Just on the edge of the business district in downtown Lake Charles at 1201 Lakeshore Dr. is a building that was home to an old car dealership before it sat vacant for many years. Every time I drove by, I believed it was the perfect setting for a restaurant. It’s right downtown with a gorgeous view of the lake and full public access. With the right touch and good food, you’d have a hit.
My wife and I tried Lagunas early in its debut. In all fairness, there’s a lot that needs to get worked out in any new restaurant. However, it was good and promising enough to believe it would all come around for them.
Fast forward one year, exactly. When this edition of Lagniappe hits the racks, Lagunas will be celebrating its one year anniversary. Congratulations!
My wife and I planned a little lunch date and headed through the doors. There was a good crowd of people inside.
There are actually three levels to choose from. The upper area is the bar area, two or three steps down is the main dining room, and then a few steps outside there’s an outdoor dining area.
The greeting from Madelina is friendly. After we’re seated, the chips and salsa were served, along with our drinks, a simple Coke and Dos Equis beer, dressed with a little salt and lime.
After picking the Southwest egg roll appetizer, we’re still perusing the menus. One server, Jeff, notices our back and forth flipping of the pages and suggests we try the carne asada. He mentions that it’s perfect for two people who don’t want to feel like they’re going to need a siesta afterward. We’re sold on his recommendation.
As we catch up with each other’s morning and dip a few chips, it’s easy to notice the salsa is vibrant and fresh. It’s flavorful without too much heat — a nice balance.
The Southwest egg rolls are accompanied with an avocado sour cream sauce for dipping. Chicken and pepper jack cheese with corn, jalapeño and onions are wrapped in a small flaky shell and fried. They’re pretty darn good.
The carne asada is outstanding.
For the most part, it’s steak fajitas. The difference is, you get the whole steak prepared to your liking, and you cut it to your desired thickness.
The marinade on this steak is what separates it from others. The smoky flavor, the spices of chili and cumin and the tanginess are honestly mouthwatering. It’s served over a bed of grilled onions, red bell peppers and a full plate of refried beans and rice. It doesn’t stop there, though. The other plate is loaded with fresh avocado slices, sour cream, lettuce, and pico de gallo that’s just as fresh as the salsa. And of course you can’t do all of this without the flour tortillas. I mean, I guess you could, but why? This meal has converted me from ordering any standard steak fajita to ordering carne asada any time it’s available.
Oh, hey. We’re still not done. There’s room for dessert … cheesecake chimis. This dessert is pleasing to look at and just as pleasing to taste. Cheesecake filling, wrapped in a tortilla, coated in oils that bring out that gently crisp exterior shell while giving the cheesecake a warm gooey feeling are finished with a Mexican butter with drops of strawberry glaze and whipped cream. The texture, the balance of salty-sweet and the overall effect make this a great little creation.
I really enjoyed our lunch date. From beginning to end, the people, the environment and the dishes were outstanding. I’m sure we’ll see them for many more anniversaries to come.
An Extra Dish
It’s still hot out there, and nothing is better than some seriously creative and delicious custom ice cream. The flavors here are named after some of the biggest icons of the ‘80s. The names of the ice creams are as fun as the decor you’ll find at Boombox, located at 104 W. Pujo.
My wife and I chose two epic title flavors, the coffee-flavored With or Without Brew and the creamy I Caramelt With You.