When most people hear ‘Louisiana,’ they probably imagine Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or perhaps a guy battling an agitated alligator on Swamp People. However, follow the Mississippi River north, to Baton Rouge, and allow the capital city’s culinary scene to forever change how you think about the boot of America. From the best South Louisiana cuisine to some of the best steaks ever plated, Baton Rouge has it all, here’s some of the best.
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If you’re a fan of fresh seafood pulled from the Gulf of Mexico, and all of the Creole flavors which have become the staple of southern Louisiana cuisine, you will love Parrain’s. Opening in 2001, it did not take long for this restaurant to earn a spot in the hearts of locals. As your eyes pore over the extensive menu, your mouth will begin to water; the collaboration of fragrances filling the restaurant teases the taste buds. If you are looking for the pinnacle of Louisiana cuisine, look no further; this is it.
‘Business is great; people are terrific; life is wonderful’ – George’s, where nobody’s a stranger. This establishment epitomizes the small town roots of Baton Rouge. Hidden away under the I-10 overpass on Perkins Road, it is an icon of local restaurants. Dollar bills wallpaper much of the ceiling and walls; the framed images of past generations and the memories inscribed all over the restaurant encourage the sentiment of this college-town tradition. Put away your cell phone, grab a burger and a beer, and have a good conversation in this low-lit secret of the locals.
Located on the historic Highland Road, Sammy’s has been serving up all of the best Louisiana dishes since opening in 1988. A family-friendly restaurant with arcade games for the kids and those adults who never want to grow up. Try the topped blackened tilapia, shrimp, or crawfish, or the Acadian catfish, a fried catfish filet smothered in crawfish etouffee. They are hailed for their boiled seafood, and their seasonal crawfish boils are a local attraction, arguably the best in the city. Call ahead to avoid a long wait; this is one of the most popular spots in town.
If you are just looking for a good steak in a comfortable environment, Sullivan’s is revered for its prime cuts of beef, and fantastic piano bar, maintaining a lively and relaxed atmosphere. To enjoy the full experience, have dinner and drinks in the lounge area. Order one of the many fine steaks and a side of the three cheese mac. Add crab legs or a lobster tail to take your meal to the next level – a scrumptiously buttery delight. For dessert, the crème brulee is a delectably light finish after a heavy meal. Hang around and listen to the magical sounds from the past while enjoying a few of the fine cocktails available.
This Italian restaurant has been family-owned since it was established by the Marino family in 1966. According to 225 Magazine’s annual polls, Gino’s dominates the ranks year after year as best Italian dining in Baton Rouge. The combination of sounds, sites, smells, and tastes embodies the experience of an authentic Italian restaurant. The veal entrees at this place could be the best ever – anywhere – especially the veal marsala. You don’t have to order anything fancy at Gino’s – even the spaghetti and meatballs will blow your mind.
If you want to order some fantastic Italian cuisine without having to worry if you are dressed up enough, head over to Monjunis. This great little restaurant is hidden away in the Goodwood Shopping Center on Jefferson Highway, and serves all of the classic Italian dishes in a comfortable atmosphere. Famed among locals for their one of a kind red sauce, this place has it all – just close your eyes and pick anything on the menu – you won’t be disappointed.
Mansurs on the Boulevard
Mansurs takes fine dining in Baton Rouge to a different level. The Cajun inspired dishes of executive chef Chris Motto could be the best in the capital city. Try one of their delectable fish entrees, or the shrimp and chicken pasta, and a cup of brie crabmeat bisque. Order the “all that jazz” to get a trio of reality-altering soups. Monday through Saturday, customers enjoy dinner while being serenaded by the exquisite talents of pianist Ms. Jo Garner.
As soon as you pull into the parking lot at Mike Anderson’s, it is clear that you have arrived at a classic South Louisiana dining establishment; the swamp scenery on the sign is a clear indication of the incredible cuisine to come. As soon as you step inside the front doors of the spacious restaurant, you are smacked with a Cajun sensory overload – the décor of animals covering the walls, the massive fish tanks, and the indescribably delicious smells. Order the super seafood platter, and prepare for an unforgettable experience as you enjoy shrimp, oysters, stuffed shrimp, crawfish tails, stuffed crab, catfish fillets, crab fingers, onion rings, soft-shell crab, an entire catfish fried whole (head on), salad or coleslaw, your choice of a side, and hush puppies – an immense entrée.
Located on the fringe of LSU’s campus, American Market is a local favorite, especially among the students, who appreciate the unbeatable prices of this college-town gem. These guys are legends in the community for their mind blowing po’boy style sandwiches. Order any one of their 10 sandwiches, plus a small bag of Zapp’s potato chips. You can’t go wrong with your choice; however, the Cajun turkey sandwich is unlike anything else in this world. If you are feeling adventurous, ask for the Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtators flavor, and pile the chips in the sandwich for an extra kick.
The success of this establishment is clear; they have expanded to three locations since opening the original restaurant in 1983. Located just beyond the North Gate of LSU’s campus, Chime’s is a legend in the capital city. In addition to their incredible southern comfort foods, they boast an unbelievable selection of nearly 200 different beers, including 80 on draft. Start your meal with an order of boudin balls or crawfish and three cheese macaroni; for your entrée, order the red beans and rice with sausage or the roast beef po’boy, and wash it all down with one of the many local or imported brews.
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