2024 Best of 225 Awards - 225 Magazine [July 2024]

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Whether it’s back to the brewery or the carpool line, getting your back-back is the goal!

As one of the few board-certified neurosurgeons in Louisiana who has fellowship training in minimally invasive and complex spine surgery, his services are in high demand. Join the 8,000 patients that see Team Oberlander per year. Call (225) 768-2023 to schedule your appointment. Eric



You’re built to something different, Baton Rouge. A secret blend of fortitude and flavor. Of small acts of kindness and big heart. The kind of stuff that compels you to roll up your sleeves in times of need and let down your hair when it’s time to celebrate. That keeps its nose to the grindstone, but always remembers to look up and return a smile. You're built of family and Friday night lights. Perseverance and porch hangs. You're built of Louisiana, and Louisiana was built to last.

We know what you’re made of, because we’re made of it, too.

20 Why it is so difficult to run a restaurant today

87 How to nail your next manicure 95 What’s new at JED’s Local 107 Where to geek out over games, cards and comics

And much more…

Best of 225

WINNER, WINNER taco dinner! Barracuda Taco Stand is a Best of 225 Award winner this year, along with 72 other stand-out eateries, artists, businesses and more. For our cover, 225 Staff Photographer Collin Richie shot a spread of Crispy Fish, Broccoli and Chicken Tacos at the Mid City eatery. Turn to page 34 to see who readers crowned as this year's winners and runners up.

Martinis at Duvic’s

Food for thought

WHAT’S THE BEST restaurant you’ve been to? Is it in this magazine?

Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t.

Regardless, eateries across this city are vying to serve what they hope is Baton Rouge’s next great plate of food.

Getting inside the minds of local restaurateurs was our team’s goal when we set out to produce “The chopping block,” this month’s feature about the state of the culinary industry in 2024.

We were first fueled by a binge-watch of The Bear—the cult-hit TV drama about the all-too-real challenges of opening a restaurant—and national press about operators facing perilously high costs of ingredients, labor and real estate.

We’d heard chatter in culinary circles, and we suspected similar scenes were playing out in local kitchens.

Led by 225 Managing Editor Laura Furr Mericas, we interviewed 15 industry pros to find out.

The consensus: Times are desperate. Even for the busier restaurants.

“We’re fortunate enough to have a loyal customer base, but it doesn’t stop people from not spending as much, and not going out to eat as much,” City Group Hospitality managing partner Stephen Hightower told 225 Features Writer Maggie Heyn Richardson.

Indeed, in a 225 online survey, local diners voiced equal frustration with the rising cost of dining out.

Brett Jones’ strategy for Barracuda Taco Stand is maintaining a low overhead—running out of a 700-square-foot space—to keep menu prices manageable.

Others detailed to 225 Digital Staff Writer Olivia Deffes how they decode social media algorithms, chasing virality and Instagrammablity to lure customers. Turn to page 20 to read more.

The timing seemed right to run our reporting in our Best of 225 Awards issue, which features readers’ annual picks for the Capital Region’s top restaurants, bars, boutiques and businesses.

Because the awards have shown us firsthand that mainstream popularity doesn’t necessarily equate to an easy ride—or even longterm success— for business owners. Since 2020, several Best of 225-winning businesses have shut down— including two of the last five Best New Restaurant winners.

Why venture into a field where the odds feel that impossible? Well, I think Sydney’s character on The Bear encapsulates it.

“It would be weird to work in a restaurant and not completely lose your mind,” she says at the end of the first season, reflecting on the chaos of her chosen career—and how she wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.

Keeping that sentiment in mind gives me a personal sense of appreciation for all of this year’s nominees. I don’t think it’s easy to break onto this list. And there are no guarantees for winners. For some, victory won’t grant a repeat win next year—or even a promise that their doors will be open in six months.

To all of this year’s winners and runners up, congrats!


This year’s Best Pizza award was almost too close to call. Two Baton Rouge eateries claimed the exact same amount of votes. This sounds like some gimmick we’d make up. But I watched as our circulation team doubleand triple-vetted the results. What’s even crazier: Rocca Pizzeria, which landed in second place, was five—five! votes away from the winners. Every vote counts, y’all.

And to the many underrated gems who have long deserved to be considered the city’s best: Keep going. Yes, chefs.

“Best of” culture in the ’70s 225, of course, wasn’t the first to poll readers on the city’s best businesses. Business Report founder—and one of the original visionaries of the Best of 225 Awards—Rolfe McCollister recently shared a fun find with me: a 1979 copy of Gris Gris magazine’s first annual The Best of Baton Rouge issue. I hadn’t heard of many of the winners, like Ruby’s and Poet’s, which closed long ago. But a few spots from the list are still kickin’, like Louie’s Cafe, The City Club, Gino’s Restaurant and even the original Phil’s Oyster Bar. Other categories, like Best Ice Cream (which went to Baskin-Robbins) and Best French Fries (which went to McDonald’s) were a reminder of how far we’ve come. But the real kicker: There was a category for Best Meal Under $2. Cries in 2024 prices.


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Publisher: Julio Melara


Chief Content Officer: Penny Font

Editor-In-Chief: Jennifer Tormo Alvarez

Managing Editor: Laura Furr Mericas

Features Writer: Maggie Heyn Richardson

Digital Staff Writer: Olivia Deffes

Multimedia Editor: Oscar Tickle

Staff Photographer: Collin Richie

Contributing Writers: Cynthea Corfah, Tracey Koch, Benjamin Leger, Domenic Purdy, Kelsei Scott

Contributing Photographers: Ariana Allison, Sean Gasser, Amy Shutt


Director of Consumer Sales: Michelle Lanoix

Team Leader: André Hellickson Savoie

Assistant Sales Manager: Kynley Lemoine

Multimedia Consultants:

Savannah Bankston Estes, Jamie Hernandez, Meredith LaBorde

Corporate Media Editor: Lisa Tramontana

Content Strategist: Emily Hebert

Digital Operations Manager: Devyn MacDonald

Partner Success Manager: Paul Huval

Digital Ops Assistant: Derrick Frazier

Content Creator: Erin Beene


Marketing & Events Coordinator: Taylor Andrus

Marketing & Events Assistant: Mallory Romanowski


Business Manager: Tiffany Durocher

Business Associate: Kirsten Milano

Office Coordinator: Sara Hodge

Receptionist: Cathy Varnado Brown


Director of Creative Services: Amy Vandiver

Art Director: Hoa Vu

Senior Graphic Designers: Melinda Gonzalez Galjour, Emily Witt

Graphic Designers: Ellie Gray, Sidney Rosso

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Managing Director: Taylor Gast

Creative Director: Tim Coles

Project Manager: Kendall Denney

Business Development Manager: Manny Fajardo

Multimedia Consultant and Content Creator: Ashleigh Ward


Audience Development Director and Digital Manager: James Hume

Audience Development Coordinator: Ivana Oubre

Audience Development Associate: Catherine Albano

Customer Experience Coordinator: Kathy Thomas

A publication of Melara Enterprises, LLC

Chairman: Julio Melara

Executive Assistant: Brooke Motto

Vice President-Sales: Elizabeth McCollister Hebert

Chief Content Officer: Penny Font

Chief Digital and Strategy Officer: Erin Pou

Chief Operating Officer: Guy Barone


225.928.1700 • email: circulation@225batonrouge.com 9029 Jefferson Highway, Suite 300, Baton Rouge, LA 70809 225-214-5225 • FAX 225-926-1329 • 225batonrouge.com


Issue Date: July2023 Ad proof #2

On our Instagram Reel detailing popular hot chicken eatery Chicky Sandos’ move from food truck to brick-and-mortar:

“I can verify their chicken sandwiches are fire!!” —@treeenel

“Been going to them for a couple years now, some real quality chicken. Perfectly crispy and wonderfully tasty ”

About our First Look of Habaneros, a trendy Mexico City-inspired restaurant that opened in Perkins Rowe in May:

“OK, BR!!!!” —@the.leaux.down,

For reel

We’re more fun on Instagram. Kidding! Or are we? In all seriousness, we pour just as much love into our digital presence as we do this print magazine. We drop fresh videos every week on our Insta feed, from first looks inside new restaurants to snippets from our Between the Lines series, which uncovers the untold stories of the Capital Region. Search


In the heart of Kenilworth Science and Technology Academy lies a program that not only cultivates plants but also nurtures the minds of its students, propelling them toward a future filled with scientific discovery and innovation. Kenilworth is one of only five schools in the state of Louisiana with an aquaponics lab, and it is here that hands-on learning meets cutting edge STEM education, and students’ curiosity blossoms into solutions for tomorrow’s challenges.

In an aquaponics system, fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, which absorb them for growth. The plants then purify the water, making it safe for the fish. This creates a self-sustaining ecosystem.

Kenilworth’s aquaponics program, which just concluded its third year, was developed through a collaboration between school administrators, the LSU STEM Pathways program, and local experts. It provides students with hands-on learning experiences integrating the various branches of science, including life science, biology, chemistry, environmental science, and more, says aquaponics teacher Merve Yildiz.

An expert helps set up the fish tanks, growing beds, and the connections between them. Once initial setup is complete, students take over, measuring the fish mass and adding them to the system. They keep a careful eye on the fish weight, observing whether they are growing or having any challenges.

The students also meticulously clean the tank and observe strict rules, including wearing masks and using hand sanitizer, to maintain the

biosecurity of their lab. They keep a close eye on the water’s pH level and work to rid the lab of any stressors that could affect the fish.

“It is so hands-on,” Yildiz says. “Students come into the classroom with no idea about pH but when they start to test the water quality, they learn what pH is and how it works.”

It’s hard work, but the students are relaxed and don’t complain, Yildiz says. They come into the lab each day asking to see the fish and wanting to be the first to feed them. “This is a good observation for me to see that my students are highly engaged with the system,” she says.

