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Shreveport/Bossier City - Horseshoe

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by cmani, Apr 6, 2016.

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  1. cmani

    cmani Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    Hello ladies and gents, first thanks to all the VMB'ers who helped me plan this trip. I got a lot of helpful info from this board, and I'm very appreciative. I have this sick, degenerative need to visit every casino in the continental U.S., so when Delta offered two round trip tickets to Shreveport for less than 40k Skymiles, I jumped at the chance to knock off a few casinos from the list. I was also going to get a chance to fulfill one of my bucket list spots by visiting Dealey Plaza in Dallas. In the spirit of the times, I'm gonna let my good friend Donald help me get through this trip report....

    Day 1 - "Frankly Shreveport, and I have to be honest here, the first day in your town was a disaster. Just a HUGE disaster."

    Fairly uneventful flight on Delta from Atlanta to Shreveport. We get off the plane, turn my phone back on, and find a voice mail from Enterprise. They want me to call back immediately, which I do for the next 45 minutes and get no answer. Undeterred, I get to the rental place and, in what feels like a Seinfeld moment, they have....wait for it... no cars available!

    "See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them." ​

    Anyway, after what felt like an eternity, someone returned an Equinox, and we were able to get a free upgrade for our troubles. This was my first experience renting a car and while it wasn't pretty, I thought we still came out pretty good.

    By this time we're starving and decide that check-in at the Horseshoe can wait. We make a bee line to Strawn's Eat Shop, a highly recommended diner in Shreveport that supposedly has legendary pies. The menu is right up my wife's alley...southern classics like chicken fried steak or typical diner staples like grilled cheese or burgers. She opts for the grilled cheese with bacon and I get a double cheeseburger, both with fries. We inhale them...for diner food, this is really good stuff! Full bellies don't prevent us from ordering pies, she gets chocolate, I go strawberry. Apparently the chocolate pie was ok, but the strawberry was to die for. When in Shreveport, GET THE STRAWBERRY PIE!

    strawnsoutside (3).jpg

    Saturday afternoon at the Horseshoe had no line at check-in, so we breezed through and got a 16th floor room overlooking the Red River and downtown Shreveport (which to my surprise, had a pretty decent skyline).

    horseshoeview3 (5).jpg

    We only had the car for two days and tomorrow was gonna be spent in Dallas, so we decided to visit some of the other casinos. The first two were Diamond Jacks and Boomtown. Now, I had already been cautioned not to expect much from these two properties, and add to that my previous experience with a riverboat casino was at the Horseshoe in Southern Indiana, which takes the award for biggest shithole of all time. So we went in with low expectations, and Diamond Jacks barely lived up to them. Boomtown wasn't much better, but we still played a little bit and promptly lost what we allotted for these two places (which becomes a theme for the trip). I do give both properties a gold star for providing self-serve beverage stations, with Coca-Cola products no less!

    Our next stop was Margaritaville, which wisely went the barge route so that you don't even feel like you're on a boat. It's a good-looking, well-maintained property with fairly new games. This was the closest to a Vegas property that Shreveport got to in our opinion. We played here for a couple hours with some ups (couple good hits on Fu Dao Le) and downs (everything else), and eventually lost what we came with.

    margaritavilleoutside (1).jpg

    Before I move on to dinner, I just wanna preface that by saying I'm a Cajun foodie in an Italian body. If I see gumbo on the menu, I have to try it, even if it's just chicken and sausage. We go to Biloxi and New Orleans several times a year, in part to gamble, but also for the Royal Reds, Char-broiled oysters, Roast Beef Po Boys with debris-soaked bread, etc. So when I told a few friends I was heading to Shreveport, I was warned not to expect the same flavors. The quote I heard on multiple occasions was that "anything above Alexandria is considered Southern Arkansas." Even the Enterprise dealer cautioned me that the food is just not the same. So when I ordered the Crawfish platter at Ralph & Kacoo's, I went in with cautious optimism. Unfortunately, I was still disappointed. The crawfish etoufee and the bisque were both bland. The crawfish tails were fine, and made better by some sweet Thai chili sauce that was very good. The filling in the meat pies resembled a Hamburger Helper recipe. I didn't get a picture, so you'll just have to trust me when I say you're not missing anything. My wife ordered a medium bacon-wrapped Filet, which came out closer to rare so she sent it back. Five short minutes later, her steak was returned after being clearly microwaved. This steak was absolutely hammered, but we didn't complain. I loaded up on Tabasco while she emptied the ketchup bottle. Needless to say, we didn't come back.

