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Eat Your Heart Out in Southwest Louisiana

Southwest Louisiana offers a wide selection of standout eateries.

By Kelly Rogers on May 16, 2023

Crying Eagle SWLA
Rick Olivier

In Southwest Louisiana, fresh seafood and homegrown vegetables collide with regional staples like jambalaya and po’boy sandwiches to create a unique, original cuisine.

The food scene in the region is bursting with flavor, and whether you’re looking for the perfect spot for dinner, drinks or something more casual, you won’t be disappointed.


Fine dining abounds in Lake Charles, with options for all occasions. For delicious food with a gorgeous setting, you can’t go wrong with The Pioneer Club, an exclusive venue that offers breathtaking views of Prien Lake and downtown Lake Charles.

Care to dine in historical style? The Villa Harlequin is an intimate spot located in the historic Noble Building, serving a fusion of Italian and American with excellent wine options.

If Italian sounds good, 121 Artisan Bistro is also a great choice. One of three standout Lake Charles restaurants owned by chef Ben Herrera, 121 Artisan Bistro is known for its steak, pasta and large shareable appetizers.

“When you walk in, the kitchen is wide open to the restaurant,” Herrera says. “Everything is cooked right in front of the guests.”

Herrera’s other restaurants, The James 710 and Restaurant Calla, each offer sensational culinary experiences, as well. The James 710 features a beautiful patio for optional outdoor dining and serves Latin flavors with Asian and Caribbean influences. Restaurant Calla, on the other hand, is more of an upscale casual New Orleans eatery, with a focus on styles of cooking and flavors that are more indigenous to the South. One of the most unique (and popular) items on the menu is the crab beignet.

“We use nothing but the freshest products,” Herrera says. “We focus on making everything from scratch.”

The Bekery SWLA
Jeff Adkins

Casual Stops

Keep it casual with some of Lake Charles’ tried-and-true staples, like Tony’s Pizza, which has been open since 1968. Serving pizza, pasta and po’boys, Tony’s attracts crowds of all ages. The quirky, colorful interior is lined with bold red booths, making for a comfortable, lived-in atmosphere. Everything on the menu is fantastic, and they even have a cauliflower crust pizza for those who are gluten-free.

Darrell’s is another legendary, local spot. It’s a sports bar that specializes in hefty po’boys and sandwiches. Without a doubt, the most popular po’boy is the Darrell’s special, which is ham, turkey, roast beef and gravy served on freshly baked bread – and includes a little extra gravy on the side. Steamboat Bill’s on the Lake is a go-to for approachable Cajun cooking, with a crawfish boil that’s renowned far beyond the region. The restaurant even offers its signature seasoning for purchase, so guests can bring some of the magic home with them.

If baked goods are your thing, you have to try The Bekery and Pronia’s Deli and Bakery. The former is a Parisian-inspired restaurant with a charming interior and is the ultimate brunch spot. Pronia’s also offers sweet and savory menu items, as it’s both a bakery and a deli. The family-run establishment is known for amazing cake, cookies, cannoli and sandwiches, so be sure to try one of everything.

Cocktails SWLA
Jeff Adkins

Craft Drinks

Lake Charles isn’t just a great place to eat – there are some fantastic options for drinks, as well. 

Crying Eagle Brewing Co. is a one-stop destination for literally everything you could want for a fun evening; it offers amazing food, beer, cocktails and even live entertainment. Besides daily live music, Crying Eagle also hosts many events throughout the year, and is known for the summer concert series that takes place on the outdoor stage in the beer garden.

“We try to be more than just a brewery here,” says Eric Avery, owner. “We like to be considered an arts, cultural and entertainment epicenter.”

The venue itself is welcoming and laid back, but the food and drink are what keep people coming back for more.

Must-try beers include the Louisiana Lager, Things Unsettled IPA and Don’t Blush. Pair it with a signature Crying Eagle pizza (made with rosemary, honey and goat cheese) or a hot chicken sandwich, which is made with a hot sauce brewed in aged Tabasco barrels.

“We have a full cocktail menu, many of which include some of our flagship beers,” Avery says. “And our food menu is very much on the gourmet side, with a lot of beer-infused foods, or dishes that have some beer byproducts, like spent grains.”

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