Dining

TONY’S SEAFOOD
Runners up: Sammy’s, Heads & Tails

A little off the beaten path, you’ll know you’re there by the long line of cars on Plank Road who’ve also made the exodus out of suburbia to Tony’s. Awaiting them are perfectly seasoned ruby red crustaceans, not to mention the spiciest corn and potatoes only an ice-cold beer can tame. 5215 Plank Rd., tonyseafood.com

GEORGE’S
Runners up: Brew-Bacher’s, Riverside Patty

George’s infamous “heavy hit” is a classic with a slight So-Cal twist, topping a thick hamburger patty, salted and peppered to perfection, with crisp lettuce, tomato, American cheese and—surprise, surprise—slices of fresh avocado. Complementary side options run deep from onion rings and fried mushrooms to jalapeno cheese fries for a meal that’ll have you pinning a dollar to the ceiling in thanks. Three locations, georgesbr.com

POPEYE’S
Runners up: Frank’s, Louie’s

Come up with a bready indulgence more decadent than a Popeye’s biscuit and you’ll get rich. The Popeye’s biscuit is buttery and impeccable at its primary task of cutting through the heat of the spicy chicken it accompanies. This is not a biscuit that requires butter, or anything else, for that matter. At 240 calories and packing 13 grams of fat, they’re no friend to your waistline. The fact they won more votes than landmarks Frank’s and Louie’s should say it all. Multiple locations, popeyes.com

IZZO’S ILLEGAL BURRITO
Runners up: Ninfa’s, Zippy’s

Filling possibilities include everything from pork carnitas to black beans, so there’s something for veg heads and carnivores alike, not to mention an abundance of tortilla choices: flour, wheat, spinach or cayenne. How big is your appetite? The regular (misdemeanor) gets you off with a warning, the super (felony) could warrant 3-5 without parole, and the illegal could get you for life. Rolling your own has never been so fun, or legal for that matter. Three locations, izzos.com

FLEUR DE LIS
Runners up: DeAngelo’s, Mellow Mushroom

Fleur de Lis, the pale pink restaurant/lounge in Mid City, has since 1946 produced inimitable rectangular pizzas, particularly the signature ’round the world pie. There are no substitutions on this baby, replete with anchovies, Italian sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, salami and onions. A jukebox keeps things lively in the funky interior. Remember, no credit cards. This genuine article is old school. 5655 Government St., 924-2904, fleurdelispizza.com

WHOLE FOODS MARKET
Runners up: Piccadilly, Thai Kitchen

Whole Foods Market offers perks for vegetarians: a salad bar with more than iceberg lettuce, an olive bar, tofu welcomed into meals and a produce section you’d rather photograph than eat. It’s not that Baton Rouge didn’t have these things before this mega store rolled in to town, it’s just never been this easy to be vegetarian. If you avoid the left, rear corner of the store, your Whole Foods experience can be largely carcass-free. 218-0452, 7529 Corporate Blvd., wholefoods.com

PICCADILLY
Runners up: Jason’s Deli, DeAngelo’s

Put a kid at eye-level with blue Jell-O and chocolate pudding and witness the magic. Beyond the dessert (which is fittingly first in the line-up), they dish up bite-size favorites like macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders and corn dogs. And if you hit up Piccadilly on Thursdays children’s meals (for kids 12 and under) are 99 cents. What could be better? Oh, right. Sprinkles! Multiple locations, piccadilly.com

CC’S COFFEE HOUSE
Runners up: Starbucks, Coffee Call

CC’s has kept Baton Rouge caffeinated for more than 10 years serving up strong cups of joe as well as grande half-caff, non-fat, sugar-free hazelnut lattes. With a side of southern hospitality and perhaps a low-fat sweet potato muffin, it’s the one-stop shop to jumpstart your morning. With 14 locations you’re bound to pass one on your morning commute. Multiple locations, ccscoffee.com

JUBAN’S
Runners up: Mansur’s, Fleming’s

Maybe it’s the prayerful, seafood-stuffed soft shell “hallelujah” crab, its crispy legs outstretched and inviting. Or it could be the “no cell phones” policy, or the 1,200 bottle, temperature-controlled wine room where small groups enjoy private meals and tastings. Reliable and accommodating, Juban’s has become the city’s stalwart go-to spot for special occasions, business engagements, private functions and nights out. The large atrium bar is also airy and fun. 3739 Perkins Rd., 346-8422, jubans.com

JUBAN’S
Runners up: Galatoire’s, Mansur’s on the Boulevard

Forget what you think you know about bread pudding—this is good as it gets. Juban’s cinnamon and raisin version of this classic southern dish is as rich and moist as cake. Each generous portion ($5) comes enrobed in a sauce of Meyer’s rum, butter and Grand Marnier. Not a bread pudding fan? This one will convert you. 3739 Perkins Road, 346-8422, jubans.com

