Shreveport And Bossier City, Louisiana: Food, Fun, And Southern Hospitality

Got a taste for the Deep South? Do thoughts of fried shrimp sandwiches, barbecued pork, sweet tea, or fresh strawberry pie tantalize your taste buds? How about some river gambling, fishing for catfish, and attending a crawfish festival or Mardi Gras parade? If you answered yes to any or all of these, then you can satisfy all your desires in the twin cities of Shreveport and Bossier City, Louisiana.

These two cities share a common heritage that included oil, trading, and commerce along the Red River that bisects both. Shreveport was named after Henry Miller Shreve in 1839, who was responsible for clearing the Red River of a perpetual logjam that impeded river traffic for many years. At the turn of the century, oil was the dominant industry with Shreveport's Caddo Parish having one of the largest gas and oil fields in the world. Bossier City got its start as a small trading post that was previously referred to as Alexander's Precinct and Caneville.

Today, times have changed and these communities are coming into their own by attracting sportsmen, families and vacationers, who have discovered that these towns offer a wealth of cultural, outdoor and gastronomic delights.

Known as Sportsman's Paradise, Clark's Red River Marina is a public boat launch site where you can cast your line for some of the best catfish, crappie, and bass fishing in the South. There are also many public parks where families can picnic among the pine trees or play in the sand along the banks of the river.

While on the riverfront, be sure to make your way to the Louisiana Boardwalk with scores of restaurants, clubs, a multi-screen theater, and numerous upscale retail shops. The large Bass Pro Shop on one end of the outdoor mall is a huge attraction for outdoor enthusiasts and others who just like to wander through the mammoth structure admiring the many unusual displays.

These are two towns that love to show off their fun sides and in May the Mudbug Madness Festival celebrates the crawfish with music, contests, and, of course, a crawfish boil, all designed to celebrate Louisiana's Cajun heritage. In February, Mardi Gras kicks off with big parades and colorful floats (and the accompanying plastic beads launched from those riding on the floats) as well as traditional King Cakes.

If you like food (and who doesn't?), you will want to lose a few pounds to counteract what you will probably gain from a visit here. At a hard to find but nearly famous local dive known as Herby-K's, you can sink your teeth into the Shrimp Buster sandwich made from tasty large deep-fried shrimp on a roll with fries.

You must also try Fertitta's Deli, where my wife and I were treated to a mouth-watering delectable sandwich known as a "Muffy" created by Papa Fertitta over 40 years ago. Different types of cold cuts and cheeses are placed on special bread along with savory mustard and a unique olive mix. It is simply delicious and once you have had one, you will probably want another to go.

At Strawn's Eat Shop, you can enjoy basic good food in unpretentious surroundings. One of the big draws here is their fresh homemade strawberry pie with pure whipped cream that was recently featured as a favorite in Southern Living magazine.

If you have time for a slow, genteel meal, then my recommendation is to make reservations in advance for the Glenwood Village Tea Room. The owner has transformed an ordinary storefront into something extraordinary inside where you can enjoy the pleasures of afternoon tea complete with pots of brewed tea, finger sandwiches and desserts. My wife is somewhat of a tea aficionado and we both agree that this was one of the best teas we have ever had anywhere.

Springtime and summer are some of the best times to visit the Shreveport-Bossier metropolitan area. Not only will you love the charm and ambiance of these cities but they will likely leave their imprint on you as well. As you depart, you may just find yourself saying, "We'll be back, y'all!"

This is an excerpt from a story that was originally published in the May/June 2007 Edition of Northern Colorado Woman Newpaper.