What sets the aquaponics program apart is not just its rarity, but its impact. With only a handful of schools in the state boasting such a facility, Kenilworth’s students are being equipped with the skills and knowledge that set them apart in an ever-evolving world.

Beyond the technical skills, they are learning a sense of responsibility, stewardship, and

empathy, collaboration, and problem-solving skills that are essential for success in any field.

“In the beginning, we (teachers) are learning with the students and having the same challenges and experiences, but when we start to understand our failures, it becomes easier for us to solve problems,” Yildiz says.

Yildiz highly recommends the curriculum and would like to expand to the elementary level with mini systems. “More than anything, students enjoy this environment because it is outside of the traditional classroom setting,” she says.

To learn more about Kenilworth Science and Technology Academy and the other programs that are part of its STEM-focused curriculum, visit kenilworthacademy.org. The school is currently accepting applications until July 31 for kindergarten through 8th grade.

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UNDER the scars

Camp Catahoula helps pediatric burn survivors live strong

Mandrell Johnson fishes at Camp Catahoula.

ATLAN STEGALL WILL always remember the day it happened. He was 6 years old and riding a dirt bike with his dad on rural land. As he prepared to take on a hill, the bike’s tire hit a pothole. Atlan lost control, crash-landed and became pinned between the bike and a barbed wire fence. The hot engine was pressed against his exposed calf, causing second- and third-degree burns, even searing some of the letters from the bike’s Yamaha logo into his flesh.

“It was terrible,” recalls his mother, Rebecca Mancuso.

The harrowing episode brought Atlan to the Baton Rouge General Regional Burn Center, where he ultimately underwent a skin graft using healthy tissue from the other side of his calf. He’s since healed and has given a lot of thought to the experience of having a burn scar. It’s something he openly discusses with other kids at the Baton Rouge General’s Camp Catahoula, a summer camp for pediatric burn victims.

The annual gathering, free of charge to families, celebrates the journey behind each camper’s scar while equipping them with the tools to continue healing.

More than 300 children are treated in emergency rooms for burns in the United States every day, with two dying from their injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pediatric burns can cause significant trauma, and they can require extensive treatment, including reconstructive surgery. Physical pain usually resolves, but the emotional and social sides of the experience can take longer.

July 20-26

Camp Catahoula

Registration required burn.camp@brgeneral.org

retreat center in Lawrence, Mississippi. Campers participate in obstacle courses, swimming, horseback riding and other old-fashioned fun, but they also have a chance to openly discuss what it’s like to carry scars, Laird says.

Children who are treated in emergency rooms for burns in the U.S. every day, according to the CDC

That’s where the camp comes in, says coordinator Brittany Laird, a Baton Rouge General occupational therapist. The privately funded, week-long gathering hosts about 40 regional kids ages 7 to 17 at a

“It’s a way for them to be able to feel safe in an environment where they can talk about what happened and see kids who have experienced similar things,” she says.

It’s also a good time, says Atlan,

now 13 and a rising eighth grader at Juban Parc Junior High School.

“It’s really fun,” he says. “I’ve been going for a while now and have a lot of really good friends. Overall, it’s just been a really cool experience.”

Woven into the fun are burn safety tips. Professionals from the Baton Rouge Fire Department, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and statewide motorcycle clubs share guidelines for avoiding common burns, most of which occur in households. Even interactive cooking sessions help campers

learn stove safety while gaining culinary arts skills.

Atlan has embraced talking about his scar, and says he carries no future fear of dirt bikes, provided he wears long pants. He says he’s learned how to educate others about how to act around burn victims, too.

“It’s important not to judge people about their burn, even if it looks bad,” he says. “It’s just an accident that happened.” brgeneral.org

Atlan Stegall is one of about 40 area children who attend Camp Catahoula, a summer camp for pediatric burn victims.
Atlan high fives with fellow camper Carleigh Jones.
Camper Caroline Neal


Buzz feed

Cluck, cluck BR welcomed two chickencentric restaurants this summer

CHICKY SANDOS, of local food truck fame, quietly opened its first brick-and-mortar on Jefferson Highway in May. It features a drive-thru, seating inside for about 12 and fiery murals from Marc Fresh, plus its signature “Nashville-inspired, Louisiana-based” hot chicken. Find it on Instagram

CHICKEN WAGON, another hot chicken spot, also launched in May. The new concept on Staring Lane by Moe Badawi offers five combos and five levels of spice, plus bold wall coverings inside that depict a cowboy chicken surrounded by wagon carts that Badawi says are a nod to his family's Middle Eastern heritage. chickenwagon.us

Spicing up the Rowe


Habaneros officially opened in Perkins Rowe in June. The Covington-born concept is known for its creative cocktails, live entertainment and elevated street food flavors, showcased in dishes like the Asado (table-side grilled meats and veggies) and Esquite Bombs (corn and cheese beignets). The restaurant's bold design also stands out, with rattan pendant lights, dried floral arrangements, plush velvet booths and a plant-filled patio that beckons shoppers from the sidewalks. habaneroscuisine.com


"It’s like how (Louisiana) transplants moved to Texas and now we have crawfish all over there. So now we got to steal something back from them."

–Tuan Pham, co-owner of Offset Smoker BBQ, which soft-opened its first location on June 1 on Government Street next to Superior Grill. The eatery, which started with one small smoker and a food truck, focuses on Central Texas-style barbecue with meaty mains like housemade sausages, 14hour smoked brisket, pork ribs and more; plus classic sides. Find it on Facebook and Instagram at @offset.smoker.bbq

Irish goodbye

AFTER A LIGHT renovation, O’Haras Irish Pub has moved into the home of the former Happy’s Irish Pub on Third Street downtown. The new bar, owned by Brian Ott, co-owner of The Basin Music Hall, and Jeff Herman, honors the famous O’Hara’s Restaurant & Pub in New York City that became a hub for first responders after 9/11. Find it on Facebook

• SOLOU opened its second location in June, this time in Lafayette. eatsolou.com

• CAFE MIMI closed its downtown Baton Rouge spot in May, but the Vietnamese eatery plans to reopen in Denham Springs. Find it on Facebook

• PEACH COBBLER FACTORY will debut a Zachary location this summer. peachcobblerfactory.com

Climbing costs

Location, location

Social media mavens

Diner feedback


Sameer Abudyak preps for the lunch rush at Chicky Sandos.

The chopping block

It's harder than ever to run a restaurant—here's why

SAMEER ABUDYAK only has about 30 minutes to talk.

It’s a warm May morning, and the lunch rush is about to begin at his newly debuted Jefferson Highway restaurant, Chicky Sandos. The buzzed-about first brick-and-mortar for the Nashville-inspired fried chicken food truck just opened a few days ago. The polite 25-year-old has been so busy working on the launch, he’s been hard to get ahold of for our story. But with finally a few moments to spare, he tells me it’s been going great so far.

I jump into my first interview question. “Can you tell me about the decision to open a brick-and-mortar?”

“I mainly decided...” Abudyak starts. “OK, I actually have a delivery that just popped up at the worst time ever. Could I put you on hold for one second?”

A minute or so later, he returns, apologizing—though the apology is unnecessary. After years of covering the local restaurant scene, the 225 team is used to the chaos.


This spring, more than 600 readers responded to a month-long survey on 225batonrouge.com about the state of the Capital Region's dining scene. Look out for feedback from local diners throughout this feature, and find more results starting on page 28.

A few weeks prior, across town at Mason’s Grill, we had been greeted by a drywall crew as the restaurant snuck in renovations during off hours. And this story’s photo shoot at Zeeland Street was scrapped due to an unexpected, weeklong closure.

In fact, it’s this culture of twists and turns that led to our line of questioning with Abudyak in the first place. Our team wanted to know: What’s it like to run a restaurant in Baton Rouge right now? As the cost of everything climbs, the turnover rate of new openings and subsequent closures seems to have reached new heights.

Meanwhile, diner preferences have changed post-pandemic. How are restaurants making it work?

For Abudyak, it’s looked like getting all the details right.

“Running into problems that we wouldn’t expect, like a drive-thru menu had a couple of issues that we had to fix and intercoms and stuff like that. ... It wasn’t the worst thing, but all those little things definitely (are) a learning experience,” he says.

For institutions like Mason’s, those little things are largely in place by now. But the restaurant is turning to other ways to boost business—like a six-figure remodel.

“Everyone loves something new,” says owner Rober Alamirie, who purchased the 26-year-old eatery in 2022 from longtime owners Mike and Shirlee Alfandre.

And across the board, each of the 12 restaurateurs interviewed for this story—some of them fresh faces, some of them industry veterans—say their reality has recently been reshaped by mounting costs and consumer discretion.

“Folks love it,” Brett Jones says of his 18-month-old Barracuda Taco Stand. “But maybe they’re not coming twice a week. Maybe they’re coming twice a month, and maybe they’re not buying a second Margarita.”

All this considered, we found it no better time—or place, in our annual issue that honors the “best” of Baton Rouge, no less—to ask: What does it take for a restaurant to survive in the Capital Region?

These days, is good food good enough?

Balancing act

Some of the city’s most noteable restaurants have shuttered recently. Why? Operators say business is tough, thanks to a perfect storm of factors

LAST OCTOBER, Zeeland Street owner Stephanie Phares rolled the dice on a new dinner concept she hoped to incubate within her 35-year-old neighborhood eatery.

The idea was to use the space, typically dormant at night, to serve high-end soul food. Known as Beloved, the concept would give Phares a new revenue stream and a chance to turn a higher profit than that of Zeeland Street’s casual breakfast and plate-lunch business. Phares was inspired by a trend in larger cities, where one restaurant could play double duty as two separate concepts.

Reception for Beloved seemed strong at first. But over its first few months, numbers fell short of expectations.

