Eddie’s Restaurant and a Deep-Fried Shreveport Mystery

I should probably preface this blog post by acknowledging that I have a bit of an obsession with Shreveport-style stuffed shrimp. I say “Shreveport-style” because I genuinely believe that this particular kind of stuffed shrimp is a Shreveport thing; more specifically, I believe the recipe originated in the kitchen of the Freeman & Harris Cafe. When it closed, Freeman & Harris Cafe may have been the oldest continually-operated, black-owned restaurant in the United States. That fact gives these stuffed shrimp historical significance, as possibly the oldest surviving menu item from a historically significant black-owned restaurant.

All of this is to say that, to me, these are more than shrimp. They’re history on a plate. Delicious, delicious history.

When Eddie’s Restaurant, 1956 Hollywood Avenue, recently re-opened after five years of closure, the Shreveport Sun ran an article about it in their August 22, 2013 edition. The article stated that “Eddie Hughes, a former chef and manager of the old Freeman & Harris Cafe, was the creator and originator of what is known as ‘stuffed shrimp.'” Earlier this year, I spent about two months looking into the matter of who created the original stuffed shrimp recipe on behalf of Louisiana Kitchen & Culture magazine, and I ended up half-convinced that Willie “Brother” Chapman created the recipe.

The thing about these shrimp is that they are, genuinely, a little different at each restaurant. Many prefer those found at Brother’s Seafood (operated by Willie Chapman’s son, the locally-beloved Chef Orlando Chapman) or C&C Cafe (which is operated by a former Pete Harris Cafe cook, Ms. Connie Robinson). The re-opening of Eddie’s Restaurant makes at least three restaurants that claim to be serving the original, correct recipe for Freeman & Harris-style stuffed shrimp. The plot thickens, and so does my waistline.

Here are photos of three versions of Shreveport-style stuffed shrimp, and details of where you can get them, if you’d like to do your own “research”:

Brother’s Seafood, 4916 Monkhouse Drive, serves a version of stuffed shrimp that are larger than some others, have a heavy breading and are “fried hard.”
A photo of shrimp from C&C Cafe in Shreveport
The stuffed shrimp from C&C Cafe, 1765 Milam Street, have something different going on in the breading, as you can see by comparison to the Brother’s version. In my opinion, they also spend less time in the fryer.
Stuffed shrimp from Eddie's Restaurant in Shreveport
Eddie’s Restaurant says they’re serving the original recipe of Freeman & Harris Cafe stuffed shrimp. They’ll cost you here: 4 stuffed shrimp sell for $14, 6 for $20. These have a lighter coating and a fiery filling.

For reference, here’s a photo of your average-looking stuffed shrimp.

31 comments

  1. Thank you for that wonderful article. I am the daughter of the late Eddie Hughes, owner of Eddie’s Restaurant. Here is a little more history for you. Eddie Hughes was the foster son of Wilmer Wallette. Mr. Wallette along with Pete Harris and Arthur Chapman owned and operated the historical know Freeman & Harris. Wilmer Wallette and his wife Mavice Collie Wallette raised Eddie Hughes from the time he was 8 years old until adulthood He worked every day at the cafe from that time to show his gratitude and appreciation to his new family. When Eddie was only 17 he created what is now known as the Stuffed Shrimp. When he completed high school he went into the US Army for two years, there he was the culinary art instructor. When he returned he was given a job by his foster father as manager/head chef of Freeman Harris Cafe. He then perfected the Stuffed Shrimp. Many years later… Willie Chapman, (who is a cousin to Eddie) worked for the Railroad at the time, decided to come into the business. Eddie taught him to cook and also how to manage the restaurant… they made a great team. Connie & her late husband “Cool-aide” of C & C work at Freeman Harris too but much later after Eddie & Willie (Brother) were there. Eddie Hughes was the first African American to work as a chef at the Shreveport Country Club, there he worked part time. Eddie Hughes had an eye for a corner lot in the Hollywood area for his new business. The property was very costly at the time, but he saved for 16 year to purchase the property. After Wilmer Wallette died and after working for Freeman & Harris for (32) years, Eddie decided to go out on his own….He and his wife Lois Bryant Hughes built Eddie’s Restaurant in July of 1978, and the rest is History… we have the original recipe for the Stuffed Shrimp. You can call me if you need additional information. Thank you, Mavice Hughes Thigpen 318-218-4596.

