La Mestiza

14724 Airline Hwy. Ste. 10
Prairieville, LA

Not to be confused with the typical Mexican restaurant, La Mestiza and its big brother, Mestizo, are Louisiana Mexican restaurants, a point of clarity that chef/owner Jim Uridales wants people to know about.  With his creative menu he has managed to incorporate our delicious seafood bounty into traditional Mexican fare, creating a fusion of cuisines that is delicious and unique.

We visited La Mestiza on a Thursday evening and found it to be moderately busy, but not overcrowded.  In keeping with tradition, I felt compelled to order a margarita immediately, for professional evaluation purposes of course.  For a house margarita it was pretty good, better than most that I have had.  Just the fact that it wasn’t that disgusting neon green color that is so often seen was a good sign.

Mestiza Margarita

Mestiza Margarita

The obligatory chips and salsa were presented, and I found the salsa to be okay.  Personally I like it a bit spicier; I found this one to be a little too much on the mild side.  The addition of carrots was unusual, but I think it adds nice little hint of sweetness, which some extra heat would have paired with nicely.

Mestiza's salsa

Mestiza's salsa

The plethora of seafood dishes on the menu was instantly appealing to me.  Crawfish and spinach con queso, shrimp and crab nachos, crawfish burrito, and shrimp and Portobello quesadillas to name a few.  Although I would have loved to sample all of these, time and money dictated otherwise.  I opted for the best combination of seafood items available, the Mendoza.  This combination platter consisted of a crawfish chimichanga, shrimp and crab chili relleno, and a guacamole salad.  I requested rice in the place of the salad since I’m not a big fan of guacamole, but sadly my request got lost before I received my dish.

Mestiza Combo

Mestiza Combo

The highlight of the combo was easily the chili relleno.  The stuffing of crab and shrimp was delicious, and was great with the pepper which was softened nicely from the frying.  The chimichanga was good, not too bready as some I have had, but didn’t stand out remarkably.

The dessert offerings were fairly typical, and tempting, but this time around were skipped.  All in all, Mestiza is a nice place to go to fill the need for Mexican food, but not be subjected to the same ordinary dishes.

La Mestiza on Urbanspoon


Pimanyoli’s Sidewalk Cafe

14214 Airline Highway
Baton Rouge, LA 70817

As the temperatures rise outside, so does the appetite for good BBQ.  While Baton Rouge isn’t known for being a big BBQ town like Memphis or Kansas City, there are a few places that serve up some good stuff.  Recently I have found a new spot that is doing an excellent job on the pit.

Pimanyoli’s is definitely a unique name, and is the result of combining the nicknames of the two owners.  “Piman” is Creole for pepper, and he’s the pit master, producing some excellent BBQ.  “Yoli” is short for Yolanda, who has been working as a professional caterer for over 30 years.  Both come from families that have been in the food industry for a long time.

Keeping with our melting pot of Louisiana culture, Pimanyoli’s combines the best of the country’s various BBQ techniques to create some great food.  The brisket is cooked up San Antonio style, the pulled pork on bun topped with coleslaw is straight out of Memphis, and the sauce is Carolina style, vinegary and tasty, featuring 21 different ingredients.

My first visit was for a quick lunch.  It was obvious upon entering the place that lunchtime is big here, as I lucked out to get an open table immediately.  I saw quite a few things on the menu that I wanted to check out, but chose the brisket sandwich.  Deemed the “Brisket Meltdown”, it features smoked brisket topped with grilled onions and Monterey Jack cheese.  A couple of technical things about the sandwich stood out to me, one being that there is no sauce on it.  Given the fact that sauce is available on the table, this is a good idea, providing the diner with the option of adding it.  Also, the sandwich is toasted, which is nice so that when you do pile on the sauce you won’t end up with a soggy mess.  Of course the real deal here is the meat, and it was tender with a great smoky flavor, the kind you don’t get from quickly churning out meat like some more commercial type establishments. 

