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.
Named for the ever-present loaves of bread that stood as religious offerings at the Temple in Jerusalem, The Table is Bread mingles Southern culinary and spiritual traditions in a spacious dining room. The menu brims with classic Southern specialties alongside Cajun-tinged seafood such as the signature Table La-La, a juicy catfish fillet fried or grilled and smothered in zesty crawfish étouffée. The centerpieces aren't the only flavors in the spotlight, however. "The candied yams were my favorite," writes Shermin Khan of Dig Baton Rouge. "Cooked with brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon, [they were] neither too greasy nor overly sweet." Khan also expands upon the restaurant's spiritual focus, which draws weekly performances by gospel musicians and includes maintaining an alcohol-free atmosphere.
Creole and Mexican culinary traditions are a natural fit for one another. Both rely on a healthy dose of spice, and both elevate comfort food. At The Oyster Bar and Grille, chefs draw on the region’s bounty of seafood as well as a range of Mexican recipes. They fill homemade tacos with hot crawfish and batter farm-raised catfish in homemade corn-meal mix. Splashes of champagne make mesquite-grilled oysters sparkle at tables in the dining room, where surfboards and lifebuoys adorn the wall. Murals of beach scenes seem to admit warming sunshine, and an aquarium lets amateur scuba divers practice looking a fish in the eye. High-top tables and stools around the full bar comfortably situate diners, who can also carry po’ boys and oysters on the half shell to the outdoor patio.
At the tender age of 7, Andrea Apuzzo began honing his culinary skills at a bakery in his Italian hometown. "I was spoiled as a kid. We made our own olive oil and wine,” he says in a Gambit article. His breadth of knowledge expanded greatly when, at 14 years old, he embarked on a culinary adventure across Europe and South America. Now at the helm of his own restaurant, Chef Andrea applies the knowledge he learned amid the cream-hued rising loaves and on the chattering South American streets.
The dishes that fill tables at the eatery have been enjoyed by the likes of Queen Elizabeth, President Carter, Sophia Loren, Clint Eastwood, and one dog that figured out how to use a credit card. To share his abilities and experiments, the chef also publishes cookbooks, which detail formulas for the award-winning pastas, fresh seafood, and steaks. Chef Andrea's bistecca pizzaiola earned a place on Esquire's 2008 list of the 20 Best Steaks in America. "Like the best Italian dishes," the article says, "its simple parts add up to an unexpectedly powerful whole."
Harnessing the heat of an open-flame char broiler, the spatula specialists at Ground Pat'i flip, sear, and season succulent burgers and steaks made with USDA Choice beef. Sharpen incisors on a juicy half-pound signature Ground Pat'i burger ($8.25), or opt to challenge chompers by excavating through strata of bacon atop the applewood-bacon cheese Ground Pat'i burger ($9.25). Tender rib-eye steaks ($17.95) are char grilled before providing diners with enough delicious protein to bench-press unsuspecting dates. A variety of hot sandwiches fills restless jazz hands with lighter cuts, including chicken, shrimp, and tuna. After meals, rattle stomach estates one more time with a deluge of chocolate and frosting from the Oreo brownie sundae ($5.45), one of three sacchariferous dessert options. To sate thirsty urges, browse the eclectic selection of specialty drinks and draft beers at the full-service bar.
In 1983, Al Copeland decided to open a restaurant centered around two New Orleans traditions: homestyle Cajun cooking and southern hospitality. His concept, Copeland’s of New Orleans, served a menu of made-from-scratch dishes such as crawfish po’ boys and red beans and rice with andouille sausage in a colorful and festive atmosphere. Nearly 30 years later, the restaurant has grown to encompass franchised locations in six states. But they still serve some of the original dishes that put them on the map.
A sister property to Al’s original restaurant, Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro also serves Cajun cuisine, but the menu has a more upscale feel to it with aged steaks and fusion dishes such as crawfish or crab ravioli and dinner rolls baked in a hadron collider. The bistro’s signature dessert—homemade cheesecake with a buttery pecan crust—comes in more than 10 flavors including bananas foster, turtle, and white chocolate raspberry.