No, it’s not enough time – but it’s a good start!
By Erin Austen Abbott
Nothing says weekend getaway like heading downriver to explore one of my new favorite Southern cities: Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I’ve rounded up my favorite eateries from each corner of the city to create a well-vetted list – a guide on how to make the most of 48 hours dining in Baton Rouge… and of course top it off with a drink or two. Warning: May induce hunger.
Kick off your trip with a stop at Zeeland Street. Nestled right in the heart of Mid City, surrounded by live oak trees and cute bungalows, this local hot spot is always buzzing with eager diners on weekends – your first clue as to the food’s appeal. From the breakfast menu, the Zeeland Slam is a sure bet. It offers a taste of several Zeeland Street items, like the savory, melt-in-your-mouth cheddar cheese grits; warm, fluffy buttermilk pancakes; sizzlin’ bacon; and eggs as you like them. Beyond the top-notch comfort food, the Zeeland staff is wonderful – full of sincere smiles and a clear passion for food and their guests. Another way to get a taste of a Baton Rouge morning? Sip on a cup of Community Coffee or River Road Coffee, both lovingly crafted for generations by local families.
Don’t assume you’re lost on the way to City Pork Southern Kitchen and Pie – it’s in a more suburban part of town. Once you arrive, you’re in for a treat. From the butcher paper on the aluminum trays to the food itself, I love every bit and bite of City Pork. The pulled pork is moist and seasoned with a teasing hint of vinegar from the barbecue sauce. I also strongly recommend the tender mustard greens, which are cooked with a little bacon, resulting in a subtle, but equally savory, flavor.
Let’s be real: saving room for pie isn’t optional. It’s in the title of the restaurant, so it must be good – right? Absolutely! The Lemon Buttermilk Chess pie is light, yet rich, and brings just the right amount of sweet to the table. You may find yourself craving this popular spot long after you’ve gone home.
Roberto’s on the River offers a quaint, local vibe. Set in an old house alongside the Mississippi River, it’s worth a wait even on the busiest of evenings. With small rooms and a cozy atmosphere, it’s a great spot to bring either a date or the family. The cream of Brie with crab is one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. It had a subtle, creamy richness and the local crab brings quality that only comes from fresh seafood.
The eggplant crab cake is a house specialty, and is also a total must! This crispy, meaty mash-up is topped with an amazing dill hollandaise sauce.
The lineup of entrees will put your decision-making skills to the test. Will you have fried, bacon-wrapped shrimp? Roasted duck served with mashed sweet potatoes and currant jelly? Lightly battered oysters? A tender, choice-cut filet mignon? The good news is… you can’t go wrong.
After a day of following my nose, I tend to wrap up the night by following the beat. In downtown Baton Rouge, several bars offer upbeat live music, perfect for dancing the night (and, in all honesty, some of those calories) away. The best part is? There’s more to savor on day two.
I have a policy for Baton Rouge: if chargrilled oysters are on the menu, order them.
With a complete focus on local and seasonal selections, Magpie Cafe Downtown is a great stop before taking a stroll along the Riverfront, just a block away. The decor inside is light and airy and makes the shop a must-stop for those with design in mind. With floating light fixtures, eclectic pillows on cushioned bench seating and contemporary tile work on the bar, it has an elevated feel without being overdone.
As far as the meal goes, try a fruit scone; a bacon, egg and cheese panini; or housemade orange-cranberry muffin, all created with local ingredients. And while the Magpie Latte is a personal favorite, try one of the creative brunch mimosas if you feel like letting loose a little! Your taste buds will thank you.
The Chimes East is a second location to the LSU hot spot, which is near the campus and under the same name. I always feel like a local at Chimes, and the food is consistently good.
I have a policy for Baton Rouge: if chargrilled oysters are on the menu, order them. Chimes does them three ways, and I’ve had them all: parmesan and butter, cheese and bacon, and artichoke and spinach. For me, it’s palate heaven. I also suggest blackened alligator, and the barbecue po-boy, which has a wonderful garlic and butter sauce. I like to pair the po-boy with a local beer such as the Tin Roof Brewery Blonde Ale, which is easy to drink with its light and malty taste.
Lagniappe, in Baker, just a little north of the city, makes for a memorable conclusion to your chow trail. If you don’t happen to speak Cajun French, the restaurant’s name is pronounced “lan yap.” They are best known for their seafood, and for good reason. One of their many Gulf-to-table offerings is the Lagniappe Pasta, which is a soft shell crab, topped with a crab cake made from local crab, served over angel hair pasta with a shrimp cream sauce. Divine! What’s more: the Cajun Eggplant, which is fried to perfection and topped with crawfish etouffee.
There’s something comforting about eating food that is local, fresh and prepared with that one-of-a-kind Bayou heritage all weekend. And although it was easy to spend an entire Baton Rouge getaway indulging in the incredible cuisine, there are always plenty of other experiences to explore. Try a shopping spree, get immersed in the richness of the city’s history, explore the arts and cultural scene, or live it up with the city’s hottest nightlife. The Capital City keeps everyone on their toes, eager for the next adventure around the corner.