Wining & Dining
Let's Eat! 2018 Restaurant Guide
1/31/2018 10:17:18 PM

Southwest Louisianians love a lot of things, and food is often near the top of most everyone’s list. Fortunately, we have enough variety of eateries to satisfy everyone’s cravings! This month, we highlight that variety, celebrate the culinary diversity of our region, and maybe encourage you to try a restaurant you’ve never experienced before. Please know, these are only a very small sample of the many fantastic restaurants in the Lake Area.

Asian Food
by John O'Donnell

Since the late 1500’s, the United States has had a long history of immigration from the continent of Asia and with them came such wonderful and mouthwatering fare as egg rolls, dumplings, pho, sushi, and chicken tika marsalla. Long endeared in our country for its exotic spices, unconventional ingredients, and restorative qualities, Americans first fell in love with Asian food during the California Gold Rush in the 1850’s.

The rumors of gold nuggets that drew thousands of American East Coast hopefuls to California during the Gold Rush also resonated across the Pacific with the merchants of Asia, particularly Canton in South China. For centuries, this Chinese port city had been a hub of international trade and its entrepreneurs saw an opportunity in San Francisco Bay. These optimistic people came to the United States and went into the lucrative business of providing services to miners by doing manual labor, and opening grocery stores, hardware stores, and restaurants. At the time the U.S. had what could be described as a fledgling hospitality culture, while Asia had centuries of experience in restaurant culture. The concept of restaurants specializing in Asian cuisine was a hit and it wasn’t long before there were Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, and Mongolian restaurants from coast to coast, even here in Louisiana. In Southwest Louisiana that rich tradition of Asian culture continues with these amazing eateries. 

JoJo’s China Bistro, hailed by as The Best Chinese Food in the state of Louisiana, is known for perfecting Chinese favorites like steamed dumplings, orange chicken, and hot and sour soup. In contrast to the typical Chinese buffets, the traditional white table cloth sit down atmosphere at JoJo’s is indicative of the thoughtful care they put in to preparing and plating their dishes. 
1732 W Prien Lake Rd.

La Pho Bar and Grill is making waves as the new place on the block for the national dish of Vietnam, Pho. Pho (pronounced fuh) is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meats like beef or chicken. In addition to serving staples like lo mien, fried rice, and vermicelli, La Pho gets creative with traditional pho by adding pho options that include roasted duck, brisket, and BBQ pork. 
1756 W Prien Lake Rd.

India has a diverse and historic cultural cuisine that varies from region to region throughout the vast sub-continent. Raja’s Curry Kitchen features a variety of dishes from the different corners of India. While offering delicious meat dishes like lamb boti, chicken reshmi kebabs, and goat curry, Raja’s vegetarian dishes also shine. Their Aalo Baigan (curry eggplant), bhinid masal (okra curry) and mixed vegetable plates offer Lake Charles diners a thrilling new experience not to be found elsewhere in the region. 
3821 Ryan St.

Wasabi Japanese Sushi and Grill. We would be remiss if this list didn’t include a fantastic sushi restaurant. Sushi is the Japanese preparation of specially prepared rice combined with varied ingredients. Wasabi thrills with it’s delicious sushi, and gets creative with their rolls and the ingredients within them. For instance, their Louisiana Roll is a tempura fried roll featuring Cajun style shrimp, crawfish, bell pepper, onion and celery (the Cajun trinity). Where else are you going to find a sushi roll reminiscent of a seafood gumbo? 
3905 Ryan St.

Local food truck favorite Hi-Licious Street Kitchen is popular in part because of the unreserved friendliness of its proprietor, Hali. With a rotating menu of Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese, and Korean food, all made with fresh ingredients, you’re guaranteed to find something to please everyone. Try the Crab Rangoon, spicy shrimp, and don’t miss the fried dumplings. 
Find Hi-Licious on Facebook for daily locations.

One of the oldest eateries on this list, Peking Garden has been family-owned and serving Hunan style Chinese food to Lake Charles since 1984. Voted best Chinese restaurant in 2012, the Huang family continues to provide delicious food and remains a local favorite. Several items on the menu are named for long time regular customers. Popular dishes include John Polk Shrimp, long life noodles, and catfish special, but what they’re really known for are their large, savory egg rolls. One order of Peking’s egg rolls dipped in their sweet and sour sauce could be a meal in and of itself. Celebrating? Try their tiki style cocktails like the mai tai, or a romantic flaming volcano for two, a large strong and sweet drink for two people, set alight and served with two straws. 
2433 Broad St.

