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Trip to Grand Isle

We will be in New Orleans April 14-19. It's our 11th trip and we have never been out of the city limits. We have thoughts of renting a car on Saturday and taking a drive to Grand Isle to do some exploring. Is this a nice drive and are there good places to eat along the route? We expect nothing fancy!!

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  1. Hmmm, Grand Isle...its about 2 1/2 hours south of New Orleans, and you will be driving along Bayou Lafourche most of the way down. There is some new convoluted toll system on the Leesville bridge, so be sure to stop at one of the hole in the wall stores along the way to purchase your bridge toll. Yes that is correct, there is no toll booth, only in Louisiana I guess. It might be a one way fare, ask when you stop.

    Anyway, you are going down the seafood-energy corridor, so there will be a lot of industrial mixed w/ mom and pop restaurants along Hwy 1. I can't think of any along the way, most times I've been down there, I stayed at a friend's camp. At Caminada Pass, by the bridge that crosses over to Grand Isle there is a restaurant, but I don't know if its still open. If you get down there and decide to chill out for a day, there are cabins and hotels that you can usually rent for the night, with the exception of the Tarpon Rodeo in July when everyone is down there and lodging is scarce. There are bars and shops on the island, and a state park on the east end, but its not quite a true tourist destination.

    A closer option is to drive down to Lafitte instead - Restaurant des Familles is down there and pretty good


    1 Reply
    1. re: mimadeli

      re tolls - i think you can simply drive thru it and call the 1-800 number within 24-hours to pay your toll by credit card, right?

    2. Last time we went to Grand Isle we ate at the only dinner spot available. It was not good. Apparently, IMO, the best seafood in Grand Isle is at someone's house. Please, someone, prove me wrong.

      1. Definitely worth the drive. It's beautiful. The only place I recommend is the _________________, the name escapes me, but it's upstairs in the big gas station where you turn right off hwy 1 to go to Fourchon. You can't miss it. Pretty good food last time I was there, but the ownership has recently changed so who knows. I would definitely go check out Fourchon, too. It's amazing. FWIW, as far as I know you don't have to take the toll road. You can use the traditional route.

        8 Replies
        1. re: N.O.Food

          The toll road is the only road--there is NO alternative route. The toll can be paid at a service center in Golden Meadow, or at designated gas stations along the way....it's pretty well marked. And the restaurant's name is Toupsie's.

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            Actually same building, but the more upscale side: Anthony's.

            1. re: N.O.Food

              yesterday, a good source told me it has gone way, way downhill.

            2. re: Hungry Celeste

              A friend in th' earl bidniss (that's "oil business" to the un-initiated) says that you can pay the toll on-line and I think he said that you have four days after you use it to get on-line and pay if you did not do so in advance. he said it is quite a piece of work. I am glad for the info as I need to go get some shrimp from a friend down there and have niot been since 2008

              1. re: hazelhurst

                Bummer. According to the GI state park's website, the mandatory toll kicked in in August. I assumed they would keep the old road open and not force folks to pay the toll. Too bad about Anthony's. I always thought it was damn good - especially considering the location.

                1. re: N.O.Food

                  There is NO "old road". The toll kicks in at the new Leeville Bridge across Bayou Lafourche. The old bridge was in imminent danger of falling into the bayou due to scouring, so it was replaced with a fixed-span highrise. You can't go south of Leeville without paying a toll....

                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                    You could leave a car at the Wal-Mart and try an Assault By Sea

                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                      Gotcha. I didn't know they were planning to take the old bridge down. I just assumed the toll road would be mainly for the energy sector's use, and everyone else could parallel it with the old route. Oh well, can't make as much money that way I guess. As an aside, it's amazing how fast the govt can build a road when it's a priority.

