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Lake Charles is the comeback kid of Louisiana. Hit by two hurricanes in 2020, the city, located about three hours east of New Orleans, is rebuilding. What you’ll find when you visit is a warm welcome from the residents and plates of great food. The restaurants in Lake Charles are superb. If you’re looking for the traditional tastes of Louisiana, you’ll find them and more at these must-try restaurants.
The writer was hosted.
Crawfish and More – The Best Lake Charles LA Restaurants
A visit to Louisiana during Mardi Gras means King Cake, boudin and crawfish, but there’s so much more to eating in Lake Charles.
I was hosted as part of a press trip and was taken to some of the very best Lake Charles restaurants. I’m sharing these with you, along with notes on what I sampled and loved. Food isn’t the only great thing about Lake Charles, but it was the highlight of my trip.
If you think you can’t explore and have a great Louisiana experience outside of New Orleans, I’m here to crush that myth. I hope you enjoy my picks for the best restaurants in Lake Charles.
1. The Chart House at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino
2550 Golden Nugget Blvd. Lake Charles, LA 70601
The Chart House is a great spot for brunch with a view. Brunch is only offered on Sundays, but it’s such a good brunch that it’s worth planning around. The Chart House also has lunch and dinner menus that serve everything from sandwiches and hamburgers to steak and lobster.
The Golden Nugget also has several other restaurants on site: Vic & Anthony’s, Saltgrass Steak House, Landry’s Seafood House, Lillie’s Asian Cuisine and more. They also have more casual dining, including a deli style eatery and a Starbucks.
What to order
For brunch, my friend and I split the bananas foster pancakes and the crawfish balls appetizer for a great combination of sweet and savory. The shrimp and grits looked absolutely amazing and I did quite a bit of mental back and forth trying to decide what I wanted to order. There’s also a fantastic selection of brunch cocktails, plus a full bar.
There is no published kids menu but my server shared with me the current offerings available in kid-sized portions: prime rib, chicken and shrimp, burger, mac and cheese, and of course, the good old standby, chicken fingers.
2. Drago’s, L’Auberge Casino Resort
777 Ave L’Auberge Lake Charles, LA 70601
Drago’s is famous for their charbroiled oysters but their menu boasts a ton of other items. I had dinner here and enjoyed the food and service and my table near the open kitchen. Drago’s also serves lunch and brunch. There are six Drago’s throughout Louisiana. The owners have been in the restaurant business since 1969 and it shows.
Other dining options at L’Auberge include Ember Grille and Wine Bar, Asia, Modern Pantry and Daiquiris and Dogs, which is a fun, fast food style option.
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What to order
My friends and I made it our mission to sample several appetizers. In addition to the charbroiled oysters we tried spicy Fleur de Lis shrimp and a crawfish meatball.
I am not an oyster lover but most of my dinner companions were and they all raved about the charbroiled oysters this venue is so famous for.
For my main course, I went with shrimp and grits. Shrimp and grits is probably one of my favorite meals ever and I like seeing how different chefs prepare it. This was in a red gravy and it was superb.
There is no published kids menu. Our server said there was one off menu item recommended for kids – a shrimp alfredo pasta. Photo credit: Jill Robbins
TravelingMom Tip: Both the Golden Nugget and L’Auberge are large casino resorts with tons of amenities. It would be quite easy to spend your entire trip to Lake Charles on one of these properties without leaving and enjoy plenty of delicious Lake Charles restaurants. The following restaurants are located in Lake Charles and the surrounding communities for those who want to venture out.
3. Seafood Palace
2218 Enterprise Blvd. Lake Charles, LA 70601
If you’re looking for down-home, authentic Cajun fare, this is the seafood restaurant where the locals go to get just that. You can’t visit Louisiana and not eat crawfish, and the Seafood Palace is the perfect place to visit during crawfish season. Crawfish season in Louisiana runs from January through June, with the tastiest crawfish showing up in May. If there’s anything else you want to know about crawfish, ask a Louisianan. They’re very knowledgeable and happy to share.