If you’re looking for a little taste of everything Asian, check out Asia at L’Auberge Casino Resort. Serving everything from Korean BBQ to sushi, Asia has the most extensive menu on this list and offers diners a wonderful contemporary dining atmosphere. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a shot of warm sake.

Equipped with a drive-thru, Wok D’lite is a convenient, affordable Asian option for those in a hurry and on the go. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because Wok has a drive-thu, their food sacrifices deliciousness for speed. Their menu boasts a mouthwatering array of Asian classics like Chicken Chow Mien, Broccoli Beef, and Moo Goo Gai Pan. Try them out for a lunch on the go, or dine in for a quiet dinner. 
339 E Prien Lake Rd.

Today there are more Asian-American restaurants currently in operation in the United States than there are McDonalds, KFC’s, Pizza Huts, Taco Bells and Wendys combined. When Americans are asked to rank their favorite types of restaurants, Asian places often come out on top, lending credence to the idea that Asian food is as much a part of the American dining experience as burgers and fries. Here in Southwest Louisiana, these establishments are fine additions to this growing culinary tradition.

Mangia Bene! Italian

Whether for a romantic dinner for two, a lunchtime business meeting, or a festive group party, The Villa, situated in a beautifully-restored historic space, is the perfect spot to gather. Mike Sperandeo and his staff serve a memorable gourmet mix of Italian and continental cuisine prepared with modern flair. Casual dining in an elegant setting, at its best.
324 Pujo St.

Tony’s Pizza has had a loyal customer base since 1968. While known for specialty pizzas cut into small squares, they also serve great pasta dishes, salads, and po-boys. 
335 E Prien Lake Rd.

Joe’s Pizza and Pasta is the premier Italian restaurant in the Sulphur area. They serve delicious traditional pasta dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, manicotti, and baked ziti. Regular customers swoon over the bread knots and herb-packed olive oil dipping sauce.
1601 Ruth St, Sulphur.

HOLA Mexico!

Casa Manana has been the flagship Mexican restaurant in Lake Charles since 1976. Burritos, tacos, quesadillas and all the fare expected from a Mexican restaurant – it’s all there. And few customers can resist their regionally-famous chili con queso dip. 
2510 Ryan St.

Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp serves a unique combo of Tex-Mex and Cajun cooking. Boudin quesadillas, anyone? They also whip up a fabulous Sunday Brunch. 
723 Ryan St.

El Paso Mexican Grill is the new chico on the block. They serve their tacos piled extra high with beef, chicken, shrimp or pork, with all the condiments on the side. Good standard Mexican fare and friendly service. 
2638 Derek Dr.

Rosita’s likely serves the most authentic Mexican fare in SWLA. The menu is extensive and written in Spanish, with English translation. The Sulphur business recently opened a second store on the east side of Lake Charles. 
2401 E. Napoleon St. Sulphur and 3669 5th Ave. Lake Charles. 419-1833

For a more upscale Mexican experience, try Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar at Golden Nugget Lake Charles. They specialize in tapas to share, and their signature dishes include fajitas, tacos al carbon, the Cadillac Mexicana burger, and enchiladas.

While their menus may vary slightly, these restaurants all have one thing in common. Margaritas!

Feta & Filo Greek & Lebanese

Southwest Louisiana is hooked on the culinary traditions of the Middle East. Exotic spices like cumin, paprika, and saffron tease our taste buds and keep us coming back for more. We can’t get enough of kabobs, hummus, tabbouleh, shawarma, gyros, lentils, kibbie, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, and more. Don’t forget the ouzo for an after-dinner digestif! Most everyone has a go-to Middle-Eastern restaurant. Try these places and choose your own favorite! Toga Grill, 4439 Nelson Rd., Zeus, 409 West Prien Lake Rd., and Cousin’s Lebanese Cuisine, 2612 Kirkman St.

Holy Trinity, Batman! Cajun

Hollier’s Cajun Kitchen is renowned for their daily all-you-can-eat buffets. Mid-week is particularly popular for "Big Meat Wednesdays.” Better go there hungry! 
1709 Ruth St, Sulphur.

Mama Reta’s Kitchen serves fried chicken, gumbo, and other Southern comfort staples. Mama Reta always has a friendly smile on her face. Soul food! 
345 Broad St.

Hackett’s Cajun Kitchen caters to those who seek boudin, sausages, and hearty traditional plate lunches without the frills. Just good food. 
5614 Gerstner Memorial Blvd.