            3. I just have to say that if you're visiting New Orleans and are only there for a few days, I can't recommend heading to Grand Isle (this coming from a former N.O. resident who has been to Grand Isle several times). There is something cool about its remoteness, but I find the beaches there fairly unpleasant--although the drive is interesting as the landscape completely changes from New Orleans. That said, there's not a lot in the way of food or really much commercial activity at all in Grand Isle and it's not a place to really "hang out." I think passing through the city of "Cut Off" says it all :)

              If you are just going for the beach, I personally prefer Pensacola which is about the same drive and has white sand, clear calm water, lots more food choices, and the beaches are prettier as the mud/etc. from the Gulf of Mexico makes swimming kind of "meh" at Grand Isle (the few times I've been there we've also spotted sharks). I'd recommend actually buying some provisions for a picnic so you have them for the beach, as IMO there aren't a ton of great places to stop along the way.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MaddyK

                Or if you want beach, just pack a lunch, go to Gulfport and get on the boat to Ship Island. They do have a snack bar out there, but most folks just drag along an ice chest with whatever they fancy. Beautiful beaches and a great place for a picnic!

              2. The trip to Grand Isle can be such a enigmatic dichotomous sojourne. ( I made it up) The old two lane crosses back & forth across the Bayou Lafourche through the little communities long dependant upon seafood and oil, go figure. Make no mistake, you will be within inches of the finest crab meat, oysters, shrimp, and fish filets on this blue green planet. The flavor and texture of Speckled Trout , and/or blue crab is unmatched. Sadly, little is cooked there, most all is shipped away to feed us who cannot get there often enough. One really does not go there to dine. Instead, the teasure can be found with the people, from a culture unlike anywhere else in the US. They create the “joi de vivre” along the way. They are very friendly, if one takes a moment to stop talking about ME. Listen closely, you will strain to understand the strange tongue, usually coming from someone wearing white boots. If you go, ask those on the ground where you can find fresh cooked fresh seafood. That is when the fun can begin.

                1. Take heed of all that's been said here. Unless you have some very Grand Isle-specific reason to go, I wouldn't waste a day on the trip. .I grew up here and have been to GI many times, but not often since I've been old enough to decide where to go. You don't go for the beach for sure--esp. when you can get to fabulous beaches in Alabama or Florida in almost as little time. You definitely don't go for dining, either in GI or on the way, unless you'll be dining at someone's home. We used to go b/c Dad liked the fishing, and often we crabbed, too. So if you're going for that reason, ok. If it's for the drive, the bayou, etc,, you can get that on other routes that either won't take as much time or will take you to better spots for eating. A few times a year, I make the drive to about halfway there to visit relatives or friends; i often buy fresh or boiled seafood to bring back, but i know of no good spots to eat along the way. People often mention Spahr's near Des Allemands, but it's just ok fried seafood, imo. Beyond there--and it's still a long way to GI--I can't think of a single place.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                    sounds bleak.

                    whats a good alternative for a drive/bayou day trip?

                    1. re: kibbles

                      I think Clarkfella had a good idea.

                    2. re: nomadchowwoman

                      Awright, ya'll, you're treading on my native earth here. More than 30,000 people live in the southern part of Lafourche & Jefferson parishes--they're not all funny-talking, shrimp boot wearing happy leprechauns, nor are all of the restaurants terrible. Yes, Spahr's does have fried seafood, but since their fire & rebuilding, the menu has expanded a bit and moved just a tad upmarket (a steak or two, some seared tuna) though the real draw is wild-caught (NOT farmraised) catfish.

                      For downhome dining in Lockport, you can hit Blackies, which has stick-to-your ribs cajun plate lunches (think heavy on the seafood & starches), as well as poboys, etc. The new La Tour golf club's dining facility is open to the public, and it has typical club food (near Mathews, off of LA 308). A good seafood market, Punch's, is also in Lockport: they produce softshelled crabs onsite (as well as crabmeat), and offer some take-home, precooked stuff (seafood stuffed peppers, crawfish bisque, etc).

                      Heading south on LA 1, you could do worse for a roadside snack than Plaisance's Meat market, a custom-slaughter place that sells prime beef, homemade cracklins, boudin, and other charcuterie. It has a Lockport address, but is technically closer to north Larose.

