What should I eat in Alexandria?
- Adrienne Mar 30, 2008 12:30 PM
I'm going to be working from Pineville (across the river from Alexandria) for the month of April. Any suggestions?
Sadly for the traveler, the best cooking of CenLA is in home kitchens, not in restaurants. Try Tunk's Cypress Inn (http://tunkscypressinn.com/index.htm) or Bistro on the Bayou (http://www.bistroonthebayou.com/). Chain restaurants abound, so you won't starve....Semolina is probably the best of the "chain" places, though you can also find Chili's, Outback, etc. Old-school italian & pizza can be found at Suburban Garden on Jackson St., too.
Strangely enough, the Western Sizzlin' used to have a home-cooking buffet at lunch (greens, fried okra, etc), but I haven't tried it in years, so I don't know if it still exists, or if it's worth the $6.95.
re: Hungry Celeste
Don't go to Bistro on the Bayou. I was there this fall for a work lunch. The grilled "gulf shrimp" were tiny and obviously previously frozen (and not grilled) and the molton cake, which the server described as oozy and delectable, was completely cooked through and solid. And, if they wanted to be accurate, they should have named it Bistro on the Parking Lot. My meal at Outback was a lot more enjoyable!
Try The Diamond Grill... it's fun to sip martinis at the bar before dinner. Last time I was there I had the soft shell crabs and they were really good. Also love Tunk's for sitting on the water and eating boiled crawfish, and Suburban Gardens (the fried shrimp platter is really good).
Semolina closed some years ago and Western Sizzlin' hasn't been around in ages either.
For lunch, try The Cottage or Portabella, for more than just a burger or sandwich, though theirs are good. Also good for lunch is the Main Dish, with soups, salads and sandwiches.
Red Kettle Grill is good for standard breakfast. Always crowded, so be prepared for that. Its popular.
For seafood, Robbie G's is open for lunch and dinner, along with Tunk's. Robbie's G's was an old grocery store and its a hole in the wall with charm. The food is very good.
Nice dining is the Bistro and Diamond Grill, already mentioned. The Bistro was originally located on a bayou, but had to move due to a golf course being built in the old location. The food is good, but pricey. The chef at DG formerly owned La Martinique in New Orleans.
Suburban Gardens is very much a hoot. Its been around forever and some of the waitresses have been there forever as well. The food is okay, though the canneloni is very good (ask for alfredo and tomato sauces) and the Italian salad is old style and good. They make all of the bread in house. There is also have an oyster bar.
There's another Italian restaurant opened by relatives of the Suburban Gardens folks, called Bellino's.
For good hoagies, oven grinders etc..., go to Critic's Choice. The one downtown is only open for lunch. There's another open at night. They make a good spaghetti sauce as well for a hot meal. The Italian sausage is very good.
Another seafood and steak restaurant is Cajun Landing. Catfish is excellent and they do a good job on steaks.
Sammy's Steak and Ribs is good for steaks. Nice atmosphere and people. The filet is very good.
If you're a sushi fan, try Sake Sushi (sushi bar and Asian fusion) or the Oriental Wok. There is also a Hana Japanese steakhouse, which might be a chain, but its very good. The other restaurants I've mentioned are not chains.
Swamp Daddy's is another hole in the wall with darn good fried catfish and shrimp. They serve crawfish as well.
In the Pineville area, there is a seafood restaurant called Fant's. The owner worked at Robbie G's for a while. There's also one called Paradise Catfish or something like that. Its supposed to be good, but remember that this area is dry, so if you want wine or beer etc.., you're out of luck. There's not much in Pineville, unfortunately.
Locally owned Mexican restaurants are El Reparo and Las Portales.
For casual eating, day or night, go to Spirits. It has a large menu of pastas, sandwiches, salads and grilled fish.
In Pineville, there's a buffet style lunch joint called Lee J's. You can good a get hot lunch there with plenty of vegetables and fruits.
Take a drive to Lecompte for good ham sandwiches and a little going back in time at Lea's Lunch Room. They are famous for the pies, which are okay. The ham there is the star, though.
There are other local joints, but that will get you started.
I'm from Alexandria and now live in Indianapolis and reading about all of these restaurants (especially tunks and lee j's has made me homesick) :)
Everyone has really hit the nail on the head with thier suggestions. I hope you enjoy your stay in my hometown!
Report Week 1
I've gotten a slow start on the list y'all have made for me, but I also received news this week that I will be working out of Alexandria until mid-June, so I have lots of time to try all these restaurants. Here's where I went this week:
El Reparo is the only one off this board, but it was really good. DC and I both ordered the Fiesta Platter, which for a little under $10 comes as TWO full-sized plates containing a tamale, an enchilada, a taco, a chalupa, a chile relleno and lots of rice and beans. The Chile relleno was exceptional; I intend to go back and just get that a la carte because this was SO much more food than I could eat. The tamale was very good too, and everything else was good and definitely the right price. Very cute inside too, with plaster done to resemble stucco and lots of Mexican paraphernalia.
