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Best Red Beans and Rice 

Smokey Blues Bar-Be-Que

Good Louisiana cooking is hard to find west of Calcasieu Parish, but now and then we'll come upon a platter of boudin or a bowl of gumbo that briefly, tantalizingly reminds us what we're missing for the sake of a perfect climate. Such are the red beans and rice served at Smokey Blues Bar-Be-Que, an affable little rib joint under the Shafter-MacArthur cloverleaf. The dish's official name, Mom's Dirty Creole Red Beans and Rice, smacks of Crescent City authenticity. And although turkey meat replaces pig meat in a casual nod to California sensibilities, this tantalizing bowl of creamy, smoky beans, cloudlike rice, and pot likker fragrant with sweet pepper, onion, and celery stirs the soul and satisfies the stomach just the way it's supposed to. One bite and you'll be back on the Algiers ferry, breathing in that moist, sweet, swampy oxygen.

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