, during the Mardi Gras season, local bakeries and donut shops have King Cakes for the taking!
There are many traditions in Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana. It’s every foodie’s dream come true! More incredible foodie experiences can also be found in the area’s four casino complexes with Delta Down’s Racetrack Casino & Hotel to the Isle of Capri or the two premier resorts side-by-side, L’Auberge Casino Resort and Golden Nugget Lake Charles, complete with elegant dining selections to casual options in the South’s Premier Gaming Resort Destination.