    1. Mrs. Thigpen,

      Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. If it is not too much to ask, I would love to sit down with you and interview you about this. I believe that the Freeman & Harris Cafe-style stuffed shrimp will one day be given the recognition it deserves as part of the culinary history of Louisiana, the South, and the United States. I think it is a historically-significant recipe. I would love to make sure that your story – and that of Mr. Hughes – is documented, so that when future generations come looking, they can find it.

      I will call you soon to set something up and, again, thank you.

      Chris Jay
      Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau

    2. Mrs Thigpen:
      Pete Harris’ mother Evelyn was my grand father’s (Richard Williams, Sr.) sister. They grew up on 200 acres located in Clarence, Louisiana outside Natchitoches.
      My grand father drove from his home in New Orleans, La. to Shreveport on numerous occasions. He was a Pullman porter on the Southern Pacific railway comosny. I have eaten at the original F&H in Shreveport, Louisiana. Tomorrow is Memorial Day and my wife and I will try to cook the original recepie. We will call you, if you don’t mind, to make sure we get the recipe right.
      Our Jumbo shrimp are from South Carolina. The crab meat is from the Chesapeake (Maryland). We want the spicy filling and tauter sauce recipes.
      I recall from visits to F&H that the stuffed shrimps were baked and not deep fried?

    3. Hello Mrs. Thigpen,

      My name is Rosalind and my family is from Shreveport Louisiana. My grandmothers used to take me to the original F&H restaurant during summers when I visited. I would like to know if you would be willing to share your stuffed shrimp recipe?

      Thank you

  2. Thanks for the review. Our favorite was C&C. It was the most expensive but worth it! Tartar sauce was good as well. Both the shrimp and the tartar sauce had a spicy kick and the batter was perfection in my opinion. Would have never known about it without the blog. Keep it up 🙂

  3. Although I did not know Wilmer Wallette, I DID know Mavice Collie Wallette. She was one of the kindest, most gentle women that I have ever met. She truly engaged you in conversation! Eddie Harris was a fortunate gentleman to have this family as role models! Heading over there to Eddie’s Restaurant to taste those Stuffed Shrimp!

  4. My goodness the nights of ordering “to go” from Freeman and Harris with EXTRA TARTER Sauce.. IN THE 80’S o many good times 🙂

  5. Excellent treatment, Chris! Awesome! This is the real deal! Though I’m still thinking about it’s validity, I’m super-excited about the idea of this style of stuffed shrimp having specific origins here in Shreveport. (As you know, Asian cuisines have had versions of stuffed shrimp for hundreds of years.) But stuffed shrimp as we know it from F&H as a Southern Food benchmark is just astonishing, and affirming of our cultural identity in NW Louisiana!

    Please, PLEASE send your article and Ms. Thigpen’s testimony to John T. Edge. I’ve been worried for years that he thinks Herby K’s is all we got here in the capital of East Texas.

  6. I used to eat all the time but live in greenville, sc now. They were selling these at C&C Café in Shreveport on Milam street. Great shrimp. I eat them every time I go back to visit a friend.

  7. Thank all of you for reading, commenting and sharing. This post is now officially the most-read post in the history of this blog. Thanks, again. I can’t wait to have time to contact Ms. Thigpen and get the whole story from her.

  8. I have a reunion coming up in April with a lot of good friends I served with during my Air Force days. We are always looking for a Shreveport home town place to eat. This sounds like something we can all sink our teeth into. Please inform me of the restaurants names and locations so that we may be able to enjoy a piece of history, one scrumptous bite at a time.

    1. Hi, Mr. Boehm! The addresses for C&C Cafe and Brother’s Seafood are listed in the photo captions, and the address for Eddie’s is there in the first paragraph of the article. If your group is large, it may be too much for a tiny dining room like those at C&C Cafe or Eddie’s – but they may be able to cater for you! Brother’s probably has the largest seating area, out of the three. I am certain that, if you call and let them know you’re coming, whichever restaurant you end up selecting will be thrilled to serve your group.

      Thanks, again!

  9. My sister and I used to regularly drive from Southern Hills all the way downtown to eat at Freeman & Harris after church. My order never waivered… Stuffed Shrimp every time! What fond memories I have of these delectable delights! Made my mouth water as I read your blog… Thanks for spreading the love and sharing the history!

    1. Hi, Ms. Bridges! Thanks for your feedback. I really loved writing this post. You’re right that these shrimp are a part of Shreveport’s – and Louisiana’s – history. Thanks, again, for reading.

