Some of 2020’s biggest restaurant openings in Baton Rouge

Editor’s note: This article was last updated Dec. 30 to add Finbomb to the list. Know of another 2020 restaurant opening we missed? Tell us in the comments!

Let’s give three cheers to our local restaurant industry. There’s probably never been a year as tough on them as 2020. Think about all they’ve had to endure since mid-March. They’ve faced shutdowns and capacity restrictions. Owners and workers have felt the stress of layoffs and lost revenue—all while trying to keep staff and diners safe in the middle of a global pandemic.

Customers were quick to offer support by buying gift cards, ordering take-out, organizing fundraisers and finally venturing out during phased reopenings.

But here’s the most inspiring thing: This roller-coaster year has not stopped Baton Rouge’s restaurant scene from growing. Many restaurateurs braved uncharted waters to keep one dream alive: providing special new concepts to the Capital Region. Have a look at a few.


Drago’s Seafood Restaurant

The year was off to a strong start when this New Orleans staple opened on Constitution Avenue after nearly five years of planning. The former FYE store was transformed into a Big Easy-style restaurant and bar, complete with a live-entertainment stage. If you think you’ll sneak a peek of a local celeb at this institution, though, think again. Its “Governor’s Room” is accessible by a private entrance designed with politicians and LSU coaches in mind. On the menu: rich seafood dishes like lobster mac & cheese, fried catfish and the big draw: charbroiled oysters. dragosrestaurant.com

Sugarfield Spirits. Photo by Kristin Selle
Sugarfield Spirits

Gonzales’ first distillery opened with bottles of vodka, rum and bourbon, plus a bar serving craft cocktails. Its January opening was serendipitously timed. Mere weeks later, it enabled the distillery to help with much-needed hand sanitizer production in the early days of the pandemic. facebook.com/SugarfieldSpiritsLa


The Vintage. Photo by Kristin Selle
The Vintage

The New Orleans-born, beignet-themed restaurant took over the former Magpie Cafe space downtown. Its opening coincided with Louisiana’s Phase One reopening, and its sophisticated style felt like a breath of fresh air after a spring cooped up at home. Black leather booths, a vintage piano and lots of wood and velvet finishes dot the interior. Patio seating lines Third Street. Serving breakfast, coffee and sandwiches, it’s a solid daytime spot. But it’s also been one of a handful of downtown restaurants that’s remained open in the evenings this year, with a fun menu of beignet flights, craft cocktails, charcuterie and cheese boards, and other light bites. thevintagebr.com


Millennial Park. Photo by Catrice Coleman
Millennial Park

Young developer Cameron Jackson is the visionary who brought Louisiana’s first shipping container park to Florida Boulevard. The mixed-use, mural-covered venue kicked things off with a Juneteenth Block Party, and it quickly became the go-to spot for drive-in movie nights and outdoor lunches. Debut food stands included Jive TurkeyRoyal Taste of Jamaica and Memphis Mac BBQ (which also opened a separate brick-and-mortar in February). Planned future openings include The Daiquiri Spot and a build-your-own pasta stand. Jackson’s next venture is a produce market, slated to open in 2021 at North Street and North Acadian Thruway. Find it on Instagram

Torchy’s Tacos. Photo by Catrice Coleman


Torchy’s Tacos

One of the year’s most wildly popular openings arrived from Austin. The highly (highly!) anticipated fast-casual restaurant lives up to the hype. As summer turned to fall, its long lines out the door were visible from across the street at Tiger Stadium. It’s all about the impossible-to-resist queso and “damn good” breakfast and specialty tacos. There’s even a taco you can only get in Baton Rouge: the Bayou Pirate, with local fried crawfish tails, andouille sausage, cabbage slaw, pickled relish, and chipotle and Diablo sauces. The expansive margarita menu and colorful, modern interior don’t hurt, either. torchystacos.com


Boom Box Pops. Photo by Catrice Coleman
Boom Box Pops

This dessert shop opened on Highland Road. The ’80s-themed spot is decked out with nostalgic decor like a cassette-tape collage and retro arcade games. While listening to a soundtrack of ’80s hits, guests can savor popsicles, milkshakes and ice cream. boomboxpops.com


Modesto. Photo by Collin Richie
Modesto Tacos Tequila Whiskey

With authentic Mexican fare, a colorful tiled bar and a string-light-strewn patio, Modesto became one of the most buzzed-about new spots in the LSU area. The project is courtesy Ozzie Fernandez, the local restaurant giant behind Rocca Pizzeria, Izzo’s Illegal Burrito and Lit Pizza. This menu is personal for Fernandez, who is of Mexican descent and incorporated recipes belonging to his mother and grandmothers. Find it on Facebook

Cypress Coast Brewery. Photo by Catrice Coleman
Cypress Coast Brewing Co.