Then in

mid-January, a seasonal freeze wiped out Phares’ refrigerator compressor. She got sick soon after, as did the chef consultant she had hired to run Beloved’s kitchen. Another winter freeze caused pipes to burst in the restaurant, which closed operations for a few days. Then, her freezer gave out.

“I don’t know how many thousands of dollars worth of product I had in there,” she says.

Phares pumped the brakes on Beloved and returned to her breadand-butter concept, Zeeland Street, to try to right the ship.

But it was facing challenges, too.

As for many restaurants, Zeeland’s customer counts have been down since an initial post-pandemic surge, while, at the same time, the cost of running the business has been soaring.

“I need 150 to 200 people to walk in here every day,” Phares says. “And we’re missing it every day, really, except for Fridays and Saturdays.”

Phares is still hanging on—in fact, Zeeland Street was just voted Best of 225’s Best Black-owned Restaurant. But popularity doesn’t mean immunity from struggles, proven by the volume of celebrated restaurants that have shuttered in

Restaurant group rundown

INDEPENDENT RESTAURANTS are finding it hard to make a profit these days, but the pain is somewhat eased for concepts that operate within a restaurant group.

Multiple brands or locations managed by the same parent company benefit from economies of scale, restaurateurs say. Buying power is better. And by centralizing administrative functions, individual locations operate more efficiently.

“I think staffing is one of the places where it’s been most beneficial for us,” says Emelie Alton, CEO of Byronz Restaurant Family. “The ability to pull

backup staff from another location if we have some holes pop up is really helpful.”

Onboarding staff can be time-consuming—and costly if new employees don’t work out, Alton says. Shifting around employees trained under the same system can save time and money.

Hufft Marchand Hospitality co-founder Nick Hufft says having a central office for payroll and product ordering reduces the management burden in each of the eight concepts the group operates in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

“It allows (management) to focus on one thing and one thing only: making customers happy,” Hufft says.

recent months. Local institution

Fleur de Lis Pizza shut its doors for good in 2022. Gov’t Taco, founded by media darling Jay Ducote, caused a social media stir when it shut down in November 2023. The Shed BBQ, last year’s Best New Restaurant according to 225 voters, closed in December—just 18 months after opening.

The list goes on.

No one has ever claimed the restaurant business, famous for its frenzied energy and slim profit margins, was easy. But now, restaurants are facing a perfect storm of challenges that some operators say are unlike any they’ve seen, including the COVID19 shutdown.

After restrictions were lifted, business came roaring back, at least for a time. Patrons returned in droves to show support of their favorite eateries, and expanded the popularity of to-go sales.

A few of the related restaurants around town

Byronz Pizza Byronz (Mid City and Willow Grove) locations)
Beloved opened as a new concept within Zeeland Street last year.
Zeeland Street

“You look at 2021. I don’t know if we’ll ever see sales volumes like that in our lifetime,” says City Group Hospitality managing partner Stephen Hightower, whose restaurant group runs City Pork, Rouj Creole, Proverbial Wine Bistro, Beausoleil and others.

But by late 2022, he says, sales started to decline, while costs of food, insurance and rent were steadily rising. Meanwhile, diners began facing the realities of inflation and mounting credit card debt—consumer prices have increased by nearly 20% nationally since January 2020. Pandemic loans also dried up.

“I think you’re going to see attrition in the back half of this year for restaurants,” Hightower

says. “We’re fortunate enough to have a loyal customer base, but it doesn’t stop people from not spending as much, and not going out to eat as much.”

And for small operators, uncertainty can spell doom.

Low traffic combined with rent that nearly doubled prompted Southern Cofe to close earlier this spring in Scotlandville, says owner Horatio Isadore, who had just renovated the space in 2023.

“I don’t mind paying the costs if I had a critical mass of people,” Isadore says. He’s now moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, and is taking a break from the business.

CounterspaceBR, an artisan bakery with locations in Bocage and Mid City, decided to close a

“Prices have drastically increased. … Parking can be difficult. Feels like less live music. And it’s hard to find specials restaurants are running.”

third location in Zachary earlier this year one month after opening.

“Barriers that I couldn’t overcome just kept presenting themselves in Zachary,” says owner Sarah Joy Hays, citing overhead costs as the main challenge.

She says business has been hard, in part because she wants to maintain her brand as a specialty bakery that uses high-quality ingredients.

“Everyone’s costs are rising,” Hays continues. “There’s a limit on how much I feel I can charge for a cookie. We’re technically a luxury item.”

Indeed, it’s commonplace to hear diners complaining about the rising cost of eating out as surges in food and overhead have forced restaurants to raise prices, sometimes multiple times. Louisiana Lagniappe founder

and owner Kevin Ortego says he’s never seen food and insurance prices so high. It’s forced the fine dining seafood restaurant to jack up prices about 40% over the last three years, he says.

When he opened the Baton Rouge location in 1998, Ortego says he paid between $7,000 and $8,000 annually for commercial insurance. Now, he pays $27,000 a year. And nearly everything he uses to create his menu has also risen, from bacon to cooking oil.

Crabmeat jumped from $27 per pound to $38. Butter is up, too, from around $40 per 36 pounds to about $150.

“Except domestic shrimp … I can’t name you anything that’s the same price as it was three years ago,” Ortego says. “Where does it stop? That’s what I want to know.”

Camille Lindsey, a respondent to a recent 225 survey about the challenges of dining out in the Capital Region. Read more on page 28.
Curbside Burgers Gail’s Fine Ice Cream
The Overpass Merchant
In the kitchen at City Pork Highland @ Perkins
Louisiana Lagniappe's Kevin Ortego says crab meat is up 41% per pound
SoLou P-Beau's
Portobello's Grill (Bocage and Jones Creek locations)

The real deal


estate and community are shaping Capital Region restaurants

DESPITE THE CHALLENGES the restaurant industry faces today, there’s still plenty of draw to open an eatery in the Capital City.

“The general tone in Baton Rouge is one of there’s always cool new stuff happening. There’s always great opportunities. There’s always tons of people that are so enthusiastic to embrace a new thing,” says Brett Jones, who opened the Baton Rouge outpost of his New Orleans-born Barracuda Taco Stand on Government Street in late 2022.

But the question then becomes, Where are we going to put them?

Charlie Colvin, president of Momentum Commercial Real Estate and chairman and speaker of the local Retail Trends Committee, explains that, much like the restaurant industry, the real estate sector has been hit hard by the

three I’s: inflation, insurance and interest rates.

As these rates have increased since 2020, new construction projects have slowed to a grinding halt. And as a cost-saving measure, restaurateurs are more prone to look for a “second-generation” space instead of a new build.

“They’re looking for existing space and waiting for spaces to turn over,” Colvin explains.

Operators are also scaling back their footprints, Colvin notes. Gone are the days of the 5,000-squarefoot, sit-down restaurant. Instead, Colvin mainly hears from owners looking for about half that.

Barracuda and fellow newcomer Chicky Sandos meet both criteria. Chicky Sandos is now serving its Nashville hot chicken from a former Kolache Kitchen with seating for 12 and a drive-thru off Jefferson

owner of Chicky Sandos

Highway. Barracuda operates out of just 700 square feet in an old barbecue joint, and shares an outdoor dining space with neighboring D’s Garden Center.

They both say it fits their vibe.

“We didn’t want to have something too big to keep up with,”

Chicky Sandos owner Sameer

“Food is something that really makes south Louisiana and Baton Rouge stand out. Sometimes it is almost overwhelming trying to decide where to eat because everything is so good.”

Hannah Martin-Stevens, a respondent to a recent 225 survey on Capital Region dining.

Read more on page 28.

Abudyak told 225 upon opening.

“We don’t take on 3,000-squarefoot restaurants,” Jones seconds. “We keep a small footprint, because we want to charge as little as possible. It helps to some extent with staffing costs, because we want to pay as well as we possibly can in a given market. At that point, small space means less steps, means more efficient operating, and that kind of extends into everything we do.”

“At the heart of it, we want to be your neighborhood taco stand,” Jones continues.

Across town, 26-year-old restaurant Mason’s Grill still boasts its fair share of square footage. But it’s just as committed to fostering that same type of community spirit.

Owner Rober Alamirie says, like many locally owned restaurants, neighborhood support and his restaurant’s location are essential to staying afloat.

“My average guest is here three to five times a week. You come in on Saturday and Sunday, it’s everybody knows your name. It’s

truly like Cheers,” he says. Still, Alamirie is not afraid of change. He’s introduced happy hours and specials to attract a younger, nighttime crowd at the popular brunch and lunch spot. Most notably, he also kicked off an almost $500,000 renovation this spring to give Mason’s a fresh,

bright look. He says, in many ways, the upgrades are meant to thank his loyal customers.

“(It’s the) neighborhood, schools and churches—that’s what keeps us alive,” he says. “My local guests are what keeps me here.”

Barracuda Taco Stand owner Brett Jones says his restaurant keeps a small footprint to help with operation costs and, in turn, keep menu prices as low as possible.

Social pressure

When Instagram and TikTok run the world, how do local restaurateurs and business owners respond?

THERE’S ANOTHER CRUCIAL ingredient restaurants need in 2024: an active, engaging social media presence.

On a planet where people aimlessly scroll their phones, busy restaurant owners are tasked with creating menu items that taste good and stand out on feeds.

Longtime chef, restaurateur and Making Raving Fans Hospitality Group partner Peter Sclafani says using social media in the restaurant industry is a new way of marketing. He and his wife, Michelle, who runs the brand’s social accounts, even set out to make SoLou, MRF’s Perkins Road restaurant, more Instagrammable.

And, it’s working. The restaurant now has over 10,000 Instagram followers, the most out of all MRF concepts. Diners can’t resist snapping pics of its Tabletop S’mores, garnished cocktails, cotton candy tufts and patio mural.

Local foodie and social media influencer Maameefua Koomson has seen this, too. Through her company Quirk-E Creative, she helps spots like Boru Ramen, Sweet Society, Zee Zee’s and others keep their accounts up to date with inventive posts. A Zee Zee’s Espresso Martini Flight reel with over 180,000 views? Koomson was the mastermind behind the viral vid.

