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Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024

Soulfully Delicious Food

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Eddie’s Seafood and Soul Food offers a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.

An uncomplicated menu, but superb dining

I’m a sucker for a good food picture.

Recently, I saw a picture of stuffed shrimp from a local restaurant. It came from a place I had vaguely heard about but had never visited. I asked a friend who knows about all our local eateries, and he assured me a trip to Eddie’s Seafood and Soul Food would not disappoint.

So, on a Tuesday at noon, I met my friend at a plain, white, brick building in Shreveport (1956 Hollywood Ave.). To be honest, from its outside appearance, Eddie’s is a place I would never consider eating. What’s funny is I’ve been told by a couple of people that the building used to look worse – a lot worse. The restaurant opened in 1978, but Eddie’s received a major makeover a couple of years ago. That was the result of Eddie’s being featured on “Restaurant Impossible,” a television show on The Food Network which celebrity chef Robert Irvine hosted.

By the way, Eddie’s website says the restaurant is the oldest, continuously family-owned African-American restaurant in northwest Louisiana.

We walked in, and I was pleasantly surprised. The inside of Eddie’s didn’t look anything like the outside. It was nice. Not fancy – far from it. But it looked comfortable. I felt comfortable. That comfort you get when you put on your favorite sweatshirt on a cold night and sit by the fireplace.

My friend and I were the only diners, so it wasn’t a problem for the gentlemen behind the counter wearing a Grambling State University sweatshirt to yell a hearty “Hello!” He asked if we were eating in or taking out. He invited us to sit anywhere we liked when we told him we were staying.

It wasn’t long until an equally enthusiastic gentleman brought us menus and told us about a couple of specials. He also thanked us for choosing to dine at Eddie’s, one of several times he expressed his gratitude. We felt like our business was genuinely appreciated.

Eddie’s menu isn’t complicated. Other than a hamburger or cheeseburger, you can choose seafood or soul food. There is fried shrimp, catfish, a seafood platter and the restaurant’s signature entrée – stuffed shrimp. Then there’s fried chicken, smothered pork chops and smothered hamburger steak.

There was no doubt what I was going to eat.

I came to Eddie’s because I saw that picture of their stuffed shrimp. My only decision was how many stuffed shrimp my waistline would tolerate. Eddie’s offers orders of three, four, six or 12 stuffed shrimp. Not knowing how big they would be, I ordered three ($15). I also ordered a side of French fries ($2) and a chopped salad ($7).

My friend was just as decisive. He went the soul food route, with smothered chicken with turnip greens ($13) and a side of rice and gravy ($2). He had a Diet Coke ($2), which came in a bottle, adding to the old-school atmosphere. I went with my usual water with lemon.

Our conversation easily occupied the time between ordering and being served. I had expected my salad to arrive first, but it came with my meal instead. The salad was in a nice-sized bowl and tasted fresh. It wasn’t anything special but had the salad has been served in advance of my meal, it would have been a nice bridge to the main course.

The three stuffed shrimp were arranged over the fries. They looked pristine – no sign of grease, no cracks in the batter and no indication of being overcooked. They were not as large as other stuffed shrimp I’ve eaten, so I was hoping quality would supersede size.

It did. One bite, and I was sold. The shrimp were full of stuffing, but here’s the deal. They didn’t taste like shrimp, and they didn’t taste like stuffing. The different tastes were blended beautifully, which was very appealing to my palate.

And not to be overlooked was the fact the shrimp were hot – not with spice, but with heat. Smoke was billowing from where I took a bite.

How good are Eddie’s stuffed shrimp? We were told more are shipped to people outside Shreveport-Bossier than are sold in the restaurant. In fact, while we were there, an order was being prepared to be sent to Belgium, via FedEx and dry ice. We were also told Eddie’s stuffed shrimp will soon be available in several Wal-Mart stores.

But as tasty as the shrimp were, you must dip them in the house-made tartar sauce. We were told Eddie’s sauce is available in a couple of major grocery stores. I can see why.

We learned Eddie Hughes, the patriarch of Eddie’s, developed his “Shreveport” stuffed shrimp recipe years ago while working at another restaurant. Over time, that recipe has been tweaked – including by Chef Irvine while he was in town. I don’t know how good the stuffed shrimp used to be, but I can’t imagine they were better than they are now.

Unfortunately, the fries did not meet the shrimp’s high standards. They were cold and bland. I didn’t say anything, but I was not charged for the fries to my surprise. Maybe I’m not the only one who noticed the fries were cold and bland.

One or two bites into his meal of smothered chicken (three pieces), turnip greens, and rice and gravy, my friend proclaimed it was “everything I hoped it would be.” In between bites, he said it was “soul food at its finest, perfectly seasoned and generously offered.” In fact, he liked the rice and gravy so much, he ordered more rice and gravy! To my surprise, our server brought two bowls – one for my friend and one for me. We both left our bowls empty.

Despite being full, we were primed for dessert. Eddie’s offers two kinds: Louisiana Cheesecake and Eddie’s Peach Cobbler. Unfortunately, they were out of both. Looking on the bright side, we took that as a reason to return another day.

The cost of our meal before tax and tip was $36.32. I thought that was a bargain for one who laments how much it costs to eat out. Very good food and even better service. One note: The menu prices are cash-only prices. You will pay a little more if using a debit or credit card. That fact isn’t listed anywhere on the menu. I discovered it when reviewing my receipt.

To Eddie’s Seafood and Soul Food, I give Four Forks. I would return and go out of my way to do so – and Eddie’s location is out of my way.

For me, this was more than lunch. It was an educational experience. I learned not to judge a restaurant by its appearance. The outside of Eddie’s gave me every reason not to eat there. But the inside – from the food to the hospitality – gave me every reason to eat there.

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