What we eat in central Louisiana
Here, the proud local tradition of hunting and fishing fuels an authentic and hearty approach to cooking.
A hotbed of Native American heritage for ages, the region also is home to Louisiana’s oldest permanent European settlement, Natchitoches, founded in 1714. Those roots still echo through the culinary terrain here, while the proud local tradition of hunting and fishing fuels an authentic and hearty approach to cooking.
Natchitoches is practically synonymous with the meat pie, a close relative of the classic Spanish empanada. Lasyone's Meat Pie Restaurant in downtown Natchitoches is a famous destination to sample the style. They’re served on their own, with dirty rice for lunch or dinner and even with eggs and hash browns for breakfast.
Venture west and you enter prime Louisiana tamale territory and its capital, the town of Zwolle, originally an Indian village (but named after a Dutch community) and once part of the Spanish province of Texas. Hand-rolled tamales, a reminder of this heritage, are celebrated each October at the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta and served by the dozen anytime at Lakefront Grocery and Deli.
In Alexandria, the hub city of Central Louisiana, you’ll find high-end Creole-style cuisine at Bistro on the Bayou while across the Red River in neighboring Pineville places like Paradise Catfish Kitchen serve casual favorites of the region.
Central Louisiana is also pecan country. Driving along the Cane River Road, a historic stretch of Louisiana Highway 1, you can visit pecan orchards like Louisiana Pecans and the nearby Natchitoches Pecans to stock up on pecans, gift baskets and praline candies made with the nuts. Savvy travelers have for generations stopped at Lea’s Lunchroom in Lecompte to pick up a few of its famous pecan pies, taking a slice of Central Louisiana culture with them wherever they venture next.