What To Eat in Louisiana
No state has a more distinctive cuisine than Louisiana. From spectacular seafood feasts in the Creole palaces of New Orleans to boudin sausage and cracklin’ munchies in the butcher shops of Cajun country, it’s a taste-buds orgy. Effulgent po boys are a Crescent City essential, as are oysters every-which-way and café au lait with beignets. Outside the city, look for crawfish, meat pies, and country-style gumbo.
The Louisiana meat pie is a brightly seasoned mélange of pork and beef enclosed in a half-circle pastry crust. It is deep fried until the crust is golden crisp and the meat inside is steaming hot. Most people get one for lunch, sided by dirty rice and a good southern vegetable such as okra or greens, but it’s not uncommon to see someone having a meat pie at 7am alongside a couple of fried eggs and grits glistening with melted butter. Most places that make meat pies also offer crawfish pies, especially during Lent.
A specialty of butchers throughout Cajun country, boudin is a sausage of pork, rice, onions, and spice. It is not firm like an Italian sausage. Once cut, it tends to spill, tumble, or gets squeezed out depending on the link's consistency. It comes in shades of beige, hot ones tinged pepper red, some speckled with a confetti of green and yellow onion. Differences among them can be subtle. Are the rice grains firm or soft? Is the pork pulverized or rough-hewn? Does it glisten? Does it have a sweet, fresh smell? Does the filling drip unctuously or is it dry?
Like Louisiana cuisine itself, gumbo is all about mixing, matching, blending, and creating something glorious from sundry elements. A staple of kitchens in New Orleans as well as in the Cajun countryside, its cooking canon has only a few rules: It should contain rice (cooked separately and added after the soup itself is made); it should start with a roux made of flour and fat (preferably lard); and it must be thickened as it cooks, using either okra or filé powder. Most gumbos are loaded with ingredients and radiantly spiced, and while virtually no element is taboo, the most commonly encountered varieties are seafood gumbo, made with crawfish, shrimp, crab and / or oysters and sausage gumbo, almost always including duck or chicken. During Lent, it is not uncommon to come across meatless gumbo z'herbs, featuring varieties of greens.
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Soft, freshly baked biscuits draw lines to Edie's, a breakfast pit-stop beside a gas station. The brisket biscuit is unbelievable.
In the never-ending Acadian debates about where's the best boudin-n’-crackin, Billy's is a favorite of local snackers.
Masters of the “specialty” po-boy, Avery’s on Tulane serves destination-worthy sandwiches and Creole specialties.
A one-of-a-kind institution since 1947, Judice Inn continues to earn kudos for some of the best burgers in the United States.
Among many excellent Creole-Italian restaurants in the Crescent City, Mandina’s stands out for unique specialties, enormous portions, and spectacular seafood.
A well-worn Creole cafe in the heart of Downtown Baton Rouge, Poor Boy Lloyd's serves textbook po boys & cannon Louisiana cooking with frosted chalices of beer.
Parrain's is a nouveau roadhouse serving Gulf-fresh fish and Creole seafood classics as well as cheap drinks and superb sides.
In the shadow of the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge, Christina's is a charming cafe that serves country breakfast and lunch that feel small-town.
A spin-off of a roadside chicken shack, catering to LSU students and savvy locals who know that this little shack has destination-worthy fried chicken.