Whether you're new to Lake Charles (like me), or you're just passing through, these are some of the best places to eat in the city. You should give them a try, if you haven't already.

Of course, this is hardly a comprehensive list. After all, I’ve only lived her for a few weeks, so I haven’t come anywhere close to eating at all the great restaurants this city has. But I have managed to put together a few favorites that I enjoy taking friends and family to, whenever anyone comes to visit.

Here are my top five picks:

 

5.) Sweets & Treats
411 Ryan Street
(337) 437-3913

If your grandma’s kitchen was just a little bit bigger, it’d be called Sweets & Treats. The first time I visited this place, the owner - a sweet, grandmotherly type - was in the kitchen, stirring a big bowl of batter with a wooden spoon. It’s that legit.

You won’t find any industrial food processors or bags of pre-mixed dough here. Everything is made from scratch by hand, and it’s all delicious. If you want your guests to have a little taste of childhood, this is the place to go.

Sweets & Treats

I don’t even like English Tea Cakes, as a general rule. I’m not from the UK, I don’t drink a lot of tea, and I think referring to cookies as cakes is just confusing and way too British. We won our independence, after all. King George probably ate tea cakes. The jerk.

That said, they were out of their delicious chocolate chip cookies when I first went in, so I had to settle for the stupid tea cakes. And they were amazing.

Seriously, I can’t even describe how soft and buttery sweet they were without at least a little drool dribbling down my chin, which kind of makes me look like a weirdo.

They’re just that good.

 

4.) Ball’s Fried Chick-n
606 Enterprise Blvd
(337) 433-0226

Ball's Fried Chick-n 2
4325 Common St
(337) 562-2688

I first heard of Ball’s Fried Chick-n years ago. My Dad, who grew up in Lake Charles before moving to Texas, would bring them up whenever we had Popeye’s for dinner. He’d take one bite of a chicken leg, then spend the rest of the entire meal griping about how someone from the “Evil Popeye’s Corporation” must’ve eaten at Ball’s and stolen their recipe.

But, naturally, they didn’t get it right. He’d rant over his plate, “Mr. Ball gets the spice all the way down to the bone, kids. TO. THE. BONE! I’d like to see Popeye’s try and do that.”

Ball's Fried Chick-n

I have no idea if his conspiracy theory is in any way true or not, but I do know that I can never go back to Popeye’s now that I’ve tasted Ball’s Fried Chick-n.

Just be careful when you take out of town guests here, especially if they’re from up north. One bite of the crispy, spicy goodness could literally melt their faces.

Okay, maybe not literally, but it’d come dang close.

 

3.) McFarlane’s Celtic Pub
417 Ann Street
(337) 433-5992

Who knew a little piece of Ireland was sitting right here in Lake Charles? I sure didn’t, but I’m glad I found it.

Walking into MacFarlane's Celtic Pub is almost like walking into a little Irish Embassy, with Celtic music playing in the background and all sorts of Irish memorabilia decorating the walls. The waitstaff wear kilts, the menu looks like an old scroll, and the chicken and dumplings meal is exquisite.

MacFarlane's Celtic Pub

Since it’s technically a pub, you probably only want to bring your grown-up friends here when they visit, but don’t just go to drink. The food's great, too. Although, being an Irish pub, there are plenty of libations to be had.

If you’re a beer connoisseur, they have pages (and more pages) of varieties on the menu, even including an alcoholic version of Butterbeer that would not be out of place in the Leaky Cauldron down in Diagon Alley.

But for me, the real star of the place is the food. The homemade potato chips are a personal favorite, which you can add as a side to any meal. And I strongly recommend that you do.

 

2.) Mama Reta’s Kitchen
345 Broad Street
(337) 656-2798

Two words: Sunday lunch.

A few more words: The best cornbread dressing I’ve ever had. Ever. In my life.

Mama Reta’s Kitchen is open M-F, closed on Saturdays, but opens again Sundays for lunch. Her hours might make taking out of town guests a little tricky, unless you have free time during the day, since it closes at 3 o’clock.

Mama Reta's Kitchen

Which is where Sunday comes in. It’s really the best day of the week at Mama Reta’s anyway, because it’s the only day she serves the aforementioned BEST CORNBREAD DRESSING EVER.

Seriously, I cannot stress enough how good it is. I dream about it nightly.

Mama Reta is usually there herself, too. She's either cooking, seating guests, bussing tables, or just stopping by to chat with her customers. The place really feels like a labor of love for her, and that passion really comes through in the food.

Did I mention the cornbread dressing yet?

 

1.) Cotten’s Famous Hamburgers
2001 Oak Park Blvd
(337) 477-9759

Cotten's Downtown
110 Broad Street
(337) 436-9115

Cotten’s (either the original location, or the one downtown) is my go-to spot for taking visitors to. It’s insanely affordable, the portions are huge, and the flavor is completely bonkers.

I eat here at least once a week for lunch, but only on days when I don’t have a lot going on in the afternoon. Finishing a full meal at Cotten’s feels a lot like Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, there’s no turkey or dressing involved, but the intense need to take a nap afterwards is definitely there.

I usually go to Cotten's Downtown, since it's near work. I recommend their simple bacon cheeseburger, but the chicken strips are great, too. My wife loves the Jam Good Burger, and my kid swears by the MASSIVE “short” stack of pancakes.

I mean, look at those bad boys.

JUST LOOK AT THEM.