My supervisor took me to Outlaw's for burgers (pretty good) and onion loaf (amazing), another great buy. And they have a very impressive fixins bar, with every kind of sauce and pickles. The onion loaf was really the highlight.
One night we got takeout from Little Greek which has a strange combination of Middle Eastern and American food, but their felafel was good enough -- could have been spicier -- and the hummus was good. The guy who helped us on the phone was a little confused; he told us that he didn't have the kind of pita they use for felafel so could he use a gyro pita, and I said sure, but then he actually put gyro in it, and the friend I was eating with is a vegetarian, and we had to correct him, so it was kind of a fiasco but it ended very well.
I will continue to report back -- thanks again everyone for your help!
Little Greek is okay. The hummus is pretty good. They do the seasoned pita bread, which has a certain name that I can't think of, but its good.
If you pick up take out crawfish, go to Debarge's. Good stuff.
Lots of fresh corn is grown around that area and if you're around in June, you can take some home with you. You can buy it within hours of being picked. Its so fresh that you can eat it right then and there.
There's also a good catfish hole in the wall restaurant off Hwy 107 near Pineville, but it might be outside of city limits. Nothing fancy at all, but the catfish is darn good.
The Za'atar bread? Yeah my first thought when I opened my food at my room was that I should have asked for Za'atar and hot sauce and it would have been elevated.
I didn't see Debarge's when I googled... any chance they have a longer name?
I can't wait for fresh corn -- fresh corn is amazing.
Thanks again for your tips!
Dining Report Week 2
I get to go home (to New Orleans) for the weekend, so my week ends tonight. This was a good food week...
Sunday night a coworker and I drove to Sake Sushi for dinner. We enjoyed it. In general I would say that the quality of the things we ordered was uneven. He had 3 types of rolls and I had tuna rolls and 3 or 4 types of nigiri, and some were really good and others just ok. We also brought home a rainbow roll for another coworker, who said that everything was pretty good except the tuna, which she actually had to peel off, and we could see that it was drying out to the point of being translucent. On the other hand, the crab salad we were served at the sushi bar was really delicious. We also liked the vibe of the place, quiet with good service, reasonable prices, open solid hours, friendly guys behind the sushi bar, etc. I'm going to plan to go back and order some cooked food and see how that goes.
Tuesday night my supervisor and I went to Fire Mountain, which had been recommended by someone who used to work here --- we were pretty surprised to discover that it was a buffet, definitely not what we were planning, but the food was better than I expected, honestly: everything was fresh, nothing was too greasy and there was quite a bit of salad and salad toppings. There was a beef stew and a pea salad that were kindof inedible flavor-wise, but other than that not bad.
The high point of the week was last night, when I finally got take out from Oriental Wok. I had the wonderful shrimp, which somehow lived up to its name. It's shrimp with pork, brocolli and mushrooms in brown sauce, and it was delicious. I told all my coworkers to go there and order the wonderful shrimp. I also had lo mein (I picked up dinner for last night and tonight). The lo mein had good flavor but was a little starchy for me, like maybe they didn't rinse their noodles enough. Still enjoyable though. I will definitely be back to Oriental Wok.
Tonight after Chinese leftovers most of my team went to Atwood's bakery for dessert, with mixed results. I tasted a few ice cream flavors that I DID NOT like (a coffee caramel one and a wedding cake one) but then I tried the raspberry lemonade ice cream, which was AMAZING, and everyone who tasted it agreed. In one coworker's words, "It has a Willy Wonka quality" -- in that it really tasted like a raspberry lemonade (the Schnozzberries taste like Schnozzberries!) Cakes were good, coffees were good, marzipan didn't taste like almond. Free wireless didn't hurt.
Meanwhile I am trying to adjust my "to eat" list a bit... we've been advised that the only fine dining around here is very overpriced for what you get... which has led me to not want to drag friends to those places, but I may still sneak off to Diamond Grill alone, their menu is very appealing to me... and I definitely want to try Tunk's and Suburban Gardens soon... and everyone seems to think Spirits is good... also someone mentioned Lou and Laura's or something like that, if anyone has feedback on that let me know. For now I'm kindof neglecting lunch-only places because I'm usually working from 6 am to 3pm at least, but I haven't forgotten they were recommended and appreciate all of y'all's help!
I'm surprised Fire Mountain had anything good. Its a chain owned by Ryan's which is not described too favorably. I've never been in one of them, but I've heard about it.
Near there is Cajun Landing, which would be much more appealing and has darn good fried catfish, among other things, and hushpuppies which are long and thin and tasty.
