This eatery occupies the spot long held by El Chico in this town, and is a more focused eatery than the stock Mexican chain. Their focus is fajitas, and they do a solid, not spectacular, job of providing this Tex-Mex staple.

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We came at lunch, and they plate a better lunch fajita than most do.

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As you can see, the fajitas are served in a metal liner on the wooden plate. Plating on metal is important, as it’s part of the presentation. A good shop will spray citrus juice into a hot liner before serving, so the dish arrives steaming.

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Chimi V’s manage to do a solid job with things like tacos and enchiladas as well. In all, Chimi’s is a respectable lunch spot, and can be recommended on those grounds.

Chimi V’s
2050 Old Minden Rd
Bossier City, LA 71111
(318) 741-3144

Chimi V's Fajita Factory on Urbanspoon

The outside of Cafe USA is typical of strip mall fare, the inside full of memorabilia, a mature wry waitstaff, and more than decent breakfasts. It’s a place my father frequents when he doesn’t want to cook the first meal of the day himself.

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We had omelettes, grits, biscuits.

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Biscuits were good enough to order extras. Omelettes were good. I had a western omelette and my wife had a vegetarian omelette. At least as good were the staff, unpretentious and funny. Without our waitress our meal would have been a lot less memorable.

Cafe USA
3380 Barksdale Blvd
Bossier City, LA 71112
(318) 742-9600

Cafe USA on Urbanspoon

I’ve eaten plenty of barbecue in my time. When I was a youngster and visiting my folks in Texas, we’d favor a barbecue joint on the south and west of Forth Worth with sawdust floors. When I lived in Houston for grad school, Goode Company Barbecue was my favored hangout. In Saint Louis? There were some fine K. C. Masterpiece stores. In Durham, North Carolina, I was introduced to Brunswick stew and Carolina style ‘cue. While living in Florida, I had some of the best ribs I’ve ever eaten, smoked forever, at a small joint near railroad tracks in the greater Orlando area. I learned most of what I know about smoke, though, from the original owners of Spiced Right Barbecue.

In Atlanta, where I do most of my blogging, I can name at least six first rate barbecue joints: Fox Brothers, Big Shanty Smokehouse , Heirloom Barbecue, Grand Champion Barbecue, Community Q, and ironically, Hottie Hawgs can bring it at their best (make that 7: Mad Dog’s is also quite good). What do the best barbecue joints offer? Usually they have consistently smoked meats, excellent sides, and they rarely run out of product as the day goes on. They know their audience well enough they don’t often get caught with their pants down. Smoking meats a long time limits the quantity of food you can prepare, much more so than creating “fall off the bone” ribs, which could be done in a pot of water over the stove, in an oven, or perhaps by sous-vide, with a quick finish on the grill.

Silver Star's brisket plate is a winner.

Coming from Atlanta, I have plenty of people I can talk to about barbecue, such as Mike Stock of 285 Foodies, David Jones of Eat Buford Highway, and Dustin from Georgia Barbecue Hunt. Some of my reference points are no longer in Atlanta: 3rd Degree Berns is up in New York these days.

I just want people to have a clue when I start talking about the Silver Star.

I went there during my high school’s 25th class reunion. I hadn’t seen some of these people in decades, and we had a long table in this restaurant that we filled; perhaps 30 or more people were at our table. However, there were tables longer than ours and they were full as well. The place was packed.

One of the many lovely staffers at Silver Star. Geaux Tigers!

The date: it was the first LSU-Alabama contest of 2011, and many of the staffers were in gold shirts with purple trim. It wasn’t hard to see who the crowd was rooting for.

The point I’m trying to make is that this was about the worst possible circumstance to see the best possible food this eatery can deliver. I know the Silver Star folks are paying attention to their ‘cue. You don’t invest in a competition smoking rig and leave it outside your restaurant simply to let it rust in the rain.

Two meat plate, with a loaded potato.

Mixed plate. Only the brisket impressed.

