Thursday, April 17, 2014

Take a Sip on the Dark Side: 8 Baton Rouge Coffee Shops to Check Out

Coffee shops are a staple in society. Whether we're catching up with old friends, making the best of a rough morning, cramming for an exam, or working on that latest assignment, the coffee shop is our refuge. In the Baton Rouge area we have a multitude of options, each with their own personalities and amenities. Some have unique-to-us beans, some have special methods of brewing, and some have killer menus, but they all have the one thing that matters most: sweet, sweet caffeine. Here are eight of my favorite spots in no particular order... leave me a comment and tell me your favorite spots to grab a cup of coffee! Or you can leave a note on the Bite and Booze Facebook Page!

Garden District Coffee: 2008 Perkins Rd.
Your classic neighborhood friendly coffee shop: Garden District Coffee has a great patio, a roomy inside and delicious roasts. I’m typically a cup of black coffee kind of guy, so what I like most about Garden District Coffee is they have a different roast every day. It’s a great place to go and grab a delicious cup of brew and a scone while you get some work done or chat with friends.

Bite and Booze Bonus: If you’re looking for a hot cup of coffee with a kick, try the X-Treme…part brewed coffee, part espresso.

Coffee Call: 3132 College Dr.
It’s the simple things that make life worthwhile, and Coffee Call has pegged some of those
down. Beignets and coffee are the basic foundation of a southern morning. If you drop by Coffee Call on any given day you'll get a whiff of powdered sugar, frying dough and coffee beans…who wouldn't want to wake up to that?

Bite and Booze Bonus: Try the beignet fingers and mix half café au lait and hot chocolate in your mug…it will change your life.

CT Crunch Cake Balls courtesy of Brew Ha Ha!
Brew Ha Ha: 711 Jefferson Hwy.
Owner and local firecracker Gabby Loubiere made Mid City her home nearly a decade ago. It’s a cool spot with walls covered in local art and air full of the smell of her famous cake balls. You’ll go for the coffee, but you’ll stay for the friendly baristabots, cake balls, and delicious breakfast and lunch items (my Jay’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce is on a signature sandwich). 

Bite and Booze Bonus: Try the Ladywhat cakeball: minty, chocolaty goodness

Highland Coffees: 3350 Highland Rd.

The go-to brew of many LSU students and faculty for the past quarter century, Highland Coffees located just outside of LSU’s North gates specializes in house-roasted beans and imported authentic teas. This makes for an extensive retail section, an aroma that’s hard to beat, and a strong cup of joe. Being that coffee loses freshness quickly after roasting, Highland Coffees chooses to roast the beans themselves; they also only import tea from places using sustainable harvesting practices—just another example of cool people doing cool things in our fair city.

Bite and Booze Bonus: I like my coffee dark, so I like their Italian Roast…it’s the darkest roast they offer and has a delightfully roasty flavor profile.

Latte e Miele: 7809 Jefferson Hwy.
If you’re looking for the land of milk and honey, you’ve found it…literally. Translated, Latte e Miele is milk and honey. Owner, Luca DiMartino was born in Rome and wanted to merge Italian technique with southern influences. The product is Latte e Miele: a chef-driven café that grew out of its old home on Highland Road and now finds itself as a staple of the Bocage area. Baton Rouge native Marcus Day (Executive Chef) focuses on a menu that changes weekly with ingredients from local farmers. This is a place that will take you to everything from local pork to authentic gelato and all the espresso in-between.

Bite and Booze Bonus: While you can taste them all, you have to try their signature Gelato and namesake: Milk & Honey. It can be a cure for virtually anything that ails you.

Magpie Café: 3205 Perkins Rd.

After a decent amount of traveling and ongoing search for the ideal coffee shop at each destination, owners James and Lina Jacobs decided they would start their own at home. Using “slow bar” single cup brewing practices often seen in Portland or Seattle, Magpie focuses on local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. They are a killer espresso bar and there are some crazy good local eats coming out of that kitchen. Their offerings change every day and you have to get them while they're hot, because once they're gone, they're gone.

Bite and Booze Bonus: Get whoever is working the espresso/coffee bar to fix a Pour Over for you. They'll tell you all about why this is the freshest coffee you'll sip. Also, check out this video that I did with James for 225: Into the Mix to learn more about Magpie.

