I just returned from an amazing Cajun and Creole food tasting adventure to Southwest Louisiana. My first time in Louisiana, it was very cool to taste the flavors of this special area of the country and I was excited to get off the beaten track as compared to a New Orleans tourist visit. For more information on the area I visited or to plan your own adventure, just check out visitlakecharles.com.

Fried cracklins in Louisiana
Fresh fried cracklins in Southwest Louisiana

First, getting there was easy, just two short flights on American Airlines, LAX to DFW then DFW to LCH (Lake Charles Airport), which has several daily flights from Dallas. Door to door, it was only four hours from LA, even with the flight connection.

We arrived and headed over to L’Auberge Lake Charles, a full casino resort. We had a beautiful king room, overlooking the pool, with its multiple swimming areas and tubing river. Everything in the room was new, design was kind of Mission modern and the bathroom fixtures and amenities were on par with a Vegas luxury hotel. I was impressed.

Fried alligator
I loved the fried alligator at The Seafood Palace

We headed out for our first meal, some appetizer / tapas tastings and handcrafted cocktails at Restaurant Calla in Lake Charles. Chef David Sorrells is leading the foodie charge into the area, which is becoming flush with cash due to local LNG processing plants. Sorrells has some hardcore kitchen experience, with time at The French Laundry in Napa and Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, and delivers an innovative menu, mainly done tapas-style. A meal here may be worth a visit to the area in and of itself.

The night ended with a celebration of the 1990s out by the L’Auberge pool, with a performance by Candlebox. The casino has a series of summer concerts, with full professional staging, called Liquid Society. There were a lot of drunk people enjoying Candlebox.

Cajun fried fish
Cajun fried fish at Rabideaux Sausage Kitchen in Iowa, Louisiana

My second day in Southwest Louisiana was all about boudin, a sausage-like specialty with sausage and rice in sausage casing. The area is serious about their boudin, creating a Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail which features some great local roadside places with amazing meat. We wandered along that trail, with stops at The Sausage Link in Sulphur, Louisiana and Seafood Palace in Lake Charles.

Before lunch we visited some of the area’s natural wonders, led by local character and guide Captain Sammie. Traveling along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, we visited the Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point, the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Walkway (mosquitoes and alligators), Holly Beach (a beautiful, unspolied stretch of Gulf Coast beach) and the Cameron Jetties Fishing Pier.

The afternoon was spent with the two enthusiastic owners of Acadian Coffee Roasters and learning how they source coffee from around the world, roast it in small batches and sell it. The tour and demonstration was followed by a coffee cupping or tasting.

Dinner and the evening was spent at the Marshland Festival, a local celebration of food, music, culture and crafts. It was a lot of fun and we spent the night dancing and enjoying plate after plate of Cajun goodies and a few funnel cakes.

Day three started with an overwhelmingly wonderful room service breakfast from L’Auberge, complete with fresh, hot beignets. Everything we ordered, bacon, fruit, OJ and eggs were all fresh and delicious. Did I mention the awesome hot, fresh beignets?

After breakfast, it was time to head down to L’Auberge’s Spa Du Lac. Again, on par with the spa at any Las Vegas resort, the setting was quite luxurious and I had a very nice 60 minute Swedish massage. No time to rest, it was then time to head over to Asia, the Asian restaurant inside L’Auberge. With a range of Asian food, we enjoyed an epic tasting lunch and then each ordered off the vast menu.

Saturday, our final night, was spent in Lake Charles’ fanciest restaurant, La Truffe Sauvage, offering some real formal French dining in a lovely formal setting. we enjoyed a delicious five-course meal, with wine pairings. The personal service was also a wonderful experience. We enjoyed pan roasted wild Gulf snapper, a sunchoke veloute en croute, chevre chaud and a beef tournedo Rossini. Dessert was a dark chocolate mousse.

The last morning didn’t disappoint as far as great food goes, as we enjoyed L’Auberge’s JD’s Whiskey Brunch on the patio, complete with live music. Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill serves up some great food with a caring chef and kitchen staff looking to innovate. The brunch featured some serious Southern specialties, including