Originally published in DIG Magazine
Some of the best of Baton Rouge’s food can now be seen and tasted in less than three hours for one price. Thanks to the new delicious venture, Baton Rouge Food Tours, visitors and residents now have an opportunity to explore the area’s rich history and delicious food within a mile radius at one time for $45.
The walking tour is a living dream that came to its creator Kim Harper while she was on vacation earlier this year.
“I went on my first food tour in another city and truly got the essence of that city,” Harper said. “My next thought was that our food is much better than this and our history is much better than this.”
Along the two-and-half-hour walk, Harper stops at historical points such as the Old State Capitol, the Hilton Capitol Center and St. Joseph’s Cathedral, to fill tourists in on unique bits of information. Harper attributes her detailed knowledge of Baton Rouge to having a deep love for our city’s history and desire to know more than what is on the surface.
Additionally, she researched from books, the Internet, family members and local figures for several months leading up the launch in early November.
“I wanted to know everything about Baton Rouge and because of that, I fact check everything,” Harper said.
Because of her curiosity, Harper provides the tour participants with historical nuggets that most would not have immediately known about local monuments and restaurants.
There are more than 40 restaurants located in the downtown area that span over two miles. The tour narrows the list down to six restaurants along the tasting journey that are only within a few blocks of each other. When selecting the eateries, Harper carefully plotted out a walking pattern and a menu that best told the story of Baton Rouge in a culinary fashion.
Some of the food tastings include “Shrimp on a Hot Tin Roof” from Zolia Bistro Enoteca, a duck popper from Restaurant IPO and a twist on beignets from Kingfish Grill. Other stops along the tour are at Poor Boy Lloyd’s, Stroubes and The Lobby Cafe.
“I tasted everything and wanted to make sure that everyone got something unique and different,” Harper said. “There is a little bit of classic Southern dishes and new and exciting food dishes. Everyone should have something they enjoy.”
If tourists enjoy an item, they are encouraged to compliment the food by proclaiming the local phrase “C’est Si Bon” which translated means “It’s So Good”.
In addition to the generously-portioned items, tourists can expect to be treated like a VIP at reserved tables, receive inside information about the establishments and visit with some of the owners or chefs at participating restaurants.
Chef Raine Bayyan of the Kingfish Grill at the Hilton Capitol Center appreciates what the tour represents and what it provides for the community.
“It’s a beautiful thing to show your work to people who love food and who are willing to explore new food,” Bayyan said.
“I love meeting them [tourists] and explaining how we at the Hilton infuse the city’s history into our food.”
Tiffany Terrell, owner of the recently opened Lobby Cafe, feels the tour provides an opportunity for locals to explore the downtown area all over again.
“People in Baton Rouge tend to be either ‘downtown’ or they are not,” Terrell said. “The tour is especially great for locals because it brings them out of their comfort zone.”
Downtown Baton Rouge is known for its recurring events and unique nighttime venues. However, the tour provides participants with the option of exploring some unearthed gems in the area during the day.
“There is great food down here and that food is available during lunch as well, not just at night,” Terrell said.
Harper has plans to expand the tasting tour to more frequent times during the week and eventually spread it across different pockets of town.
“Baton Rouge has a lot of great food areas to explore,” Harper said.
The Baton Rouge Food Tours currently offers tours on Thursdays and Fridays at both 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. While walk-ups are accepted, reservations are strongly encouraged and can be taken for one person to the maximum of 12. For more information or to make reservations, visit BatonRougeFoodTours.com or call 1-800-838-3006.