There’s no better way to explore Lake Charles, Louisiana’s culture than through its food. Centuries-old culinary traditions meet fresh seafood here, and passionate cooks share Cajun-fusion fare with a side of southern hospitality, from racetrack spreads to crawfish feasts. Lake Charles lies approximately 248 kilometres, or about a two-hour drive, from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the closest city for international flights.
THE FRENCH FACTOR
The secret to Lake Charles’ world-famous cuisine lies in cultural traditions, passed down through generations, dating back to the deportation of Acadians from Canada by the British. These French-speakers brought their Catholic faith and customs, while their Cajun-style cooking incorporated simple preparations, fresh ingredients and culinary heat, often with shrimp or pork sausage. Chopped onion, celery and bell pepper also figure prominently in many dishes, such as gumbo. Local favourite, boudin—a mixture of cooked rice, pork, onions, green pepper and seasonings stuffed in sausage casings—is widely available.
Fresh and brackish water from Lake Charles, Prien Lake and the Calcasieu River harbour abundant seafood. At 121 Artisan Bistro, shrimp, spinach and smoked mozzarella fill appetizer mushrooms. Inside L’Auberge Casino Resort, Ember Grille & Wine Bar offers BBQ bacon-wrapped shrimp plus crawfish mac ’n’ cheese. Seafood Palace is renowned for fried alligator and Steamboat Bill’s serves delicious pistolettes with shrimp étouffée.
Home to the state’s second largest Mardi Gras celebration, Lake Charles’ sweet traditions include gorgeous King Cakes, such as those from Delicious Donuts & Bakery, to pre-packaged pecan pies at Isle of Capri Casino Hotel. During Mardi Gras, experience the world-famous Cajun Extravaganza and Gumbo Cook-off. Other food festivals include the Downtown Crawfish Festival, the Marshland Festival and the Cajun Food & Music Festival as well as the Arts & Crabs Festival.
There’s abundant craft beer in Lake Charles too. Handcrafted brews accompany live music, and a beautifully landscaped beer garden, at Crying Eagle Brewing Co. A beer destination in the 1990s, the recently reopened Rikenjaks Brewing Company offers fresh brews alongside “Louisiana comfort food” and live music, nightly. Spirits from Louisiana Spirits Distillery, near Lake Charles, feature three rums: Silver, Spiced and Satsuma, made from Louisiana sugar cane. You can even watch the creation of Bayou Rum during free tours.
A taste of Lake Charles culture is as close as your next meal. Savour every bite and laissez les bons temps rouler!
Plan your Lake Charles getaway at visitlakecharles.org/foodparadise.