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Eating Louisiana: From Hub City to the Big Easy

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Get Your Fill on the Road

Since its completion in Louisiana in 1975, Interstate 10 has connected the flatlands of Lafayette to the levees of New Orleans. This stretch of highway links more than just towns: it connects cultures. There is no better way to understand the unique ways of life specific to these areas than to eat your way through the 135-mile journey from Lafayette to New Orleans.

Lafayette

Home to Festival International, a free festival held annually in April since 1986, Lafayette hosts global patrons who return year after year for a taste of the arts and flavorful food. Known by locals as “The Hub City” and now the third largest metro area in Louisiana, Lafayette is said to have the highest restaurant count per capita in the state. So let’s eat.

Lafayette
Illustrations by Phillip Wells

Dark Roux

Dark Roux blends Louisiana cuisine, farm-to-table sustainability, and creative culinary fusion (think crawfish corndogs and ramen fried chicken wings). Most ingredients are sourced from nearby Gotreaux Family Farms. On the first Tuesday of the month, they offer Local Pantry Popup, a farmers market in the parking lot with special dinner menus prepared by local chefs for that evening’s service. website

Swamp Pop Soda

Better grab some beverages for the open road. Taking its name from the indigenous musical genre of Acadiana, Swamp Pop soda is as eclectic as the Cajun/Creole R&B Louisiana honky-tonk music that pervaded local dance halls in the 1950s. Cousins John Petersen and Collin Cormier (Cormier is owner of the popular local food truck Viva La Waffle) bottle homemade homages to Louisiana-centric flavors like Filé Root Beer and Ponchatoula Pop Rouge. website

Taco Sisters

Sisters Molly and Katy Richard have been pushing the taco envelope in Lafayette at their aptly named eatery. From smoked brisket burritos and specials like a bánh mì quesadilla, baked avocado tacos, and korean beef rib tacos, Taco Sisters encourages guests to forgo traditional tacos in favor of flavor-fusion mashups. Dine outside or drive through to grab some grub for later. And keep an eye out for their food truck too. website

Breaux Bridge

Poche’s Market + Restaurant

The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge is the second longest bridge in the United States. It’s a good idea to sneak in a quick bite before you travel across the 18-mile stretch of swamp-laden highway. Shortly before the bridge, take exit 109 and pick up a link of boudin at Poche’s Market and Restaurant. A Cajun favorite since 1962, Poche’s offers daily plate lunches, specialty Cajun meats, boudin, and boudin balls. website

Baton Rouge

Crossing the Mighty Mississippi River, you’ll enter Baton Rouge, “The Capital City.” With habitation dating back to 4500 BC (more than a thousand years before the Egyptian pyramids were constructed), Baton Rouge has long been a bastion of Louisiana culture, and now her cuisine is heading to the forefront.

Baton-Rouge
Illustrations by Phillip Wells

Tin Roof Brewing Company

Two friends and a love of beer. That’s all it took for Charles Caldwell and William McGehee to start Tin Roof Brewing. When cans hit shelves in 2010, the team grew with the addition of Brewmaster Tom Daigrepont. Check out their solid IPA and ales as well as seasonal brews like Summer Watermelon Wheat. Try it all while taking a tour of their tap room—but just a taste of each, you are driving after all. website

City Pork Deli + Charcuterie

Handcrafted, small-batched, cured pork perfection. These are a few words that describe the neighborhood deli that is taking over Baton Rouge. City Pork Deli & Charcuterie offers sandwiches with hand-cut truffle chips and charcuterie boards for a quick lunch or snack on the go. A chunk of bacon caramel fudge is a must. If you find yourself in Baton Rouge for dinner, visit their second location, City Pork Brasserie & Bar, for cane cola sticky wings or rabbit and dumplings. website

Beausoleil Restaurant + Bar

Offering one of the most diverse dinner menus in Baton Rouge, Beausoleil Restaurant and Bar is a local favorite. From lamb meatballs to seared foie gras served over waffles, this menu shouts fusion. With daily specials and brunch on the weekend, Beausoleil is a great choice for outside dining—maybe catch a beautiful Louisiana sunset before you drive off into the night. website

Metairie

Drago’s Seafood Restaurant

On the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, we arrive at the first suburb of New Orleans, Metairie. Named for its owner, Drago Cvitanovich, Drago’s Seafood Restaurant has been a satisfying institution since 1969. The kitchen turns out an astonishing 900-dozen charbroiled oysters each day. Unique po-boys like barbecue shrimp, classics like gumbo, and new creations like boudin-stuffed shrimp make Drago’s a perfect warm-up for the NOLA cuisine to come. website

New Orleans

“NOLA,” “The Crescent City,” “The Birthplace of Jazz,” “The Big Easy.”  Regardless the nickname, New Orleans is regarded worldwide as a place to pass a good time. Originally known for its Creole blend of French and Spanish culture and cuisine, now in NOLA you’ll find it all. Make like the locals and laissez les bon temps rouler.

SoBou

From the Commander’s Palace family of restaurants comes SoBou: South of Bourbon. Well-presenting the uniqueness of Southern food mixed alongside traditional Louisiana dishes, diners will find pork belly steam buns and an outrageous bluefin tuna cone served with pineapple ceviche and basil avocado ice cream. Attached to the swank W Hotel and outfitted with self-serve wine machines, SoBou offers plenty of relaxation now that you have reached your destination. website

The Creole Creamery

With two locations boasting a laundry list of original and, frankly, bizarre flavors, the Creole Creamery is a memorable ice cream experience. Classics like banana split and malt grace the chalkboard menu, sharing real estate with some more daring desserts. Note: the saffron fig and lavender honey flavors are made to be married with a waffle cone. website

MoPho

The culinary brainchild of Michael Gulotta (formerly of Restaurant August), MoPho brings Louisiana-Asian fusion to a whole new level. Po-boys and rice bowls share the menu, each drawing from the other’s culture. The pho offers options including oxtail, tendon, tripe, and even cockscomb. Bubble tea cocktails are a necessity, and if you roll into town on a weekend, do join MoPho for their Super Swine Saturdays. website

New-Orleans
Illustrations by Phillip Wells
Featured April 2015