I had drinks and apps at Diamond Grill this week. The crabcake was just okay. The fried oysters were very good. The extra large grilled shrimp were okay. The atmosphere is lovely. There's a neat story behind it. It was a family owned jewelry store for eons. They finally closed it to move to a growing area of the city since downtown had gotten a bit slow. Now, you know the origin of the name. The folks who renovated really brought out the best features of the old building. You should try it while you in Alexandria to make your own decision about the former New Orleans chef. The architecture is worth the visit.
Lou and Laura's has been around forever, though I've been told ownership has changed. The fellow running it makes his own Italian sausage, which is excellent. I heard he was now selling it in the restaurant. Its a very casual place, famous for broasted chicken. It never served alchohol and I doubt it does now. I'm not sure if its open at night.
Sorry to hear that Sake Sushi has mixed reviews. Its been around for about a year, maybe. I've attended some catered events at which they had sushi set ups. Folks just flocked to it and never seemed to leave.
You might enjoy the Hana Japanese Steakhouse, which is new to the city. I've heard it is very good and fun. Reservations may be necessary, though, for night dining. It may still have the "new restaurant" crowds.
If you get to the Main Dish before it closes at 5:30, you can pick up some of the old fashioned shredded chicken salad like grandmothers used to make for easy lunches while you're at work. Throw in some green grape halves and almonds for variety.
Put Robbie G's on your list if you like fried shrimp or catfish. You'll enjoy the hole in the wall atmosphere.
If you go back to the wok, people seem to like a dish called "Effie's chicken". I think its like an almond chicken, but I'm not sure. Their "Japanese" dumplings are very good, but you have to specifically ask for the "Japanese" version and I'm not sure they are actually on the main menu.
Take the "old" way back to NO through Cheneyville, Lecompte and Bunkie to hit Krotz Springs. The scenery is quaint and you can run into Lea's in Lecompte and get a ham sandwich for the road. OR, stop at Stelly's in Lebeau and they'll fry up a decent meatpie for you. Its a good "rest" stop and its a hoot. The old route actually cuts time on the trip even though the speed limits are lower. I drove that route a million times coming from NO to Alexandria.
If you like oriental fare, you might try the Bangkok. Its hit and miss,depending on what you order, but they also have some Thai dishes, if you like that. Its near Saki Sushi next to Books A Million. There's another Mexican restaurant, locally owned, near there as well, in a strip center just before Wally World. I think the folks are related to the folks at El Reparo, but its a bit different. The flan is very good.
I grew up in Pineville (actually Tioga), so this thread is making me a little homesick. I would recommend Fant's for pretty good fried seafood. It's in Tioga, so if you're working at Pinecrest, it's pretty close to where you are. Robbie G's is also good for seafood, and I think they have good boiled shrimp. Lighthouse in Tioga also does pretty good burgers.
Last I heard Bracato's is no longer open, and I wouldn't recommend Bellino's-- we had an awful meal there. We recently went to Suburban Gardens, and everyone had a great meal-- the veal scallopini was especially delicious. For lunch, I second the suggestions of The Cottage and Portabella's, although the latter can be a little hit or miss.
My favorite Mexican place in Alex is Julia's; however, people either love this or hate it. I love, love their tacos and cheese enchiladas. I also like El Reparo/El Rodeo (which is in Ball and probably much closer to you), but hate Los Portales.
Finally, on the topic of fine dining, Bistro once had amazing sushi, and we would go just for that. They recently changed sushi chefs, so I'm hopeful it's as good as it used to be. We had the worst dining experience of my life at Diamond Grill, so I wouldn't recommend it. I've heard Red River Grill in Marksville is wonderful, but I haven't had the chance to try it myself.
Thanks for your post! I'm actually working at Huey P Long. I have also heard about the Red River Grill but I haven't had a chance to go to Marksville yet.... you have definitely moved sub gardens up on my list... I think I might just go have a drink at Diamond Grill just so I can see it... I really liked El Reparo so I may just go back there for more Mexican but I will add Julia's to the list.
BTW, to all, I'm kindof ignoring some of the fried food suggestions because we get free food at the hospital that is very heavy, so whenever I have a chance to eat out I'm leaning towards lighter or non-regional food for a change of pace.
You can get some lighter fare at any of the "fried" seafood restaurants, such as grilled fish, for example. Tunk's, Robbie G's and Cajun Landing will all have something lighter if that's what you prefer.
You can get some light fare at Diamond Grill as well.
Lots of people love Julia's. Too much velveeta like cheese for me.
Agree on the Red River Grill. Debarge's crawfish are the best I've had anywhere, ever, other than a good backyard boil, on occasion.
I also forgot to mention that I second the recommendation for crawfish from DeBarge's. It's fantastic. Just be sure to place your order early in the day.
