Heading to Shreveport, Louisiana soon? Trying to figure out the best places to eat? Whether you’re looking for a shrimp buster or an icebox pie, we’ve got you covered right here with a list of the tastiest destinations to hit while you’re in town.
1833 Pierre Ave, Shreveport, LA 71103
The reviews of Herby-K's and Strawn's Eat Shop originally appeared Aug. 10, 2015.
There are a few obvious signs that a quality dining experience awaits. A barbecue joint with a backyard that looks like an abandoned lumber mill probably smokes amazing pork or beef. A farm-to-table restaurant with a farm next door probably serves truly fresh vegetables. And the building surrounded by the only packed parking lot in an otherwise deserted neighborhood probably serves some delectable dishes.
That last one describes Herby-K’s, the Shreveport institution that sits just off Interstate 20 in an area that seems vacant until you turn the corner and see all the cars hugging the little building attached to the big porch. A photo of a victorious Nick Saban—after his LSU team won the 2003 SEC title—looks down over the tiny bar area. So does an autographed photo of Travis Tritt, his mullet forever frozen at Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof length. You’re here for the Shrimp Buster, which has been on the menu since 1945. OK, you’re really here for the crawfish etouffee, which is thick and meaty and just spicy enough and damn near perfect, but the shrimp buster has been on the menu since 1945, so you have to try it.
What is a shrimp buster? It’s large gulf shrimp pounded flat and fried and then served open faced on French bread. Each Shrimp Buster comes with a cup of secret red sauce that feels and tastes like a thinner Heinz 57. A fried shrimp tastes like a fried shrimp pretty much anywhere, but the pounding of the shrimp creates a surplus of surface area. Meanwhile, the sauce has just the right viscosity to coat the breaded portion without getting obnoxious. Once you’ve dipped your shrimp and all your bread in that sauce, you’ll want more. And yes, I realize that given my philosophy on barbecue sauce (unnecessary if the meat is cooked properly), this glowing review of some other kind of sauce makes me a condiment hypocrite. So be it. The stomach wants what it wants.
Strawn's Eat Shop
After I finished at Herby-K’s, the stomach wanted pie. So I drove a few minutes to a more bustling neighborhood to try the icebox pie at Strawn’s Eat Shop. What’s an icebox pie? Imagine the cream pies you’ve seen hack comedians jam in the faces of other hack comedians and then add some attention to detail. At Strawn’s, they serve five different icebox pies (strawberry, chocolate, coconut, butterscotch, banana), but the strawberry seems to steal all the headlines.
Strawn’s was hopping when I arrived about an hour before closing time. About two and a half pounds of butter sat on a plate on the counter near the register. I didn’t ask why. I can think of many delicious reasons to have that much butter on hand, so I’m sure the folks at Strawn’s had a good one. The man behind the counter took my order (a slice of strawberry and a slice of banana), and about 90 seconds later, he uttered one of the most beautiful sentences I’ve ever heard. “I cut one piece too small, so I gave you a free one.”
The popularity of Strawn’s pies is easy to explain. Most icebox pies are little more than glorified whipped cream. The cream portion of the Strawn’s pies has just a little less sweetness and a just a little more heft. Instead of a light (in weight) bite that simply floods the taste buds with sugar, a bite of Strawn’s pie has a presence about it. It sits down on the tongue and delivers the sweetness in a more prudent dose. The strawberry was excellent, but the true star is the banana. The mix of banana slices and glaze has the same just-sweet-enough quality that makes the cream section so ideal. Pile that atop a thick cracker crust, and you have a pie that might make even the most loyal cake-eater convert.
I finished my slices and walked out. The family that left ahead of me felt ripped from a Louisiana gothic soap opera. An older man implored his grown son to visit his aunt “before she dies.” The son did not want to listen. He wanted to talk. As father and mother stood by their car and stewed, the son walked away yelling “It’s a good thing, dad!” Whatever it was, Dad clearly did not consider it good. Maybe the family had come to Strawn’s wishing to recapture happier times. Maybe it was simply a convenient meeting spot. Hopefully, the pie had made them all feel a little better for a minute.