On my next visit, I did a more thorough BBQ analysis, trying the pulled pork, St. Louis style ribs, and chicken.  The pork was great, tender and smoky with a good texture.  Often I find that pulled pork can be kinda ‘stringy’ and dry, but this was done right.  The chicken was also well done, and although not my favorite type of ribs, the St. Louis style served here are very good, extremely tender and juicy.  Several of the sides were tasted, the potato salad was a little too “pickle-y” for my tastes, and the sweet potato was nothing out of the ordinary.  The ones that stood out were the macaroni and cheese and the baked beans.  Pimanyoli’s resists the urge to take the easy path and serve up the quick boxed mac and cheese variety, and rather makes theirs daily from scratch using an old school recipe handed down from the owner’s mother.  It’s one of the best examples I’ve tasted in the area.  The beans were very good, not too thick and not too soupy, with a nice amount of sweetness and the bonus addition of little pieces of brisket added in.

BBQ at Pimanoylis

BBQ at Pimanoylis


BBQ at Pimanoylis

BBQ at Pimanoylis

Also sampled were the tamales.  These are delta style tamales hailing from the Newellton area of North Louisiana, just south of Vicksburg.  They are from an over eighty year old recipe and are quite tasty.  Desserts are fairly straightforward, fudge brownie with ice cream, and bread pudding with rum sauce, but the standout is the “Cobbler of the Day”.  This homemade offering features a rotating variety of fruit (blackberry, blueberry, apple or peach) and like everything else I sampled is truly authentic.

Of course there are many other options on the menu, including other sandwiches, burgers, fried seafood and what is definitely on my list for my next visit – Buffalo style frog legs.  If you’re looking for some real delicious down home southern staples, this is a place you should visit.

Pimanyoli's Sidewalk Cafe on Urbanspoon


Cuisine Rouge Road Trip

While I focus on writing about local food and restaurants, there are just too many great festivals this time of year to pass up taking the occasional road trip.  Since another of my interests is history; specifically the history of my ancestors,  I decided to make my way down to St. Bernard for the annual Islenos Fiesta.

The Islenos are a group of Canary Islands descendents whose ancestors immigrated to various locations around South Louisiana as part of a military recruitment by the Spanish government in the late 18th century.

A group of descendants in St. Bernard formed a organization to help preserve the culture and heritage of their ancestors and hold an annual Fiesta to raise money for that cause.  The Fiesta features your typical array of crafts, souvenirs, and activities, but the real treat are the traditional musicians and dancers who fly in from the Canary Islands.  They dress in the period costumes of when they first arrived in Louisiana and perform songs and dances which help recreate the culture of that time.

And of course there is food!  Sure, there are the standard items you find at any festival;  hamburgers, hot dogs, funnel cakes, etc., but the real treats are the Spanish dishes.

Bacon wrapped plantains

Some of the appetizer type foods sold are shown above.  The plantains are excellent.  A small strip of bacon is wrapped around a chunk of plantain with a toothpick and deep fried.  The slight sweetness of the plantain and the saltiness of the bacon taste excellent together. 


The croquettes are also quite tasty, filled with a spicy ham mixture.


One of the stars of the show is the paella.  For those unfamiliar, paella is a rice based dish typically containing a variety of meats and/or seafood, and seasoned with saffron.  Our beloved jambalaya is like the bastard son of paella, originating in the French Quarter in New Orleans.  Spaniards who had come to the New World were attempting to make paella, but couldn’t find saffron, due to the high cost of importing it.  Tomatoes became the substitute and Creole jambalaya was born.  To be honest, this wasn’t one of the best versions I’ve had, but considering the large quantities that it is prepared in, it was pretty tasty.