Report Week 3
This was a week largely of second-takes, but I did finally get to try Robbie G's. It was great! My supervisor and I shared an appetizer platter with fried crabcakes (yum), boudin balls (a little heavy), crawfish tails, tomatoes (amazing), jalapenos and mozzarella, and also got halforders of the fried pickles (WOW, I am in love) and onion rings which were made from red onions and not white, which was an excellent substitution -- better than white even. That and a few beers set us back only $15 apiece. This was a great suggestion for delicious, local food.
The rest of the week we went back to some prior places and ordered with more savvy:
-At Little Greek Deli, we asked for hot sauce and Za'atar, which both vastly improved the hummus and felafel for me, and we also got some Moussaka which had a really lovely, creamy bechamel.
-At Oriental Wok I tried, per the board suggestions, the Effie's chicken, which was amazingly crispy and had very subtle saucing with good vegetables, and the Japanese dumplings which were good with an awesome sauce. Not better than "wonderful shrimp," but very good.
-At Sake Sushi, a Doctor working here told me you have to ask them what's the freshest or best that day. I followed his advice, ordered the BMW (kindof like a rainbow roll with crispy in it and several saucings and some roe) and thought it was delicious. Also they have chili paste they'll bring in a little dish which I prefer to wasabi for my soy sauce.
-At Atwood's I had a cannoli. I will not say it was an amazing cannoli, because I lived in Philly for 6 years and I know cannoli, but I will say it was a legitimate cannoli, with a shell that wasn't sweetened (as is appropriate) and a filling that had texture to it instead of being whipped cream or something. They did put a lot of chocolate sauce on it, which decreased its authenticity, but otherwise it was pretty good.
This week I'm spending in New Orleans but I will be back next week with more adventures in Alexandria, Louisiana :)
greetings from the "supervisor"...just had to add my two cents about the atwoods experience...my choice definitely trumped my "supervisee's"!
the warm blackberry cobbler with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a scoop of roasted almond gellato on the side was definitely worthy of its "nightly special" status
Indeed! Report week 5 is here.
I have now moved from Huey P Long to a clinic associated with Rapides, where we are actually getting fed by Pharm reps at lunchtime(!) And I actually haven't found the mall at all yet... where's that at?
Anyway back to the food :) This week I have tried:
Oriental Wok Sushi Bar
I promise to stop posting repeats when they become irrelevant, but I felt like the Wok's Sushi bar was almost a separate entity from the restaurant. I had a seaweed salad and a rainbow roll and everything was really delicious, fresh and... turgid. But the air conditioner was on superhigh and I actually rushed through dinner to get away from the cold. I will definitely be getting take-out sushi from them in the future.
Pharm reps brought us hoagies from Critic's choice that were very good. I tried the meatball grinder and the Italian hoagie, and they brought me back to my years in Philadelphia. The red sauce was delicious and had that Philadelphia-red-gravy taste I've missed. The Italian hoagie had a good bite and lots of those little marinated peppers.
I had a Cajun Turkey poboy that was mediocre, but I sortof blame myself because I should have seen the mayonnaise coming, and I do NOT eat warm mayonnaise and should have requested they not use it. They did have a choice of wheat roll which was good, and lots of chopped veggies for the sandwiches, and I wouldn't rule out giving them another chance with more specific directions.
Ok, not really food, but I had to mention that I had the second worst cup of coffee of my life yesterday at Coffee Connection. It was significantly worse than the free coffee at Huey P. And their "espresso drinks" come out of a cafeteria style machine but they call themselves a coffee house! I actually bought a diet coke to replace my horrible coffee after a few sips. Yuck.
Tonight I finally made it to Suburban Gardens! It was the experience y'all described. Very homey and real inside. I sat at the bar next to a guy around my age who told me how great it was and how he'd been coming his whole life and how he loves it. I had an Italian salad which was very good, great dressing with nice marinated olives and peppers, served with saltines which were a non-sequitor but I just ignored them. Then I had the canneloni, as recommended, which were very good. It tasted like it came out of someone's Mom's oven... you could really taste all the elements, the spinach flavor showed through, the meat was fairly subtle, the red sauce was nice -- though I would have liked a little more sauce. The portion was generous; I couldn't finish it all in one sitting but finished it off at home a little while later. Dude at the bar says to go back, get the Chicken parm and the cannoli, which I may do. He says their desserts are from Angelo Brocato's in New Orleans. He also reiterated recs for Cajun Landing, Lou and Laura's, and a few I've already tried - Critic's Choice and Robbie G's especially.
I am now living at the Air Base so Bistro on the Bayou is definitely on my to-do list... I'm also definitely going to hit Spirit's....and I think it's time to try some more Mexican and maybe Bangkok. I heard my office is having a crawfish boil next week from Bordelon's, I hope that and our other lunches will be good :)
The mall is easy to find. Go out hwy 28 from the base and you'll hit MacArthur Drive. Veer right onto MacArthur Dr. and follow it, going around the South Traffic Circle. The mall will be on your left. Sister's is in the back, just inside the back entrance.
