Seafood Palace in Lake Charles has been serving up heaping platters of boiled crawfish for more than 40 years, and tossed in Cajun spices, they’ve become a favorite of locals and visitors alike. But prepare to get messy—boiled crawfish are served whole, and it’s up to the diner to take them apart to get to the meat. The best meat is found in the tail, but if you watch true crawfish veterans, they suck the spices and juices out of the head for added flavor.
If you prefer not to work for your food, you can also try crawfish in the Crawfish Pistolettes, another food specialty of the region. Pistolettes are soft rolls stuffed with a seafood mixture and fried. Order them as an appetizer, and they arrive at your table warm with a molten cheesy, seafood center. In addition to crawfish pistolettes, Seafood Palace also serves shrimp pistolettes.
To get a taste of another regional specialty, make sure you try boudin. This sausage is made of a pork and rice dressing stuffed into a casing. Restaurants such as Seafood Palace serve boudin balls, where the mixture is rolled into a ball and breaded and fried, but hop on the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail to sample boudin links from a number of different boudin makers.
Two of our favorite stops are LeBleu’s Landing and B&O Kitchen and Grocery, both located in Sulphur, Louisiana, about 10 miles from Lake Charles. At LeBleu’s you can sit down and have a meal or shop around the market for specialty Cajun food products and pick up some boudin to go. You can get their boudin spicy, mild, and bacon-wrapped. The boudin is incredibly flavorful, and you can even watch it being made through the window in the market. If you go to B&O, make sure to try not only the boudin but also their cracklins. They’re some of the best around. The folks behind B&O regularly compete in the Gumbo Cook-Off, so make sure to keep an eye out for them there. Rumor has it they win quite often!
A visit to Lake Charles and its surrounding areas during Mardi Gras will yield both a cultural and culinary experience that the whole family can enjoy. In addition to the Gumbo Cook-Off, some of the highlights of Lake Charles’s Mardi Gras celebrations include the Mystical Krewe of Barkus Dog Parade, the Children’s Parade, the Royal Gala, where the royalty of the Krewes show off their grand and glitzy costumes, and the culmination of it all: the Krewe of Krewes’ Parade on Fat Tuesday. For more information on Southwest Louisiana’s Mardi Gras celebrations, visit swlamardigras.com.