Strands Cafe: 226 Laurel St.
I walked into Strands Café on a chilly day to have an early lunch and cup of coffee…what I got was an explosion of flavor. They have a heft pastry selection and brews ranging from Cuban Espresso to Old World Toffee Lattés, which might be my favorite. Family owned and operated, they specialize in their confections. When you walk up to the counter you see a case full of delicious chocolate creations that I can never resist. Whether you’re looking for a delicious little breakfast or lunch, a bold brew or a bite of chocolate—Strands can hook you up.

Bite and Booze Bonus: Try the Frittata du Jour with a La Cubana espresso. Or just get a croissant. Man are those good croissants.

Triumph Kitchen: 320 Third St.

As the new kids on the block, Triumph Kitchen opened their doors to the public on Feb. 28, 2014. While it serves the community primarily as a non-profit culinary education venue for at-risk youth, every morning students are slinging freshly brewed Community Coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos. Matt Saurage, Chairman of the Board for Community Coffee donated the coffee bar setup for the students to help them raise money for the venue and prepare them in the art of being a barista.

Bite and Booze Bonus: If you’re just looking for a cup of coffee in the morning, drop by Triumph and get a cup of coffee for whatever you can donate in the tip jar. All money donated for brewed coffee goes directly to helping out this cool cause in our community.

Posted by:
Jay D. Ducote, Bite and Booze
Jay D. Ducote is a chef, food and beverage writer, and overall culinary personality. He is the author of the blog Bite and Booze, host of the Bite and Booze Radio Show, and co-host of Raise a Glass, both on the air in Baton Rouge.
You can find him on his blog, and keep up with him on Twitter and Facebook!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Show us your pics!

Rocking out at Live After Five!

We've been asking you to tag us in your photos around Baton Rouge on your weekend adventures! We have been tracking all of them and choosing them to showcase every once in a while. This beauty was taken at Live After Five in downtown Baton Rouge in front of the "Castle on the River" better known as Louisiana's Old State Capitol! Thank you @jvdt for the tag!

Want to share a photo with us?

Use @visitbatonrouge and #GoBR!

Tag us on Instagram 
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Tag us on Twitter 

Posted by:
Christy Chachere, Visit Baton Rouge
Christy is the Communications Coordinator for Visit Baton Rouge. Born and raised in Louisiana, she loves everything southern and charming. After graduating from LSU in 2011, she began her new journey promoting our lovely city day after day! She's loves everything Baton Rouge has to offer travelers and locals alike and will keep you in the know! You can find her social-mediaing for us on here, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more! #GoBR

Friday, April 11, 2014

Soakin' up Springtime in BR with Chelsea Bennett!

I don’t think that anything gets me quite as excited as the arrival of spring in Baton Rouge. I sit eagerly in anticipation as the temperatures rise and the azaleas slowly start to bloom. Well really, eagerly is an understatement - this anticipation is palpable y’all.  We are talking real, heart racing, excited to be alive, and counting down the seconds anticipation here. A born and bred Louisiana girl, I have always been more than proud of my home. However, I’m beginning to realize that it all really stems from the springtime traditions that I hold so dear. Here are a few of my favorite ways to relish in the sweet sweet Baton Rouge spring:

I. Get overwhelmed by the Azalea’s - Take a walk in Capitol Park

Now, I know the magnolia is the state flower of Louisiana, but if I had to guess I’d say that the Azalea was probably runner up. These flowers are like magic. A giant green bush one day, turns into a overflowing bubble of pink or purple the next. The wide bright blooms are memorizing and there are no Azaleas quite cared for like the ones in Capitol Park. Thousands of blooms line the sidewalks up against the backdrop of the towering State Capitol, in an almost fairy tale land. However, you’ll have to catch them fast. The flowers never come at exactly the same time and the blooms only last for a couple of weeks. So, be sure to soak it in while you can. 