Glad you've had some nice meals. If you end up at Suburban again, ask for extra red and some white sauce on the side. Mix them and put the sauce on the canneloni. It's much better than just the red sauce, which I find too sweet for my taste. The white sauce tempers the sweetness. Suburban Gardens just cracks me up. The music, the decor...it's a blast from the past. It also has an oyster bar, if you like them raw.
Love the red gravy at Critic's. It has a kick to it.
Report Week 6
Just a warning... I'm feeling chatty tonight :)
The Pharm reps have been very generous all week... but I've still gotten to try some good food. One sponsored lunch came from Johnny Carino's which I realize is a chain, but it's one we don't have where I'm from and I was impressed by their lasagna. It had a good, meaty flavor to the sauce.
The staff picnic was this week and as I mentioned last week, crawfish were brought from Bordelon's. They were *great* and everyone thought so, even those from the area were commenting that they were done perfectly -- not ridiculously spicy, though I do enjoy a kick. They bring their potatoes and corn separately, those were fine. The guy who came from Bordelon's also stayed and helped scoop crawfish onto our trays and came back later to pick up the coolers emptied of food.
Last night I finally went to Bistro on the Bayou -- which I walked to from my apartment; it was so close. I was struck by the decor and found it pleasing and strangely familiar. I decided halfway through my meal that the room looked exactly like a cigar room on a cruiseship. Specific, I know. But that's how it looked to me. Anyhow, I dined alone and was the only one there throughout my meal, so I had quite a bit of attention from the servers who were young and capable. I asked my server for advice on the menu --which offers quite a few large cuts of red meat, and a $43 rack of lamb -- and she advised me that two appetizers would be plenty of food -- she was correct, and I really appreciate when a waiter stops me from ordering too much food. First I had an appetizer of cold-smoked salmon (i.e., lox) with herbed cream cheese, capers, vidalia onions, tomato and toast points ($15). Other than the slightly soggy toast points, each component of this dish was very good or even excellent, but the proportion was off. There could easily have been a quarter of a pound of salmon, and plenty of cream cheese, but nowhere near enough bread, slightly fewer capers and bits of onion than I would have liked, and one small, lonely slice of delicious, ruby-red tomato. I would have liked twice as much bread (and had it not buttered in advance) and I could have easily eaten an entire tomato with my lox. But this is because the one tomato slice I received was *perfect*. Since I was eating alone the proportion was not a huge issue (I just scooped lots of lovely salmon into my mouth), but had I tried to eat in front of anyone or even to share this dish, I think the meager bread would have become a major limitation. The moment I finished and rested my cutlery, appetizer 2 arrived: "tempura" green beans ($9). The green beans were good and not overcooked (I almost always find vegetables overcooked) but they were NOT tempura. They were batter-fried. It was fine, but not as to my taste as tempura. Also there was too much batter (it kept falling everywhere) and it was served with a chipotle sour cream which was pretty good and a soy lyonnaise which did not work for me-- I think she said white wine, butter, pesto and soy sauce... just not for me. Half the green beans came home with me and a little while later (they were still warm, my server did an amazing wrap job on them) they were really good with some plain American mustard. Overall a nice experience, and I thought all of the ingredients were very high quality, which seems to be their self-proclaimed selling point.
Tonight I tried to go to Spirits but found that they were closed. Ok honestly, I have a very hard time understanding how restaurants could be closed on a Saturday night... there was some culture shock for me, for sure. But I drove around trying to think of where would be next on my list and I drove right by Cajun Landing, so I stopped there. Good choice. The place is cute, wooden exterior and a softly nautical blue and white interior, which made me feel that I could have as easily been in Maine. The menu reinforced this feeling with their deep fried fish platters etc., though the deep-fried dinner roll was certainly a new experience for me (tasted good, felt weird going down). The waiter steered me wisely towards the stuffed red snapper ($18). I kindof have a problem with it being called stuffed -- fish is flat, how could you really stuff it? The dish was more like a piece of snapper with a big crab cake on top of it, crab meat over that and a creamy sauce. But, not-technically-stuffed though it may have been, it was delicious. I was very hungry by the time I had driven around looking for a place to eat, so maybe that made it taste better, but I really enjoyed it and found it a highlight of my time here so far. The sautee of zucchini, squash and red onions was also very good and a little spicy. The portion was generous but not overwhelming, and the noise level was very low. A lovely meal.
And now I have to figure out if *anything* but the wok is open here on Sundays :)
I would think that the chains and Asian and Mexican restaurants are all open on Sundays.
You are quite close to Tunk's for a meal on a weeknight or Saturday night. It might be closed on Mondays, though.
Spirits has always been closed on Saturdays, which seems odd, but historically, they've done booming day business during the week and pretty good business at night as well. It has a band on Friday nights quite often, also. The current owners are a young couple with small children and both of them have plenty of money of their own outside of the restaurant income. They can do what they want, but they work hard at it during the week. It probably nearly runs itself at this point.
