Thanks to city visionaries, its 2004 program of tax incentives for the film and television industries has breathed new life into the region. Living testimony to the truth of “Build it and they will come,” Shreveport-Bossier is now home to four sound studios like Millennium, which did the special effects for The Expendables,as well as the largest wave tank facility in the U.S. The area’s also become a hot film location, doubling for every place from Amsterdam to Paris. Just by creating huge amounts of fake snow and ice, Shreveport was transformed into Kodiak, Alaska for Kevin Costner’s film The Guardian. For Jack Black’s The Year One, Millennium built an entire ancient city out of foam for shooting exteriors!
Get Your Slick Flick Fix On
Even if they weren’t actually made in Louisiana’s Other Side, you can now get your slick flick fix here. In 2008, the Robinson Film Center, a two-theatre movie house devoted to independent, international and classic cinema opened. Walk inside and you’re suddenly transported to London or New York. Display cases are filled with movie memorabilia like Hugh Jackman’s prop weapons from the film Van Helsing; a life jacket from the Titanic;plus items autographed by Ed Harris, John Walters, and Treat Williams.
Wanna catch a flick that with narrow or niche appeal? No worries. In 2010, the Robinson debuted some 55 films like the Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In;, the Jonathan Demme film Rachel Getting Married, and documentaries likeI.O.U.S.A. in its intimate 48-seat space. Films like Crazy Heartand Slumdog Millionaire, which are more likely to attract bigger audiences, are screened in the larger Willis Knighton Health System Theater. Six times a year the Robinson hosts film festivals sponsored by various segments in the community like the GLBT.
Four-star Food in a One-Star Shack?
Here’s a story about a foodie not-quite shack that was primed to open in New Orleans, but like the film industry that got blown of course by Hurricane Katrina, opened instead in Shreveport-Louisiana. Kim’s Po-Boy & Seafood features more than 125 menu items served in portions large enough to share on bread that’s to die for! Okay, dining on paper plates is not particularly romantic, but the prices leave you folding money to blow on more good times.
Food doesn’t get any hipper than the Abby Singer Bistro on the second floor of the Robinson. Named for Singer, a famed Hollywood director and producer now close to 90, in movie lingo, the “Singer” shot was traditionally the second-to-last of the day on a film or television set, signaling the crew to start wrapping and cleaning up.
Drinks are all named for films. In keeping with my culinary philosophy of “dessert first!”, I started with a to-die -for “Chocolat” martini ($11) concocted from dark Godiva liquor, chocolate vodka and crème de cocoa blended like crazy. Appetizers are equally trippy. We especially loved crabmeat stuffed with avocado ($12) and shrimp remoulade, two fried green tomatoes topped with shrimp tossed in remoulade sauce ($9). You can easily make a meal out of generously proportioned starters like these. Otherwise, dinner entrees run about $10 to $22. When the weather’s friendly, dine outside on the balcony, the only one of its kind in town.
For a more upscale experience, we liked the Texas St. Steakhouse particularly for its fried dill pickles spears ($9.95) and spicy grilled fish étouffée ($24.95) .Steaks are good too, but the real fun is in the deserts. We fought over the traditional bread pudding and Brownie delight, each well worth their $7.95 price tag. Entrées run from about $18 to $45.
Down and Dirty Drinks
If you wanna get down and dirty with your drinks, Louisiana’s other side has a unique daiquiri culture. “Drive-through frozen daiquiris are like folk art in Shreveport-Bossier,” says Chris Jay, public relations and social media manager for Shreveport-Bossier. “Every little neighborhood has its favorite spot, and its own signature flavors.”
Our favorite – 2-for-1 Obahamas (yes, you heard me – a Barack and Michelle!) at happy hour at the Cajun Daiquiris on the E. 70th St. in South Shreveport, one of the chain’s several drive- throughs. Home to the strangest daiquiri menu in town, the Barak Obama is red brown and blue in color; the Pimp Juice and the Shake Them Haters Off are served 2-for-1 24/7. (If you’re traveling from I – 20 E. or west, take the I-49 S. to the E. 70th St. Exit, turn left at the exit, and Cajun Daiquiris is immediately on your left. Driving through at any time of day or night is okay, but we’re warned it’s not smart to venture into the neighborhood behind the store.)
If you’re feeling more risk adverse, drive through the Cajun Daiquiris on Youree Dr. for the Cajun Terrace, a lemon-lime infused frozen margarita – very strong and cool on a hot day.
The Frozen Cosmo at Cuban Liquors on Pierremont Avenue is a delicious frozen version of the popular Cosmopolitan.
Don’t be surprised when these drinks, served in paper cups, have their lids taped closed with the straw attached to comply with state liquor laws that prohibit driving with an open container of alcohol.
Mardi Gras Party
Okay it’s not New Orleans, but sometimes that’s a good thing. The parades, the costumes, and the floats are PG rated, and there are family areas and alcohol free zones designated for every parade, many of which take place during the day. But it’s high-spirited, and the throws run the gambit from traditionally gorgeous beads to hotdogs (grilled first!), spaghetti and meatballs, and even spam sandwiches!
If you’re anywhere in driving distance of Louisiana or a cheap flight, you won’t find a less expensive, quirky and moreeclectic weekend getaway than Shreveport –Bossier in the
northwest corner of Louisiana, about 20 miles east of Texas and about 35 miles south of Arkansas.
When You Go
Robinson Film Center, 617 Texas St., Shreveport; 318-459-4122, www.robinsonfilmcenter.org
Kim’s Po-Boy & Seafood, 901 Benton Rd, Ste E, Bossier City; (318) 752-2425
Texas St. Steakhouse, 3015 E. Texas St., Bossier, 318 752-8211
Cajun Daiquiris, 3306 Youree Dr., Shreveport, 318-868-9620; 246 E 70th St Shreveport, LA (318) 868-4660
Cuban Liquors, 928 Pierremont Rd, Shreveport, (318) 869-1236
For more information on accommodations, attractions, the menus of these restaurants and a listing of “Where the locals eat,” visit www.shreveport-bossier.org.
Sheila Sobell and Richard N Every are professional worldwide travel photojournalists. Visit them atwww.writersobell.com. All photos are courtesy of Richard N. Every
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