For many in south Louisiana, Lent is a time of sacrifice—but also, seafood. Meatless Fridays ushers in the traditional fried catfish and boiled crawfish dinners, but there are plenty of other Lent-friendly dining option available in the Capital City.
Highlighted below are restaurants with meatless dishes to satisfy your hunger for each meal of the day.
Breakfast: MJ’s Cafe
The new Mid City location of MJ’s Cafe, 5162 Government St., serves vegan takes on traditional dishes and raises its “plant-based goodness” to another level with unique spins on breakfast.
Vegan French toast topped with bananas, blueberries and strawberries can relieve those sweet tooth cravings that set in after a few candy-less weeks. The Game Changer breakfast includes a tofu or free-range egg scramble, homemade hash, tomatoes, avocado, spinach, chipotle sauce, green onions, cheese and MJ’s signature coconut “baecon.”
MJ’s also offers a variety of veggie breakfast tacos served with salsa verde and roja salsa. And if you’re stopping in closer to lunch, check out the Vegan gyro of pulled jackfruit with roasted mushrooms, grilled onions, tomatoes, pickled red onions, sprouts and MJ’s homemade tzatziki.
The classy downtown restaurant Cocha sits on North Street, just blocks from the Mississippi River. Local seasonal produce comes together with international inspiration here, yielding many unique dishes for you to try during the Lenten season.
If you’re craving Asian cuisine, try Cocha’s Indonesian Stir Fried Noodles. Rice noodles, broccoli, shiitake mushroom, carrots, green onions and spinach come together with spicy lemongrass soy and peanut drizzle to become a filling meatless meal. Cocha’s Criollo can be made meatless by choosing braised jackfruit instead of pork to go with the peppers, onions, jasmine rice, black beans, arepa and plantains. For a sandwich, try the Arepa: a traditional Venezuelan corn cake stuffed with your choice of jackfruit, peppers and onions or plain cheese. If you plan to instead stop in for dinner, try the Poke Beet Bowl with golden and red beets, soba noodles, avocado, cucumber, carrots and edamame. There’s also a full seafood menu featuring oysters, scallops and even grilled Spanish octopus.
Dinner: Gov’t Taco
Gov’t Taco at White Star Market will be featuring different Lent-friendly tacos every Friday this season. In addition to the one-day only specials, Buffalo Krill—a shrimp version of its Buffalo Bill taco—will be available every day.
Some upcoming specials are Shrimper Fi, a shrimp taco with cabbage, tomatoes, jalapeño aïoli and pickled jalapeños; Curry Clause, a vegan-friendly taco with coconut rice, green curry, basil, crispy noodles and lime; and Christmas in Cali, a mahi taco with street corn, white barbecue sauce and green onion. Each special will be announced throughout the season on the Gov’t Taco instagram. Gov’t Taco regular meatless menu items like The Catfish and The Magna Carrot tacos are also available every day, giving you plenty of options for a Friday lunch break or a nighttime taco dinner at White Star.
Other local places to try this Lent
• Adrian’s Restaurant: Try the Grilled Fish Sandwich featuring Cajun slaw or any of the fried seafood platters at this Perkins Road East restaurant from the Juban’s family.
• Beausoleil Restaurant & Bar: Head to this classy restaurant on Jefferson Highway for a starter of Crawfish Cheese Fries and an entree of BBQ Verlasso Salmon with roasted corn cream sauce.
• Southern Pearl Oyster House: Besides the obvious oyster options at this new Perkins Road restaurant, don’t pass up the Seafood Pot Pie with Gulf shrimp, crawfish and crabmeat, or the Seafood Stuffed Portabellas.
• BRQ Seafood & Barbeque: Sure, this Jefferson Highway restaurant is known for barbecued meats, but the menu is also packed with Lent-friendly dishes like Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes or the Catfish Acadian, which features two fried catfish filets topped with crawfish etouffee.
• Elsie’s Plate & Pie: The Crawfish Hand Pie, the Crustless Crab Pie and the Seafood Pot Pie are all winners at this Mid City favorite.
• Mike Anderson’s Seafood: You know you’ll be taken care of for all your Lenten needs here, but don’t miss one of the Lee Drive restaurant’s signatures: The Guitreau, with grilled mahi-mahi topped with Louisiana crawfish, Gulf shrimp, mushrooms and onions all sautéed in a white wine and butter sauce.
