My wife and I traveled to New Orleans for a friend’s wedding recently, stopping along the way to have lunch at the wonderful Johnson’s Boucaniere in Lafayette. We ate boudin links on their crowded patio, soaking up the sunshine among the locals. It got me thinking about what it takes to make a place feel authentic, unique and original. One place in Shreveport-Bossier that has always felt this way to me is Jacquelyn’s Cafe, located at 1324 Louisiana Avenue in Highland.
If you’re a first-timer searching for Jacquelyn’s, don’t look for the sign, as there isn’t much of one. The interior of the restaurant appears bare and antiquated as well, consisting of one large, open room, usually packed to the rafters with locals and cooled by a few whirling ceiling fans. The menu is written on chalkboards near the register. The fantastic shrimp salad sandwich ($7) is the thing to eat at Jacquelyn’s, in my opinion, though the shrimp and crab gumbo ($5-$10, Fridays only) and clam chowder ($3.75-$7.50) are pretty fantastic, as well. The dessert menu is short and sweet, in an old-fashioned way. Choose a slice of pecan pie a la mode ($5.25), or a wedge of German chocolate pie ($3.50). Amid all of the conversation about great pie in Shreveport-Bossier, these two pies from Jacquelyn’s Cafe have definitely been overlooked.
Speaking of classics that have been around for a while, but keep getting better: Jacquelyn’s Cafe is the first place that I’ve seen the new Buddy Flett album, Rough Edges, for sale. Flett is a two-time Grammy-nominated bluesman with a haggard, plaintive voice and a guitar style perfectly suited to match his moan. The new album contains nine new, original tunes as well as covers of Leadbelly and Lightnin’ Slim. I won’t pretend to know much about the blues – I don’t. But I do know that this record rocks with the same kind of stripped-down, distorted blues energy that I’ve heard on recordings by artists ranging from Howlin’ Wolf to the Black Keys. Just like Jacquelyn’s Cafe, Flett is a Shreveport original worth seeking out.