A Locals’ Guide to an Authentic Louisiana Experience

More time to explore Baton Rouge means discovering new favorites to rave about. Since locals know the Red Stick like no other, we interviewed five Baton Rouge influencers to find out their secrets to an authentic Louisiana experience. From neighborhood classics to hidden gems, keep reading to discover living like a local.


1. Where do you take out-of-towners for an authentic Baton Rouge meal?

  • Chelsea Harris: Quintessential BR is The Chimes. The appetizer and beer selections are legit. Two other great options are: Mansur’s for the best chargrilled oysters in town or Roberto’s on River Road… those eggplant crab cakes are ah-mazing!
  • Jenn Ocken: This is tough! There are so many great places in this city. Chimes has become a staple for my family when they visit, but I love Podnuhs BBQ on Sherwood.  I just love showing off their Louisiana Style BBQ to all my blues family!
  • Kenny Nguyen: My favorite place is Roberto’s River Road Restaurant. That Catfish Billy is something else!
  • Jenni Peters: It would have to be Chimes or Parrain’s, but they both do a fantastic job on food and atmosphere. The new Chimes deck is impressive to out-of-towners and it overlooks campus. Can’t beat that.
  • Sharon Dawud and Raina Vallot: When our friends and family come into town, we take them to Parrain’s or Boil & Roux.


2. What would you include in a care package for a Baton Rouge native who lives out of state?

  • JO: Any piece of jewelry from Mimosa handcrafted. They use their craft and pieces to raise awareness for a variety of organizations to create extra love flowing in and around our community!
  • JP: Of course, everyone needs a Varsity Sports tee shirt and a pound of Community Coffee.
  • SDRV: We love Sweet Baton Rouge because their Lagniappe Boxes have all the local must-haves! But if we build our own, we are definitely including something from Red Stick Spice, Cajun Spoon, or Batch Bakery.


3. On a beautiful day, what’s your go-to outdoor activity in (or around) Baton Rouge?

  • CH: I’d put on my Babycake Flair Jordan’s and glitter on my cheeks, and then I’d ride my bike around Old Goodwood and cool off in a swimming pool.
  • KN: It’s hard to beat a walk around the beautiful LSU lakes.
  • SDRV: Our go-to activity is a bike ride around Baton Rouge (with bike rentals from Geaux Ride) that end with Snoman’s snoballs!


4. What has been keeping you entertained during your time spent at home?

  • CH: I’ve been tuning into online concerts and shows. I’ve been enjoying the Manship’s Musical Moments and look forward to more of these! They are streamed via YouTube and they also cast films via Manship’s Virtual Cinema.
  • JO: The wonderful people who joined us on the Front Porch Project! They were very entertaining, and we were all so dang happy to come together for a great purpose! I also loved meeting up with friends at Dawson Creek Trail off Kenilworth for a nature filled walk! It was good to recharge my soul with good people, fresh air and a beautiful scene.


5. If you were planning a Staycation in the Capital City, where would you stay for your home away from home?

  • CH: There is this charming B&B near River Road. It has a little pond for fishing and is absolutely adorable. I haven’t stayed here, but it’s on my list!
  • KN: I would love to stay in one of the condos at Perkins Rowe and read all day on the balconies.
  • JP: Definitely a downtown hotel, with it’s walk-ability to the levee, capitol and the new Downtown Greenway on North Blvd. Plus museums, attractions and great food, as well.


6. Describe your perfect day in Baton Rouge.

  • CH: My husband, Brandon, and I would start out on a mid-morning bike ride to Superior Grill for brunch and frozen mimosa(s) on the patio, followed by a visit to the Botanical Gardens and a walk with our 180 lb. Great Dane, Jacques-Pierre. We’d finish up our ride through the neighborhood with a stop for an afternoon cocktail on my mother-in-law’s porch (she’s got a great porch). We’d end up at a friend’s house for some pool time and badminton. If a nap isn’t in order, we’d have an outdoor dinner at DiGuilio’s. And if the bars were open, we’d pop into our neighborhood watering hole, Old New Orleans Bar.
  • KN: I’d start off with the Farmer’s Market, checking out what ingredients are available for some Sunday lunch (I pray Mushroom Maggie has morels). Afterwards, I’d hit up Memphis Mac for a BBQ lunch and hope that Dr. Carlos has something special – if not, that’s ok as it’s always delicious. Afterwards, I’d take a nap to sleep off that lunch food, then head over to the LSU Lakes for a walk to get that appetite rolling. If there’s a game, I’ll grab drinks and watch at Mid-City Beer Garden. If not, I’d end the night with food and drinks at Soji: Modern Asian. Somehow, we still end up at Civil Axe Throwing for funsies.


7. What is your favorite local festival to attend, and why?

  • CH: The Wearin’ of the Green parade is, hands down, my favorite event in BR because I feel such a great sense of community. The painted shamrocks on Perkins Road that highlight the parade route of this St. Patrick’s Day festivity are emblematic of a good time that strives to welcome the various cultures that make up the Capital City.
  • JO: Hands down, if you know me you know this answer, BR Blues Fest! They have done a fantastic job in creating such a wonderful event for the whole family! I have been to almost a 100 blues and music festivals across this country and Baton Rouge’s is really one of the best!
  • JP: The Louisiana-themed Finish Line Fest after the Louisiana Half and Full Marathon.


8. What’s your favorite “hidden gem” in BR?

  • JO: Beauvoir Park for some great local live music! It’s been such a rich place for me to recharge while hanging (or dancing) on the large grassy area, maintaining a healthy social distance from each other and relax with great music.
  • KN: El Tio restaurant on Burbank is hands down my favorite taco spot (get the carne asada or lengua aka beef tongue). It also has an insane fried chicken and plantains dish called Pollo con Tajadas. It’s a must get!
  • JP: I love all the local coffee shops without a favorite – Brew Haha, Magpie, French Truck. Phil’s Oyster Bar and Zeeland are long time neighborhood favorites, but the rising star (especially pre-Covid) is BLDG 5. I love everything about that place!


9. While having fun in Baton Rouge has looked a little different this year, what memories have been particularly special to reminisce on? Or, what are you looking forward to the most when we can all safely gather again?

  • JO: Mardi Gras! I love the variety of balls and parades (like Mid City Ball Gras) we have in Baton Rouge — they definitely bring some local flair! And of course the block party during Spanish Town Parade is hands down the place to be.
  • KN: I really do miss those food festivals. I take for granted how it felt like getting together and sharing a meal.
  • SDRV: Tailgating and watching an LSU game in Tiger Stadium with 102,000 of our closest friends!


10. What is your favorite thing about living in Baton Rouge?

  • KN: The underdog mentality. I love working with people that are committed to moving Baton Rouge further and aren’t afraid to have the tough conversations to push us forward.
  • JP: The wonderful culture and sense of community…meaning the people that stay here to call it home.
  • SDRV: Baton Rouge is the capital, but it feels like a close knit community. We love the balance of the fast-paced buzz and familial comfort of being of “home” in the South.


Learn more about our influencers at https://www.visitbatonrouge.com/blog/post/meet-our-influencers/, or go to visitbatonrouge.com to plan your own authentic Louisiana experience in Baton Rouge!