                      Switchin' over to the opposite side of the bayou again, Harry's Poboys (just N of the Intracoastal bridge in Larose) offers the full range of s LA sandwiches: sloppy roast beef, crab patties, fried seafood, and so on. Only open weekdays, and only til 2 or 3.

                      Moving south into Larose, with a 70s sort of vibe, is the Balcony....iceberg lettuce salads, dressings served in those silly, 3-compartment serving caddies, but still turning out a reliable club sandwich, fried seafood, and crabmeat stuffed flounder. (Hell, Larose even has a run-of-the-mill Japanese joint these days; hibachi tables, a sushi bar, and a few seafood specials.) Or you can sit in a converted gas station and eat crawfish & boiled crabs until you can't stand it anymore at the Crab Station.

                      I've heard about Mexican plate lunches at the old Danny's Fried chicken in Galliano, but I can't vouch for them as I haven't sampled them just yet. No, you won't find a tremendous number of upscale places...but in Golden Meadow, you can eat well at Oceana Cafe. A few more ambitious specials, solid fried chicken, and a delicious house dressing (made with andouille) make it worth a visit on a drive to GI.

                      The scenery is distinctive: sugarcane fields, with the bayou running alongside the road. Shrimp boats, tons of commercial marine traffic, quaint floating (pontoon) bridges, shipbuilding: it doesn't look like the rest of America. If you want sugar beaches and plastic sameness, skip it. On the other hand, if you like seeing the corners of America that retain regional flavor despite the cultural homogenization of mass media & the internet, come on down...we'll be really nice to you. Bring your ice chest and buy shrimp fresh off of the boat for a price so low as to be criminal. Oh, and be cognizant of the fact that almost 15% of US petroleum imports travel through this area, known as LA's Energy Corridor (while FL and CA reject drilling yet suck down more than their share of oil, both domestic & foreign).

                      1. re: Hungry Celeste

                        WOW what a great post. You covered all the reasons that we wanted to drive down that way. Thanks so much.

                          1. re: Hungry Celeste

                            The drive and the sights are the reason for going along Bayou LaFourche. Start on 408 then crossover to Hwy 1 around Galliano or Larose.

                            Coming or going I usually eat on a work boat in Port Fouchon so can't talk about the food much. When I do stop I go to Bobby Lynn's which is a gas station/fishing supply store in Leeville (not to be confused with the Bobby Lynn Marina building)

                            They have decent po-boys and have used the good French bread from Golden Meadow (Duet's?)

                            1. re: Hungry Celeste

                              No offense intended, HC. I would never dis or stereotype the wonderful folks along Bayou Lafourche—and I never referred to shrimp boots or funny talk. (In fact, a linguist would find the distinct variations in dialect/accent within 15-20 miles along the bayou absolutely fascinating.) I certainly wouldn’t because these people/ this culture are mine as well: I was born in Houma and my father’s family has lived along Bayou Lafourche for generations, and while I have lived in New Orleans for most of my adult life, I have lived in different locations along BL too.

                              I was responding to sueinwis’s query from a strictly CH perspective. (I personally would not take a whole day out of a relatively short trip if I weren’t sure I could eat well.) So I still wouldn’t take a whole day to go to Grand Isle. However, if sueinwis is less interested in what they eat than what they see, she surely won’t be disappointed. And, with your suggestions, they may eat well. I appreciate having info on a couple of places to check out. Next time I am down there, I will try Harry’s. And I haven’t stopped in Golden Meadow in ages; Oceana Café sounds like a place to try too.

                              You are right in that this part of the country does not look like the rest of the country—nor does most of south Louisiana—it most certainly retains a regional flavor. And I couldn’t agree more about energy issues.