Spanish Wines

New this year to the Fiesta was the welcome addition of a tapas and wine bar, sponsored by the St. Bernard Parish Tourist Commission.  They had a nice selection of three Spanish wines.  Sangre de Toro and Campo Viejo Crianza, are tasty red wines, well reviewed and economically priced.  The Gran Feudo Rosado is a rose wine, a lighter version of the other two wines, with similar flavors but a crisper and fruitier taste.


The tapas selection consisted of two Spanish cheeses, Manchego and Mahón, some chorizo, and a very typical Spanish dish called tortilla de patatas.  This dish is made from eggs, fried potatoes, and onions, serving as a base to which any number of things can be added.  The variety of ingredients put into one of these typically depends on what region of Spain you are located in.

Grilled Oysters

I have to admit though, that my favorite thing to chow down on at the Fiesta every year are the grilled oysters.  I’m a huge fan of oysters and these are plump, salty, and freshly shucked then topped with a delicious mixture of melted butter, mashed garlic, parsley, and parmesan cheese.  They are grilled just long enough to absorb all those flavors and not dry out. 


 Of course you gotta have dessert, and they have the traditional flan, a custard based dessert topped with creme caramel sauce.  Bueno!

So keep your calendar open toward the end of March next year to attend the Fiesta.  It’s a great mix of history, culture, and a chance to sample some tradition non-Cajun foods of Louisiana.


Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant

151 Third St.
Baton Rouge, LA

New to the downtown area is Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant.  An offshoot of the New Orleans location, they occupy the renovated space formerly held by D’Agostino’s Italian restaurant.  The décor and theme are almost overwhelmingly surfer related, with everything from pictures to posters and a full sized surfboard above the bar.  The surfing DVD playing in a constant loop over the TVs is somewhat annoying, especially on return visits when you have already seen it.

The menu is very much in line with the theme, featuring lots of seafood and “California” type items.  They do feature a full bar, and several specialty drinks that are tropical in nature and pack quite a punch.  One that stood out to me is the “Da Killer Blue Whale”, a mixture of lemonade, vodka, curacao, and Everclear.  Another unique drink item offered is the Bloody Mary shot.  A spice-rimmed shot glass is filled with vodka that they have infused with peppers and spices, and the drink is served with a cherry tomato.  They’ve deemed it the world’s fastest Bloody Mary.

Over the course of several visits, I sampled a couple of the appetizer items with mixed results.  The Jamaican Jerk Chicken was great.  Four grilled pieces of chicken breast seasoned with jerk spices are served with an accompanying sweet and sour sauce deemed “Pali sauce”.  The chicken was cooked perfectly, with great grill flavor but not dried out.  The sauce matched well with the spiciness of the chicken, and the portion was adequate for an appetizer.  On another visit, I tried the pulled pork sliders, which were decent in flavor and taste, but lacked an accompanying side item.  According to the menu, they were served with sweet potato fries, but I’m unable to report on those based on the fact that I never saw them.

Ordering that item uncovered an unfortunately very negative aspect of the restaurant, the service.  The bartender seemed to be completely unaware of the menu, and when asked about the dish, couldn’t seem to decipher what was going on.  Granted, I was seated at the bar, but I would suspect that the bartender should at least be familiar with appetizers on the menu, the items often ordered by patrons at the bar.

The entrée I tried was pretty good, a nice piece of fish crusted with ground tortillas.  In a move obvious to be a play to the Baton Rouge locals, they take tortilla chips, both standard color and purple, and crust each side of the fish with these, then its fried, and served with mashed potatoes.

Lucy’s is open daily from 11AM to 10PM, and feature several specials.  Happy hour is Mon-Thurs, 4PM – 7PM featuring $5 well drinks, $18 buckets, and 2 for 1 margaritas, along with free chips and salsa.  Tuesdays are “Taco Tuesdays” with $1 beef tacos, $2 steak or chicken tacos, and $3 shrimp tacos.

