Baton Rouge may not be as known for its food scene as neighboring New Orleans, but the presence of the Louisiana Culinary Institute means that there is no shortage of fantastic restaurants. Local Kim Harper sought to showcase these lesser-known eateries to both visitors and residents alike when she created Baton Rouge Food Tours in 2013. I previously visited Baton Rouge and I thought I’d eaten all the best dishes, but Baton Rouge Food Tours introduced me to even more places.
Poor Boy Lloyd’s
The “po boy” may have origins in New Orleans, but Poor Boy Lloyd’s is Baton Rouge’s answer to the famous sandwich. Our first stop on the tour brought us to the establishment that is a favorite of locals, where we were served a roast beef po boy. The roast beef was tender and the French bread ordered from New Orleans. It was covered with “debris,” or the juices and drippings from the meat. The proximity to the capitol makes it a hit with lawmakers and the restaurant hosts live music on Friday nights.
Capital City Grill
Next up was Capital City Grill Downtown, a restaurant known for their steaks, seafood and dishes with the freshest ingredients. We dined on a perfectly seasoned fried green tomato with crab and remoulade. They also have a long, wooden bar where you might spot celebrities like Lady Gaga, who dined here when her boyfriend was filming a movie.
Stroubes Seafood and Steaks
Calling itself “upscale downsouth dining,” Stroubes Seafood and Steaks is a former pharmacy with deli and soda fountain and still serves the egg salad sandwich on the original menu from 1942. We were served the turtle soup, but if you aren’t keen on that, try their gumbo, both of which are made with dark roux. Pair a steak or seafood dish with a classic cocktail from the bar.
Every town needs its own wine bar and Blend is Baton Rouge’s. Here we enjoyed barbecue shrimp cooked with Bloody Mary mix and stone ground local grits. Since I’m staying away from dairy, they brought me a special version of the barbecue shrimp on a salad, which was just as delicious. The wine selection is where this place excels and there’s an upstairs space for more intimate dining.
I’d heard about Restaurant IPO before my first trip and was so glad to go this time around. My favorite dish of the tour was their bon temps shrimp with kimchi, a crunchy, spicy and delicious bite. IPO started as a bar in Lafayette with office theme before moving to Baton Rouge. The former Kress building has reclaimed cypress tables and an award-winning menu of tapas fusion. The menu even includes a burger that will set you back $55.
King Bar at Hotel Indigo
Our final stop on the tour was the King Bar at Hotel Indigo Baton Rouge Downtown. It was named for former governor Huey Long, who had a tunnel between this hotel and the one across the street to sneak in his mistress. We had Bananas Foster, which is original to New Orleans, paired with Cece’s or River Road coffee. It’s usually made with ice cream topped with a rich caramel and banana sauce.
The “C’est Si Bon” tour takes guests to six restaurants, with appetizer-sized portions, all within a few blocks. Options can be adapted for food allergies and preferences and the chosen restaurants may change. Your tour cost also gives you coupons for other local restaurants. Tours run rain or shine and cost around $50 with taxes. They run on Monday, Thursday and Friday at 11 am and 6 pm.
I went on the C’est Si Bon tour with Baton Rouge Food Tours, which was organized by Louisiana Travel and Visit Baton Rouge.