    The bleeding continued back at the Horseshoe for the rest of the night. I will say that while you know you're on a riverboat, the casino is still very nice and not as smoky as I expected. Table games are pretty limited, so we just hit the slots and video poker. After a night of losing, I decided to apply direct pressure to the wound and just play 4/8 poker and drink myself sleepy. The beer choices were extremely limited so I made due with Corona and lime and had a lot of fun on a great table of people. Even with a buzz, I'm not a terrible player, but I found myself finishing 2nd each time I threw my hat in the ring. $200 later I decided it was time to call it a night and get a decent night's sleep before heading to Dallas in the morning.
     
  2. fasbman

    fasbman Tourist

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    I'm looking forward to the next segment. I hope you do better.
     
  3. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Nice start, but hope things get better for you!

    And not too surprising Margaritaville is on a barge. I'm not even sure if any casino has been originally constructed as a riverboat this century, fwiw. Most states scrapped the mandated riverboat thing pretty quick, thank god. And I think Majestic Star might beat out S. Indiana for one of the worst boats in that state.
     
  4. cmani

    cmani Tourist

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    Day 2 - "The beautiful people of Dallas love me....just love me. The women, the Hispanics...the Hispanic women, all of them just love me."

    A quick disclaimer to those looking for casino adventures. The trip to Dallas basically took up the whole day, so unless you're a JFK enthusiast, this post might not be your cup of tea.

    We left Shreveport around 9, crossed the Texas border at 9:30, and then drove across East Texas and finally arrived in Dallas just before noon. As you can see below, we couldn't have asked for better weather.

    texassign (3).jpg

    Dallasskyline (2).jpg

    The first order of business was a steak in a Texas steakhouse. The Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse was close to Dealey Plaza, came with excellent online reviews, and had a parking lot right behind it, so it won the honor of serving me my first Texas steak.

    yooutside2 (2).jpg

    The interior was a mixed bag of elegance and trophy hunting as several stuffed animals laced the walls of the restaurant.

    yoinside (2).jpg

    The lunch menu was fairly limited, but I had done my research and knew exactly what I was ordering. The bacon wrapped venison appetizer was good, but not quite as outstanding as led to believe. My wife got a huge portion of chicken fried steak with white gravy, which was pretty good. The real highlight was my Buffalo Filet Mignon. Tender, lightly seasoned, and topped with 2 grilled shrimp, it was cooked at a perfect medium rare and was fantastic.

    yofilet (2).jpg

    With lunch behind us, it was finally time to walk to Dealey Plaza. I've been interested in the Kennedy assassination since 1991 when Oliver Stone released JFK. And while it turned out the movie was misleading in many areas, it still motivated me to learn everything I could about the events leading up to, during, and after the killing of Kennedy. Upon entering the plaza, the first thing that struck me was how small the area is. You often hear things things like "the air is thick" in places where a heinous event took place (which was true for the Lorraine Motel in Memphis), but I didn't get that sense in Dealey Plaza, possibly due to the overwhelming number of shills trying to make money off of Kennedy. We were inundated with people trying to sell newspaper prints from that day, guided tours of the Plaza, and even a book signing complete with a presentation over a PA system. Once I was able to get past the bombardment of hawkers, I was able to embrace the magnitude of where I was standing.

    dealeyplaza10 (1).jpg The place where Abraham Zapruder shot his famous video.

    dealeyplaza22 (1).jpg The fence where the supposed second shooter set up (complete with book signing advertisement!)

    dealeyplaza8 (1).jpg The other side of the fence and the view that second shooter would've had.

    dealeyplaza12 (1).jpg The famed grassy knoll.

    A friend of mine recommended the JFK trolley tour, so we hopped on the trolley around 1:30 and took a stroll through Dallas. Tickets were around $20 each, but well worth it. Yes, I see the irony in my participation of one of these tours, but this one takes you out of Dealey Plaza and gives some great information on what happened right after the assassination. First, the tour took us on the same route that the motorcade went on, then it showed where Lee Harvey Oswald went after the shooting. It stopped at the place of the Tippit shooting and described how evidence from that shooting tied in to evidence of the Kennedy assassination.

    oswaldhome6 (1).jpg The boarding house where Oswald lived at the time of the shooting.

    jdtippitsign2 (1).jpg The plaque in honor of JD Tippit, the officer who confronted Oswald and was shot by him.

    texastheater6 (1).jpg The Texas Theater, where Oswald fled to and was arrested.

