Growing up in Louisiana, I’ve had my fair share of wild game and seafood. Sure, crawfish, oysters and deer might sound strange to some, but they’re pretty typical around these parts. In fact, sometimes even the most delectable of southern meals can feel, dare I say, boring.
I love food, and I love finding new favorites. I rarely deviate from my go-to standards, but I truly do enjoy finding amazing, unique eats.
One of my favorite entrees is quickly becoming Highland Table’s (3030 Creswell Ave., Shreveport) mac and cheese. While it may just sound like another cheesy pasta dish, the penne is served smothered in a creamy cheese sauce with different options: grilled chicken and broccoli; southwest style with taco beef, tomatoes, avocado and sour cream; loaded with ham, bacon, sour cream and chives; or blackened chicken with sun dried tomatoes and spinach.
From $6-$9, this is a true meal in itself and should be treated that way. Zesty, flavorful and mouthwatering, I 100 percent recommend trying the blackened chicken version.
Now do I have your tastebuds talking?
Here’s a look at 10 of Shreveport-Bossier City’s most unique dishes and what myself and locals have to say about why we love them:
Lengua (cow tongue)
Taqueria La Michoacana
Located: 2905 Youree Drive, Shreveport
Open up and say “ahhhh.” Cow tongue, or lengua, is prepared either fresh or frozen. At La Michoacana, tongue is prepared in three dishes: tacos, burritos or tortas.
“It’s our favorite of their tacos,” said Noma Fowler-Sandlin, of Shreveport, who is also the executive director of the Shreveport Farmers’ Market. She describes the meat as tender, tasty and authentic.
“Most people can’t tell it’s from roast beef if they don’t know,” she said.
She said she makes it at home but prefers to eat the lengua from La Michoacana.
“It’s a really economical cut because there’s a lot of meat to it, but most don’t want to deal with it because of how you have to handle it,” she said. “You have to cook it slowly, and pull the skin, with all its taste buds, off. People don’t always have the stomach to deal with it because it looks like what it is, a tongue.”
Abby Singers Bistro at Robinson Film Center
Located: 617 Texas St., Shreveport
Quack! This appetizer is served during dinner (5-9 Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10 Friday-Saturday) and consists of braised duck in a chipotle and adobo sauce with caramelized onion, sage, cilantro and goat cheese. All of this is served on crunchy and flavorful wonton chips.
“I always recommend the duck nachos to people,” said Kate Hesson, of Shreveport, owner of Zombee Candle and The Sleepy Hollow in Highland. “It sounds weird, which is great. And they are truly delicious.”
Sabores Dominican Restaurant
Located: 3325 Industrial Drive, Bossier City
Traditionally served with pork cracklings, mofongo is a fried plantain-based dish typically made with broth, garlic and olive oil. It’s a traditional Caribbean meal served with fried meat or chicken.
“I’ve had plantains a few ways, but I don’t think I’d had mofongo before,” said Sarah Lakey, of Shreveport. “(Sabores) preparation reminds me of a tater-tot like consistency, but the plantain is shaped into a dish (almost about the size of a shot glass). There’s a garlic, buttery sauce served with it, which is really a lot of the taste.”
“Plantains were a new experience for me, said Cynthia Addison of Bossier City. “Very unique flavor and consistency. There is a crispy texture with a savory flavor. At first taste, it was a bit overwhelming but with each bite the combination is scrumptious.”
Located: 6607 Line Ave., Shreveport
Before you start to ask too many questions, no, monkey brain isn’t actually on the menu. But it’s definitely a sushi that will have you questioning your primal instinct.
“I get it almost every time I go to Sushi Gen,” said Felicia Jessup, of Shreveport. “It’s made of avocado that is deep fried in tempura and stuffed with crab and spicy tuna. It is really delicious.”
Located: 3312 Youree Drive, Shreveport.
Tripe, otherwise known as stomach lining (and usually from a cow), can be served in a number of traditional Vietnamese dishes. One dish, their combination pho, is served with sliced beef, brisket, tendon, beef meatballs and beef tripe.
Beef tripe is usually made from the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach: the rumen (blanket/flat/smooth tripe), the reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), and the omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe).
Pho, a traditional noodle soup, includes a plate of sprouts, lime, cilantro, basil and jalapeños. Raw beef is also available on the side if desired.
Longwood General Store
Located: 3502 N. La. Hwy. 169, Mooringsport
Served with ranch or house dressing, this ain’t no regular bloomin’ onion. This fried appetizer looks more like a creature of the night.
Chris Jay, food blogger and public relations and social media manager for Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau, recommends this “larger than life” munch.
“Probably the strangest-looking thing I have ordered at a restaurant this year is the onion loaf, which is also the largest appetizer I have ever seen at any restaurant,” he said. “They run two big, sweet onions through some sort of spiral cutter or something and deep fry the results, which come out looking –– as a friend described it –– ‘like some deep-fried Swamp Thing’s brain.’ But it tastes delicious, as everything does at Longwood General Store.”
Twisted Root Burger Co.
Located: 8690 Line Ave., Shreveport
Unless you frequent Twisted Root Burger Co. on a week to week basis, almost every time you pop by its wild game availability changes. And that’s a good thing.
Currently, Twisted Root’s exotic meat is elk, which is lean and high in protein. Besides elk, Twister Root always offers buffalo, beef, turkey and its vegan black bean burgers, along with Nathan’s foot-long hot dogs.
“The last one that I ate was the emu burger, but I’ve also had the kangaroo and the ‘dork’ (a mix of duck and pork meat in the patty),” Jay said. “The dork was the best of the bunch.”
Located: 3839 Gilbert Drive, Shreveport
Have you ever eaten cactus? I promise it won’t be painful. Cactus meat is actually pretty tasty and is a great source of calcium and vitamin D. The nopal, a common name in Mexican-Spanish culture for the plant, is sautéed with onions and oregano, served with pico de gallo, queso fresco and avocado slices.
“The texture is sort of like green beans but a little softer and meatier, and the flavor too actually with a little hint of okra at the end,” said Rodrigo Mondragon, co-owner of Kí Mexico.
You can also try it with one of the restaurant’s signature sauces: Salsa Jade (avocado and jalapeños), Yucatan (habanero relish) or Diablo (dried chile de arbol and roasted tomatillos, Mondragon’s pick).
Bear’s on Fairfield
Located: 1401 Fairfield Ave., Shreveport
When the sun goes down on Fairfield Avenue, musician and chef Gordon Nurse comes out to party on Tuesday nights with his Carribbean toss up at Bear’s bar (and now, partial restaurant).
“It tastes like a curried, gamey beef. Not like bison, and not like venison,” said Jada Durden, Shreveport food and entertainment blogger (lovingthislife.com) and columnist for The Times. “Maybe it’s just a mind over matter thing for me but it tastes like you would think goat would taste. But Gordon does a delicious curry that will make anything taste good.” said Jada Durden, Shreveport food and entertainment blogger (lovingthislife.com) and columnist for The Times.
Don Juanz Baja Beach Tacos
Located: 2333 Airline Drive, Bossier City
As an added bonus — dessert.
Fresh and made in-house, Baja Nana’s is one of Don Juanz’s signature sweet treats. This dish consists of banana flambeed with Barcardi 151, banana liqueur, brown sugar and cinnamon over vanilla ice cream.
Hold the check, I’ll take another.