It's possible Sister's in the mall could be open, but call first.
Lea's Lunchroom in Lecompte is open until mid afternoon, generally, and is a pleasant drive for a good ham sandwich, rootbeer served in the bottle with an accompanying small clear glass of ice, the old fashioned way. I've never been wild about the pies, but have a slice to say you ate at the "pie capital of the world". I don't believe anything at Lea's has changed since I was a child at least. It's pretty nostalgic and just a crack up to go there. I really love the ham sandwiches.
There's a map if you hit the home page.
Do not speed in Lecompte, though. You will be nailed if you do.
One additional limitation to my search for food is that I am not a very good driver... or more accurately, I am an ok driver but a very poor navigator. I wound up on MacArthur South the other day and it took me a very long time to figure out how to get back to North... pretty sad, I know. But I can try the mall again maybe... :) I thought maybe Bangkok would be open tonight but I still haven't been able to find them.
Re Tunks, I've heard that they're almost equivalent to Robbie G's but more expensive. Is that true? I loved Robbie G's but don't necessarily need to pay more for equivalent food.
And I can forgive Spirits for their weird schedule. I just feel a little like I'm in the twilight zone.
Today I'm on call so I can't go to LeCompte but I think I'm going to go to Lea's on Friday the 30th, when I will be driving back to New Orleans for the weekend so it will be on my way... I do think I have to get a slice of pie, and I will definitely try their ham sandwich, assuming I can find them :) I've heard they hide themselves a bit on purpose.
Bangkok should be open. I think they are open 7 days a week. They are near the Mall and, if you were on Mac South, you should have seen the Mall. They are located on North Drive in the strip mall which has Books-A-Million. North Drive hits MacArthur at a lighted intersection. Logan's is on the right there and I Hop, I believe will be on the left in front of another strip center which houses Bath and Body Works, PetSmart and Shoe Carnival, among others. Sam's is right around there as well.
Lea's is not hidden. It's been on the main drag through Lecompte since it first opened a million years ago and before I-49, that was the only option (other than through Marksville) to drive from Shreveport to Baton Rouge. It actually suffered when I-49 opened. It was always packed to the max when you drove through there.
Tunk's is not as good as Robbie G's in my opinion, but it has a much larger menu and serves good cocktails. You can eat in the bar area downstairs with a good view of the lake and even eat outside if the weather is suitable. Good view of the sunset on the lake or the moon rising. The beef filet is surprisingly tasty there.
Sammy's had pretty good steaks as well. It's just off MacArthur near the Pizza Hut across from the Power Center shopping center.
Maybe this map will help you.
If you enjoy bbq with the vinegar based sauce, try Westside just before you get to Robbie G's on Jackson St. Extension. It's cheap, so that should fit your bill. The chipped beef sandwich is good. Get extra sauce on the side for dipping.
Not open on Sundays, unfortunately.
Report Version 6.1
This restaurant was interesting... they have Chinese, Japanese and Thai food... they have a buffet some of the time I guess and sushi and a Habachi grill... it's like a really casual version of some of the hip NorthEast places :) Anyway I asked my server what to have and told her I was familiar with Thai and she brought me the biggest pork dumplings I've ever seen (the portion was 4 pieces and each was at least twice as big as the biggest dumplings I'd ever had before... the dough was almost like eating big noodles, I liked them a lot) and a bowl of curry with shrimp, vegetables, red curry base and lots of lemon grass. It tasted somewhere midway between a red curry and a Tom Yum. It was good, and spicy enough. My server was very friendly and pleasant, and I will definitely go back if I'm nearby... I read somewhere else that they'll try to make anything you request, so it's a fun place for me to go, being that I really like authentic, spicy Asian food.
(& Today I had my Pharm-supported lunch break at 4pm, so that's pretty much it for me :) )
I asked the waitress what I should eat and she asked what I liked and made several suggestions, one of which was curry -- I stopped her on curry. She asked what kind of meat and I said shrimp. That's the extent of my knowledge on the entree.
The dumplings were marked "clear" or something equivalent, she said something about their not having the clear dough right now... maybe my dumplings were a new creation with whatever dough they did have.
Report Week 7
I know, it's Wednesday. My weeks are off. But I have more reports!
This place and its servers were very charming and very cheap, but my ($4.50) half-chicken was very dry. The flavor was good, as was the sauce. Being that my only other BBQ experience here at Eddie's left me with almost exactly the same impression (good flavor, too dry) I think maybe I just like my meat less cooked than is in style here. Anyway, at that price I'm not complaining too much.
