With roots dating back to 1840, this New Orleans landmark makes two distinctive claims: It’s the oldest family-run eatery in the country, and it’s the city’s oldest destination for fine French-Creole cuisine. It’s also the birthplace of oysters Rockefeller. Along with the main dining area, outfitted in white-covered tables and wood cafe chairs, are 13 other rooms to accommodate the crowds who pack in for classic fare. Start with one of four oyster dishes, escargot or alligator bisque, and splurge on the chateaubriand for two ($120). Finish with another Antoine original: Café brulot diabolique (or “devilishly burned coffee”) is set alight at your tableside.
Few foodies can talk about New Orleans without mentioning this famed food destination. Since the 1890s, its kitchen has been overseen by some of the top chefs in the country (Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse and, currently, James Beard winner Tory McPhail). The building alone is worth the trip: Chandelier-studded dining rooms, the corner spire, gingerbread trim and pastel blue-and-white striped awnings make it a standout in the Garden District. (Note: A dress code is enforced.)
The spicy flavors here are classic Italian rather than Cajun. Owner Cristiano Raffignone brings many family recipes to the table: Dig into Dijon- and herb-crusted lamb, black truffle and ricotta pasta and bacon meatballs.
724 High St., Houma, La. 985-223-1130, cristianoristorante.com.
Surrounded by acres of gardens, beehives and grazing animals, this quaint inn uses many of its own products (honey, eggs, blueberries, figs and more) to complement seafood, beef and pork entrees. Classically trained chef Erick Loos also brings his years studying in the south of France into the mix.
Lea Johnson, the son of plantation owners, opened a modest eatery in 1928 and soon built a reputation for quality around baked ham and chicken, garden-fresh sides, and made-from-scratch pies. Whether you eat a slice there or take one to go, it will be tough to pick from the sweet selection that includes double-crust apple, cherry or peach; chocolate, coconut or lemon meringue; seasonal blueberry, blackberry, pumpkin or sweet potato; and the perennial favorite, pecan.
1810 U.S. 71, Lecompte, La. 318-776-5178, leaslunchroom.com.
Olde Tyme Grocery
No trip to Louisiana would be complete without indulging in one of the famous local foodstuffs: the po’boy. Head to this white frame, former grocery store where the menu is built around the dish. Two salads and fries are the only sides to add to the selection of meats, shrimp, oysters or catfish that get stuffed into oblongs of crusty French bread. The house specialty is packed with ham, turkey, roast beef and Swiss cheese. Nothing fancy, but ooh-la-la yummy.
From the fried alligator and bacon-wrapped shrimp on the starter menu to the entrees of andouille-crusted fillets and shrimp, crawfish and crab pasta, seafood is the star here, and it’s all coming right from the Gulf. Daily specials expand the options. Seafood gumbo, turtle soup, duck, po’boys and a smattering of meat entrees round out the selections. The rustic, wood structure is easy to find: Look for the antique Esso sign on the porch.
The farm-to-table concept inspires this northeast gem, where lunch is as casual as shrimp and grits, po’boys and red beans and rice. Dinner options expand with local Kingsland beef, sustainably raised seafood and produce harvested within a 20-mile radius.
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