Pizza Party!

Pizza-lovers, heads up! The brand new Mellow Mushroom is slated to open February 12. This franchise, with nearly 200 parlors across the country, was founded in 1974 by three Georgia Tech hippies. Considered "craft pizza,” menu options include Kosmic Karma, the Maui Wowie, the Funky Q. Chicken, as well as appetizers, burgers, hoagies, salads, and desserts. While heavily geared to kids, (cue the entertaining brand-specific cartoon characters) the concept also appeals to adults, with two full-service bars (one indoor and one in their courtyard) and 48 taps for a great beer selection.
3420 Ryan St.

Pizza Artista brought a new concept to Lake Charles in 2016 when it introduced its watch-while-they-make-it-your-way brand with over 70 different ingredients, from crusts to finishing touches. Oh, the choices! 
420 W Prien Lake Rd.

Whoop-D-Deaux is a new pizza delivery/take out place in Iowa and is getting rave reviews. In addition to pizza, they also serve Braided Garlic Bread, Double-Baked Stuffed Potatoes, Beignets and more. 
401 S. Thomson, Iowa.

Sandwich Shops & Delis

When you think about sandwiches in SWLA, po-boys immediately come to mind. Darrel’s is the quintessential sports bar and po-boy shop. People come from far and wide for a Darrell’s Special. Messiness at its best! 
119 W College St.

Buffi’s Peaux Boys has also established quite a following for their creative gourmet offerings. Their Shrimp Reauxmoulade and Boiled Crawfish po-boys are fan-base favorites. 
3620 Gerstner Memorial Blvd.

As a neighborhood market, City Market and Deli offers everything from produce and pantry staples to wine and coffee, but their deli counter lures customers in, as well. Choose from over 20 sandwiches, including build-your-own. Soups also available. 
710 Dr. Michael Debakey Dr.

Pronia’s Deli and Bakery has been a go-to spot for deli sandwiches since 1989. It’s one of the few places in town to find an authentic muffuletta. 
3021 Kirkman St.

Great Harvest Bread Co. bakes a wide variety of breads and sweet treats early every morning, and the community can’t get enough of the delicious freshness. Favorites include sandwiches made on Dakota or Popeye bread, and Cinnamon Burst Bread for utter indulgence. 
4112 Lake St #100.

Seasonal Restaurants

Many area chefs incorporate seasonal foods into their always-evolving menus. From upscale eateries to pop-up cafes and health food bars, food preparers understand the value of using seasonal ingredients.

Ember Grille and Wine Bar is well-known for its seasonal cuisine. Chef Brock Granger agrees that seasonal products are at the height of flavor and more cost effective. And this allows him to be even more creative in his kitchen. "Eating with the seasons allows us to keep evolving in the way we look at ingredients,” he says. We have to look at each ingredient and figure out how to get the most from it. We may look to nature for inspiration or use modern techniques to present the ingredient in a new light.” Chef Brock says winter menu items should include hearty earthy flavors. For example, currently in his Seared Scallops dish, he pairs fresh scallops with a parsnip puree, black truffles, and a winter mushroom ragout. For the finishing touch, he tops the dish with fried sage and more shaved black truffles. 

At Fitness One-Stop, owner Del Prudhomme believes that "in-season produce has a higher nutritional value, is better for you, and just plain tastes better.” He combines people’s desire for comfort food during the dreary winter months with hearty nutritious dishes. Lately, he’s been serving a smoothie made with butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and apple cider.

Heather Hamilton of Garden Path Grocery sees many benefits to using locally-grown foods in season. She says the practice ensures fruits and vegetables are at their peak freshness and flavor when they are ripened on the plant. It’s a perk to local farmers, as well. "Purchasing from local farmers enables us to better know how things are grown and keeps our dollars local,” says Hamilton. During winter, she sources greens and cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower from Tall Grass Farms and uses these ingredients in her dishes, such as the wildly-popular Buddha Bowls.

Dessert — How Sweet it is
by John O'Donnell

Dessert . . . that sweet and wonderfully indulgent course that concludes the meal and sends diners into a blissful sugar coma. The promise of cakes, tarts, cookies, gelatins, pastries, ice creams, pies, and puddings has encouraged children to eat their vegetables, boosted adults through a tough day, helped to celebrate occasions and holidays, and has been the literal cherry on top of a wonderful meal. 

