Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road...Featuring 24 Hours in Shreveport, Louisiana #WGTravel #lousianasotherside #roadtrip #summeradventure

Last month, The Weekend Gourmet team headed out on a Summer road trip. Our destination? Shreveport, Louisiana! This city is located in the northeast part of the state, just over the Texas border. It was an easy drive from San Antonio, with an overnight stop in Waco along the way -- more on that part of our trip coming soon! The Shreveport-Bossier City area has plenty to see, do...and taste. During our 24 hours in the city, we packed in a lot of fun. The helpful staff at the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau crafted a perfect blend of activities for us! We ate at two iconic local restaurants, spent some time at one of the city's casinos, explored the Shreveport Aquarium, and visited a statue commemorating one of rock and roll's biggest icons' connection to the city. We had a blast...I can't wait to share our itinerary with you! 

Our home base during our visit to Shreveport was the Hilton Garden Inn Shreveport Bossier City. Its location was a short drive from all of the restaurants and attractions we visited. When we arrived at the hotel, it was late afternoon. We were warmly greeted by the front desk staff and quickly checked in. The lobby was decorated in soothing, warm tones...and there were tons of places to sit and visit.
The hotel also offers plenty of guest amenities -- including free onsite parking, a fully appointed business center, putting green, workout facility, and the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry Market. Conveniently located in the lobby, this onsite market offers snacks, sodas, toiletries, etc. -- all of which can be purchased day or night. We forgot a toothbrush at our previous hotel, so it was very convenient to purchase a replacement before bed at the Market that night!
Our room at the Hilton Garden Inn was spacious and comfortable. It featured a comfortable King bed, a bedside sitting area perfect for reading; a bathroom with a shower; and an in-room hospitality center that had a microwave, fridge, and Keurig® coffee maker. Add in complimentary bottled water and Internet access...and you've got a perfect home-away-from-home!
After resting up a bit, we headed out to dinner at Herby K's -- an iconic seafood restaurant that's been open in Shreveport since 1936! The restaurant is small...and the décor eclectic...and the flavors that come from the kitchen are H-U-G-E!! We were seated at one of the dining room's booths and settled in to order. The menu features a wide range of delicious Louisiana-style seafood -- including fried catfish, rich gumbo, and their signature Shrimp Buster Sandwich. My fried catfish was technically an appetizer...but the basket included fries, making it an entrée in my book! The catfish was fried crispy outside, moist inside. Not a seafood fan? Herby K's also offers chicken and sausage gumbo and a selection of burgers too!
We're definitely gumbo connoisseurs, so we were very excited to try Herby K's signature recipe. The deeply flavorful seafood gumbo featured a richly dark roux, shrimp, and oysters. We added a bit of rice and grabbed two spoons to give it a taste...delicious to the last spoonful!

Of course, we had to try Herby K's famous Shrimp Buster. The po boy-like sandwich featured shrimp that had been pounded flat and fried...then served on French bread with a spicy Shrimp Buster Sauce in lieu of tartar sauce. It was differently delicious! After a full day of driving, delicious seafood in a casual environment like Herby K's was exactly what we needed.

After dinner, we decided to visit one of Shreveport's casinos to play a few slots. We don't gamble often, so we each allotted $20 and vowed to leave whenever we doubled our money...or lost our $20s...whichever came first. We opted to visit Horseshoe Bossier City, which is a Caesars property. The property was large and beautifully decorated -- a full resort with a spacious adjacent parking garage, hotel, several onsite restaurants, and a large multi-level casino. My three-person team each started out with $20 and looked around for a "lucky slot machine." We must not have looked hard enough -- because all three of us lost our $20s within 30 minutes. Even though we didn't hit the big jackpot this time, we had a few laughs. That counts for something, yes? From the Horseshoe, we headed back to the Hilton Garden Inn for showers and some much-needed sleep.