Ok it's not a restaurant but I ate their sushi. I had a rainbow roll, which I've also had from both Sake Sushi and the Wok now, and I'd say so far the Wok is winning with Sake and Kroger tied -- Sake lost points for the fish itself, Kroger for the overall roll, but their fish actually tasted a tiny bit better. I'm going to try to get to Hana to complete my sushi review of Alexandria.
Ok I just got back from Tunk's and this is why I'm posting now. Tunk's is in a lovely spot right on the Lake, which was very nice. Inside it has a mess-hall kind of feel to it, with a plastic salad bar (I mean, the salad itself wasn't plastic... not quite) and a bunch of semi-random fishy decorations. Cute. I was seated by a pleasant lady and I ordered and unrolled my cutlery to start my salad and... it was sticky. Very sticky. And, upon inspection, it looked unclean as well. So I grabbed the cutlery from the seat next to me (my table was set for 4) and it was also sticky. My waitress got me the cutlery from the next table -- still sticky. I'm considering leaving but I decide to give them a real chance and I let the hostess know. She apologized and walked into the kitchen to get me fresh cutlery. She brought it and it was perfect - clean, and warm and steamy like it had just come out of a dishwasher. Thank goodness. I ate my salad which was fine -- the lettuce was white, and the salad bar had a lot more fat than vitamins or crunch on it but everything tasted good. Then I got my alligator and everything changed. The alligator was fried perfectly. It didn't even need the tartar or cocktail sauce I was given -- though the wedge of lemon brought out some more nice flavor. Some bits tasted more fishy and others more like chicken which was kindof interesting. Anway it was very good, and they substituted corn for the fried sides and the corn was pretty good. Service was very attentive and pleasant. Overall my experience evened out, and I'm certainly glad to have finally tried this place.
Next up: Lea's in Lecompte
It's not really a fair comparison because I had that whole basket of different fried yummies at Robbie G's... the fried Alligator at Tunk's was on par with the fried mixed at Robbig G's, but the salad was pretty eh and the corn was just ok. I'd say the highest points of Robbie G's (fried pickles, tomatoes, onions) were better than the high point of Tunk's (alligator).
I've never had the chicken at Westside. Initially, the menu was small and you could basically get chipped beef, sliced beef or ham with potato salad or slaw and that was pretty much it. As the owners changed, they expanded, but the original meats are still prepared as they always were, so I stick with those. Probably should have told you that.
Don't know what was up with the silverware problem at Tunk's. That's unusual. You're right about the salad bar. It's just there for a filler, in my opinion. I've rarely dined upstairs. I like the view of the water downstairs. Glad you liked the gator.
Cellar door, Robbie G's is better for seafood, in my opinion, though the menu is smaller. Tunks is an okay seafood restaurant and kind of fun because of it's quirks.
Report Week N-1
I have only one more week here in Alexandria! And though I don't have very much to report, I wanted to let y'all know that Lea's pie was really special. We got a lemon meringue and my friends (to whom I transported the pie on the way back to New Orleans... very carefully) all thought it was delicious. The meringue to custard ratio was VERY high, higher than I've ever seen, and I think that's what made it so good. The custard was very rich and the meringue was so light and the crust was very flaky and it was just all kinds of contrasty and not too much of any one part. Yum! Ham sandwich was fine, not that exciting.
Also this week the Pharm reps brought us lunch from Zoes Kitchen... I guess it's the new one in Lafayette. It was great -- they have mediterranean takes on all kinds of standard foods (mediterranean quesadillas, rubens, chicken wraps, etc.). I know it's not quite from Alec but I ate it here :)
I love the ham sandwiches at Lea's and the ham itself is delicious, but part of the allure of the sandwich is probably nostalgic for me.
If you get a chance to have the fried shrimp and catfish at Robbie G's before you leave, I recommend that.
Before you leave or on your way home, stop in Cheneyville at Poole's produce and pick up some of the sweet corn coming in. I was lucky enough to have some from there last year and it was outstanding. It's off the main road, but very easy to find and not far from your route. Take 71 out of town rather than I-49, like you are going to Lea's. You can call Poole's before you go and tell him what you want as far as corn and he'll give you directions. Here's the info.
Sweet Corn, Pooles Home Grown Produce. 318-279-2429 or 318-452-7061
If you like corn, you will find this hard to beat.
If you like fresh purple hull peas or speckled butterbeans, the new crops are coming in and they are flash frozen the day they are picked. They keep in the freezer extremely well and taste just as good as fresh, not frozen. I've eaten some I had in the freezer for well over a year without any flavor or texture differences. This is good old country cookin' food. The tomatoes coming in are very good as well, though not Creoles!
