Wondering about the food in Lake Charles, Louisiana? Check out these suggestions including boudin, gumbo and some of the freshest seafood in the world.
What’s the the best food in Lake Charles, Louisiana? That was the question swirling in my head as my tiny plane gently landed at the equally tiny airport. Since I was visiting with the explicit goal of eating local food, I hoped that the dishes would be dominated by Cajun flavors and seafood.
Lake Charles is located in Southwest Louisiana – close to the Gulf of Mexico and dotted with rice fields, piney woods and prairie lands. The location provides easy access to fresh fish and seafood along with the usual array of Louisiana pork products. Even better, the city benefits from Southwest Louisiana’s melting pot of Cajuns and Cajun food. Spicy favorites like jambalaya and gumbo are readily available in Lake Charles.
Are you convinced to take a culinary tour yet?
Food in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Boudin is a Cajun sausage treat made with pork, liver, rice, green peppers and seasonings. Since Lake Charles is the epicenter of boudin production, and there’s no better place to eat boudin than on the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail. This trail has 27 stops, each serving its variation of boudin plus other local delicacies like cracklins, hog head cheese and Cajun quail eggs.
Boudin can be grilled or smoked. It sometimes fried into boudin balls, little crispy goblets that can be eaten as a meal or a snack.
Tasting Tip: Plan to spend a full day or two on the trail so that you can taste as many boudin varieties as possible. Rent a car and check out as many eclectic restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations as you can.
Rabideaux’s Sausage Kitchen is located at 105 US-165, Iowa, LA 70647, United States.
The Sausage Link is located at 2400 E Napoleon Street, Sulphur, LA 70663, United States.
Thanks to the nearby Gulf of Mexico, the availability of fresh seafood including shrimp, crabs and crawfish is ridiculous in Lake Charles. It’s easy to eat seafood at every meal and at every price point.
The unpretentious Seafood Palace is a popular spot where locals and food lovers share long tables topped with red vinyl tablecloths. The menu features all of the expected seafood served boiled, grilled and fried, plus some more exotic choices like alligator and blue crabs.
You don’t have to eat at a seafood restaurant to score good seafood in Lake Charles. Mazen’s Mediterranean Restaurant, known for its Grand Marnier Soufflé dessert, serves a delightful avocado salad loaded with fresh crab meat.
Mazen’s Mediterranean Restaurant is located at 217 W College St, Lake Charles, LA 70605, United States.
It would be a crime to visit Southwest Louisiana and not eat gumbo, especially if you love soup as much as I do. Gumbo was invented in this area in the 1700’s by Cajun settlers who cooked with their cultural penchant toward spices and local foods like seafood, rice and pork. A good gumbo starts with a dark roux that is cooked for hours to a chocolate brown. Key ingredients are onions, celery and bell pepper, though okra is often included as well. Although seafood gumbo is popular in the area, variations include chicken, duck and/or sausage.
My only question: Why isn’t there a gumbo trail in Lake Charles yet?
As Lake Charles continues to grow and benefit from the influx of casino visitors, it’s not surprising that the culinary scene is evolving and thriving. As tempting as it is to eat gumbo and other Cajun foods at every single meal, there are some other great options for food in Lake Charles that should not be missed.
At Calla, a modern new restaurant in downtown Lake Charles, Chef David Sorrells takes full advantage of the bounty of local ingredients. The restaurant’s menu features some fun twists like chicken fried eggs, blue crab beignets and shrimp & corn fritters. More adventurous eaters will want to try the bone marrow, antelope and veal sweetbread nuggets.
Calla is located at 1400 Market Street, Lake Charles LA 70601, United States.
The stately La Truffe Sauvage has offered a fine dining experience featuring a plethora of local ingredients and classic French dishes since 1998.
The five course tasting menu with globally sourced wine is a worthy splurge. Most of the dishes are rich and complicated like the Sunchoke Velouté en Croute with Duck Confit and the Filet Mignon topped with Foie Gras. However, my favorite dish was the simple Chèvre Chaud with Roasted Red and Yellow Beets.
La Truffe Sauvage is located at 815 W Bayou Pines Drive, Lake Charles, LA 70601, United States.
Food is celebrated at every meal in Lake Charles, and Sunday brunch is no exception. The best brunches always involve big plates of comfort food and generously poured drinks.
During my visit, I enjoyed Sunday brunch at the surprising Jack Daniels’ Bar and Grill – a loaded experience involving al fresco dining, a two-piece jazz ensemble, great drinks and a front row view of the Calcasieu River. And then there’s the food.
Chef Lyle Broussard has put his own spin on traditional brunch fare while incorporating the region’s great seafood. The result is innovative, exciting food that is a pure pleasure to eat. The ultimate dish is the Benedict, which is made with grilled French bread, poached eggs and spicy crawfish hollandaise sauce. Another stunner is the French Toast made with Jack Daniels, Creole mustard, cane syrup, caramelized onions, candied pecans and bacon.
Jack Daniel’s Bar and Grill is located at 777 Avenue L’Auberge, Lake Charles, LA 70601, United States.
Are you full now? If so, click here to find seven fun things to do in Lake Charles.
I thank Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau for their assistance of their visit for the purpose of this article.