    The tour lasted an hour and was well worth the money. The last thing we had planned was to see the Sixth Floor Museum at the Texas School Book Depository (now a Dallas municipal building). For $16, you get a set of headphones and a pre-recorded guide through the different exhibits at the museum. If you never researched the assassination, then this would be a phenomenal 60 minute survey course on the subject. For me, I spent most of my time looking over witness accounts and admiring the scale of Dealey Plaza the museum had built, complete with where every witness was at the time of the shooting. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed in the museum.

    texasschoolbookdepository (1).jpg The view from where Kennedy was shot to the sniper's nest in the Sixth Floor window.

    texasschoolbookdepository2 (1).jpg Zoomed in look at where Oswald was perched. There's a cardboard box in the window to show where he set up.

    We saw everything we came to see by 4:30, so we decided to head back to Shreveport. I'll continue on the next post...
     
  5. gamboolman

    gamboolman Tourist

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    If your still there recommend Crawdaddies - just ask hotel and they will tell how to get there, easy
     
  6. cmani

    cmani Tourist

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    Thanks, but we're already back home. Our trip was from Apr. 2-5. I'll keep that in mind next time!
     
  7. cmani

    cmani Tourist

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    The bartender at the Horseshoe recommended a sports bar called Walk-Ons, so we went there upon returning to Shreveport. They had Cajun food and a lot of taps, so sounded good to me. I tried their boudin balls, gumbo, red beans & rice, and shrimp po-boy. The po-boy was very good, the red beans were decent, and the other two were kinda meh. I was hoping to try some Great Raft beers at this joint, but all they had was Southern Drawl. (They had just run out of Commotion, which is what I really wanted to try.) The Southern Drawl was good, but a bit too hoppy for my tastes.

    We got back to the Horseshoe pretty beat, but decided to hit the casino anyway. Bad idea. Every slot we played just ate hundred after hundred. At this point, I usually find a machine that lets me hang around for a bit and maybe even leave up some. Not this trip. Whether it was VP or slots, we just kept getting destroyed. Finally gave up and enjoyed the band at the Whiskey Roadhouse. I forget their name, but they were excellent.

    horseshoewhiskeybar (1).jpg Sorry for the poor quality...the lighting plus my cell phone just wasn't a good pair.

    If any of the Shreveport faithful recognize this band, I wouldn't mind knowing what they're called. They performed an insane version of "Chain of Fools". It was like soul meets metal....it was awesome!

    Called it a night after watching the band for awhile. I'll try to post the third and final day asap.
     
  8. pphold

    pphold pp Park Place Degenerate

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    Thanks. I might have to head back to Shreveport. Living in Dallas I've done the Shreveport drive too many times.

    I need to see Dallas more. Living here for over 26 years and you did things I have not



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  9. ShepherdDon

    ShepherdDon Tourist

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    I, too, remember the Plaza as being small. We didn't spend as much time outside the museum as you did but more thoroughly read through the museum (maybe you have to have been there to understand that statement - there's a ton of reading to do). Too bad Shreveport isn't turning out better. We've discussed trying it a little more seriously but last time ended up at Coushatta before heading home.

    Thanks for posting.

    Don
     
  10. cmani

    cmani Tourist

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    Day 3 - Last Day in Shreveport

    Our final day in Shreveport was pre-planned out: return the car to Enterprise and walk to the nearby Blind Tiger for lunch, and then walk to the Eldorado and Sam's Town to round out our casino exploration of the city. Check out with Enterprise was a breeze, and the weather continued to be perfect as we walked the two blocks to the Blind Tiger.

    blindtigersignage (1).jpg

    We arrived at noon, just beating a line of locals filing in for their lunch hour. I ordered the Cajun sampler, which came with gumbo, blackened catfish, crawfish tails, jambalaya, meat pies, and crawfish etoufee. Thinking back, I believe this was the place, not Ralph & Kacoo's, where the meat pies had a Hamburger Helper tasting-filling. The jambalaya was dry and sticky, etoufee was bland (again), and the rest was decent. (I swear I'm not a picky eater, but the food on this trip was for the most part disappointing!)

    blindtigercajunsampler (1).jpg

    Looking back, I have to say the best meal we had in Shreveport was at Strawn's Eat Shop. Sure it's diner food, but it was really good diner food. I should've listened to the VMB faithful who recommended Binion's Steakhouse at the Horseshoe. Maybe next time....