We always go the "old" pre-49 route and I assumed you did as well because it's longer to take 49 to Lea's. You head straight out of town on MacArthur Dr. Go straight under 49 rather than getting on. If you go straight on that hwy through Cheneyville, Lecompte, Bunkie etc..., it will take you to the hwy just before you hit Krotz Springs. (I'm assuming you are not taking the long route to NO through Lafayette)
Anyway, going that way takes you right in front of Lea's. After Lecompte, you will hit Cheneyville. You turn left on the first street (there may only be 2 streets). Go over a little bridge, turn right and go until you see the Poole's veggie signs. That's it. There's a veggie stand off Hwy 28, closer to you, but they don't usually get the corn this early. You could call them, though. The name is Bayou Best Produce, I believe.
There's a fellow out at Lake Buhlow right now, during the day, just off the bridge past the Buhlow Fun Park who has some great purple hull peas and specks. Purples hulls are similar to black eye peas, but much better, in my opinion. They are grown in the area. We stock up in the summer.
Hmn... I have been taking the 49 straight to 10 route... I know it's physically longer but I obey speed limits and they're much higher that way. We'll see if I can make time this weekend to go get corn; I don't think this will be practical driving back to New Orleans after work on Wednesday -- my last day here!
That's a longer route regardless of obeying the speed limits. We take 49 to Opelousas and get off to Port Barre. Much shorter. Also, if you've ever been in 10 between Lafayette and BR when there's been an accident, you'll never do it again. You are stuck over the spillways. Maybe there will be some corn at one of the closer markets before you leave. If I see any, I'll let you know.
Alexandria: Last weekly report
I got some good eating in over the weekend, one final attempt to cover the list y'all made me 3 months ago. I SO appreciate all of your help and suggestions... and driving directions :) and I wish I could have gotten a chance to try every single suggestion... I didn't but I think I did a pretty good job. And later tonight or tomorrow I will post a review of all this with some best-ofs and least-best-ofs etc.
But this week...
I had lunch at Peking Buffet. It was approximately what I expected: Maybe a dozen types of fried foods - dumplings, eggrolls, chicken, shrimp, unknowns, "chinese donuts," a few types of non-fish sushi, lo mein, mei fun, a few deep-fried-sauced chicken dishes, several sauteed or stir-fried dishes with quite a bit of vegetables in them especially brocolli, and a few little pieces of cake. Overall the food was ok, not amazing, but the veg were fresh and the price is $6.39! For all you can eat! I couldn't believe how cheap it was. They get credit for keeping the food fresh for that price, for real.
Well this was long coming, because I'd heard about this place from the board and from coworkers... it was an interesting experience. It was like eating at a friend's. A friend who argues in front of you, has a cement kitchen and uses too much ammonia... while you're eating... but who makes great food. My dish - grilled shrimp over wheat pasta with brocolli, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc., was very good, and the sauce had this nice quality of being formed of veggie sweat and pasta water instead of being a heavy, creamy or oily sauce. It was way healthier feeling to eat it with those veg, the brown pasta, the grilled shrimp and the lack of heavy sauce -- and I like that, definitely. It also tasted really good. I didn't really mind the arguing or cement kitchen... it would have been really nice if the server could have not been cleaning right in front of my face while I was eating but as an overall package it was a pretty good meal.
Well. This was the weirdest one this week. So, I got a rainbow roll so that I could compare rainbow rolls throughout the various sushi purveyors here. I ordered a seaweed salad and a rainbow roll. The waiter, who clearly is having some trouble with understanding me because I guess he's from Asia somewhere, writes it down, and leaves. He comes back a few minutes later and tells me I've only ordered one roll. I say yes. He says again it is only one roll. I say that's right. He says it's not enough. Now I'm just staring at him. I say again, he's got it right. Now he gets up in my face (like, within a foot of my face) and starts yelling that I didn't order enough food. Now I'm obviously annoyed, I point at the ticket, I said "THAT'S what I WANT." And he leaves. Fine. So the kicker is, he never brought me the seaweed salad. The roll was plenty -- not huge, but enough, certainly enough that it shouldn't have been questioned -- and it was pretty tasty, with reasonably turgid, fresh fish but the avocado was brown. I peeled that off and enjoyed. I got out of there quickly to avoid interacting with my waiter any more. I mentioned the situation to the hostess who apologized, told me she would report this to her manager right away, and added under her breath that he yells at her all the time just like how I'd said. The sushi was fine but I wouldn't consider going back in there alone and if I were taken by others I would make a special request not to have this man wait on me again. Jeesh.
Best of the Pineville / Alexandria Louisiana Area Restaurants
Alright, so if you've been reading along, you know every last thing I ate in the past 10 weeks. But what was the best? Read on!
Lee J's on the Levee
5 Best Dishes:
Oriental Wok: Wonderful Shrimp
Lea's Lunchroom: Lemon Meringue Pie
Robbie G's: Fried Pickles
El Reparo: Chile Relleno
5 Best Buys:
Spirits Food and Friends
Little Greek Deli
5 Most Underwhelming:
Bistro on the Bayou
It's been a great 10 weeks. Thank you all again for your help -- I have had some delicious eating and I appreciate ya!