II. Eat crawfish everything

Spring in Baton Rouge means that crawfish season is finally in full swing. This special treat, that never seems to stay as long as you wish it would, suddenly pops up everywhere. There is just something so fun about a table full of friends, jam packed with trays of crawfish. One of our favorite crawfish hotspots is Sammy’s Grill. They always get the flavor just right. We also always look forward to the adventure of picking up crawfish from Tony’s seafood (and trying to not buy the entire store in the process). As with seemly everything great about Baton Rouge spring, the time to enjoy this delicious dish is limited, so no worries about over indulging!

III. Fully embrace the strawberry madness!

Strawberry shortcake, strawberry beer, strawberry preserves, strawberry vinaigrette…. come springtime the strawberries take over in Baton Rouge and I don’t think I could love it more if I tried. Stop by any grocery store in town and you will see the towers of fresh Louisiana strawberries. There is so much to love about a good strawberry and the people of Baton Rouge have fully embraced its deliciousness, adding it to everything they see fit. The RedStick Farmer’s Market is a great place to get carried away in the madness and to stock up on all your favorite strawberry essentials.

IV. Get a little caught up in LSU Baseball

Now, I may be a little biased here but, there is no doubt in my mind that the new Alex Box Stadium is one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in college ball. While watching a game there it is so easy to get caught up in the decades of tradition surrounding LSU baseball. There is a reason that LSU fans are called the best fans in college baseball - being in that stadium is electric and it is almost impossible to not get sucked into the fever. Plus, the sunsets over the stadium are some of the most gorgeous in the city. Go enjoy a piece of America’s favorite pastime right in your own back yard. You’ll feel the tradition in the air, I guarantee it.

V. Catch some live music – outside!

This one takes the cake for me. My favorite part about spring in Baton Rouge is the abundance of opportunities to catch some great live music in the fresh air. Baton Rouge Blues Fest brings some of the greatest names in blues, playing right in the shadows of the majestic Old State Capitol. Even better, the work week gets a little bit easier in spring with the return of Live After Five on Fridays. It really is true that nothing does for soul just what clocking out and rocking out can do for the soul.  

So there you have it, all of my favorite ways to soak up springtime in Baton Rouge. How do you like to celebrate the new season? Share it with us below in the comments. Everybody get excited -  It’s #LouisianaSpring y’all!

Posted by:
Chelsea Bennett, Guest Blogger
Chelsea Bennett is the Executive Assistant to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary. Spending most of her days in Downtown Baton Rouge, she is a proud lifelong resident of the city and an LSU grad. A lover of all things southern, she is completely infatuated with the sweet Louisiana life and everything quintessentially “Baton Rouge.” Follow Chelsea on Twitter @GeauxChels

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Show us your Blues!

Are you going to Baton Rouge Blue Fest this Saturday? We are only two days away, we want to see YOUR favorite moments of the weekend!

Via BR Blues Fest 

Whether you're a visitor coming in town for the fest, or a local going out to enjoy the day downtown, we want to see the festival through your lens. Snap some pictures on your phone and tag Visit Baton Rouge and #GoBR on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and you just might see your picture featured in a blog post next week!

Via BR Blues Fest 

For those that can't make it into town for the festival, we hope you follow along on the fun by tacking our #GoBR hashtag--you won't miss a thing!

Have you gone to any festivals yet this season? 

Posted by:
Cathy Juarez, Communications Intern
Cathy is the Communications Intern for Visit Baton Rouge. She's a New Orleans girl, born and raised, yet she has fallen in love with Baton Rouge throughout her time at LSU. Cathy will be graduating in May and hopes to continue promoting tourism in Louisiana. She loves good company, good food and a good time. Geaux Tigers and Who Dat!

Follow Cathy on Twitter @cathy_juarez.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Where are the best crawfish in BR?

A true Louisiana crawfish boil!
We asked our Facebook fans where you can get the BEST crawfish in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas and below are their suggestions!

Do you have another you want to add to the list? Comment below!

Posted by:
Christy Chachere, Visit Baton Rouge
Christy is the Communications Coordinator for Visit Baton Rouge. Born and raised in Louisiana, she loves everything southern and charming. After graduating from LSU in 2011, she began her new journey promoting our lovely city day after day! She's loves everything Baton Rouge has to offer travelers and locals alike and will keep you in the know! You can find her social-mediaing for us on here, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more! #GoBRerFacebookInstagramPinterestLinkedIn and more! #GoBR