Gator Gastronomy

Here at last are tasting notes from Lake Charles, where the food soars from down home to upscale without skipping a Zydeco beat. Our top picks from this cozy little corner of Calcasieu Parish include:

1. Down Home Breakfast:

Boudin (rice and pork) sausage from the Market Basket grocery and warm beignets from Delicious Donuts and Bakery – sweet, pillowy and addictive.

2. High-End Breakfast:

Otis & Henry’s lovely upscale brunch features Creole Eggs Benedict, French toast, Eggs Sardou, omelettes, Belgian waffles, crabcakes and seafood, plus a signature donut bread pudding. Arrive hungry!

3. Down Home Lunch:

Steamboat Bill’s offers gumbo, etouffé, red beans & rice, “lovingly boiled” crawfish, plus catfish, shrimp, oysters, Po’ Boys, and soft shell crab. Extra napkins recommended.

4. Best Coffeehouse:

Stellar Beans is a friendly gathering place for artists, locals and the hipster crowd with Monday night poetry slams, free WiFi, robust coffee, chai drinks and frothy cappucino.

5. Down Home Meets High-End:

121 Artisan Bistro serves Italian classics and Bayou favorites like a crisp Tuscan salad with a silky shrimp bisque. Indulge in a cocktail by 121’s Jacob Trevino – I recommend the “Hemingway” with Pernod, fresh blackberries and Champagne.

6. High-End Evening:

Ember Grill and Wine Bar’s signature seafood appetizer of crab legs, claws, lobster, mussels, clams, prawns and oysters is a fresh, icy tower of wow. Don’t miss their tiny succulent lamb chops, truffle mac & cheese, organic salads, and legendary “Tomahawk” steaks. Linger awhile over Ramos Pinto Tawny Port and decadent Ember chocolate truffles.

* NOTE: We didn’t try alligator but were assured it’s available … and that it tastes just like chicken.

About Epicurious Travelers

Ms. Margolis-Pineo created to showcase her published work and ongoing food-travel adventures. Based in Portland, Maine, she travels frequently both in her home state and north to Montreal, her favorite North American city. Although she refuses to use the word "foodie," she has an abiding interest in food and wine. Ms. Margolis-Pineo's background as a designer gives her site an edge in the oversaturated blogosphere. New contacts, "likes," subscribers and content are always welcome!
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