Koomson has picked up on trends from sharing her favorite eats with her about 45,000 Instagram and TikTok followers.

“During the pandemic, it was more about convenience and ‘Where can I go eat?’” Koomson says. “But, now it’s like, ‘Where can I go and get an experience?’”

Jordan Basham, who runs the popular @wheretogeaux225 account, says sometimes experience can impact the overall meal.

“If I go in and the food is like

a seven out of 10 and the manager is really trying their best and is receptive to feedback, that truly makes it for me,” she says.

Still, there’s a science to social media. Basham and Koomson agree that restaurant accounts should combine equal parts authenticity and spectacle.

Think: A post about a staff member followed by a reel of flaming desserts.

SoLou heard a lot of feedback on a post showing Peter and Michelle painting benches at the restaurant. Koomson says she’s always being asked to share more about the business or the people behind the scenes, too.

But that process takes effort. The Sclafanis implore the help of the restaurants’ managers to collect photos and videos for future use. Michelle has had to limit posting before due to a lack of content and her own full schedule. And because there’s no secret recipe for the ever-updating algorithms, she experiments to see what sticks.

Others lean on the likes of Baton Rouge’s growing group of more than 30 food influencers for help—they recognize that collaborating can bring in new customers hoping to try what their eyes have already feasted on online.

“Maame and I get messages (from restaurants) every single week, and it’s like ‘You made one video about us, and we had 50 people in the door,’” Basham shares. “It’s made a huge impact on the Baton Rouge food industry, I think.”

Social media isn’t going anywhere, so restaurants have to get on board with it, Michelle says.

“The consumers are looking for an online presence,” Koomson adds. “It doesn’t have to be the best, but I do think that’s essential now. … If not, it’s kind of like not having a sign on your door.”


From the diners’ POV

THERE’S NO ESCAPING it: The cost of dining out is up—and not just locally. Growth in full-service menu prices reached record highs in 2022, with 9% year-overyear increases spanning several months.

Price increases are only now seeming to stabilize, with a 4.8% year-over-year rise in April 2024—the smallest jump since August 2020.

How are Capital Region residents responding? To find out, 225 conducted a survey at 225batonrouge.com for four weeks this spring.

A total of 675 people (about 70% female, ranging from young adults to those 65 and up) shared what draws them to a restaurant, how much they’ll fork over for a meal and more.



The average hourly pay for restaurant staff in Baton Rouge, compared to $15.26 nationally. Local restaurant staff earn about $55 a day in tips, which is on par with the national average.


The top 3 factors diners consider when deciding where to eat, ranked:

Percent of diners who say they believe they spend more money at restaurants since 2020 Are residents dining out more or less than they did before 2020?

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Is Baton Rouge breaking up with chains?

In open-ended responses, many participants lamented the longtime local popularity of chain restaurants. But almost as many pointed to a trend in the opposite direction. “It has really diversified in the last 10 years. We have a lot more local restaurants compared to chain restaurants, which is a great thing,” wrote Nick Delaune. Stacy Parker added, “When I first moved to Baton Rouge in 2006 there were so many chain restaurants and not as many local places like you can find in New Orleans. Now we have a better selection of nice places to go for quality food.”


The most common gratuity amount, with about 53.2% of diners citing this as their typical tip.

How much are restaurantgoers willing to spend on dinner for two at a trendy, sit-down eatery in BR?

$25-$50: 8.1%

$50-$75: 23%

$75-$100: 35.4%

$100-$200: 29.5%

$200+: 4%

What are diners craving?

• International cuisine, especially Korean, Chinese, Thai and Japanese.

• Outdoor seating.

• Sandwich shops. Think: Jewish delis, bread-driven bakeries and sandwich-and-soup concepts.


We asked respondents to sound off about BR’s dining scene—what they love the most, their pet peeves, and hopes and dreams for the city’s culinary future. Their answers have been scattered throughout this feature, including a few more below.

The number of high-quality restaurants in BR has dropped precipitously. It seems like everything new or interesting is owned by the same five companies/people and they all feel overleveraged, which translates to unreliable quality and, frankly, menus getting stale and concepts implemented without fidelity because hiring, training and keeping employees is so difficult. The real good food is in ethnic, family-owned restaurants on the fringes of the city.

In general, the quality of food is just better here than in other places in the South, with the exception of New Orleans. We may not have the fine dining options that Memphis or Birmingham have, but your average meal from a local establishment in BR is typically better than what you get in those cities— barbecue being the only notable exception.

Find the full survey at 225batonrouge.com. And tell us your thoughts at editor@225batonrouge.com.


For life’s moments, big and small. We’re here with the strength of the cross, the protection of the shield. The Right Card. The Right Care.

Yalonda Short

YALONDA SHORT TOOK a page from her father’s book when she joined the military, which she says taught her about structure.

The Southern University grad later also took a page from her mother’s, who showed her the importance of making learning enjoyable as a seasoned educator.

Combining these qualities over 10 years as a teacher helped Short, a 42-year-old mom of three, win multiple awards and yield high student testing scores. She says it also taught her vital skills for her new role as principal of The Emerge School for Autism.

“I’m fun,” she says. “I’m fair, but I’m firm. And, it works.”

Short says she has always held her students to a high standard, and her new pupils at The Emerge School for Austism are no different.

Though she’s never taught in a school like Emerge, a tuition-free public charter for autistic children, Short has taught children on the autism spectrum. Her oldest son is also on the spectrum,

so Short is familiar with the specific needs, quirks and triggers that are common among neurodivergent kids.

“I’ve been that parent, and I’ve been that teacher,” she says. “Now, I have the best of both worlds. … You have to have expectations really high. It has to be structured, full of love and full of fun, and the kids will grow.”

One way Short has focused on pumping more fun into Emerge’s curriculum has been through field trips. Last school year she organized a field trip to BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo. Most students had never been on a school bus before, so Short had the bus come several days before the trip to help them become more familiar with the new mode of transportation.

“Once they got on, and they started doing the whip around the parking lot, they didn’t want to get off,” Short laughs.

Short says the trip was extremely successful, with some non-verbal children even exclaiming animal names during the visit. Next year, she

hopes to coordinate a field trip every quarter to a destination that relates to lesson plans.

Another “bite-sized” change Short introduced was homework, allowing students to choose their assignments. She says it’s helped with parent involvement.

“Parents are the last key element,” she says. “The teachers, the child and the parents. That’s the trifecta. All of these things have to be working in the same direction for academic success and success overall.”

Still, this is just the beginning, according to Short, who keeps detailed calendars and whiteboards full of brain dumps on her office walls. She plans to stick around for a while and wants to bring a sense of normalcy into students' lives.

“I’m just looking forward to the growth academically, behaviorally and socially,” Short says. “Just to make (the students) operate and not feel ostracized.” emergeschool.org

“I love what I do. ... I’ve always (had) that spirit of optimism and seeing what our kids can do.”



Curb appeal – Everyone wants to be THE house that others are looking at while driving by or on their daily walks, but you may be unsure of how to achieve it. Trees play an essential role in enhancing the curb appeal of your property, and they also provide an abundance of eco benefits like noise and temperature regulation, privacy and improved air quality. What you may not realize is that when a tree is healthy and well maintained, it can also add so much value to your property.

Trees reduce noise, help with temperature regulation and enhance privacy naturally. Noise reduction comes from the canopy itself. The leaves, branches and stems absorb and deflect sound, creating a quieter home. Additionally, trees provide temperature regulation throughout the year. In the summer, they provide shade for summer gatherings and keep homes cooler, while in the winter they help reduce heat loss and decrease heating costs.

If you are looking for privacy, one answer is to plant more trees! Trees like hollies or magnolias grow to be lush and tall and can be manicured to be “fence like,” while live oaks with their broad, lush canopies provide extra screening for your home.

You may be surprised to learn that mature live oaks can easily be appraised at between $80,000$100,000 each. To learn the value of a tree, a comprehensive tree appraisal using the trunk formula method needs to be completed, showing the monetary value of each tree.

Since trees are an investment, it’s important to keep them maintained and well-manicured. What entails a well-manicured tree? No dead wood in the branches, bright green leaves, no insects or diseases, and a raised, rounded and luscious canopy.

That’s where Bayou Tree Service can help. With 45 years of experience, their crews have mastered the art of tree aesthetics while properly maintaining your investment. A team of certified,

experienced arborists will present you with the complete picture of how you can maintain and preserve your trees while also beautifying your property.

Whether recommending services like regular pruning, fertilization, tree protection during construction, enrolling in its Tree Health Care Program, or even calling an arborist for a comprehensive consultation to assess your tree’s specific needs – Bayou Tree Service has you covered. A complete list of services is available online at bayoutree.com.

With locations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, the company’s comprehensive range of services goes beyond maintenance and can help unlock the full potential of your trees through specialized techniques tailored to your unique needs. Contact Bayou Tree Service today to schedule a consultation and discover the difference that proper tree care can make. For the Baton Rouge office, call 225.372.8585, or for New Orleans, call 504.837.8733.

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Number of votes cast across this year’s 72 award categories

Read on to learn which two local businesses tied for this year’s Best Pizza award.

How YOU crowned this year’s winners

Nominations and voting for the 2024 Best of 225 Awards were open to all Capital Region residents earlier this year at 225batonrouge.com.

It went down in a two-part process:

1. You wrote in fill-in-the-blank nominations.

Back in January and February, locals submitted more than 16,000 nominations for this year’s award categories.

2. You voted for your faves .

In March, the restaurants, shops, people and groups with the most nominations were entered onto the multiple-choice-style ballot. Nearly 16,000 locals cast votes to determine this year’s results.



Learn more about the whole shebang on our FAQ page at 225batonrouge.com / bestof225 . Winners and runners up can also snag downloadable Best of 225 social media graphics there.

