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Discover what and where to eat in Lake Charles when you travel to the Southwest Louisiana city.
What’s 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 Lake Charles with the explicit goal of eating local food, I hoped that the dishes would be dominated by Cajun flavors and seafood. I wanted to visit the best places to eat in Lake Charles Louisiana and eat it all.
Lake Charles Food Guide
Lake Charles is located in Southwest Louisiana, close to the Gulf of Mexico and dotted with rice fields, piney woods and prairie lands. A three-hour drive from New Orleans, this location provides the city with easy access to fresh fish and seafood along with the usual array of Louisiana pork products.
Even better, Lake Charles benefits from Southwest Louisiana’s melting pot of Cajuns and Cajun food. Spicy favorites like jambalaya and gumbo are readily available in the best Lake Charles restaurants and in kitchens throughout the area. Without a doubt, eating local food is one of the best things to do in Lake Charles LA.
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. Sometimes, adventurous cooks fry it into boudin balls, little crispy goblets that can be eaten as a meal or a snack.
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 Lake Charles restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations as you can.
Thanks to the nearby Gulf of Mexico, the availability of fresh seafood like shrimp, crabs and crawfish is ridiculous with lots of good places to eat in Lake Charles LA. 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 Seafood Palace Lake Charles LA 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 the city’s many seafood restaurants in Lake Charles LA to score good seafood. Mazen’s Mediterranean Restaurant, known for its Grand Marnier Soufflé dessert, serves a delightful avocado salad loaded with fresh crab meat.
Just like you have to eat crawfish in Lake Charles, it would be a crime to visit Southwest Louisiana and not eat gumbo. Gumbo was invented in this area in the 1700s 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 other good restaurants in Lake Charles LA that should not be missed.
Wondering where to eat in Lake Charles? Start at Calla, one of the modern new restaurants in Lake Charles, where Chef David Sorrells takes full advantage of the bounty of local ingredients.
Calla’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.
One of the top restaurants in Lake Charles, 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.
Good food in Lake Charles is celebrated at every meal, 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.
Things to Do in Lake Charles
Plan Your Lake Charles Stay
Are you ready to visit Lake Charles and hit the boudin trail?
Many businesses have revised their hours due to COVID-19 and Hurricane Laura. Some may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.