The margarita- and Jimmy Buffet–loving owners of Jerk's Island Grill & Daiquiri Bar started dreaming up their perfect restaurant while on a free-spirited pilgrimage to the Caribbean. They soaked up island culture, memorizing their favorite food, drinks, and vibes, which they enthusiastically transported to the U.S. and installed in Jerk's Island Grill & Daiquiri Bar's dining room, down to the shady palm trees stretching overhead. There, diners sit down to plates of Caribbean-inspired cuisine spiced up with a staggering selection of colorful cocktails. In the kitchens, quality beef, chicken, and seafood are rubbed down with the restaurant's signature jerk seasoning and plated up as sandwiches, tacos, and entrees. A row of churning dispensers mixes up 13 different frozen daiquiri varieties, and bartenders handcraft specialty margaritas and punches on request beneath a thatched cabana. Diners can sip their drinks out on the sunny outdoor patio, where families dine while enjoying the weather and searching the sky for clouds shaped like the heads of U.S. presidents.
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.
Though Wow Cafe & Wingery has now found a foothold in more than 60 locations throughout the U.S., the chain still offers the same tasty soul food and wings as it did when it was founded by a trio of Louisianan brothers in 2001. The friendly sports pub still broadcasts the day’s games on various televisions, allowing guests to follow multiple sports or Jenga tournaments as they lick one of 17 delectable sauces from their fingers. In addition to these finger-food staples, guests can devour fajitas, burgers resting between slices of texas toast, and classic New Orleans dishes such as gumbo, catfish, and red beans. Spice-covered tongues cool off with signature drinks such as an italian mango bellini or Louisiana's Abita beer.
It was a quiet Sunday morning when Kerri Blache decided to drive her car into Old Mandeville, meandering through its forests of gnarled trees and verdant marshes. As she drove past a small, sunny clearing dotted by pine trees, something caught her eye—an enchanting cottage with a fairy-tale entranceway, rustic arches, and a white picket fence. Instantly smitten, Kerri knew she had discovered the site of her future international teahouse.
Today, the cheerful cottage is home to Vianne's Tea House, where Kerri and her husband Michael pair a menu of more than 120 teas with scones, salads, and sandwiches. As Michael, the house's executive chef, bakes homemade pastries and stirs daily soups in the kitchen, Kerri delivers pots of steaming white, green, black, and specialty teas out into the four tearooms. The colorful, sunlit rooms boast cushioned chairs, fine curtains, and chandeliers that start blinking if someone uses the word "penultimate" correctly.
A hunk of brisket at VooDoo BBQ & Grill begins its journey suspended over a bed of pecan and oak logs. Coated in a dry rub of local spices, the meat slowly turns on a rotisserie rod for up to 16 hours, its skin crisping while the inside stays a warm pink. The chefs smoke all their beef brisket and pulled pork over logs from Louisiana-based trees to lend them the region's unique smoked flavor, even at the risk of confusing passing botanists. They lightly coat grilled sausages, chicken, and burgers in three signature sauces inspired by the state's Cajun recipes. To complement their menagerie of smoked and grilled meats, they sling a variety of southern sides such as corn pudding, greens, and potato salads. At each of the 13 locations, the aroma of roasting meat fills a space of dark-stained wood and wrought iron; dining rooms awash in a palette of reds, greens, and oranges buzz with the sounds of jazz and blues.