This weekend is a big one for travel. If your holiday weekend plans put you on the Louisiana highways, here are a few recommendations around the compass for quality meals with distinctive local flavor.
Chester’s Cypress Inn
1995 La. Hwy. 20, Donner
On the outskirts of Morgan City, just off Hwy. 90 and deep in bayou country, this vintage restaurant is renowned for its fried chicken. Try the version dusted with red pepper for a spicier kick. Fried shrimp, chicken livers and frog legs are also main draws, and so is the setting. It feels like a country home converted to a restaurant, with a saloon-style bar up front and a homey feel around the dining room.
1409 Henderson Hwy, Henderson
Just over the Atchafalaya Basin, and just off Interstate 10, Henderson is home to a number of distinctive restaurants. Robin’s (pronounced, roughly, row-ban’s) is a family style eatery specializing in Louisiana seafood. The combination platters of crawfish – fried and stuffed, made into beignets, etouffee, pies and crawfish cocktail – are big and varied enough to share, and there’s a choice of four gumbos to start. There’s also Tabasco ice cream for dessert, which is worth a detour in its own right.
Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro
507 W Pinhook Rd, Lafayette
Started by the family of the late George Rodrigue, this showplace restaurant in central Lafayette feels a bit like a tribute destination since the famous artist’s passing last year. His paintings and imagery cover the walls, while the menu is cross between contemporary Cajun, Creole and Southern. The approach is upscale, but the feel remains familiar and accessible, functioning like a Cajun country bistro.
30160 Hwy 51, Manchac
For those who have been to Middendorf's, the name is synonymous with its uniquely-thin, fried catfish. It’s location between two lakes may sound remote, but it is centrally situated for road trips to the Northshore or up toward Baton Rouge. The addition of the waterfront dining deck was a stroke of genius that brings a whole new appeal to this old favorite, while the flavors and laidback mood that have people lining up outside its door on busy weekends is the same as it ever was.