• Drago’s Seafood Restaurant: The oysters are the draw of this New Orlean’s favorite’s Constitution Avenue location, but before you dig into that, dig into some seafood starters like Lobster Mac & Cheese, Tuna with Aioli or Crabmeat au Gratin Dip.
• Stinky’s Fish Camp: Don’t let the name fool you—the seafood dishes at this Hilton Avenue restaurant are on point. If you’re really hungry, dive into the Stinky’s Stew with shrimp, mussels, fish, oysters and snow crab legs all in a basil butter broth.
• Phil’s Oyster Bar: The Southdowns Shopping Center restaurant will surely be poppin’ during Lent, so get in there for all those charbroiled oysters as well as the Shrimp Po-boy or the Trout Almandine entree.
• Parrain’s Seafood Restaurant: Head over to the Perkins Road favorite for its variety of fried seafood platters and entrees like New Orleans BBQ Shrimp or Catfish Perdu.
• BB&PF: The Nigerian restaurant on Florida Boulevard is known for its bean burgers featuring 100% bean patties on whole wheat buns served with plantain chips or fries that can be baked or fried.
• Southin Southern Poke: Besides Gulf tuna, salmon or shrimp, you can also try tempeh, crawfish or octopus as your protein of choice at this Perkins Road poke favorite.
• Ava Street Cafe: While most of the comforting pho at this Essen Lane restaurant is made with beef or chicken broth, you can opt for a Vermicelli Noodles or Rice Plate with grilled shrimp or grilled mixed vegetables.
• Blue Corn Tequila & Tacos: The Ceviche and the Shrimp Aguachile can each be its own entree at this lively hangout in Ichiban Square, but also check out the deep fried and cheesy Shrimp Empanadas.
• Roman’s Cafe: The warm pita brought to the table at this Bluebonnet Village Shopping Center restaurant already makes this place a winner, but for your meatless needs, try the Shish Kabob with shrimp, the Veggie Plate with falafel, dolmades, spinach pie and more, or order a Margarita Pizza from the brick pizza oven.
• Bay Leaf Indian Cuisine: The vegetarian options are endless at this Sherwood Forest Boulevard restaurant, with appetizers like Paneer Tika featuring grilled skewers of Indian cheese, or Fish Tikka Ajwainee featuring salmon cooked in the tandoor with garlic and ginger. Another favorite: Baghare Baigan, which includes whole baby eggplant stuffed with spices and cooked in coconut sauce.
• Soji: Modern Asian: The popular Mid City restaurant features a variety of sushi options, but head to the entrees for the Mapo Mushrooms entree with Lion’s Mane mushrooms, fermented black beans and fried rice in a Szechuan sauce. There’s also a hot ramen bowl, the Malaysian Coconut Curry, with rice noodles and grilled shrimp.
• Thai Kitchen: At this Concord Avenue favorite for Thai food, you can get any of the classic curry dishes with large shrimp, or head to the vegetarian section for a Vegetarian Curry or Vegetarian Pad Thai. Another favorite: the house special Thai Sweet & Sour Fish.
• Chow Yum Phat: Try the Soft Shelled Crab Bao or the Crispy Fish Curry at this newish addition to the Perkins Road overpass area, or go all in on the June’s Veggie Ramen bowl with veggie broth, pickled roasted corn, a variety of mushrooms, scallion and chili oil.
Other local hangouts:
• Rocca Pizzeria: The Mid City pizza restaurant serves several veggie pizzas, such as the Pesto and Napoli, all of which you can add shrimp or anchovies to. And who could resist those Garlic Knots?
• Red Zeppelin Pizza: The Perkins Road pizza hangout’s Heartbreaker, Pizza Margherita, Veggie Ya-Ya and It’s All Greek to Me pizzas are all veggie-based yet still definitely filling.
• The Overpass Merchant: Fill up on small plates like Brussels sprouts or cheese curds at this Perkins Road overpass area hangout before munching on the Coconut Shrimp Tacos.
This list is by no means comprehensive. If you know another spot around Baton Rouge serving great meatless options this Lent, let us know about it in the comments!