Although the word "dessert” originated from the French word "desservir”, which means "to clear the table,” human consumption of anything sweet dates back much further than such delicacies as the macaron, éclair, and crepe. Treats like dried fruit and honey were eaten, and even used as offerings to gods, as far back as the dawn of civilization, but dessert didn’t really take off until sugarcane was refined and crystalized in India around 500 BCE. Mass production and refinement allowed sugarcane to be transported more easily and it wasn’t long before sugar became a staple of cooking around the globe. 

In the past few centuries, we’ve had plenty of time to perfect confections, and in Southwest Louisiana we’re no stranger to sugarcane and are fortunate to have some great sweet treats in our neck of the woods. Here are just a few of our local favorites. 

In addition to a fantastic menu of sandwiches and soups, the Bekery prides itself on fresh baked goods. Everything at the Bekery is made the day it is served, and they have a rotating menu with a variety of flavors of perfectly warm, gooey cookies, scones, muffins, and brownies that you can dip into a cup of hot locally-roasted Acadian coffee. Want something cold? The Bekery also serves creamy Gelato that you can enjoy in their beautiful outdoor patio. 
206 W 11th St.

One of the go-to treat shops in Downtown Lake Charles is Pops and Rockets. Locally made by hand, often with locally-sourced ingredients, the level of freshness and flavor sets the ice cream served at Pops and Rockets apart from any other ice cream. The menu includes creative dessert combos such as serving any of their amazing ice cream flavors between two freshly-baked cookies to create a delectable sandwich, or mixing fresh chunks of cinnamon rolls into a serving of ice cream. Want something unique? Try one of their seasonal favorites like King Cake Ice Cream. 
104 W Pujo St.

Located in Sulphur, Amber’s Cake Creations is known for creating extraordinary cakes that could be mistaken for works of art. Beautiful birthday cakes shaped like a princess castle or comic book hero, party cakes created to look like boiling pots of crawfish, groom’s cakes sculpted into a cooler full of fish, wedding cakes that take your breath away, as well as classic cakes like King Cakes are all in a day’s work at Amber’s. Cupcakes are also on the menu. Fruit cupcakes made with chunks of fresh fruit, banana pudding cupcakes, and classics like German chocolate are all affordably-priced and baked fresh daily. Not in the mood for cake? Try their lemon bars or chocolate-dipped strawberries. 
121 S Huntington St, Sulphur.

Have a gluten sensitivity? That doesn’t mean you can’t get something sweet to eat in Southwest Louisiana. O’Neills Gluten-Free Goodness makes sure that those seeking gluten-free options can come, shop, taste, and not have to worry about a thing. Lauren and Jesse O’Neill started O’Neills doughnuts in the kitchen of their apartment because they were frustrated with a lack of gluten-free breakfast treats. After perfecting their creations at the Charlestown Farmers Market in Lake Charles, they opened a brick and mortar store on Alamo Street. In addition to unique doughnuts like Vanilla Pistachio, they serve other breakfast options like "doughscuits” (a sandwich made with two doughnuts). 
421 Alamo St.

Frequently found at the Cash and Carry or Charlestown Farmers’ Markets, Diana’s Cake Confections is all about old-fashioned baked goods made with natural ingredients. Diana’s cheesecake bars, unicorn cookies, and oatmeal cream pies are all delicious, but her beautiful, varied, and colorful macarons are a farmers’ market favorite. Stop by and grab something sweet while you shop, or choose a large order to take home for the family.

New to Downtown Lake Charles, Charleston Bistro is serving up lunch, dinner, cocktails, and desserts in the lobby of the old Charleston Hotel on Pujo and Ryan. In addition to a variety of baked goods, Charleston offers a chance to double your dessert as a night cap. A large selection of signature "Sweet Drinks” like their tiramisu martini, truffle espresso, and a margarita made with cotton candy give patrons a chance to have something different to satisfy their sweet tooth. 
900 Ryan St.

Family owned and operated since 1989, Pronia’s Deli and Bakery has made Cajun/Italian fusion cuisine a food staple in Lake Charles, but what they’re really famous for are their moist, full-flavored cakes. Made with a rich, buttery, cream cheese icing prepared from scratch, their cake flavors are self-described as "old fashioned.” Can’t decide on a flavor? Don’t worry. Pronia’s specializes in tiered cakes and can put a different flavor in each layer. 
3021 Kirkman St.

Thanks to our collective culture providing a variety of different foods and flavors, we live in a place of sugar joy. Whether you’re eating to cap off a great meal, beginning a multi-course meal, or just enjoying a treat after a hard day, there’s no shortage of incredible desserts in Southwest Louisiana. 
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