Looking for the best of the road in AR, LA, and MS for backroads road-trip
We're taking a 14 day road trip from Winnipeg to New Orleans in about a week. We're planning on taking it pretty slowly through the Ozarks in Arkansas, Cajun country in LA, and the Delta in MS and we're giving ourselves two nights in New Orleans. (We're just missing the Jazz festival!)
I've read a lot of recommendations for great restaurants - Cafe Des Amis in Breaux Bridge, Doe's in Greenville, Leatha's in Hattiesburg are some of the few I might check out, depending on our route. I haven't really heard much about Arkansas or Northern rural Louisiana, but I am willing to detour for tasty Southern food!
(As I'm re-reading this, it seems kind of funny that I'm calling this 'taking it pretty slowly'...)
If you're going to miss the jazz festival, cross the Mississippi at Helena, AR, and drop down to Clarksdale on Hwy 1 ("The Great River Road") for a visit to the Delta Blues Museum, some live blues at Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero, and dinner at his Madidi (http://www.madidires.com/). Continue on to Greenville on Hwy 1 for dinner at Doe's, and then to Vicksburg where you should turn east on I-20 and go abt 35 miles to Clinton. Here you'll intersect the Natchez Trace (too bad you can't drive the whole thing from Nashville to Natchez!) which will take you south to Natchez. Natchez and its antebellum homes is definitely worth a pause, as is Fat Mama's Tamales (http://www.fatmamastamales.com). Here you'll get a hint of what Doe's tamales were like 40 years ago. On the way to New Orleans, the Longbranch at Abita Springs, and the Dakota in Covington are sure bets. You'd need 6 months in N.O. to do justice to the food scene there, but don't miss Brigtsen's and Galatoire's for dinner, the Acme Oyster Bar for fresh-shucked oysters, and a muffuletto at Central Grocery. Leaving N.O. for Cajun country, try to hit Middendorf's at Manchac. You're going to enjoy some of the best food this country offers!
Thanks for the suggestions. I'm looking forward to Mississippi hot tamales - they sound kinda interesting. We're doing this trip on a pretty tight budget, so all of these mom and pop recommendations are gold.
As for New Orleans, I've already started dreaming about the food we'll experience....
Like, actual dreams. About gumbo z'herbes. Tonight I'll probably dream about muffaletta olive salad....
If budget is an issue, try to set aside enough to do the early bird at Brigtsen's. Arguably the best modern Louisiana cuisine to be found.
Along the momnpop lines, you could do worse than JoeyK's on Magazine St.
The food is solid, the service is straightforward the servings generous. An excellent value, and the frostiest goblets of Abita Amber I've yet to savor or slurp.
And if you are near Hot Springs, AR, McClard's BBQ is worth the sidetrip. Ribs and pork are the story there. You'll want a jar of sauce to take with you...one of the better renditions to be found anywhere.
A tight budget may raise red flags for Doe's in Greenville. As a native of Greenville, I grew up with Doe's Eat Place. Since Doe Signa's sons took over the operation back in the '70s, it has suffered the same fate many restaurants now run by the children of founders have suffered: kids tend to think they can milk more money out the place than the old man did. Prices at Doe's are now outrageously high, and, sin of sins, the hot tamales are now wrapped in paper rather than corn shucks! If you eat here (and the place is definitely worth a look-see,) you might want to stick to the spaghetti and a sampling (say 3) of the hot tamales. The hot tamales at Fat Mama's in Natchez (and at many other mom-and-pop vendors up and down the Delta) are every bit as good, cost half as much ($6/dozen,) and are wrapped in corn shucks, as proper tamales should be. Also, a couple of great budget places in N.O. are Casamento's and Cafe Rani (both on Magazine Street), and, in downtown Covington, Coffee Rani and a seafood place just down the sidewalk whose name I cannot remember.