Living in Baton Rouge for most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by good times, great people, and hearty foods. Louisiana specialties include gumbo, jambalaya, bisques, etouffees, and many other variations on the large-pot meal. As my Bostonian friend, Emily, came down to visit at the beginning of the summer, I introduced her to the bulk of what makes up Cajun and Ceole cuisine.
Starting with a Southern classic, she tried gumbo. Though this dish has no specific recipe, it is usually cooked with various mixtures of seafood, meats, and vegetables. It is a dish that is made for sharing, and will last you weeks. The gumbo that we had was from a local restaurant in Baton Rouge called The Chimes East; this is the place to be on any LSU game day if you want to be surrounded by Tiger fans that love to shout.
At the same restaurant, Emily was also introduced to a slightly less known, but just as memorable dish called crawfish etouffee. In Louisiana, crawfish is thrown in everything you could imagine: from fried crawfish in salads, to crawfish in soup, to just boiling it and enjoying it as a full meal. However, crawfish etouffee is probably one of the best, most unique crawfish dishes, usually served atop rice and with a side of bread. This dish is not only hard to pronounce, but also the best curated dish on any menu.
Louisiana is famous for its delectable desserts, but the biggest crowd pleaser is by far the famous beignets. Cafe du monde is a New Orleans large chain cafe restaurant that serves beignets, coffee, hot chocolate, etc. However, as a Baton Rouge resident, I have always preferred our local beignets from a coffeehouse called Coffee Call. Serving beignets day and night, Coffee Call differs in its beignet-making with the introduction of beignet fingers, which are smaller slices of the large beignet puff that are easier to eat, and, in my opinion, so much more delicious. When visiting Coffee Call, you can’t just get their beignets, but also a cup or two of their hot chocolate as well.
Moving onto our day in New Orleans, also known as the Big Easy, I took Emily to a restaurant called Superior Seafood, known for their happy hour, where raw oysters are only 50 cents a piece. Since Emily was not the biggest fan of raw oysters, she tried multiple kinds of chargrilled oysters on this trip, from both Superior Seafood in New Orleans and The Chimes East in Baton Rouge. These were topped with herbs and cheeses, served with bread, making for the perfect appetizer.
Another classic Louisiana dish, perfect for lunch, is the poboy. In other areas of the country, this type of sandwich might be called a hoagie or a sub, but Louisiana’s take on it is the poboy. Usually stuffed with fried shrimp, fried fish, or fried oysters, poboys are served in many restaurants, both large and small, for lunch and sometimes dinner. My personal favorite is the shrimp poboy, especially from Superior Seafood, where they give you the next meal’s serving of fried shrimp as well.
The last menu item on this food tour of Louisiana is the underrated shrimp and grits. Served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, grits are a classic part of any dish in the South. This dish is served in many different restaurants, but is definitely daunting to newcomers and visitors of Louisiana. This dish takes on multiple flavor combinations with each bite, and is a personal favorite of mine at home.
This concludes our mini food tour of dishes and cuisines served in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Louisiana holds a special place in my heart, and I was ecstatic to share it with friends from BC. Hopefully, this inspires you to book your next trip to the Big Easy to experience these big eats.
Cover photo courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler