If you stay at a B & B, you will certainly begin your days in Natchitoches with a sumptuous breakfast. If you're staying in an Airbnb that has a kitchen, you might want to pick up an order of shrimp, crawfish, and the works from The Crawfish Hole or other such places. But, if you're like me and really enjoy trying the local restaurants when you visit a new town, then I have six eateries to recommend.
FRENCH MARKET EXPRESS
A gas station might be the most surprising recommendation, but this particular gas station serves wonderful food. Boudin, sausage, meat pies, crawfish eggrolls, potato cakes, sandwiches, and hushpuppies are plentiful on the buffet, but two unusual items offered are the gingerbread and the Louisiana Yam Cake -- both baked fresh daily on the premises. In fact, French Market Express is the ONLY place where you can get that yummy yam cake.
And, a sure sign you're in Louisiana is the presence of frozen items for sale, such as crawfish pie, spicy boudin, and crawfish eggrolls.
Grayson's has been feeding the folks of Natchitoches their amazing smoked meats for more than 50 years, and I can promise you, if the taste is any indication, they will be around for 50 MORE years. Added touches are the homemade buns baked on the premises daily, the smooth potato salad (preferred by those who don't like lumps), and their homemade pecan pie.
CANE RIVER COMMISSARY
Cane River Commissary puts an emphasis on Creole favorites. I tried their Creole Sampler which included a meat pie (a staple unique to Natchitoches), Creamy Creole Pasta, and Jambalaya. Two thumbs up for all 3 items. The Commissary is obviously a popular gathering spot, because the locals are happy to drive a few miles out of town to dine there.
LASYONE'S MEAT PIE RESTAURANT
Lasyone's has been serving their version of meat pies since 1967. Most restaurants bake their pies, but at Lasyone's, they're fried. The crawfish version is over the top. Owner Angela Lasyone took over when her parents retired and is a delight to meet. I ordered some crawfish pies through Goldbelly.com and plan to enjoy them with some gumbo sometime during the holidays. I can't wait to share them with my Silver Fox.
Most days of the year, Merci Beaucoup only serves lunch, but during the Christmas Festival, they extend their hours. I ordered their famous Cajun Baked Potato, and I can truthfully say it was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. My fellow diners laughed at me because I couldn't stop saying, "Mmmmmmm. Yummmmm." The crawfish etouffee covering the potato was bursting with flavor, and the huge fried shrimp on top was perfect. For dessert, they have a great bread pudding, but you'll also want to sample the Louisiana Sin Bar. It is much too rich to eat all by yourself, so share it with several friends. Chocolate, creamy filling, strawberries -- oh my!
Mariner's Restaurant has both a stunning location and a stellar menu. The interior was remodeled during the pandemic with pleasing colors and attractive artwork. Looking out over Sibley Lake while you dine adds a huge wow factor.
I was there for Sunday brunch which appeared to be very popular. The deviled eggs with fried chicken appetizer made me wish I'd ordered two, and Oysters Benedict satisfied my curiosity. That entree consists of fried oysters, two poached eggs, and andouille sausage -- very Louisianian.
As I said last week about the B & Bs, Natchitoches is a special place that I highly recommend. I'm looking forward to a return visit.
Next week I'll share photos and info about the attractions I visited. Stay tuned.
Have a good week. Try to get your Christmas decorating and shopping finished. You'll need to save some energy for holiday baking. :) "'Tis the season."