What should I eat in Alexandria?
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!