The next morning, we woke up ready for some breakfast. Our destination that morning was another iconic Shreveport restaurant: Strawn's Eat Shop. This local favorite restaurant has been open since 1944. It's a diner that's known for its hearty breakfasts...and its famous Strawberry Icebox Pie! We arrived to find the dining room bustling with hungry diners...and the small of bacon and coffee in the air. We looked over the menu and selected a variety of their breakfast items -- including a made-to-order egg white omelet, blueberry pancakes, and a traditional eggs-and-bacon plate served with scratch made biscuits and hash browns. The cooks prepare the food on a cooktop in the dining room -- so I couldn't resist shooting some video of the process:

Every item of our breakfast was made from scratch -- and they were totally delicious! The scrambled eggs were fluffy, the bacon was crispy without being overcooked, and the hash browns were lightly crispy outside and soft inside. Strawn's biscuits were especially tasty! The large, square biscuits were served warm...golden brown outside and fluffy inside.

After hearing so much about Strawn's famous Strawberry Ice Box Pie? We simply had to share a piece -- because pie for breakfast is perfectly acceptable when dining at Strawn's! This pie definitely lived up to the hype! The crust was flaky and tender, the strawberries were perfectly ripe, and the freshly made sweetened whipped cream on top was rich and decadent. 
With pie this good? Who cares about the calories! With that, our breakfast visit to Strawn's was finished...and we were off to spend the rest of our morning at the Shreveport Aquarium.

The Shreveport Aquarium is conveniently located in Downtown Shreveport. It features 300 species and 3,ooo different animals in its indoor and outdoor exhibits. There's everything from tropical fish to sharks...and swimming ducks to touchable stingrays! Exhibits include a large indoor coral reef teeming with colorful tropical fish...and a large outdoor area with a family of swimming ducks and a display featuring fish from the local area. We spent a little over an hour visiting the Shreveport Aquarium, which was plenty of time to spend a bit of time admiring each exhibit and snapping a few pictures. This is definitely a family-friendly attraction that provides tons of hands-on exhibits for little ones to explore nature up close! The Shreveport Aquarium's Summer hours are 10AM-5PM weekdays, 9AM-5PM Saturdays, and noon-5PM Sundays.

Keep in mind that admission to the aquarium is on a staggered timed system -- only so many tickets are allotted per hour. This helps avoid overcrowding and ensures every guest is able to closely view the exhibits. Some walk-up tickets are available, but this popular attraction does sell out quite often. The Shreveport Aquarium recommends that tickets be purchased online before your visit. Tickets can be printed at home -- or they can be shown at the admission desk via your mobile phone. There's plenty of free parking available within easy walking distance of the aquarium too!

After our time exploring the Shreveport Aquarium, we headed to lunch at Superior's Steakhouse. This restaurant is one of Shreveport's best fine-dining restaurants --offering USDA Prime beef, seafood, and other menu items in an upscale environment. We ordered a trio of items from Superior's upscale casual lunch menu. Michael ordered their Fried Catfish daily special. The catfish was served with cornbread, slaw, and roasted corn. The catfish filet was fried perfectly, with crispy cornmeal breading...and moist fish inside. 
I selected the Filet Mignon Combo, which included two Filet and Swiss Sliders and a bowl of Superior's decadent Shrimp & Lobster Bisque. The steak inside the slider buns was tender and delicious. The bisque they were paired was rich and flavorful, with a generous amount of sweet shrimp and lobster meat. This was a very special lunch combo!
Speaking of that amazing Shrimp & Lobster Bisque...
It's brought out from the kitchen and served tableside. It's a special presentation for a very special soup. We couldn't wait to grab a spoon and start eating!

After lunch, we had one final stop on our agenda before leaving Shreveport. This site is one that any Elvis Presley fan -- or fans of rock and roll history -- simply must visit! In October 1954, Elvis performed live at the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium as part of the Louisiana Hayride live radio program. This performance is now considered Elvis' first big break. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of his performance, a large statue of Elvis Presley was placed on the auditorium's front steps.
The Rockin' Elvis Statue is a great place to snap a quick picture -- at the spot where rock and roll history happened! The Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium was recently named a National Historic Landmark for its contributions to the arts. Today, the venue hosts a variety of events. 

With that, our 24 hours in Shreveport were over. We agreed that Shreveport was a great city to visit -- and that we'd love to return for a full weekend. That would give us more time to explore the area's restaurants and sites...and maybe even find a lucky slot machine next time!

Disclosure: The Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau created the itinerary for this featured trip. They arranged for our overnight stay at The Hilton Garden Inn Shreveport Bossier City, and they provided gift certificates and tickets for the restaurants and attractions featured. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

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