Grab a stool at the long counter inside Cascio's Market Bistro, then close your eyes. In that moment, you're no longer in Bossier City, Louisiana. The casual restaurant's dining room fills with aromas that can't be pinned to a map: a fusion of Italian ingredients, cajun spices, and down-home American cooking.
Take the Reuben panini for example, which comes with sweet potato fries and a shaker of cajun seasonings. The meatball po' boy, on the other hand, combines the best of Louisiana and Italy. For more traditional flavors, try the homemade lasagna, plus some cannoli or gelato for dessert. Diners can even learn recipes for themselves without hiding a tape recorder in the soup?the bistro has its own supply of communal cookbooks.
To make sweet and sour chicken, the chef first cuts the poultry into bite-size pieces to marinate. Then the chicken is coated with flour, blanketed in a housemade batter, and tossed into a wok of sizzling hot vegetable oil to create a flavorful, crispy shell. The resulting dish is only one of many made-from-scratch meals at China Inn Restaurant, served in a dining room bedecked with decorative dragon drawings and framed Chinese art.
The Cotton Boll Grill, a Shreveport tradition since the 1930s, offers an eclectic menu of down-home breakfast and lunch favorites. Begin your day with a hearty vegetable omelette ($5.70), three pieces of homemade french toast ($4), or a full stack of hot cakes ($5). Classic lunch munchies include burgers ($3.70–$5.75), deli sandwiches ($3.50–$5.00), Southern-style chicken livers and onions ($7.35), and chicken fried steak ($7.95). The Cotton Boll Grill also offers daily lunch specials. The Bossier City location is open seven days a week, while the Shreveport location is open weekdays only.
Which Wich offers a hands-on ordering approach that allows sandwich savants to tailor more than 50 sandwich combinations ($5.10 for 7" sandwich, $7.10 for 10.5" sandwich). The brown paper bags are both ordering form and sandwich cozy, and can serve as a doodling canvas to proudly display on the community wall, sealing the paper-bag circle of life. Diners can choose sandwiches such as the turkey pastrami, beef cheesesteak, shrimp po' boy, black-bean patty, spam, or the Elvis Wich, which crowns sandwich bread with kingly portions of peanut butter, honey, and banana. Noshers on the run can opt for a box-lunch sandwich, which arrives with an entourage of Which Wich's signature potato chips and freshly baked cookies ($7.50).
Rated among the top fast-food chains by Zagat in 2010, the crust contractors at Papa Murphy's assemble every ingredient of a pizza before the customer's eyes and pass the uncooked creation on for firing in a home oven. Fashion a custom pie ($9+ for a large) from a palette of 23 fresh toppings, or test the design acumen and hand aerodynamics of Papa Murphy's in-house tastemakers by going with a discus from the signature, stuffed, or delite menus. The Chicago-style stuffed pizza ($14 large; $16 family) smuggles layers of pepperoni and italian sausage under the cover of roma tomatoes, onions, and a mozzarella trench coat, and the hawaiian ($11 large; $13 family), from the signature lineage, comes topped with an archipelago of canadian bacon, Dole pineapple, and mozzarella cheese on a beach of tomato sauce.
The All-You-Care-to-Eat buffet at Gatti’s Pizza packs bellies with a smorgasbord of classic pizzeria eats. After gaining entrance to the buffet ($3.99–$6.99 depending on age), patrons can refuel with slices of Gatti's signature pie, heaps of hot pasta, and stacks of cheese sticks. Those with stomach vacancies left for dessert can grab a piece of the dutch apple treat pizza, or encourage a friend to hastily get it for them by passing them a cinnamon stick like a relay runner's baton. Patrons can rhythmically graze on veggies from the expansive salad bar, loaded with more than 40 items, as their eyes exchange glances with friends or dreamily gaze into the pixilated pupils of the dining room's big-screen TVs.