If you’ve never eaten crawfish in the shell before, ask your server for a demonstration. After a week in Louisiana, I noticed that people have different techniques for peeling and enjoying them. They also have boudin, po-boy sandwiches, gumbo and other bayou delights.
What to order
I ordered shrimp and crab gumbo for my main meal and sampled a few other appetizers aside from the crawfish: hushpuppies, boudin balls and crab jalapenos. This menu is heavy on the fried food items, although there are a few grilled items and salads if you prefer to keep it light.
There’s a small kids menu printed on the regular menu that includes kid favorites such as corn dogs, chicken fingers, fish and shrimp.
4. Luna Bar & Grill
719 Ryan Street Lake Charles, LA 70601
Both the atmosphere and the menu at Luna Bar and Grill are quirky and hip. Some of the menu items are named for various members of owner Chef Dave Evans’ family. I loved every place I ate in Lake Charles but I vote Luna the place I’d be most excited to return to because there were so many fresh seafood menu items that sounded great to me. If you are a music lover, you’ll appreciate the wall art, which is a combination of the owner’s personal collection and gifts from customers. Luna Bar & Grill recently opened up a second location in downtown Lafayette.
What to order
We ordered appetizers for the table: Galactic Crab Dip, the spinach and artichoke dip and the crawfish bread – all very tasty but the crab dip was my favorite. Pictured below is the artichoke dip, which was also very good. I’d love to show you a picture of the crab dip but my dinner partners apparently shared my high opinion and it disappeared very quickly.
For entrees, I sampled the Luna Tuna, which they are famous for, the Dragon Tuna, Redfish Apollo, Orion Salmon and Hanger Steak Nanette. Everything was superb but, if I had to have a favorite, I’d say it is a tie between the Luna Tuna and the Redfish Apollo.
I also got to sample a couple of the desserts at Luna Bar and Grill – and yes, I felt like I needed to be rolled out of the restaurant after this delicious meal. I had a bite each of their cheesecake and their chocolate cake – both rich and decadent if you find you have room at the end of your meal.
The kids menu includes fried shrimp, hamburgers, grilled cheese, PB&J and and chicken strips, all served with fries.
5. Bodega Wine Dive
3505 Country Club Rd. 6 Lake Charles, LA 70605
According to the locals, the Bodega Wine Dive is a bit of a hidden gem. If you’re looking for something a little different from gumbo and crawfish, the Bodega Wine Dive is where you want to be. From artisan pizzas to sandwiches to charcuterie boards, you’ll find the the perfect food pairing for your wine or cocktail.
The Bodega Wine Dive has happy hour wine and flatbread specials Tuesdays – Thursdays from 4:00 – 6:00 and brunch every third Saturday of the month.
What to order
I sampled several of their pizzas, a charcuterie boards and a grilled goat cheese sandwich called the G.O.A.T. Don’t miss trying their truffle popcorn – it was my favorite thing.
No kids menu and no kids. The Bodega Wine Dive is considered a wine bar/bar and they are not able to host anyone under 18. If you can swing a sans kids visit, this is a really fun stop.
6. Crying Eagle Brewing Company
1165 E. McNeese Street Lake Charles, LA
Crying Eagle Brewing Company is Lake Charles’ only craft brewery. If you’re a beer lover, a stop here is an obvious choice but even if you’re not, their pizza is worth planning a trip around. They also serve wine and spirits if you want an adult beverage and beer isn’t your thing.
Check the brewery’s website for tour and live entertainment options.
What to order
Hand rolled pizza is the star of the menu. In addition to the pizzas, Crying Eagle has a variety of sandwiches and small bites. I recommend the Margherita Pizza, the Sweet Heat Pizza and the Backyard BBQ Pizza. The Sweet Heat is more heat than sweet so make sure you can handle some sizzle before you order this.