While some winners claim their titles in landslides, other categories demonstrate why we preach that every. vote. counts. Watch for these illustrations throughout—our cartoon characters champion how the awards continue to evolve.

First-time winner

It’s a big deal to claim the top spot for the first time.

Hats off to this group.

Close race

With almost 16,000 people casting votes, it’s wild to think some awards are decided by less than a 1% difference. In fact, one category was tied this year.

New category

Every year when this issue comes out, our inboxes are flooded with suggestions. We hear you— we promise. We’ll surely swap some of the 2024 categories for freshies in 2025. Email editor@225batonrouge.com with category ideas for next year.

Don’t forget the runners up. OK, so you’ve heard of most of the winners. But have you visited the runners up? There are 288 in this year’s edition—don’t skip them. Think of them as the city’s rising stars and hidden gems. You might find your new favorite spot here—and maybe even next year’s winners.

Best Local Cookies winner Caroline’s Cookies

What’s on your mind matters in your care. And sometimes, it’s hard to know the right questions to ask or a simple way to ask them. It’s our job to make that conversation easier, to stay with you for longer, to be there when you need us — to listen. That’s our priority and our promise. So, tell us what concerns you. Tell us your story. The doctor will hear you now. Learn more at ololrmc.com/listen.

Best New Restaurant* Pizza

Art Wine


The brainchild of international model Yilena Hernández, Pizza Art Wine is a hip wellspring outfitted in local artwork, jewel-tone pops and boho-chic design. Wood-fired pizza curated with lavish toppings is the star, but don’t dismiss well-executed modern pasta dishes and shareable apps. Fine wines on tap served in elegant glassware scream to be posted, so freshen that mani and strike a pose. pizzartwine.com


Cork’s Cajun Fried Fish & Shrimp 17.73%

Library Wine & Provisions 16.50%

Chai Thai-Lao 13.39%

Sweet Rice Thai Cuisine 11.04%

*Nominees in this category were limited to 2023 openings. Restaurants that opened in 2024 will be eligible for the 2025 awards.

Best Overall Restaurant Elsie’s Plate & Pie


Before opening Elsie’s in 2017, Paul Dupre managed The Chimes—so he’s no stranger to formulas that work. Elsie’s keeps packing ’em in, with its friendly charm and uber-flaky sweet and savory pies. The parking lot stays slammed, but hey, this is Mid City, so hop on your bike. elsiespies.com

Runners up Louisiana Lagniappe 11.48% The Chimes 10.41%

Mansurs on the Boulevard 7.79%

Ruth’s Chris Steak House 7.70%

Best Local FIne Dining

Ruth’s Chris Steak House


Blow the bank on dinner in the days of inflation, and you don’t want to risk the meal not meeting expectations. This New Orleans-born concept continues to shine with never-fail, last-meal dishes like the porterhouse for two, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and chocolate sin cake. ruthschris.com

Runners up

Louisiana Lagniappe 10.32%

The Little Village 9.19%

Supper Club 8.63%

Mansurs on the Boulevard 8.57%

Best Restaurant – St. Francisville


Francis Southern Table & Bar


One of America’s prettiest small towns is on the ascent, aided by a blossoming retail scene and convivial restaurants like The Francis. Lose yourself in live music on the patio, shaded by rapturous live oak boughs. It’s a scene-setting backdrop for its lively, accessible menu of salads, po-boys, sandwiches, pasta, steaks and seafood. francissoutherntable.com


Restaurant 1796 16.29% Magnolia Cafe 15.28%

The Saint Restaurant 12.11%

Sonny’s Pizza 4.18%



- Gonzales 16.90%

The seafood restaurant founded by former Tiger linebacker Mike Anderson has two locations in Ascension Parish. The stalwart menu of deftly fried seafood and detailed Cajun specialties spans from belt-loosening po-boys and gumbo to shrimp- and crabbedecked fresh Gulf fish. mikeandersons.com


Frank’s Restaurant - Prairieville 15.51%

Sno’s Seafood & Steak 13.35% Hot Tails - Prairieville 9.89% On The Half Shell 9.17%

Seafood & Steakhouse

26. 37%

Denham Springs’ and Watson’s beloved seafood and steakhouse is known for platters of fried catfish, butterflied shrimp and oysters, as well as juicy steaks, etouffee, bisque and other Cajun faves. Homemade bread pudding with rum sauce is the cherry on top. dukesseafoodandsteakhouse.com


Geisha, Sushi With a Flair 10.19%

Randazzo’s Italian Market 9.77%

Big Mike’s Sports Bar & Grill 7.94%

Don’s Seafood - Denham Springs 7.56%

Best Restaurant – Ascension Parish
Best Restaurant – Livingston Parish Duke’s

Best Craft Cocktail Menu

Hayride Scandal


Hayride Scandal’s moody interior delivers Hollywood noir vibes—rather impressive given its strip-mall locale. This immersive spot has long been known for expertise in brown liquors, but that’s just part of a spectacular exhibition of cocktail alchemy. The house menu’s Violet Cowgirl, with tequila, crème de violette, génépi, lime and soda, is a surefire way to combat summer (while also looking cool). hayridescandal.com


Olive or Twist 14.54%

Mid City Beer Garden 9.59% SoLou 9.52%

Elsie’s Plate & Pie 6.62%

Best Local Bar* Mid City Beer Garden


There’s much to love about this popular spot on Government Street, flush with craft beers on draft, natural wines, and classic and original cocktails served in a building that feels more like a patio (because it is).

Elevated pub grub makes it a place to linger beyond your pregame. midcitybeergarden.com


Bin 77 Bistro & Sidebar 14.67% Hayride Scandal 10.54%

Brickyard South Bar + Patio 7.72%

Mother’s Lounge 7.17%

*Nominees in this category were limited to businesses with a Class A - General license.

Best Bar at a Local Restaurant* Superior Grill


Eight different margs, including a build-your-own option, supply a wee glimpse of the many refreshments at this high-energy cantina. Numerous top-shelf tequilas, mezcals and a lineup of other spirits make for a veritable playground of cocktail-y adventures. batonrouge.superiorgrill.com or highland.superiorgrill.com


Elsie’s Plate & Pie 12.79%

Olive or Twist 10.19%

Stab’s Prime Steak and Seafood 8.38% SoLou 8.04%

*Nominees in this category were limited to businesses with a Class A - Restaurant license.

Growing B Rouge

Since 1978, we have been the cornerstone of St. Francisville, serving our friends and neighbors with a winning combination of community vision and relationship banking. For nearly a decade we’ve been steadily growing in Baton Rouge, always mindful of maintaining the same level of exceptional personalized service. Soon we will break ground on our new Baton Rouge main o ce, and with the help of Cockfield Jackson Architects, Cangelosi-Ward General Contractors and Kenneth Brown Design we will endeavor to duplicate the Bank of St. Francisville aura, elegance and charm that so many have known and loved.

Coming Soon, 9015 Je erson Hwy

The friendly and hardworking Stephanie Phares first opened Zeeland Street in 1989, a come-as-you-are spot known for scratch-made breakfast and Southern plate lunches. The mashed potatoes start with real spuds, and the burger patties are freshly ground. Top sellers like pot roast, smoked brisket, Southern vegetable plates and breakfast combos have drawn devotees for decades. zeelandstreet.com

Mix a lively, see-and-be-seen vibe with mega margs and straightforward Tex-Mex, and you have the makings of a winner— literally. Once again, Red Stick residents consider Superior, well, superior. batonrouge.superiorgrill.com or highland.superiorgrill.com

Best Italian Gino’s Restaurant


Staying power among restaurants is no small feat, but 58-yearold Gino’s still draws loyalists and newbies with old-school dishes made with Marino family recipes. Don’t look for foliage walls or neon proverbs—the vibe here is defiantly bygone. Anything else would be wrong, and the arancini is so right. ginosrestaurant.com


The Little Village 15.22%

DiGiulio Brothers Italian Cafe 14.16%

Monjunis 11.72%

Randazzo’s Italian Market 9.83%

Mediterranean Albasha Greek & Lebanese

Put money on whether a random Baton Rougean has ever dined at Albasha, and you could make a quick buck. The full-service, nine-location restaurant wins hearts and minds with garlicky shawarma, gyros, moussaka and other assertive Greek and Lebanese dishes. albashabr.com


Serop’s Café 13.80%

Cafe Phoenicia 13.67%

Zorba’s Greek Bistro 13.13%

Roman’s Cafe 8.61%

Best Thai Thai Kitchen 40.55%

Just thinking about a bowl of red curry gives the jaw a little jingle, but curries are only part of a lineup that roams from pad thai to papaya salad. Can we just call this enduring spot Pan-Asian? Its Sears catalog of a menu also features a healthy roundup of sushi and dim sum. thaikitchenla.com


Chai Thai-Lao 14.98%

Thai Pepper 14.10%

Sweet Rice Thai Cuisine 11.94%

Thai Chili Restaurant 10.46%

Best Vietnamese Chow Yum 25.49%

Rebranded last year as Chow Yum, this street food hamlet follows a no-rules playbook that grooves on crossing culinary borders. Its Viet-style crawfish is a springtime wonder, but so are its many types of bao, ramen and Tuesday birria tacos. chowyumbr.com


Bao Vietnamese Kitchen 17.04%

Ava Street Café 13.84%

Pho Cafe 11.79%

Drunken Fish 8.73%

Best Local Cookies

Caroline’s Cookies

Born in Lafayette during the pandemic lockdown, Caroline Merryman’s cookie company debuted in Perkins Rowe in December. It’s been routinely selling out of its decorative, cake-like, preservativefree cookies ever since. Rotating flavors from this pastry imaginarium might include options like banana pudding, churro or blueberry lemon. eatcarolinescookies.com