                              I also love Punch’s, but it is not an eat-in place, sadly. I have spent a lot of time in Lockport, and b/c of the dearth of places to eat there, I’ve eaten a lot of food from Blackie’s, and imho, it’s just ok. (That’s why, we usually just get seafood from Punch’s and eat it at the relatives’ homes.) The Balcony doesn’t do it for me, either, but I could certainly see why people who enjoy a retro experience would like it (in the same way that people used to go nuts for the old Airline Motors). I have been to the post-fire Spahr’s many times, and with the possible exception of catfish, of which Des Allemand’s can be justly proud, I don’t think it is, well, exceptional. But that’s just me.

                              My post was in response to a query about Grand Isle and whether there were good places to eat along the way. I’m glad if I’m wrong, but it’s a long trip and ime, not worth it for culinary reasons. Now if sueinwis could go there and crab/fish and cook it or get it cooked, that’s different. But probably not in April.

                              What we maybe can agree on is that the reason really good restaurant food is hard to come by in these parts is that this is not an eat-out culture. If one can get invited to someone’s house, now that would be a wow chow experience. Before Katrina, we had some British friends visiting. They went poking around Cocodrie (they weren’t particularly interested in food, wanted to see a fishing culture, so I suggested it), struck up a conversation with some shop owners, and got invited to their house for supper.

                              An interesting enough trip to warrant a day? Possibly. For food? I’m still not sure I would recommend it. Would I like to be wrong? Absolutely.

                              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                This post did my heart good- I couldn't imagine a road through this part of the country that didn't have some great places along the way! Being authentic does have it's merits!

                                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                  Agree with Celeste. AND DON'T SPEED THROUGH GOLDEN MEADOW!!! if you happen to drive through it.

                                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                    You have made me want to take that long drive down to Grand Isle again and start it on an empty stomach. I can just imagine a day long culinary journey eating my way down to the coast. I have often found that when you get out of the city the best source of info on where to eat is the locals. Go into a barbershop or a busy gas station and ask, if there are several people there you will likely get several answers. If you really want to be sure ask at a few places, if the same name keeps coming up you have a winner.

                                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                      There is also a restaurant called Flanagans in Thibodaux that has excellent steaks. You need to go to Rouses Supermarket and pick up a tarte a la bouille pie.

                                    2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                      We're from Wisconsin so we just wanted to see the scenery and eat what and where the locals do.

                                      1. re: sueinwis

                                        Didn't think you'd set off all this commotion did ya. Did anyone mention the folks from Michigan who went to Grand isle for some fried seafood, and who were never heard from again. Just be careful, whatever you do.

                                        1. re: sueinwis

                                          Sue, if you're really doing the drive, email me directly (see my profile) and I'll throw in some lagniappe info, just for you, cher.

                                        1. Anthony's was the place I was trying to think of. Good food last time I was there, but I'm pretty sure ownership has recently changed hands. Don't know if the food has. Also, when we go down for the fourth of july, we often buy boiled crabs. Don't know if they sell year round, but they might. Unlike others, I wholeheartedly recommend the trip. I think you'll thoroughly enjoy it. It's beautiful. And you can check out Port Fourchon - a world unto itself. It is a long way down there though.



                                          1. You could consider St Francisville as a daytrip if you don't go to Grand Isle (everything I have ever heard about G.I. is it's a long boring drive with no stand out dining places and not much too see (I am refering to Grand Isle itself) That said, I'm sure it has its own unique vibe that some may very well enjoy.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Suzy Wong

                                              St. Francisville has The Myrtles, Feliciana Winery and I believe the restaurant in town is called Magnolia. Been a while since I've been, thanks for reminding me of it Suzy!

                                              1. re: mrsfury

                                                Magnolia Cafe and Seven Sisters are both good in St. Francisville. Home cookin at Seven Sisters is hard to beat.

