Baton Rouge is a city on the rise, and that extends to its food scene – proud of its Cajun roots but embracing new international flavors.
The state capital of Louisiana and a festive college town, Baton Rouge is known for its Mardi Gras celebrations, art events, music festivals and trendy neighborhoods. When it comes to eating, Baton Rouge gives you all the rich flavors you’d expect in Louisiana, but also serves up innovative fusion cuisine. From a spice market to a trendy food hall to a dessert haven, gear up for a food tour that will surprise your senses.
Cook, Shop and Learn Cajun-Style
The Red Stick Spice Market is a cook’s happy place. Aisles of spice mixes, high-quality condiments and prepared foods greet you. It’s a whole shop brimming with tastes of Louisiana that you can bring home, from locally-sourced honey and pepper jelly to sweet pralines and spiced nuts. In addition to shopping, you can plan for a session in the kitchen classroom, where owner Anne Milneck hosts her popular cooking classes. Sessions in the test kitchen cover everything from jams and jellies to bar bites and French bistro cooking, but out-of-town visitors gravitate toward the Cajun Classics lesson. Anne shares insight into Cajun-style cooking, teaching that it’s comprised of local vegetables, rich smoked meats, seafood, rice and bold flavor from a mix of spices. Early Acadian settlers to Louisiana were forced to adapt traditional recipes to their newfound local resources. Similarly, you can return home and modify Cajun recipes like Corn Maque Choux (a popular side dish) to your own region’s ingredients.
Taking a cooking class at Red Stick Spice Market
Eclectic Flavors Under One Roof
Food halls are all the rage in the USA’s metropolitan areas, and Baton Rouge is getting in on the action with White Star Market. This modern, light-filled space features a mix of tempting eateries under one roof. Taco enthusiasts will gravitate to Gov’t Taco, the brainchild of "Food Network Star" runner-up Jay Ducote, where Louisiana and Southern flavors kick up the beloved street taco. Go full-on Louisiana with “The Catfish are Coming!” taco with molasses mustard fried catfish, corn maque choux, crispy greens and Gov’t hot sauce. Next, try authentic Asian street food at Chow Yum Phat or cold-pressed juice and yummy acai bowls from The Big Squeezy. No matter what dish (or dishes) you opt for, complement your meal with a beverage pairing from on-site bar Mouton, which features a diverse wine selection, regional craft beers and artful cocktails.
A Gov’t Taco staple ready to be devoured at the White Star Market
Modern Southern Food Meets Heavenly Pie
Named after owner Chef Paul Dupre’s late grandmother, Elsie’s Plate and Pie is a must on your Baton Rouge to-do list. As soon as you swing the door open, you’ll realize this place is popular: The bar stools lining the counter are filled with people, families and friends tuck into booths chatting and eating happily, and a line forms for to-go pie orders. It’s modern without losing its cozy, homespun charm, and its Southern-inspired menu is peppered with inventive risks. There’s the Cajun crawfish queso, a Louisiana take on chips and queso, where the chips are pork rinds and the cheese sauce has pieces of crawfish. Then there’s the pimento cheese salad with mixed field greens, toasted pecans, green onions, croutons and pepper jelly vinaigrette. No matter what you eat for your main course, don’t leave without ordering pie. Favorites include the cherry hand pie topped with vanilla ice cream. It blends tart and sweet, and is totally worth the calories. Another decadent treat, the s’mores pie is a divinely creamy chocolate concoction topped with pillow-like marshmallow meringue that’s torched to perfection – you feel special just eating it. And that’s exactly how Elsie would have wanted it.
Delectable desserts at Elsie’s Plate and Pie
International flights connecting through Atlanta, Houston or Dallas can get you to Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, which is located only 11 kilometers from downtown. Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans (just over an hour from downtown Baton Rouge) is also a great gateway to Baton Rouge.