CounterspaceBR 18.06%

Paige’s Pantry 16.63%

Les Amis Bake Shoppe 9.05%

Eloise Market and Cakery 6.33% Best Desserts at a Local Restaurant Elsie’s Plate & Pie 38.24%

Seven regular-menu pie flavors are joined by rotating daily specials with infinite possibilities—Elsie’s has served around 200 different sweet pies since 2017. The case up front stashes whole pies that will make you a dinner party icon. Oh, and the crust is still made by hand. elsiespies.com


Ruth’s Chris Steak House 8.73%

The Little Village 6.93%

Randazzo’s Italian Market 6.41% Ruffino’s 6.27%



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Paneled walls, Coke signs and red-checkered plastic tablecloths give time-machine vibes at this diner and smokehouse, known by its biscuit-centric identity. Families and friends pour in on weekends, while regulars meet up on weekdays for unfussy interpretations of the most important meal of the day. franksrestaurantla.com

Served on Saturdays and Sundays, Elsie’s knocks brunch out of the park with goodies like Bayou Fry Bread with peach maple butter, and poached eggs over crawfish cakes with satsuma hollandaise. Wash it down with a cold brew zhuzhed with prosecco and St. Germain. elsiespies.com

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Multiple regional locations, most with drivethrus, make this Baton Rouge-born concept a must for a morning jolt or afternoon bracer. Lavender white chocolate Mochasippi, perhaps? How ‘bout a crème brulee cold brew with sugar-free caramel? ccscoffee.com

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items. cou-yons.com

Situated in a historic Mid City post office, Elsie’s fuses comfort and cool with a lunch menu built on savory and dessert pies, Cajun specials, melts, salads, burgers and more. Take home a jar of the homemade pepper jelly present in several of the dishes. elsiespies.com


This Month @ BREC [JULY]


Highland Road Park Observatory

July 5 | 1-10 p.m.


Magnolia Mound

July 7 | 1-3 p.m.


Milford Wampold Memorial Park

July 10 + 24 | 7-8:30 p.m.


Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

July 12-13 | 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.


Gus Young Ave Park

July 12 + 26 | 7-10 p.m.


Liberty Lagoon

July 12 | 7:30-9:30 p.m.


Santa Maria Golf Course

July 13 + 14


Liberty Lagoon

July 26 | 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Barracuda Taco Stand

Those who questioned the wisdom of Barracuda’s outdooronly seating have since been silenced by its success—mouths likely full of Sonoran-style street tacos. The stand’s small but excellent menu, along with its fresh fruit margs and plantdraped patio, have clinched it as a Mid City draw. Protein fillings are joined by broccoli or mushroom options, while chips with queso or guac topped with pepitas and pomegranate seeds show how the basic can become next level. eatbarracuda.com

Smoked low and slow over hickory, Hannah Q’s ribs, brisket, pulled pork and other proteins are known for their impossibly tender texture. The Mid City eatery’s sprawling menu includes sides like corn pudding, smoked gouda mac and cheese, and pork-studded baked beans, as well as four homemade sauces. hannahqsmokehouse.com

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

In the bucket of “things that never go out of style,” there are Chanel suits, Broadway plays, Christmas stockings—and steaks from Ruth’s Chris. Even snooty home grillers enjoy being served a prime cut here, expertly cooked to order. ruthschris.com

Baton Rouge is possessed of a great love for—and strong opinions about—pizza, proven by this year’s perfect tie between homegrown concepts Lit Pizza and Red Zeppelin. Lit is a leader in the DIY space, allowing diners to self-style pies, while Red Zeppelin lures crowds with a thin crust that’s firm enough to support a pantry of toppings. Rocca—the gourmet wood-fired pizzeria in Mid City that took the crown last year—placed a close second in this squeaker. lit.pizza and redzeppelinpizza.com

Burgersmith 17.34%

Well-organized toppings, succulent patties and buns that stand up mean it’s bad burger o’clock at Burgersmith. The Lafayette-born concept features ground brisket, filet or beef and accoutrements like smoked gouda, chipotle lime mayo, roasted red peppers and cage-free organic eggs. burgersmith.com


Dearman’s Diner 16.80%

Curbside 14.72%

Our Mom’s Restaurant & Bar 11.96% Roul’s Deli 11.35%

Burgersmith 22.14%

Burgersmith understood the assignment with a tableau of fried potatoes like the Cajun-dusted “Smith-style,” butter and garlic, sweet potato tots and cheese fries blanketed in shredded cheddar, bacon and fresh jalepeño. Or, go for straightforward regular. Choices, choices. burgersmith.com


Cane’s Chicken Fingers 18.26%

Sliders 11.33%

Merchant 11.26%


Best Oysters

Phil’s Oyster Bar 14.97%

Gulf oysters come in many forms here, including raw on the half-shell, chargrilled with a variety of sauces and deep fried. The fried oyster po-boy and oyster platter both showcase serious frying skills, walking the line between crisp exterior and jiggly middle. philsoysterbar.com


Drago’s Seafood Restaurant 14.27%

Mike Anderson’s 11.62%

Parrain’s Seafood Restaurant 10.47%

Acme Oyster House 9.49%

Tony’s Seafood 24.73%

The megamart of boiled and fresh seafood in north Baton Rouge serves thousands of pounds of steaming, fragrant mudbugs every spring, along with live ones that draw lines of DIY-ers. Exiting Tony’s with a plastic bag of hot boiled crawfish, nubs of corn and spicegripping potatoes means happy times cometh. tonyseafood.com


Sammy’s Grill 12.76%

Hole ‘N Da Wall Seafood 11.82%

Willie’s Restaurant 11.57% Crawfish on the Geaux 7.70%

Louisiana Lagniappe 22.75%

Bliss out on seafood-centric fine dining at this 40-year-old institution, first founded in Destin, Florida, by local restaurateur Kevin Ortego before relocating to Baton Rouge in the late ‘90s. All those decades in the business ensure a deep bench of suppliers, resulting in ultra-fresh crab, fish, shrimp and oysters. louisianalagniapperestaurant.com


Parrain’s Seafood Restaurant 18.92%

Mike Anderson’s 16.38%

Duke’s Seafood & Steakhouse 10.27% Mansurs on the Boulevard 8.45%

Best Crawfish
Best Seafood Dishes

Best Gumbo

Dempsey’s 15.19%

If year-round gumbo is gospel in Baton Rouge, then Dempsey’s is one of its high altars. Serving both chicken and sausage, as well as seafood, the gumbo here starts with scratch-made roux. Find it on Facebook


The Chimes 14.01%

Mike Anderson’s 10.73%

Duke’s Seafood & Steakhouse 10.32% The Jambalaya Shoppe 7.88%

Best Po-boys

Po-Boy Express 20.84%

Six locations of this 32-year-old institution have helped establish a life-changing local advancement: the drive-thru po-boy. Choose from 16 options, including fried Gulf shrimp and oyster, farm-raised catfish and gravydrenched roast beef. poboyexpress.com


Rocco’s New Orleans Po-Boys and Cafe 16.07%

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Poor Boy Lloyd’s 12.04% Dempsey’s 10.67% George’s Restaurants 9.81%

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Best Martinis

Duvic’s 22.49%

Behind Duvic’s nondescript exterior is a haunt that’s equal parts stylish speakeasy and grizzled dive, which, of course, makes it a must try. Opt for classic or modern interpretations of the mother-ofall-cocktails as you channel your favorite martini poster child. James Bond? Let’s go with Lucille Bluth. duvicsbar.com


Stab’s Prime Steak and Seafood 18.27% Hayride Scandal 14.58%

Jubans Restaurant and Bar 13.17% Mansurs on the Boulevard 13.17% Best Local Happy Hour

Superior Grill 37.23%

Superior’s happy hour deals on margs, beer and wine take the sting out of inflation-era dining. A $4 wine pour? Yes, please, along with biggie margs and draft beer for the price of smalls. batonrouge.superiorgrill. com or highland.superiorgrill.com RUNNERS UP


The local brewery scene has changed considerably in recent years, but Tin Roof is a favorite among enthusiasts, thanks to regular happy hours, weekly yoga on the lawn and live music. In the taproom, sample tried-and-true varieties on draft along with small-batch runs you won’t find anywhere else. tinroofbeer.com


Istrouma Eatery + Brewery 21.94% Le Chien Brewing Company 21.63%

BLDG 5’s menu is perfectly flexitarian, featuring mixand-match options and lots of plant-based ingredients. Many dishes start off vegetarian with the option of adding proteins. Dive into veggies as main courses, in salads or on sharable boards paired with lively global sauces. To the delight of pescatarians, salmon, tuna and shrimp are standard add-ons. bldg5.com

The promise of a big ol’ bowl full of greens topped with fun stuff continues to satisfy salad cravings. Protein additions like ahi tuna and grilled chicken round out crisp veggies and punchy dressings. jalexanders.com

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Expertly carved fresh fish are served nigiri- or sashimi-style, or wound with other ingredients in myriad sushi rolls, like The Bayou with softshell

and avocado. Watch the action at the expansive sushi bar, or settle in at a

and lively space also includes hibachi seating. ichibanbr.com

Making healthcare convenient for you

With several locations throughout the Capital Area, Ochsner Baton Rouge makes it easy for you and your family to receive the care that you need. Our multidisciplinary team of physicians and advanced practice providers work together to deliver compassionate care at our conveniently located primary care and urgent care centers, specialty clinics and medical complexes.

Scan the QR code to find a location near you.

Kurt Vile and the Violators played at Best Live Music Venue winner Chelsea’s Live in May.