    After lunch, we walked under a bridge where this cool little area was built with specialty shops and restaurants. It's a shame we only found this place now, as we would've likely spent more time here. (I think it's all part of the Red River District). We got to the Eldorado and were impressed with the layout. The atrium was as nice as the Horseshoe's, and the casino was clean and not too smoky. The biggest score for me was finally finding a Pai-Gow table. They also had a Caribbean Stud table for those who also enjoy carnival games. (Ultimate Texas Hold'em, High Flush, Four Card, and a few others were scattered among the other casinos). I parked it at Pai Gow for an hour or so hoping for some decent drink service while I broke even for a few hands. As Al Pacino said in Scent of a Woman, the "booze was flowing like mud around here." We played a little VP as well and actually left a casino a couple dollars up for a change. Next up was Sam's Town, which was just right next door.

    samstownoutside2 (1).jpg

    Sam's Town wasn't a bad looking place either. Plus, they had my new favorite slot, Game Of Thrones. (Yes, I'm a fan of the books and the show, but the slot is pretty great as well.) I plopped $200 in it and watched it quickly fade into $30 until the machine finally turned in my favor. A few random events and bonuses later, I had actually doubled up. I decided I was at least going to leave ONE machine on this trip in the black, so I got my ticket and cashed it in. We went back to Eldorado and earned what little tier credits we needed to get a free buffet and ate there. As far as casino buffets go, Eldorado's was pretty good. It was their shrimp night and they actually served a very decent barbecue shrimp. After the buffet, we headed back to Horseshoe for a last ditch effort at a visit from the slot attendants. Alas, it wasn't meant to be so sadly, no handpays or chip porn to post from this trip.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our quick little jaunt to "Southern Arkansas" and didn't mind the History lesson from Dallas. I'd recommend Shreveport, if only as something different that the typical destinations. Just don't go into it expecting good Cajun fare, and feel free to avoid Diamond Jacks and Boomtown. :)
     
  11. kankan53

    kankan53 Low-Roller

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    Thanks for your trip report. My home property is Horseshoe Bossier and we are really treated well there. The Steakhouse is really good and the Four Winds is great especially for the price. Sorry you didn't do good on the slots there. It is hit and miss for us.

    I enjoyed the history lesson from Dallas and your take of the food too. Hope you make it back some day.
     
  12. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Nice report! And well done on the JFK portion!

    I haven't had any Great Raft beers yet since they are Louisiana only, but I would be very tempted to try an "Awkward Uncle" just because of the name! :evillaugh Writing this while drinking a 9.5% ABV beer from Utah, yes Utah, (Uinta Detour Double IPA). Love the craft revolution!

    And miss Taco Mac Prado from your hometown! My name should be on a plaque up there somewhere...:evillaugh Had my first Terrapin Beer in over 5 years (Liquid Bliss) this year at Disney Springs. Some good stuff down there!
     
  13. cmani

    cmani Tourist

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    Thank you! And Taco Mac is my favorite chain in Atlanta. Best wings in town and excellent beer selection! Next time you're in town, give Sweetwater and Creature Comforts a try. :beer:
     
  14. BayouBengal

    BayouBengal VIP Whale

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    Awkward Uncle is delicious. I know the owners of the brewery, high school friends of mine. Reasonably Corrupt is a good one too. If you ever head to the port city let me know and I'll get you a beer if I'm in that weekend.

    And to the op, Shreveport is my hometown and I can vouch for the don't try to get Cajun food there. We aren't Cajun. We're Louisianan but not Cajun. Southern style and soul food is good around there. Strawns is one of my favorites of all time. We used to eat there every Friday morning before school.
     
  15. Kobra2848

    Kobra2848 Low-Roller

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    Great report. I'm trying to talk my wife into another road trip to the Horseshoe.

    Mark
     
  16. Hogman

    Hogman VIP Whale

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    Great report. We enjoy going to Shreveport, but when we are driving to a casino our options are Shreveport and Tunica. The drives are essentially the same time, but the drive to Tunica is an easier drive.
     
    First Trip 2017
  17. pphold

    pphold pp Park Place Degenerate

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    Thinking of heading there this weekend. Going to hit Strawns for sure.


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