Side shot of a rib, looking for a smoke ring.

That said, I had a mixed plate, with 3 meats, and only one of the meats was good enough to be culinarily significant. I had brisket, sausage, and ribs. The ribs were simply ordinary, and it was hard to tell if they had any smoke at all. The sausage was sausage: good, but again, hard to tell if it was a smoked product. The brisket was quite good, had a visible smoke ring, tasted like smoked meat, and delivered the kinds of flavors I expect from brisket.

The best way to test the rest of their meats would be to come back at lunchtime, on an off day, when they are seriously smoking, and try their food out.

Ribs run out quickly. And when they do, it’s a significant event. The chef at Fox Brothers came out one day, spoke to my wife because she got the last rack of ribs they had (it was a mid afternoon meal, iirc). In discussions with the chef, owner, and manager of Hottie Hawgs, I know they have “competition” style ribs and “sneaky ribs”, and the latter rely on tenderness and sauce. HH uses them when they can’t supply huge quantities of the “good stuff”.

I’m a little puzzled why a place that competes on a BBQ circuit would have such an inconsistent product, though. I’m going to chalk it up to the sheer volume of customers that day. I really can’t do anything else. Other bloggers are high on their steaks, but a perfect steak is much easier to make than good cue.

Service was really good, considering the crush the Silver Star had that day. It can handle large crowds, and feed plenty effectively. But, just my ought two, if you want their best meats, come when the crowds are small and you can see the smokers working. You’re more likely to run into a consistent product.

Silver Star Smokehouse
1201 Dixie Overland Rd
Bossier City, LA 71111
(318) 752-3633

Silver Star Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

It’s a pretty blue building along Barksdale Boulevard, near Johnny’s Pizza and close to my father’s new digs. I was curious about the restaurant, because, in all honesty, I was getting it confused with Full Moon BBQ in Tuscaloosa, and hadn’t sorted out the differences at the time. BBQ is always worth it when it’s good, but finding good BBQ is never easy.

Simplified, there are two kinds of barbecue eaters. There are those who want richly smoked meats. And then there are those who want their meats fall off the bone tender. I’m more in the former camp, as Spiced Right in Lilburn GA spoiled me. The original owner of Spiced Right was a competition smoker. His ribs were simply phenomenal.

I recall going through a line, selecting meats, thinking the prices were good. I had some ribs, and the pork was cut up into tender chunks of meat, unlike the shredded pork found in Georgia. The sides were good, the greens in the southern style.

Fine sides, decent meats. Would have preferred a more richly smoked product.

The meats? Smoked, but it was hard to tell. Tender, yes, but so barely smoked as to almost be indetectable. The meats were tasty, the sauces decent, but if you’re a BBQ head and looking for the best, there are better BBQ joints in the Shreveport Bossier area.

Blue Moon BBQ and Grill
4100 Barksdale Blvd., Suite 122
Bossier City, LA 71112
(318) 747-8989

Blue Moon BBQ and Grill on Urbanspoon

It’s a modest restaurant in a strip mall at the corner of Texas Street and Benton Road, and one that has steadily acquired a substantial reputation. The owners of Kim’s appear to be Vietnamese who came from New Orleans as a product of the Katrina disaster. The culinary basis of this restaurant is founded on two solid traditions.

You want napkins? Kim's has napkins.

Kim’s is a classic strip mall hole in the wall. You order at a countertop before you sit. The menu is a whiteboard above the cash register. Napkins are a roll of paper, that you can tear off at will. Chairs are made of hollow metal.

The po boy featured good bread, and small dry spicy crawfish. The gumbo was disappointing. Too much rice and not enough meat and broth.