Local Visual Artist

Jennifer Bolanos, Royal Rouge Photography

The Royal Rouge Photography crew has traveled the country for shoots from Kentucky to California. But Bolanos and her team seem to know Baton Rouge best. Golden Mississippi River sunsets and historic downtown landmarks provide dramatic backdrops for stylishly staged wedding, quinceañera, graduation and family portraits. royalrougephotography.com


Jacob Zumo 13.27%

Glenn Eymard Photography 11.41%

Kimberly Meadowlark 7.91%

Laura W. Taylor 7.31%

Chelsea’s Live 20.99%

Disco nights, Shrek-themed raves, indie gigs and comedy shows. That’s just another week at Chelsea’s Live. Open since 2022, the music venue’s cool vibes and killer lineups have won the hearts of new fans— and old patrons of its predecessor, Chelsea’s Cafe. chelseaslive.com


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Performing Arts Group

Theatre Baton Rouge 23.47%

From casting call all the way to curtain call, Theatre Baton Rouge’s renditions of shows like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Christmas Carol earn its talented casts and crews a spot in the limelight. theatrebr.org

RUNNERS UP Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra 20.92% Center Stage Performing Arts Academy 13.64%

John “Spike” Graham,

Big Jake’s BBQ 16.43%

Chef “Spike” is always smoking in the Big Jake’s BBQ kitchen, chasing drool-worthy crusts on tender briskets and sauceslathered ribs that just fall off the bone. This pitmaster takes things low and slow, but regulars of the St. Gabriel eatery swear it’s worth the wait. Find the restaurant on Facebook RUNNERS

Walk-On’s Sports

With flat-screen TVs lining every wall, there’s no bad seat in any Walk-On’s. Keep an eye on the big game—and three others—while downing Louisiana-inspired dishes and frosty glasses of beer. walk-ons.com

Knock Knock

A dance studio? Check. A pint-sized grocery store and a cafe? Knock Knock has that. The museum promotes learning through play with 18 interactive stations suited for kiddos of all ages. Don’t worry, parents—it’s totally OK if you want to get in on the fun, too. knockknockmuseum.org

Let’s face it, nothing’s more romantic than going in on a shared spaghetti plate Lady and the Tramp -style. And Gino’s—around since 1966—has hosted its fair share of date nights and anniversaries. ginosrestaurant.com

Don’t scroll through Eat the Boot’s Facebook group on an empty stomach. What started as a space where founder Joey Cavalier and a few friends could share food reviews has morphed into musings from thousands of locals feasting their way through the state. There’s a podcast, too. On second thought, better bring your appetite. eattheboot.com

Listening to the radio is one life hack for making sitting in Baton Rouge traffic more bearable. KLOVE provides a break from pop hits and mundane talk shows with its flow of contemporary Christian music. listen.klove.com

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Best Radio Personality

Big D & Bubba 25.89%

This well-known country radio duo met in Baton Rouge at a station where Big D hosted a morning show and Bubba worked afternoons. Today, they host a talk show together that is syndicated on stations around the country, including 100.7 - The Tiger. bigdandbubba.com


Murphy, Sam & Jodi 23.58%

Matt Moscona 14.97%

T-Bob Hebert 13.52%

Kool DJ SupaMike 10.54%

Best Local News Personality Kiran Chawla,

Unfiltered With Kiran 51.23%

If there’s a hot news scoop, odds are Kiran Chawla already knows all about it. Unfiltered With Kiran tackles hard-hitting topics, from local crime to politics, on its website, podcast, social media pages and YouTube channel. unfilteredwithkiran.com


Sylvia Weatherspoon, WBRZ 10.58%

Jay Grymes, WAFB 7.38%

Jacques Doucet, WAFB 5.34% Greg Meriwether, WAFB 4.85%

Best Place for Pet Services winner Camp Bow Wow

Local Plant Nursery

Before being a #plantmom or #plantdad was ever trendy on social media, Clegg’s Nursery was an original plant influencer, helping families grow since 1955. Get lost in the lush aisles of flourishing flowers, happy house plants, decorative succulents, fresh herbs and vegetables, and promising trees and shrubs. cleggsnursery.com

This Mid City antique mecca has taken home the title of Best Antique Shop four years in a row. (Is it getting reminiscent of the famous Michael Jordan portrait wearing his national championship rings yet?) Thanks to owner Garrett Kemp’s social media presence and the store’s covetable collection, Circa 1857 has no doubt contributed timeless character to homes around Baton Rouge. circa1857br.com


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If you’re not lured by the rows of hot and crispy fried fish or the chocolate-covered strawberries, the big bags of flavored popcorn or pounds of boiled crawfish may tempt you at this family-owned grocery store with locations in Watson and Central. It’s OK; no one is judging if you leave with a cart full of treats that weren’t on your long-forgotten shopping list. oakpointmarket.com


Rouses Markets 22.77%

Calandro’s Supermarkets 11.82% Calvin’s Bocage Market 11.78% Alexander’s Markets 11.19%

Deciding which hormone-free, grass-fed, pasture-raised meat to choose for your meal can feel like a pop quiz. The experts at this whole-animal butcher shop, which sources from local farms, can help. iverstinebutcher.com


Oak Point Fresh Market 11.92% Maxwell’s Market 10.08%

Chris’ Specialty Foods 9.76% Day’s Smokehouse & Specialty Meats 9.40% Best Caterer


Listen, we can’t all be pitmasters. That’s why there are catering companies—let the pros handle the plating. Big Jake’s will bring a spread of smoked chicken, brisket and sausage and creamy sides of baked beans, mac and cheese and coleslaw. Find it on Facebook


City Pork Catering & Events 19.34%

Bergeron’s City Market 19.02%

Unique Cuisine 7.70%

Drakes Catering 7.13%

Your little ones will only be this small for so long. So why not dress them in the sweetest, customembroidered and themed seasonal pieces? This precious Denham Springs shop stocks onesies, dresses, button-ups, overalls and pajama sets for all those milestones. Find it on Facebook RUNNERS UP

Lulu & Bean 13.35%

Wearing an outfit you love is the key to taking a night out from good to unforgettable. Find romantic date night dresses, bold matching sets with loud prints, statement sneakers, metallic booties and clothes that celebrate the Cap City’s culture at Bayou Belle’s Denham Springs and Baton Rouge locations. bayoubelleboutique.com

Patagonia polos, The North Face shorts and Hoka running shoes may not be considered high-fashion, but active wear and athleisure reign supreme here in the Sportsman’s Paradise. The Jefferson Highway outdoor sports store’s shelves of highquality clothes and accessories look and feel good— and perform well. backpackeroutdoors.com RUNNERS UP

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Alexa, play Gwen Stefani’s “Luxurious.” Once upon a time, this glamorous downtown hotel was the Louisiana Trust & Savings Bank headquarters, the safe place for the wealthy’s valuables. Now, reimagined with carved marble walls, grand ceiling murals and gold accents, this historic landmark makes everyone who walks through the door feel like a million bucks. watermarkbr.com


L’Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge 18.36%

Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel 16.21%

Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center 10.90%

The Cook Hotel at LSU 7.89%

Tell me you’re from Louisiana without telling me you’re from Louisiana. Think : Crawfish- and oyster-patterned pajamas, LSU Tiger-themed gifts and apparel, Lilly Pulitzer accessories and monogrammed … well, everything. This gift and apparel shop has all of the essentials for a good ol’ Southernstyle tailgate, crawfish boil or day at the lake. theroyalstandard.com


Fleurty Girl Baton Rouge 16.42%

Baton Rouge General Gift Shop 11.05%

The Foyer 9.23%

Bayou Belle Boutique 7.46%

Bumble Lane 30.40%

Self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a requirement. Slip into a comfy robe and slippers, and nourish your body. Take the plunge at this 23-year-old spa with a sinus and headache massage, a lavender sugar body scrub, a seaweed mud wrap or an illuminating facial. bumblelane.com

Weiler Plastic Surgery 19.56%

Botox, anyone? Weiler Plastic Surgery has been recognized by Allergan as the No. 1 provider of Botox in Louisiana. It offers a range of plastic surgery, injectables and nonsurgical facial and body treatments, and its videos like “Dance or you can’t get your Botox” have helped draw a following of more than 142,000 on Instagram. weilerplasticsurgery.com

All rising professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners are invited to join us in taking their leadership up a notch. Business Report’s Executive Leadership Academy is a transformative program that will take your career and your organization to new levels of success.

THE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY WAS A GREAT opportunity for me to learn not only about myself and how I can better myself as a leader, but also to learn from other talented young professionals that represented many different industries in the Baton Rouge area.The instructors were interactive, impactful, and relevant with case studies we discussed in class and thorough with their explanations.”

NYOKI MOKEBA Performance Contractors, Inc.

EACH CLASS HAD PRACTICAL INFORMATION that I could immediately take back to the office and apply. I also enjoyed being surrounded by incredible classmates that led to great discussions and sharing of perspectives. I have many pages of notes that I know I will reference for many years to come.

KATI HODGES, Premier Geotech & Testing

Best Local Nail Salon

Zaza Nail Boutique 20.76%

The love is in the details at Zaza. Comfy sofa chairs for pedicures, fresh flower arrangements on every table and elegant decor send you into an instant state of bliss. zazabatonrouge.com


Sweetheart Nails 16.18%

BeauVie Nail Bar 14.50%

Perkins Nails 10.00%

Ginger’s Nails, Salon & Boutique 9.69%

Best Local Hair Salon

Paris Parker 13.14%

As the saying goes, life is too short to have boring hair. Whether you’re in your Britney Spears era or have evolved with the times like Beyoncé, this is the place to experiment with a new cut, color or style from a trained hair professional. parisparker.com


EGGIE salon studio 10.24%

Salon Prism 9.22%

Nadine & Company Hair Studio 8.25%

Mitchell & Co 6.96%

THE EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY is one of the best things I have done in my career for professional development. The course content was excellent with a ton of practical applications. Being able to network and collaborate with other professionals across industry type was of great value.”

