With the Boom or Bust Byway – a new, scenic driving tour of rural northwestern Louisiana via LA Highway 2 – making the headlines recently, I wanted to get a little more familiar with the local eats available in places like Oil City and Vivian, which are featured stops along the Boom or Bust Byway route. That’s the short explanation of how I got thrown out of Lela’s Kitchen, a plate lunch house serving up fantastic blue plate specials that they’re happy to have you eat, but would rather you didn’t photograph. It was bound to happen eventually, as I probably travel to more rural towns for the sole purpose of photographing a smothered pork chop or getting a quote about hot water cornbread than most folks. I was enjoying a daily blue plate special ($7.49), complete with perfectly-done smothered chicken, collard greens, yams and rice when a staff member approached my table.
“Is that legal?,” the waitress asked, gesturing at either my camera or my plate. A few short minutes later, I was in the parking lot, camera slung over my shoulder, holding a Styrofoam to-go box.
But, for Heaven’s sake, if you’re passing through Vivian, La. and your stomach begins to rumble, don’t let my misadventure stop you from pulling into the parking lot of Lela’s Kitchen. At Lela’s, you’ll encounter daily blue plates like whole fried catfish, beef tips and rice, smothered chicken or pork chops, and a long list of side items including purple hull peas and collard greens. The fried chicken is phenomenal.
If you’re thinking of making the drive to Lela’s Kitchen, I’d suggest calling them at (318) 375-4999 to ask what’s on the day’s menu. If you’d like a side of history with your home cookin’, swing by the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau at 629 Spring Street in downtown Shreveport and check out a GPS Ranger. This GPS-powered device will share information about the area’s history as you drive.
Here’s a brief video intro to the Boom or Bust Byway (featuring a cameo by a Hornet Burger from Sarepta, La.’s Hornet Drive-In):