Our readers have spoken. Our Spring and Summer issues contained self-addressed postage-paid ballots with which readers were asked to pick their Louisiana favorites in many categories. In tallying the results, we only included those places for which there was a cluster of votes significant enough to show strong support. Listed here are our readers’ picks of Louisiana’s Best in two categories: Outdoor and Indoor, as represented by music clubs. And what was the top vote-getter? Our readers’ very favorite location? Here’s a hint: No. 1.
BEST OUTDOOR – Baton Rouge
No person, place or thing in our entire readers’ survey got more votes than the home of the Bayou Bengals. We proclaim this to be the single most popular entity in Louisiana. Reportedly, on certain Saturday nights, the roar from within can be heard as far away as Oxford, Miss.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and Gainesville, Fla. And, if the wind is right, maybe even in Southern California.
BEST OUTDOOR – LAFAYETTE
This is a charming small urban park known for its small streams and spreading oaks — a good setting for picnicking and maybe munching on a boudin poor boy.
BEST OUTDOOR – NEW ORLEANS
Audubon Park – NEW ORLEANS
They have tigers here, too, only you want to stay out of the huddle with these. The Audubon Zoo is one of the best in the nation.
BEST OUTDOOR – BOSSIER CITY
Located across the Red River from downtown Shreveport, this picturesque promenade calls itself “the largest outlet, lifestyle, dining and entertainment destination in Louisiana.” There are more than 50 stores here to support that claim –– and now a new picnic area.
BEST OUTDOOR – MONROE
Black Bayou Lake Wildlife Refuge
Owned by the city of Monroe, the lake provides hunting, fishing and just plain ol’ nature-observing. Bald cypress and tupelo trees surrounded by swamps provide a rare glimpse into the popular image of Louisiana.
BEST OUTDOOR – NORTH OF SHREVEPORT
This lake has it all in terms of dreamy settings and passive recreation. It crosses the Louisiana border, making it possible to drift from Louisiana to Texas, which operates a state park on the other side.
BEST INDOOR (music spots) – MONROE
Enoch’s Irish Pub
We’re talking diversity here –– with an Irish brogue. Bands may be from the old country or Scotland or from the bayou country with a little rockabilly on the side. Like the music, menu items are a mix of Irish and pure Louisiana cuisine.
BEST INDOOR (music spots) – NEW ORLEANS
Named after a song by the legendary Professor Longhair, this is the ultimate music club. There’s nothing fancy here, but the place is a hometown version of House of Blues before there was a House of Blues.
BEST INDOOR (music spots) – LAFAYETTE
Grant Street Dance Hall
Built in the site of a century-old fruit warehouse, this brick-and-cypress honkytonk has provided a stage for many great South Louisiana acts, including the late Clifton Chenier. We forget what street it is located on, but look around, and you will find it.
BEST INDOOR (music spots) – ALEXANDRIA
G.G. Shinn has a club named after him, and sometimes he performs there with his Hot Dam Band. Still a Boogie King at heart, Shinn offers ladies free admission after midnight. There’s also a Web site featuring pictures of bikini contest contestants and “men of Vegas.” G.G., that rascal, still knows how to boogie.