What we eat in north Louisiana
Families and neighbors gather for community fish fries and church dinners, and local harvests are found on the dinner table. (Photos by Ian McNulty)
Take the down-home cooking traditions of the South, the abundance of local farms and waters, the sophistication of world-class restaurants and a dash of Creole and Cajun influence, and you have the delicious culinary patchwork of North Louisiana. It’s a region where families and neighbors regularly gather for community fish fries and church dinners, and where local customs and harvests are on display at any dinner table.
Fresh, pond-raised catfish has a prominent place on the palate here, as epitomized at local favorites like Port au Prince, a casual eatery right on the banks of Lake Claiborne in Homer.
Meanwhile, Waterfront Grill in Monroe is perched on the cypress-lined banks of Bayou DeSiard and puts a more upscale spin on grilled, baked and blackened catfish. There’s no missing the Southern goodness cooked into okra with tomatoes or black-eyed peas with chicken fried steak at diners like Shreveport’s classic Strawn's Eat Shop. Shreveport is also home to some of North Louisiana’s most ambitious restaurants, like Ristorante Giuseppe where Sicilian-born chef Giuseppe Brucia showcases fine Italian cuisine.
Naturally, the smoker gets a workout in North Louisiana, where barbecuing meats is considered an art form. Aromatic arguments for the calling are on display at places like Bodacious Barbecue in Bossier City, with its smoked ribs, chicken and turkey, or at Dowling’s Smokehouse in Ruston, where brisket sandwiches are made on jalapeno cheese bread.
Ruston, of course, is famous for its peaches, celebrated each June during the Squire Creek Louisiana Peach Festival and savored by folks all over the region. Mitcham Farms, the state’s largest peach orchard, offers fresh peaches in season and preserves, cobblers, sauces and dessert mixes anytime.