  10. I have eaten at all of these and those, that is the former FH and PHC.
    They all served or serve great food, and the stuffed shrimp are wonderful at all of them, do not forget about the rice and gravy too.
    It is with a heavy heart that we had to loose Chef Orlando this week! Chris, keep up the great writing.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Dr. Nosser. I was also devastated to hear about Chef Orlando’s untimely death. What an incredible legacy and reputation he left behind. Thanks, again, for your comments!

  11. I really enjoyed your article! I grew up in Shreveport and still visit often to see my family. Nothing like a little piece of history. Thank you!

  12. Enjoyed reading your reviews.
    We live in Arkansas and we (wife/myself and another couple) are passing through Shreve/Bossier in October for a full day and night. Could you suggest where we should go for lunch and dinner. Price not an issue, we want great food. Thinking about Seafood/Cajun/Po-Boys, etc.
    Can’t get good (fresh) food like this in Central Arkansas.
    Also, I hate to do this too you, but the stuffed shrimp sounds awesome and we can only go to one of the 3 restaurants, which one do I choose???
    Any other sites we should see while in the Shreve/Bossier area would be awesome.
    Thanks

    1. Hi, Mr. Bart! I would be thrilled to recommend some places where you may enjoy dining during your upcoming trip to Shreveport-Bossier. Is there any way that you could send me an e-mail to cjay@sbctb.org, and we can continue this conversation via e-mail? In the meantime, I’m not sure if you’re a Facebook user, but you may want to view our online visitor’s guide either via Facebook:

      https://www.facebook.com/LouisianasOtherSide/app_298604383484700

      Or via our website:

      http://visitors-guide.shreveport-bossier.org

      There are some really wonderful places to eat in Shreveport-Bossier, ranging from beloved, old-school local diners to more upscale cuisine. I look forward to hearing from you and will reply with some personal recommendations!

  13. Thanks for a great article that invokes so much nostalgia. I wish I could make the trip to Louisiana this weekend just for the stuffed shrimp and tartar sauce!

  14. I just had fried shrimp at Sam’s eatery in Blanchard and so excited that the tarter sauce was almost identical to Freeman & Harris Cafe! Freeman & Harris had the best fried shrimp in Shreveport/ Bossier. Does anyone know their tarter sauce recipe? Great article!

    1. I would love their tartar sauce recipe..I have been searching for it since Pete Harris closed..decades ago..
      WAS Best shrimp and tartar sauce ON THIS PLANET

  15. I haven’t been to Shreveport in more than 20 years, but I still remember Freeman &Harris stuffed shrimp.
    I believe it when they say Eddie has original recipe I can tell by the description and the feiry taste I sure
    do miss them.

  16. I was visiting the. shreveport area, and I happened upon your blog while searching for unique food in the area. Ordered the stuffed shrimps. Upon initial bite, the taste was a unique blend of Cajun cuisine. Second bite, it was like eating directly from the salt container. It was so salty I could savor the true flavor of the food. I can’t recommend this reclsturant to anyone.

  17. Went to C&C Cafe in December for the stuffed shrimp and they were awesome.
    Went right when they opened, place an order, took about 10 min. The neighborhood looks rough, but I felt fine. Only about 5 tables in the place. Most people get in to go I guess. Order at the front window. They were very nice. May not go at night. The stuffed shrimp are spicy, but that is the way I like them. The tarter sauce was incredible. Came with fries and couple slices of bread. Paid about $10 for about 4 stuffed shrimp.
    I give the stuffed shrimp an 8 out of 10.

    Heading back to shreveport in March and going to try either Eddies or Brothers to see whose stuffed shrimp is the best. Can’t wait.

    1. Bart, please let us know whose stuffed shrimp you end feeling are the superior ones. As you can see from all of the comments on this blog post, it’s a topic that people really feel strongly about. Thanks, again, for reading 20×49.com and for letting us know what you think.

  18. I grew up on Hickory St and when Mavice cousins would come into town Mr Eddie would have a fish fry and I was there when he made the stuff shrimps. Your 1st cousin Mike and I were friends. Ms Emily was my mother!! Girl send me that recipe and the one for regular fried shrimp lol

    1. Hello Beverly, I remember you…and I remember you and Mike were best friends… Thank you for the response… hope to see you soon, come by the Restaurant when you come home.

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