There’s a lot of good food here in the Red Stick. But for many locals, there’s one food experience or memory that stands out among the rest. So we asked a few leaders from the Baton Rouge culinary scene to tell us about their most memorable food moment at a local restaurant. And the next time you’re on the hunt for a new food obsession, check out one of these dishes—if the experts love it, you probably will too.
Stephen Hightower, managing partner with City Group Hospitality
“A friend of mine told me about it, and it quickly became a dish I dream about. It reminds me of a dish that mom will only make for us on special occasions. Philay’s was the closest I had to my mother’s, and I can’t wait to get some again!”
Philay’s Catfish Restaurant is at 13386 Airline Highway in Gonzales.
Jordan Ramirez, owner of Chow Yum Phat and Yuzu
The memory: Venturing across town for the dosa at Swagat Indian Cuisine
“Being that [Swagat] is 25 minutes from my house here in Mid City, it’s taken me a while to get over there. The entire meal was incredible. But the one dish I tried, which I’ve never had before, was the dosa. It’s this giant, thin, stuffed crepe. We ordered the one stuffed with cheese, potatoes and onions. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. In my opinion, the best food in Baton Rouge is generally found in these unassuming restaurants pumping out delicious food at great prices.”
Swagat is at 15380 George O’Neal Road.
Thien Nguyen, executive chef at Kalurah Street Grill
The memory: Slurping down the Drunken Noodles at Soji: Modern Asian.
“From the unique texture of the noodles to the tender sirloin steak, I still remember the first time my tastebuds made their way into this dish. Because they use a traditional wok, the noodles have an authentic taste only achieved by using high heat and a carbon steel wok. To top it all off, the perfectly fried sunny side up egg adds the perfect fattiness to accompany the spicy and sweet stir-fry sauce enveloping every bite. Also if you’re there, don’t skip out on the cauliflower!”
Soji is at 5050 Government St.
Saskia Spanhoff, owner of Cocha
The memory: Tasting the Enoki Mushrooms at Umami Japanese Bistro.
“I am a huge fan of the art of sushi and Japanese flavors. I found Umami when I moved back home. The owner sent Enoki Mushrooms [to our table], and I fell in love. The sauce was full of bold flavors and perfectly balanced, and the texture was perfect. I can’t go there without ordering them … and all the amazing fish they bring in.”
Umami is at 3930 Burbank Drive.
John Kelton, tour guide at Enjoy Baton Rouge Food Tours
The memory: Sharing the Skillet Cornbread with Maple Bourbon Glaze at Cecelia Creole Bistro with a tour group.
“The group is at the table talking and having a good time when they walk in with Skillet Cornbread. I had been told before, ‘Ya gotta try the cornbread.’ They put it down and poured the Maple Bourbon Glaze into the hot pan. It sizzled and crackled. We quickly sliced it up, served it and heard oohs and aahs. Then we licked the pan. Just kidding! [But it’s] something so simple, and wow—tasty!”
Cecelia Creole Bistro is at 421 N. Third St.
Mary-Brennan Faucheux, owner of MJ’s Café
The memory: Discovering the vegan cauliflower bowl at Mestizo.
“I am always in search of healthy vegan or vegetarian options in the city that are filling and delicious. [Mestizo] has a cauliflower bowl that I absolutely love. It is served with black beans, sautéed spinach and a wonderful tomatillo sauce. I’ve ordered it at least 4 times and can’t seem to get anything else. It’s a pretty healthy option that has a ton of flavor. Not to mention, I am a fan of their margaritas.”
Mestizo is at 2323 Acadian Thruway.