Before you step foot in the Cotton Boll Grill, located at 1624 Fairfield Avenue in Shreveport, there are a few things that you really should know:
- Regardless of the time of day, it’s going to smell more like bacon than any other place you’ve ever been. It’s going to smell like you are standing downwind from a burning Hormel factory.
- The staff may fight. At some point, one waitress may threaten to call 9-1-1 on another waitress. This is normal.
- The daily blue plate specials are known to sell out by 1:30 p.m. or so. Arrive early for the good stuff.
Having established the above expectations, I should point out that I’m not criticizing the place. As a long-time Cotton Boll Grill regular, I’ve had some of the most entertaining dining experiences of my life here.
Their previous cook, who I only knew as Jackie, was an incredibly funny person. She’d survey the lunch counter and dining room occasionally, then turn back to the grill and begin loudly making fun of her customers or her staff while she worked. Jackie has since retired, and the new grill master makes Chef Gordon Ramsay look like a big softie. As I walked in during a recent visit, she was shouting: “Where is my spoon?! Who took my spoon?! I’m gonna find whoever has my spoon!” The waitresses looked at one another and shook their heads.
This is all to say that what you have here is a true southern diner. Hamburgers are big and unruly, daily plate lunch specials involve disconcertingly large portions of pork chops, fried seafood and chicken and dressing, and glasses of iced tea appear to be about 44 oz. in size. There are two salad options on the menu, but one of them includes a chicken fried steak.
But just as important as what goes into your mouth at Cotton Boll Grill is what goes into your ears: Loud talk, the buzz of a window unit, the constant sizzle of the grill – this place, for me, is what Louisiana sounds like.