SUBWAY
Runners up: Whole Foods, Jason’s Deli

The fact is Jared got too damned skinny for any local restaurants to compete. Who else can say that one of their regulars lost 245 pounds—The Chimes? This sandwich chain has 18 items weighing in at 6 grams of fat or less, including a tasty grilled onion chicken teriyaki sub. Multiple locations, subway.com

SUPERIOR GRILL
Runners up: Ninfa’s, La Carreta

Though it might be tough to share, Superior Grill’s San Lucas sizzling fajitas are perfect for two. This set comes with colossal strips of mesquite-grilled steak and jumbo shrimp nested in still-cooking grilled onions and saucy bell peppers. A column of steam bellows from the skillet, and you’ll leave smelling like a fajita, but complaining about that is really just a roundabout way of bragging, isn’t it? 5435 Government St., 927-2022, superiorgrill.com

JOE’S DREYFUS STORE
Runners up: Roberto’s, Middendorf’s
The trek along Hwy. 190 seems awfully long when your taste buds are set for Joe’s boudin balls with cane syrup glaze, turtle soup au sherry, or a fried seafood platter starring everything from crawfish tails to frog legs. The “grand central” features pan-broiled oysters or shrimp in a winning combo of butter, shallots, cream, parsley and lemon with plenty of bread for sopping. When rural road recipes beckon, this former general store is top-notch. 2731 Maringouin Road, West, Livonia, 637-2725.

THE CHIMES
Runners up: Mike Anderson’s, Parrain’s

Pick your poison: seafood or duck and sausage. Both varieties at The Chimes are as satisfying and consistent as this beloved Baton Rouge eatery itself. The seafood gumbo is warm and comforting, while the duck and sausage, smoky and rich. They’re fine lead-ins to the restaurant’s other formidable fare. Two locations, thechimes.com

RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE
Runners up: Sullivan’s, Fleming’s

A caramelized crust seared to perfection gives way to a warm, pink, buttery center. This is not the kind of steak you get well done or douse in steak sauce. This is steak in its rarest, purest, most tender form. The only thing that could make it better? Au gratin potatoes, creamed spinach and a big cab. 4836 Constitution Ave., 925-0163, ruthschris.com

ZEELAND STREET MARKET
Runners up: Christina’s, Piccadilly

This family-run breakfast and lunch spot features rotating daily specials that go beyond your typical meat-and-threes. Along with homey fare like Mama’s pot roast and spaghetti and meatballs, there’s black drum with salsa, chicken asiago and the popular seared fresh tuna over baby greens with grapefruit and avocado. The loose, chunky bread pudding with vanilla rum sauce is among the city’s best. 2031 Perkins Rd., 387-4546

MIDDENDORF’S
Runners up: Mike Anderson’s, Parrain’s

A mildly controversial winner for sure given Baton Rouge’s hometown favorite spots for fried catfish. But Middendorf’s, between LaPlace and Ponchatoula, is simply legendary. You can order your catfish thick or thin, it’s always fried to perfection. There are no reservations at Middendorf’s, founded in the 1930s, but that doesn’t stop the masses from waiting patiently. The wide slices flake apart, while the thin ones crunch audibly, almost like a potato chip. Hwy. 51 North, exit 15 off I-55 North, Manchac, (985) 386-6666

AMBROSIA BAKERY
Runners up: Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro, Cold Stone Creamery

Unique goodies here include the signature strawberry cake and an addictive buttermilk pie for which tall glasses of milk were invented. But at Ambrosia Bakery they have perfected the art of the individual cake square. Delicious take-out treats come in your pick of flavors, from Italian cream and German chocolate, to carrot cake and almond treasure. And at just 69 cents there’s no economical argument against ordering more than one. 11358 Perkins Rd., 763-6489, ambrosiabakery.com

DEANGELO’S
Runners up: J. Alexander’s, Silver Spoon

If Italian isn’t synonymous with salad in your book, you haven’t tried a salad from DeAngelo’s. There are at least seven salad choices and even a sampler for those who just can’t choose. Their version of the classic Caesar salad looks mountain-esque, covered in an icecap of grated Asiago cheese. The dressings are homemade, the greens are fresh, and everything is prepared upon order. Multiple locations, deangelospizzeria.com

TJ RIBS
Runners up: Voodoo BBQ, Corky’s

Brimming with purple and gold memorabilia, TJ Ribs offers more than just school spirit. The smoker churns out the city’s most popular ribs in a variety of selections—from saucy babybacks to chewy Memphis style variation. Just don’t wear white when you go. 2324 S. Acadian Thruway, 383-7427