                                            2. HC.....Lately, I have been having cravings for boiled shrimp rather than other typical S. La. shellfish, such as crawfish, crabs, or oysters. Thing is that there just don't seem to be a whole lot of restaurants that offer this on their menu. I was wondering if there are any restaurants in the BL area that have boiled shrimp. My other reason for this reply probably should be placed on a new thread but since we are talking about long drives into the southern reaches of La. I thought of another one. What are the current restaurant offerings south of Belle Chasse headed down to Venice (and including Venice)? The selection never seemed particularly exceptional to me back in the late 90's (no offense to anyone in lower Plaquemines Parish) and I am curious what the culinary landscape in southern Plaquemines looks like 5 years after Katrina. Similarly, any responses about food choices in lower St. Bernard parish are welcome (my recollection of my trip south of Rocky and Carlos was regretting not having stopped to eat there and becoming rather famished by the time I made the ferry crossing much further down somewhere toward Pointe La Hache).

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Clam Chowder

                                                Try the Crab Station in Larose...a converted gas station/boiled seafood joint on the bayouside. 13255 West Main St. (aka LA Hwy 1)

                                              2. Since I work every other week in Port Fourchon (9 miles before you get to Grand Isle on LA1), I'd like to help clear up some confusions. The toll road is the only path to get to Grand Isle, as the old Leeville bridge was torn down because it was deemed unsafe. The toll for a regular passenger car is $2.50, and increases based on number of axles. Tolls can be paid online, before your trip or within 24 hours of crossingthe new bridge, @ geauxpass.com, or prepaid at the GeauxPass visitor center or any of several kiosks set up in well marked gas stations along the way.
                                                The restaurant at the turn off for Port Fourchon is Toupsie's but the name will likely change to Moran's sometime soon. The food is still excellent there, even if it isn't as good as it once was. Anthony's is the bar next to Toupsie's, not the nicer restaurant.
                                                Once you get to Grand Isle, there are several nice little mom & pop restaurants, including Sarah's and The Starfish, which I really like. They have a very good fried shrimp po-boy.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: JEverett

                                                  Great info JEverett! To answer other questions: The upscale restaurant on grand Isle is The Lighthouse (985-787-3331), & it is the Conoco gas station (985-787-3707) that has a deli upstairs. Cigar's Cajun Cuisine WAS the other upscale restaurant, but Katrina & Rita demolished it, & they did not rebuild. The "grocery store" near the center of the island is Safeway (985-787-3141), which also features a small department store (clothes, hardware, souvinirs, toys, etc.). You may phone 1-866-662-8987 for GeauxPass information, or customerservice@geauxpss.com for all of the toll information for the new 3 1/2 mile Tomey Ducet bridge. The section to Port Fourchon has not yet been completed, so you will have to make a 90 degree right turn over to the 2-laned highway 1. The 65 mile drive from Houma, LA takes me only 75 minutes on the average, but my ex-wife complained about the 100 mile drive from New Orleans. Extremely scenic drive though - especially the bayou & boats at night with a full moon. Newly paved roads make the trip easier, smoother, & faster. I also suggest that everyone check out grand-isle.com for ALL detailed information BEFORE you go there. They continually update info - especially since the bad-ass hurricanes, plus the BP Gusher of 2010. The east end of the beach is now open for swimming & fishing, & saw some crabbing being done in the surf. However, I would certainly check out the feasibility of eating them, & especially the oysters. Special Alert: A FREE CONCERT will be held on September 5th, 2010 at the Bridgeside Marina (at south side of bridge on the right), from 10AM to 7PM - rain or shine. For more info, contact Libby Foret at 225-291-6990 or upliftingthecoastconcert.com. Yep, I have lived on the island for 9 years, & 19 named storms, & the people are really friendly. I always suggest that everybody should FIRST check the TV weather channel for this area, & even living there - we check it daily. (remember...the recent Tropical Storm 5 came through, then circled around & hit us again, then dumped 14.55" of rain in 12 hours on Bunkie, LA). Check out our new Grand Isle welcome sign before you get to the island. It is hoped to be hurricane proof, with elevated mobile wind-thru fish, but my experience with FL & LA hurricanes - my money is on the hurricanes. That Katrina 30' surge that hit our camp close to the disappearing levee, left nothing but the poles, walls, & roof. Texas got most of it! C'est la vie!

                                                  Grand Isle Restaurant
                                                  575 Convention Center Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70130