After more than two years of delays, this rustic brewery opened in Mid City. Friends Caleb and Brittany Schlamp and Justin and Rachel Meyers got their start dominating home-brewing competitions and decided to open a small brewery of their own, where they could experiment with different flavors. Cypress Coast debuted with five brews, including a collab with French Truck Coffee. cypresscoastbrewing.com

Bonjour. Photo by Ariana Allison

On Essen Lane, Anass Ecacharkaoui opened this shop serving French pastries and crepes. There are more than 10 different varieties of sweet crepes, plus interesting waffle-based treats like waffle sticks (waffles shaped into sticks and served like popsicles) and bubble waffles (thick, fluffy waffles shaped into cones and filled with your choice of ice cream). facebook.com/bonjour.br.official

Boru Ramen. Photo by Ariana Allison


Boru Ramen

Ronnie Wong and Patrick Wong (both also part of the Ichiban Sushi Bar & Grill team) opened their ramen concept in Electric Depot. The decor and menu were inspired by the brothers’ training at and travels to Japanese-style ramen spots in Tokyo and New York. Its noodles and broth are made from scratch. The bar serves Japanese whiskey, sake flights and Asian-inspired craft cocktails. Patrick also owns neighboring dessert shop Sweet Society, where Baton Rougeans can try taiyaki (fish-shaped waffle cones stuffed with ice cream) and other desserts and teas. boruramen.business.site and instagram.com/sweetsocietybr

Istrouma Brewing

Surrounded by livestock and the Louisiana countryside, the “art farm”-themed brewery opened at Sugar Farms in St. Gabriel. The brewery serves an array of house-brewed sours, stouts, blondes and ales. Sugar Farms also houses a restaurant called Feed & Seed. facebook.com/Istroumabrewing

Gov’t Taco. Photo by Ariana Allison


Gov’t Taco

After White Star Market’s March closure shuttered Gov’t Taco’s booth, owner Jay Ducote and his team kept their eyes on the prize: making their first brick-and-mortar a showstopper. After a year and a half in the works, the Government Street restaurant debuted on Election Day—with American government-themed tacos and a political-conspiracy-inspired interior to match. In different hands, the theme might have felt gimmicky. But the design, led by Kenneth Brown’s firm and designer Jake Loup, is moody, playful and chic. And yes, it is one of the best new spots in town to take a selfie. govttaco.com

Sumo bowl at Finbomb. Photo by Ariana Allison



The fast-casual sushi, poke and ramen spot opened its first Louisiana location this fall. The first location is in Reno, Nevada, and co-owner Charles Henry decided to bring the concept to his hometown of Baton Rouge. Diners can try everything from sushi burritos to poke bakes to Japanese beers and sake in the colorful Arlington Place restaurant.

Other notable 2020 rebrands, moves and relaunches

The constantly changing economic environment kept restaurants on their toes and ready to adapt. Perhaps that’s partly why so many restaurants changed hands or priorities in 2020.

In Willow Grove, the Bistro Byronz team rebranded its Flambee Cafe into Pizza Byronz. City Group Hospitality acquired Beausoleil, giving its design and menu a coastal refresh while honoring customer favorites.

With its Port Allen dining room closed during the shutdown, Cou-yon’s BBQ grew its food trailer fleet, parking in three different spots around Baton Rouge. Smokin Aces BBQ came under new ownership and moved to Denham Springs, and Batch 13 moved downtown.

And with its White Star Market booth is no more, Thaihey Thaifood opened its first brick-and-mortar on Lee Drive.

The year closed off with the reopening—and reimagining—of Dead Poet, a bar in Tigerland that relaunched under new management as a restaurant and bar with an upscale party atmosphere.