Farmers market
Ron Stern

A Baton Rouge Food Crawl

Contributor
This city is always in the mood for a food party

It didn’t take long for me to grasp the culinary motto of Baton Rouge’s residents: If we can eat it, we’ll create a festival of it! Oh, so true. There is the Crawfête, Zapp’s International Beer Festival, the Garden Fest in Burden, Restaurant Week, Fête Rouge, and Taste of Tiger Tailgating. Food is also served at Mardi Gras, Art Melt, the Star-Spangled 4th of July Celebration, Wearin’ of the Green Parade, Live After Five, and Bonfires on the Levee. Not a month goes by without a festival immersed in edible treats.

Our three-day trip revolved around grazing at numerous restaurants in Baton Rouge. Some establishments have been around for more than 70 years, while others are newly opened by innovative chefs and are running quite successfully.

Our fellow foodie guides were continually enthused about our food crawl. We barely had the last bite down before up we rose from our chairs and moved on down to another eatery.

The first stop was at the new hot spot Cocha, owned by a married couple of Dutch and Venezuelan heritage. Surrounded by beautiful contemporary décor, we were served small plates of crunchy yuca chips and guasacaca dip, lavender lamp chops, and cachapas topped with tender roasted pork.

Just a short ride brought us to Magpie Café to dine with owners James and Lina Jacobs. I was quite impressed with the pretzel bread roll stuffed with spicy pulled pork. Chef Andrew Gravens is having the time of his life creating unusual combinations of tasty dishes with top-quality ingredients. 

The evening ended at the Red Stick Spice Company, where owner Anne Milneck demonstrated how to make her grandma’s bread pudding and Tarte à la Bouie Pie. The latter is a rich custard concoction made with milk, eggs ,and various extracts. These desserts were so delicious, I could have licked the plate clean. We had so much fun there that we stayed until midnight discovering all of the unique products Milneck offers to help folks stay home and cook! 

The next morning, we headed to Zeeland Street Market for a hearty breakfast of eggs, cheese grits, and a hot mug of coffee. The ladies taught me to pour cane sugar syrup directly on my fluffy biscuit, a tasty local custom.

Tiger Deaux Nuts

Ron Stern

Tiger Deaux Nuts

A quick visit to Tiger Deaux-nuts introduced us to a boudin sandwich. Owner Jeff Herman’s version was a fried crisp doughnut with his own personal recipe of the traditional savory boudin filling prepared with meat and rice.  

At Brew Ha-Ha!, we partook of a variety of cake balls. Among the smorgasbord of flavors were pumpkin spice, red velvet, lemon, strawberry, and chocolate macadamia nut. I appreciated owner Gabby Loubiere-Higgins’ support of local artists’ work, which is displayed on the walls of her quaint and quirky shop. The book exchange shelves are a thoughtful touch for book-lovers like me.

I love trying regional food. At Anthonys Italian Deli, we shared a huge muffaletta sandwich, something we don’t find in our Western state. During a busy lunch, owner Marco Saia took the time to greet us and tell us the story of his family’s Italian deli.

At the new Twine Market and Deli, we watched owner and chef Stephen Diehl do his magic in his kitchen, and this was during the lunch rush! His hands crafted the most stunning sandwiches: a filet burger, a Reuben on Texas rye (my personal favorite), and a popular sushi pizza.

Twine sandwiches

Ron Stern

Twine sandwiches

For incredible cuisine at affordable prices, we found ourselves investigating the vendors at Saturday’s Main Street Market. Family-owned Baconation offered unique samples of barbecue bacon sauce, and I also purchased a big bag of polenta grits to take home. We devoured another muffaletta sandwich but with the twist of being served on a delicious crêpe.

For a bite between bites, we stopped at Delpits Chicken Shack. We consumed fried chicken with sides of mustard greens, red beans and rice, and dirty rice. Earns my vote for the best chicken ever

When in the South, one must try a traditional po’boy sandwich. Ours was a roast beef at Poor Boy Lloyds. It has been making po’boys since the 1960s and is the oldest restaurant in downtown Baton Rouge.

At Strands Café, we drank an afternoon coffee served with scrumptious snacks of blueberry, plum, and chocolate almond scones. All are top-quality baked goodies. Lovely décor and an interior brick wall added warmth to this cozy establishment.

I came home with an impression of a city filled with truly hospitable people at every eatery we visited. They work hard and are deeply passionate about the food they serve to the public. Another local saying, Cest si bon! (“It is really good!”) sums up the foodie experiences that the city of Baton Rouge has to offer.

Resources:
Visit Baton Rouge

Where to stay:
L’Auberge Hotel and Casino

With grand views of the Mississippi, this is the perfect place from which to explore the city. They have clean, comfortable rooms with all the amenities as well as a casino (across a sky bridge), restaurant, and place to get morning coffee and pastries.

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FTC Disclosure: This was a sponsored visit; however, all opinions herein are the authors.