I honestly made a mistake when I came here. I ordered the crawfish po’ boy, which while good, just didn’t wow me. A lot more happy, almost buried in their food, were the folks who had ordered boiled crawfish. People were ordering and eating those by the buckets. To note, there are also boiled crawfish places in Atlanta (Crawfish Shack and New Orleans Seafood) run by Vietnamese who learned Cajun cooking along the coast, and the crawdads at Kim’s seemed a little pricey to me. I can get them for about $3.00 a dozen cheaper in the ATL. Note: The owner Duc thinks my pricing is the product of a mistaken memory, and he notes that as of March 2012, his crawfish price is 4.49 a pound.

That said, I don’t know Kim’s costs, the volume they serve, the quality of the fish. I didn’t get to those. The po boy had plenty of tasty crawfish (though small) and was a fair serving of food. The gumbo was almost pure rice, wasn’t particularly impressive, and I wouldn’t order it again if I ever went back.

Boiled crawfish are the king here. The po boys are just decent.

Kim’s Seafood
901 Benton Road, Suite E
Bossier City, LA 71111
(318) 752-2425

Kim's Seafood on Urbanspoon

The server has walked away and the man beside me really wants a chunk of beef. The large piece, hacked and sawed at, weighs perhaps two or three pounds. With no one there to say otherwise, he simply spears it all and plops it on his plate, walking away. A lady coming up to my side spies the action and says in a loud voice, “Cheeky!”

The Village Square Buffet is one of the many restaurants in the Horseshoe Casino, but it’s the one that is all you can eat. We’ve been eating at the Village Square Buffet for a while, or at least since Louisiana Downs began to take a turn for the worse and its food wasn’t as good a deal. How long? Is twenty years perhaps reasonable? I don’t know anymore.

Deal is, I tend to  think this buffet isn’t as exceptional as it once was. The riverboat casinos were content to let food be cheap and drive business for a time. I suspect these days they want to make money out of their restaurants. I recall inexpensive ham and egg breakfasts where the ham covered the entire plate. I recall more meats, lower cost, and a little less of this “I won’t be served so let me take it all” complex.

This day, they had some excellent salads, and terrific smoked mussels. Mussels are cheap, I know, but they’re safe for a diabetic and way high in things like omega 3 fatty acids. The desserts looked fantastic but didn’t quite taste as good as they looked.

Verdict: A Christmas tradition in my family. Not as good a deal as it once was, but still good.

Village Square Buffet
711 Horseshoe Boulevard
Bossier City, LA 71111
(318) 742-0711

Village Square Buffet (Horseshoe Casino) on Urbanspoon

“Best alligator I’ve ever eaten,” my brother says as the alligator bites make it to the table. They are indeed flavorful, grilled and tasty as the plate barely survives my brother and daughter. There were only the three of us that day, my wife and father sick with the flu. But we were trying to scope out some Cajun and this was not only my brother’s choice, it was one of our late mother’s favorites.

Ralph and Kacoos is a small chain and sit-down restaurant, with locations in Baton Rogue, New Orleans, and Lufkin Texas. It’s in an older, popular strip mall in Bossier City, one heavily used since I was a young boy. I had my first Baskin Robins ice cream in that mall, and it used to have a coin dealer and a Radio Shack. Perhaps it still has the Shack.

alligator bites

I found our service to be exceptionally good, and the menu a little tricky in these times. Being a diabetic means avoiding any serving of rice you can’t adequately gauge by eye, or in general, avoiding any unmeasurable carbs. I wanted to try some of their soups, and so rice was unavoidable. But Ralph and Kacoos had fish, and with the fish you could get vegetables. That’s the route I went this day.

crawfish, fries, and étouffée

 

Fish smothered in étouffée.

We had oysters, fresh and good, as well as the alligator bites. Hush puppies came with the meal; I had a bite of part of one. My daughter and brother had a crawfish and étouffée dish, served with fries. Everything was good, though we initially caught a bad batch of rice. We mentioned this to staff, and it was replaced without issue.

Verdict: An old warhorse of a Cajun eatery, still going strong after decades. Good food, great staff.

Ralph and Kacoos
1700 Old Minden Road #141
Bossier City, LA 71111
(318) 747-6660

Ralph & Kacoo's Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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