My sounding board on this list included:
Cherry the Dive Bar Girl
Brian Haldane, Talk 107.3 FM
Eric Ducote, BRBeerScene.com
James Fox-Smith, Country Roads Magazine
10) The Big Squeezy - This place is so new that it almost didn't make the list... but I also didn't want to leave it off and then not have it be qualified for next year, so here it is. The Perkins Road Overpass area got a trendy new juice bar at the tail end of 2013, and so far the perception is very good. The colorful assortment of raw, cold pressed juices have been a hit.
9) Galatoire's Bistro - No, Galatoire's is not original to Baton Rouge. Heck, the new spot isn't even the first Galatoire's in Baton Rouge. But it is new. And it certainly is not a national chain, so it counts. In the brand new shopping center at Acadian and Perkins a beautiful fine dining restaurant beckons with temptations of old New Orleans. No, looking out onto Perkins or the Trader Joe's parking lot will never be like Tennessee Williams looking out onto Bourbon, but it still gets its respects.
8) Red Star - Another one that could be argued isn't new, I again disagree. Red Star was shut down, sold to new owners, and reopened in 2013. With new ownership and a bar that did indeed open this year, I think it belongs on the list. Red Star is a unique bar in downtown that comes with different patrons than most of the other bars. That's important when you want to have a thriving nightlife. Not all the bars can be the same, or you only end up with the same type of people. Look at Tigerland. Downtown needs to embrace as many different types of people as possible to create a true metropolitan culture that supports as many diverse professions and lifestyles as possible. So I'm glad Red Star is back, and I'm happy to include them on this list.
|Smothered Chicken in Jay Ducote's Louisiana BBQ Sauce at Leroy's|
6) Omi - Joe Deng, the chef and owner, returned to the Baton Rouge culinary scene after selling his LSU area restaurant, Koi Japanese Cuisine two years ago. Omi is one One Calais Place off of Essen in a building that has been numerous restaurant before, but hopefully this one can stick around. You won't find any buffet style sesame chicken here. Omi serves up an authentic Northern Chinese menu as well as a Japanese menu with sushi and other specialties. According to Cherry the Dive Bar Girl, "I have not had Chinese this good since I lived in Chinatown Brooklyn."
5) Zorba's Greek Bistro - Another restaurant that has been in Baton Rouge before actually dates back to 1984. The Economides family re-opened Zorba's in May and may have reclaimed the crown for the best Greek food in Baton Rouge. The menu items are fresh and inspired and features much more than just hummus and a gyro sandwich. James Fox-Smith nominated Zorba's for "giving us Baton Rouge's only real Greek/Cypriot menu." He added, "Their lamb is just spectacular."
|Streetbreads on Perkins|
3) Stab's Steak and Seafood - Allow me to get on a soapbox for a second. Obviously all the City of St. George business recently has created even more division to the Baton Rouge area. It is really a shame. I strongly stand by the idea that we are better together. That being said, there has always, as long as I've been around (1981), been a division between Baton Rouge and its surrounding towns. Livingston Parish is a curse word. Those damn people from Denham Springs. Baker, Central, Zachary... all worthless. Port Allen and Plaquemine might as well not exist. Ascension Parish? You should have just kept going to New Orleans instead of stopping in Prairieville or Gonzales. I've never understood why there is such animosity. I certainly like living in the city, and I wish people wouldn't escape to the suburbs just for the school systems, but that's a problem in any decent sized city in America. But other cities can respect their neighbors a whole lot better than most people from Baton Rouge. I'll admit that I don't get those towns and surrounding parishes enough. There are plenty of places that I need to eat surrounding Baton Rouge. But at least I'm willing to go if they are local. All of the towns I mentioned and plenty that I didn't are part of the greater Baton Rouge area, and I think we'd all be better together instead of trash talking about each other. So, with that being said, you really ought to try Stab's Steak and Seafood in Central. The latest creation from Wayne Stabiler who previously brought us Little Village and Le Creole, Stab's has brought an upscale element to one of those previously mentioned BR suburbs. And for those living in the city, it is worth the drive.
|Big Pig at City Pork|
|The Pelican House|