There’s no dedicated kids’ menu. The pizzas are large and perfect for sharing. Crying Eagle Brewing Company has a lovely, family friendly atmosphere and lots of indoor and outdoor seating.
7. The Villa Harlequin
Pujo Street Lake Charles, LA 70601
The Villa Harlequin is co-owned by Nic Hunter, the mayor of Lake Charles. This restaurant is a merge between two classic Lake Charles favorites, the Italian Villa and Harlequin Steaks and Seafood. The result is a varied menu of fine dining options in a historic building that has a definite special occasion flair.
What to order
To start, I had the tomato bisque with crab topped with a piece of grilled bread. I’m a big fan of creamy tomato soup and of crab but pairing them was a lot of wow.
I had the filet with peppercorn sauce and it rivals any cut from the finest steakhouse. It was almost fork tender.
8. Insane Sausages in Vinton Louisiana
4 2255 LA-109 Vinton, LA 70668
Vinton is 23 miles from Lake Charles, but Insane Sausages is worth the drive. If you’re entering Louisiana from Texas via I-10, you’ll drive right by it. Lake Charles is popular with visitors from Houston Texas and I can easily see making the jump across the border for this delicious food.
Insane Sausages is open to the public Friday through Sunday. They’re closed early in the week so they can make a new supply of boudin and other sausage to serve over the weekend. They make all the sausage and sell all the sausage on repeat so if their hours line up with your visit, you are in for a treat.
Specials are posted on Insane Sausage’s Facebook page each Friday
What to order
Boudin is Insane Sausages’ specialty. Boudin is a sausage made with rice and other seasonings. Unlike most sausage, the meat is cooked before being stuffed into the casing. It’s a popular and versatile Louisiana delicacy I was excited to try. I’m happy to report I loved it.
My best advice for ordering here would be to try the special and if that doesn’t appeal to you, ask for a recommendation from one of the staff.
You’ll find something a little different each time you visit Insane sausages because of chef/owner Derek Gaspard’s flair for creativity and commitment to continuously trying something new. We sampled an enchilada boudin ball that I’m still dreaming about.
There’s no kids menu but most of the menu items can be easily shared.
Coffee and Treats
Whether you’re looking for a place to grab breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up, these coffee and pastry shops have what you need.
9. The Village Coffee House
121 S. Huntington St Sulphur, LA 70663
Located in downtown Sulphur, sister city to Lake Charles, The Village Coffee House offers delicious coffees, smoothies, teas and specialty drinks in addition to freshly baked scones, muffins, brownies, cinnamon rolls and more baked goods. Other “good eats” include sandwiches, biscuits, avocado toast and soups.
What to order
I sampled the avocado toast and the bacon and cheese scone. I recommend both. If you enjoy sweets at breakfast time, the cinnamon rolls smelled delicious. There’s no dedicated kids menu but parents shouldn’t have trouble finding something for younger guests to enjoy.
127 W College Street Lake Charles, LA 70605
It’s always time for coffee at Coffee:30! In addition to a variety of specialty coffees, you’ll find delicious beignets, sandwiches and other fun breakfast items. I visited on Fat Tuesday and there were lots of Mardi Gras-themed treats.
What to order
I had an omelet and a nibble of King Cake Beignets. There’s also an array of creative and hearty breakfast sandwiches. The lunch menu includes a variety of fresh sandwiches and boudin egg rolls, which I will be back to try.
There’s no dedicated kids’ menu but parents shouldn’t have trouble finding something for younger guests to enjoy.
11. The Bekery
Address: 206 W 11th St, Lake Charles, LA 70601, USA
The Bekery is a great place to get fresh baked goods and of course, King Cakes during Mardi Gras season. The menu offerings change frequently – check them out on social media to see what they’re baking.
Need more info on Lake Charles LA restaurants?
For more info on where to grab great food in the area, check out the Visit Lake Charles website.