Despite some service issues that may be corrected in time, Lucy’s is a very welcome addition to the downtown scene, and a great alternative to the standard fare.  Hopefully once some of the bugs are ironed out, they can focus on more specials so that they can take better advantage of the downtown lunch business.

Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Valentine’s Day

One of the busiest nights in the restaurant industry is on Valentine’s Day.  Only Mother’s Day brings more traffic through a restaurant, and despite the relatively large number of restaurants in our area, the handful of upper end places here quickly get booked up for this night.

My advice is to get your reservations made now, before the mad rush of last minute people start calling.  The last thing you want to do is be stuck with takeout or fast food on Valentine’s Day.  There are also a few things to consider when making reservations.  One is to ask about the menu.  Many places will only feature a limited menu, so you might be out of luck if you selected a place based on a favorite dish.  Another question to ask is restaurant setup.  In an effort to maximize patronage, many area restaurants will bring in additional seating, to fit in as many as possible.  This can make for a very loud and raucous atmosphere, far from the romantic setting most are looking for.

My last piece of advice is to try something new.  I know that most people are very familiar and comfortable heading over to the big, well lit corporate chain restaurants, but try something local for a change.  You’ll often find better food, a better atmosphere, and ultimately a better overall experience.


Service Appreciation Day

In conjunction with Johnny D’s New York Pizza Restaurant, Cuisine Rouge is please to present Service Appreciation Day.  This event is to show our appreciation to the fine men and women who serve our community.

All veterans, active military personnel, law enforcement, EMS, fire, and first responders are welcome to enjoy the delicious pizza buffet at Johnny D’s this Monday, December 7, 2009 from 11AM – 2PM – FOR FREE!

That’s right, all the free pizza that you guys can eat.

It’s our way of saying thank you for the important job that you do.

Johnny D's Italian Restaurant & New York Pizza on Urbanspoon


Brandon’s Cajun Cafe

4215 S. Sherwood Forest
Baton Rouge, LA 70816

By: Chad

Whenever I learn about a new restaurant in town, I get excited.  This is especially the case when it’s a locally owned establishment, and one that offers something different or unique.  When I learned of Brandon’s Cajun Café my excitement over the newness was quickly extinguished by the word ‘Cajun’.  Another Cajun restaurant in Baton Rouge isn’t what we need I thought.  There are already a laundry list of places where one can get Cajun food, and as most of us know, none are as good as own grandmothers.

However I was quite pleasantly surprised by the new and interesting items on the menu.  They take some standard Cajun staples and really rework them in innovative and interesting ways.  For starters, the appetizer of Couyon Sushi is as tasty as it is unique.  They take nori (the traditional flavorless seaweed wrap used for sushi), put boudin stuffing, crabmeat and avocado inside, then roll it up and slice it,top it with remoulade sauce, and dust it with cayenne pepper.   It’s something that even people who aren’t fans of traditional sushi will enjoy.

Another great item on the menu is the boudin burger.  Boudin is mixed with pepperjack cheese, formed into a pattie and grilled, then placed on a bun and topped with bacon and remoulade sauce.  Very tasty.  The rest of the menu is fairly straightforward Cajun eats, with items you would expect to see like fried seafood and etoufee.  I sampled the etoufee and it was not that great, the gravy had a strange consistency, almost gelatinous.  The flavor was good, but the rice was also a bit undercooked for my liking.

For dessert, they once again offer a little something different in the form of their red velvet bread pudding.  Yep, red velvet cake is given the classic bread pudding treatment, resulting in a rather unattractive yet tasty glob of red goo, topped with vanilla ice cream.  This dessert is definitely sweet and has great flavor, but could use some texture, perhaps in the form of nuts.

All in all, this restaurant impresses me with its innovative approach to Cajun cuisine.  I think that with a few refinements this place can really stand out and make a name for itself.  I look forward to seeing more innovative items on its menu.

Couyon Sushi

Couyon Sushi


Red Velvet Bread Pudding

Red Velvet Bread Pudding