If you’ve travelled to any famous food cities, you might have gone on a food tour, stopping at local restaurants to get a taste of the food culture and history in the area. But now, you can embark on a similar culinary journey without ever leaving the Capital City.
Even those of us who’ve spent our whole lives in the Red Stick might be surprised how much there is to learn and experience downtown, says Enjoy Baton Rouge owner John Kelton.
Kelton started his food tours in May after a trip to Lafayette. While there, he went on an excursion with Cajun Food Tours, and the experience left an impression. Kelton has been leading walking tours of downtown Baton Rouge for the last three years and decided to incorporate some old favorites and newer hot-spot restaurants to the stroll to expose locals and visitors alike to the city’s history and food culture simultaneously. “My mission is to connect people with Baton Rouge’s past, present and future,” Kelton says.
Since he started in the spring, Kelton has led two food tours, and he’s hoping to organize another one in August. The groups are six people minimum and 12 people maximum. He schedules the tours by appointment through his website. Kelton hopes to start leading a tour each month, and eventually, multiple a week.
On the day of the tour, guests meet Kelton in the lobby of the Shaw Center for the Arts. From there, he walks them from restaurant to restaurant downtown while he recites his extensive knowledge about Baton Rouge’s rich history. Kelton and guests will visit about five restaurants per tour, and the restaurants visited vary. The tour group spends about 25 minutes at each stop, tasting one or two dishes the restaurant wishes to highlight.
Among the potential spots are Stroube’s Seafood and Steaks, Capital City Grill, Cocha, Cecilia Creole Bistro, Poor Boy Lloyd’s and more. Kelton is also hoping to add Spanish Town Market and Blend.
On past tours, Stroube’s offered up its duck rolls and praline rum bread pudding. At Cecilia, guests sampled a cup of gumbo and cornbread topped with a maple-bourbon drizzle.
The whole tour lasts about three and a half hours, and Kelton says his guests leave full.
Kelton equates downtown Baton Rouge to the movie Field of Dreams. He says his attitude toward introducing the food tour to the city is the same as the players in the movie: “If you build it, they will come.” Kelton says many people around the city don’t know much about the downtown area, or how it’s been reignited by new businesses, apartments and restaurants. He wants Red Stick residents to experience the area’s rebound.
He sees the food tours as building on the neighborhood’s existing culture, food and history. And his ultimate goal is for people not just to come downtown, but to enjoy their experience so much that they want to come back—and bring their friends with them. “There’s a lot of things to do downtown,” Kelton says. “We can give people a lot more history and depth and explanation.”
Find out more about the tours at enjoybatonrouge.com.