Overlooking St. Charles Avenue, Mia's Balcony offers Mardi Gras revelers a central view of grand, glittering floats and shimmering beads. But the restaurant isn’t content to host a party once a year; on the other 364 days, visitors cheer on the college, professional, and sock-puppet football games broadcast over the patio's outdoor televisions, and a banquet room is available for private soirees. While watching a Saints or LSU game or just chatting, guests can share small plates of seared scallops on the half-shell or fish croquettes or dig into substantial entrees such as pepper-jelly lamb chops. On weekend mornings, the chefs prepare brunch dishes including creole omelets and veal grillades over grits.
Local artwork, exposed-brick walls, and fireplaces set an inviting scene indoors. Bartenders fill glasses with craft beers, wine, and potent cocktails such as the French 75, a champagne- and gin-based drink based on a vintage recipe.
When Shakespeare imagined a den of witches, he saw them gathered around boiling pots, cackling and talking, casting raw morsels into their cauldrons from the ends of long, sharp sticks. Time revealed his vision to belong to something far less sinister: the bard simply foresaw the fondue restaurant. Today, hundreds of people gather at The Melting Pot’s more than 140 North American locations to cast romantic spells over one another as they share sweets, breads, vegetables, and meats doused in liquid chocolate, melted cheese, or flavored oil. They all wield double-pronged spears—or fondue forks—to suspend the tasty morsels of their choice in the ambrosial liquids before them, which are cleverly heated by stovetops built into each and every table in The Melting Pot's restaurants. The chefs prepare most platters in sizes best shared by two, making the venue ideal for date nights or reunions with twins who left 10 years ago to study the art of fondue.
At The Melting Pot of Baton Rouge, staffers use the restaurant to invest in their community as well. They host charity events, school fundraisers, and even run a program to reward straight-A students with a free fondue dinner.
Cupcake Gallery’s pastry chefs whip up more than 30 varieties of cupcakes in flavors such as salted caramel, raspberry, and mocha. A german chocolate cake recipe—passed down through the founders’ family for more than a century—fills both cupcakes and traditional cakes, which the bakers elaborately frost to resemble cartoon characters, musical instruments, and favorite Whig Party leaders. In addition to serving smoothies and house-roasted coffee, the kitchen crew also assembles take-and-bake casseroles such as the cheesy chicken potato and Seafood Spectacular. Behind the counter, they concoct house smoothies in flavors such as banana split and piña colada and mix whole cupcakes into their signature cupcake milk shakes to create tempting combinations such as peanut butter and chocolate.
Clouds of fog roll through darkened halls, concealing mercenaries tracking their target’s movement. Before their trap can be sprung, the unthinkable happens: their vests begin to vibrate as a giggling child yells, "Got you!"Laser Tag of Baton Rouge's family-friendly laser-tag sessions thrust players aged 7 and older into similar faux combat, peppered with flashing lights and thumping music. Players race through a 7,500-square-foot multilevel arena brandishing Gen 6 laser-tag weapons that dole out precise shots and automated score updates. Special scenarios challenge players to work cooperatively toward a shared goal; for instance, in the Fugitive mission, one or two targets must escape a group intent on their capture.
Between bouts inside the arena, players can test their gaming skills at the center's arcade, which is filled with contemporary and classic machines. Each game is outfitted with the Power Play system, a swipe-card-and-sensor combo that tracks remaining game credits, relieving players from the hassle of endlessly fishing for quarters. The arcade also leads to an observation deck that looks onto the laser-tag arena, giving spectators a giant's-eye view of the combat below.
When Mike Kantrow founded his original sandwich shop in 1979, he thought the name Byron's looked too boring. So, as he explains on his restaurant's website, he scratched the s and added a z to the end, giving birth to both a local legend with the Big Byronz sandwich and a local controversy over how to pronounce "Byronz." "If you want clarification on how to say it," Mike explains, "don't ask me."
So while regulars may fight over phonetics, few argue over the flavors infused in Bistro Byronz's southern-styled bistro cuisine. Hearty entrees anchor both the lunch and dinner menus, inviting diners to dig into the roasted potatoes that flank a French-cut pork chop marinated in Abita root beer. Comfort dishes soothe the soul, such as tender pot roast that wades in creole gravy and the signature Byronz sandwich with three types of meat, cheeses, dressing, and black olives.
In the kitchen at Fat Molly’s, the hands of chefs flutter above sheets of marinara-cloaked dough, scattering inventive toppings such as gulf shrimp, artichokes, and boudin. Athletic events broadcast on four flat-screen TVs, augmenting the clatter of silverware with the sounds of cracking bats and mascots with their tails under rocking chairs. Drawing upon a selection of meats including fried chicken and smoked sausage, patrons design their own poor boys. Tearing into the sandwiches despite their warmth, they take swigs from 30 beer options, including Abita Purple Haze and Lazy Magnolia’s brown ale crafted from roasted pecans, which bestow the mash with earthy caramel flavors. The eatery's walls are festooned with works by local artists, ranging from a triptych of a jazz musician to an abstract of a stacked sandwich and a poignant deconstrionist piece by the back door, which reads, simply "Exit."