Of everything we bring to festivals—comfortable shoes, stamina, sunglasses, our phones—perhaps the most essential is our appetites. In other words, if we had to choose between the two, we would so rather actually eat the crave-worthy and inventive festival food than have our phones on hand to Instagram it. Because these popular Louisiana music festivals often feature local food trucks (and a few exciting new ones, too) the food adds to the festival experience, connecting us to the place and culture these festivals celebrate.
With festival season in full swing, we’ve mapped out a food tour of five south Louisiana festivals happening this month. Just get out there and eat and dance (and eat and eat).
Ebb and Flow Festival: April 7-8
At the downtown Baton Rouge riverfront, this weekend’s Ebb & Flow Festival (also the second iteration of the festival) is Brazilian themed this year, which means plenty of Latin American food. Gabriel’s Concessions will serve empanadas and arepas, and Brazilian food truck Churrasquinho do Nardo will serve beef kebobs, Brazilian potato salad and Brazilian pico do gallo. Other food vendors include Baton Rouge-based Rouge A Rouxs (Gouda-boudin balls for the win) and Dat’z Italian with wood-fired pizza, including a muffuletta pizza and a breakfast pie with an egg, pesto, spinach and mozzarella.
Baton Rouge Blues Festival: April 14-15
Sure, with 40-something performances to choose from, people go to Baton Rouge Blues Festival to hear the swamp blues. But the food makes it worth spending two full days downtown, too. Baton Rouge vendors such as The Overpass Merchant and Barbosa’s Barbecue will serve up plates like jerk chicken po-boys and pulled pork sandwiches, respectively. Out-of-town vendors include C’est Bon Manger (think fried fish and stuffed burgers) and Chells and Chubby Hendrix Roadhouse with tacos (one vegan!) and chicken fried bacon. You read that right.
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French Quarter Festival: April 12-15
French Quarter Festival is the state’s largest festival for Louisiana music. But locals in New Orleans have dubbed it their “favorite food festival.” With a lot of eats to choose from, a few highlights include soft shell crab po-boys from Ajun Cajun’s, cochon de lait po-boys from Walker’s Southern Style BBQ and crawfish-tail steamed-bun tacos from Broussard’s. The Daily Beet, one of the festival’s seven new vendors, also deserves a shoutout for its vegetarian fare. Think fresh mango spring rolls with peanut-ginger dipping sauce and (hashtag) avocado toast. See a list of all vendors here.
Festival International de Louisiane: April 25-29
Head west to Lafayette for the largest international music and arts festival in the United States: Festival International de Louisiane. The five-day event takes over Lafayette’s downtown and nearly every block has a cluster of food vendors to try. Some of the festival’s globally inspired dishes include kimchi fries from Vietnamese restaurant Blu Basil, schnitzel from Bratz Y’all! and gyros from Poseidon’s Greek Restaurant. In the mood for Louisiana food? Festival International has that covered, too, with vendors like Bon Creole Seafood (known for its uber-popular crawfish-spinach boats) or Blue Dog Cafe.
Jazz Fest: April 27-May 6
From po-boys to alligator pies to crawfish strudel, much of the food at Jazz Fest in New Orleans offers the festival’s hundreds of thousands of attendees a taste of Louisiana. And with the crowds that pack the fairgrounds each year, you can bet there are plenty of mouths to feed. But other dishes—outside the most famous grub—nod to the melting pot that New Orleans has always been. Think curry chicken patties from Palmer’s Jamaican Cuisine, spring rolls from Ba Mien Vietnamese Cuisine and spicy grilled tofu and veggies with peanut sauce from Gambian Foods. Two notable vegetarian options are a muffuletta from DiMartino’s and yakamein, a Chinese-inspired New Orleans noodle soup, from Ms. Linda’s Catering. See a list of all vendors here.