ALBASHA GREEK AND LEBANESE
Runners up: Serop’s, Roman’s

Traditionally the chicken breast for shawarma is shaved from a vertical rotisserie with a knife. But we wouldn’t be surprised if Albasha’s succulent bird fell right off the skewer; it’s that tender. Marinated in fresh garlic, olive oil and Lebanese spices then slowly flame-roasted and served on a plate with hummus and rice or in a warm pita wrap with lettuce, tomato and creamy Grecian sauce, this dish is superb no matter how you slice it. Three locations, albashabr.com

ALBASHA GREEK AND LEBANESE
Runners up: Serop’s, Roman’s

Hummus is all about balance, and Albasha has the balancing act down. The dish’s few simple ingredients—mashed chickpeas, tahini or sesame paste, lemon juice and garlic—are apportioned miraculously, creating a dippable, spreadable hummus that’s got just the right consistency and flavor. Any pita would be proud to take the plunge. Three locations, albashabr.com

GEORGE’S
Runners up: TIE Phil’s Oyster Bar (which closed in May) and The Chimes; Rocco’s

Plump, golden fried shrimp are piled high and tumble haphazardly out of the crusty, yet soft hunk of French bread. Dressed or undressed? It’s all good. Order a mountainous side of fries, and it’s the perfect fried food fantasy. Artery-clogging, be damned. “Business is great, people are terrific, life is wonderful.” We can’t argue with a motto like that. Four locations, georgesbr.com

WHOLE FOODS MARKET
Runners up: Maxwell’s Market, Calandro’s

Locals flock to Whole Foods, where the deli choices are mind-boggling. They craft fresh sushi, slice nitrate-free and specialty meats, offer loads of prepared salads, and prepare countless poultry, pork, beef and seafood dishes. In the deli’s orbit are lush salad and olive bars, fresh pizza, international take-out, and crusty breads. Let’s not forget the cheese. Roncal to morbier, Whole Foods has the largest selection in town. 7529 Corporate Blvd., 218-0452, wholefoodsmarket.com

PASTIME RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
Runners up: Rocco’s, The Chimes

Pastime’s roast beef po-boy tastes more like Mama’s all-day pot roast than the deli-sliced, gravy crazy subs you’ll get elsewhere. Moist, melt-in-your-mouth beef is poured into a perfect French baguette (thin, cracked crust on the outside, and soft and buttery on the inside). It’s just enough to fill you up without leaving you feeling the pain. 252 South Blvd., 343-5490

MONJUNIS ITALIAN CAFÉ AND GROCERY
Runners up: DiGuilio Brothers, Gino’s

If you didn’t have the benefit of growing up with a little Italian grandmother, you can at least taste what it would have been like when you bit into Monjunis’ moist, rich meatballs. Mama mia! Camile Rosso’s recipe and passion for recipes from her native Milan, Italy, live on in Monjunis’ classic dish. The meatballs are served with a signature sweet sauce, but they’ll swap it for the savory tomato-basil sauce if you ask. Multiple locations, monjunis.com

LITTLE VILLAGE
Runners up: Bonefish Grill, The Chimes East

There’s nothing little about the portions—or the flavors—at the Little Village, where meatballs are a high art, and the buttery, parm-and-herb topped Village Bread is impossibly addictive. The adjacent bistro bar is a great martini-sipping springboard to the restaurant, which is set off nicely by exposed brick. Don’t miss the Frangelico mousse. Located above the legendary Thirsty Tiger. 453 Lafayette St., 218-6685

P.F. CHANG’S
Runners up: Great Wall, Thai Kitchen

There technically is no “egg roll” on P.F. Chang’s menu, but patrons are so gaga for the harvest spring rolls it’s how they voted when we said “egg roll.” Thinly shredded cabbage, carrots, celery, mushrooms and bamboo shoots are wrapped in a thin, flaky wrapper and then deep-fried to a golden brown. These delectable Asian treats contain no animal products and are completely vegan-friendly. Who knew eating your veggies could be so fun? 7341 Corporate Blvd., pfchangs.com

MARY LEE DO-NUTS
Runners up: Krispy Kreme, Coffee Call

Maybe it’s only natural that the local favorite in doughnuts would be Mary Lee. After all, there are more than a dozen independent locations around the Capital City, and the melt-in-your-mouth glazed doughnuts have been weekend morning traditions for years. While apple fritters, fruit and cream-filled and decadent chocolate doughnuts are all irresistible, what beats freshly glazed doughnuts still warm from Mary Lee kitchens? We at 225 believe that no still-warm dozen has ever made the drive home completely intact. Multiple locations

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