EVAN SCROGGS, Lee & Associates

“Pup cups” full of whipped cream and bone-shaped pools with balls to play with? Sounds like a pet’s paradise. Keep your furry friend’s tail wagging with grooming, daycare, boarding and training. campbowwow.com


Smooch My Pooch 14.76% Royal Treatment: Pet Manor & Grooming Spa 11.45%

Lots Boarding & Daycare 8.55%

Don’t be fooled by the ballet barres and plie positions—barre is not for the weak. These muscle-defining micro-movements will leave you sweating, challenged and stronger than you’d imagine. bodysculptbarrestudios.com RUNNERS UP

Health is wealth. Lake After Hours can treat cuts, simple fractures and sprains, fevers and ear infections—without the long wait times and costly fees of the ER. lakeurgentcare.com

Car Wash

Benny’s Car Wash

Sometimes all it takes to turn a day around is to ride in a drive-thru car wash. It’s a great excuse to throw out all the empty water bottles and napkins from your vehicle, and clean the interior with a free vacuum. You can also knock out those dreaded car maintenance tasks like getting an oil change and updating your state inspection, too. bennyscarwash.com

Editor’s note: All Geaux Clean Car Wash locations are now operating as WhiteWater Express Car Wash, so the votes for those two business names have been combined.

Tattoo Shop

Burning Lotus Tattoo 20.72%

What story does your skin tell? Burning Lotus Tattoo’s artists treat skin like a canvas, creating vibrant pieces to wear forever. Find it on Instagram

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To join this special commemorative issue, email Michelle Lanoix at michelle@225batonrouge.com

A new native plant-focused nursery

Nail tips Nail tips

A guide to decoding modern manicure menus around Baton Rouge

CUTICLE CARE, INTRICATE nail art and innovative mani and pedi techniques. Just like fashion cycles, there seems to be a hot new service, style or nail shape almost every week. Nail salons sure have leveled up. But don’t let the scent of acetone, the sight of hundreds of hued bottles or the restaurant-menu-length list of services overwhelm your spa session.

We chatted with natural nail tech Charmell Hills and Sweetheart Nails owners Mandy Nguyen and Randy Truong about what techniques are hot right now and how to achieve good nail health. Read up, plot your next set and nail that upcoming appointment.

Local salon Sweetheart Nails says manicures featuring 3D designs are becoming a main squeeze among clients.


Chrome over everything

The pearly shimmer popularized by Hailey Bieber is still on top, according to Nguyen and Truong. The metallic powder finish is usually layered over a milky base but complements all kinds of shades. Pale yellow has been especially in demand lately, Nguyen says.

Aura nails

Torn between two colors? This soft style layers one color on top of a base shade for a diffused, gradient-like effect. Sweetheart Nails uses an airbrush technique, though aura nails can be DIYed with sponges and even eyeshadow.

French tips

White French tips are classic, but many clients are elevating the design with multicolored tips or an iridescent topper.

Velvet/Cat-eye polishes

Achieve a unique, almost galactic look with magnetic, velvety varnishes. For cat-eye manis, magnets pull the glitter in different directions for a design that mimics reflective feline orbs.

3D designs

One of the current crazes includes sculptural designs that seem to jump off nails, no 3D glasses required. A thick builder gel is layered on the nails in puffy shapes like summery citrus slices, Nguyen and Truong say.

Pale yellow chrome nails at Sweetheart Nails

Know your services

A crash course on popular polish techniques

Dip: Like gel polish and acrylic powder had a baby, this process involves brushing or dusting the nail in pigmented powder that is then finished with a shiny top coat.

Gel: Known for lasting longer than traditional polish, gel needs to be cured under a LED or UV light. The result is a glossy, chip-resistant finish.

Acrylic: A powder and liquid monomer mixture is applied and

shaped with a brush to create a set of faux nails. Artificial tips or nail forms can be used to add extra length.

Gel-X: These extensions resemble press-on nails. But because they are made of soft gel, they can be cut and shaped like natural—but stronger—nails.

Hard gel: Different from gel polish, hard gel is applied like acrylic on the base nail to add length, strength and structure. The shape is cured with UV or LED light, creating tough nails. The durable finish cannot be soaked off with acetone and must be filed off. Find it locally at nail salons like Perkins Nails and On the Boulevard Salon & Spa.


Famous men don bright lacquers and fun motifs on red carpets. But rock stars like David Bowie and Harry Styles didn’t invent the idea of guys rocking nail varnish. The true trendsetters might be the Babylonians, who gussied up their nails before battle. And man-icures don’t always have to be bold. Male clients at Sweetheart Nails usually opt for clear polish or spa-like pedicures, like the Luxury Pearl Pedicure and Sweetheart Deluxe Pedicure.

H arry Styles
Gel-X extension application at Sweetheart Nails

Going au natural

NATURAL NAIL TECHS are the industry’s answer to the “clean girl aesthetic.” Charmell Hills, who operates in the back of Fleurty Girl’s Government Street location, has 20-plus years of experience. Her specialty: helping clients who are ready to ditch the acrylic or prioritize nail health.

Hills says many customers come for weekly appointments. She services up to nine people each day, typically applying neutral varnish and shaping shorter nails. (But there are also rainbow-hued Essie shades for those seeking a pop of color.)

She encourages continued nail care at home with just a few tips.

“It’s important when you’re washing your hands or you’re in the shower to push back your cuticles,” she says. “You have to keep (your nails) moisturized.”

Hands encounter water all throughout the day, but Hills says too much H2O exposure can be harmful. It’s why keeping cuticle oil handy is essential, even for those with gel and dip manicures, she says. And, though clients may be urged to change their nail shapes to go along with trends, Hills says going with the nails’ natural shape yields more growth.


• Stay away from cleaning chemicals. Suit up with gloves before washing dishes or sprucing up your space, Nguyen says.

• Stay on top of your services. Both Nguyen and Truong recommend stopping by a salon every two weeks for a fresh mani. With so many new trends, going often allows for a chance to try out more styles.

Sweetheart Nails says French tips are always classic.

Get in shape

Which style suits your claws the best?

Almond: Rounded with slightly pointed tips resembling, yes, the shape of an almond.

Square/Squoval: Squared off at the ends with pointed edges. Squoval nails give a softer look, with slightly rounded edges.


Shaped like a coffin or a ballet slipper, with a wider base and a tapered, squared-off tip.

Round/Oval: Wide and circular at the tip. For a more elongated look, go for oval. Think: almond, without the pointed tip.


A high-intensity, low-impact resistance workout performed on the Xformer, a modernized version of the Pilates reformer.

A fullbody weight training class designed to challenge the entire body by incorporating isolated and combo moves. ARMS + ABS

An upper body weight training class focused on isolating your biceps, shoulders, triceps, chest, back muscles, and core. LEGS + GLUTES

A lower body weight training class focused on strengthening and building your legs & glutes.

Stiletto: A pointy, tapered tip, just like the heel of your most sultry shoe.

The butterfly effect

A new native plant nursery in Prairieville wants to lure pollinators to local backyards

IN THE LAST few years, backyard gardeners across the country concerned about the drastic decline of monarch butterflies have turned to native plants to attract them and other pollinators.

Now, a new native plant nursery in Prairieville is helping residents delve into sustainable gardening with all sorts of eco-friendly plants and retail items. Founded by husband-and-wife team Ian Richardson and Fabiola Campoblanco, Beaver’s Abundance Native Plant Nursery opened in April.

With a name inspired by Richardson’s childhood nickname, the venture sprung from a regular weekend native plant sale the couple previously ran from their home in Old Goodwood. The side hustle was a nice way to spread the word about the importance of native plants, they say. It dovetailed with a personal commitment to sustainable living that also included raising chickens, composting and practicing permaculture (creating healthy mini-ecosystems).

“When we originally got into it, people were like, ‘Native plants? Those are weeds.’ … But then they see how beautiful a landscape can be with them.”

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But business grew to the point of being overwhelming, so earlier this year, they rolled the dice on a freestanding operation. They found a former salon not far from the parish line and went about transforming its building and grounds into a charming nursery and retail store. It just so happens to be located next to a clover-filled cow pasture, the cherry on top to its bucolic vibe. Richardson now runs the nursery full time.

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First and foremost, Richardson says Beaver’s Abundance intends to educate people about the beauty and benefits of native plants.

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Abundance co-owner Ian Richardson, pictured here with his wife and co-owner Fabiola Campoblanco

“When we originally got into it, people were like, ‘Native plants? Those are weeds,’” he says. “But then they see how beautiful a landscape can be with them.”

Beyond aesthetics, native plants support soil restoration, and they don’t require as much water as non-native species, Richardson says. But their best-known benefit? Attracting butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators.

That’s been top of mind for many of the couple’s previous and current clients, who search out native milkweed to lure imperiled monarchs.

The butterfly species’ population has been on the decline for decades due to deforestation, pesticides and the loss of milkweed, the sole food source of monarch caterpillars.

might be the onramp to native planting, gardeners quickly embrace its other benefits, says Campoblanco, who works full time as a sustainability manager for a global energy corporation. Shoppers will see her at Beaver’s Abundance on weekends.

“It’s really a no-brainer,” she says. “It’s easier to plant them because they’re low maintenance and beautiful.”

The outdoor nursery features tidy racks and rows of flowering plants, shrubs, grasses and other growers situated on stands the couple made from reclaimed wood.

factors that drove them to open Beaver’s Abundance is the belief that collective small efforts add up when it comes to climate change and global sustainability.

“Native plants have thousands of years of DNA about how to handle our climate,” Richardson says. “They know about floods and droughts. If we plant with purpose, we can make a big difference.” beaversabundance.



Beaver’s Abundance Native Plant Nursery stocks:

• Flowering plants for pollinator gardens, including gaura, purple coneflower and, of course, native milkweed.

• Native grasses like little bluestem, a drought-tolerant grower that Richardson says is great for filling in the gaps of a native garden.

• Gifts, home decor, candles, soaps, birdhouses and goods supporting sustainable lifestyles.

Carefully selected and native to southeast Louisiana, the plants tolerate hot temperatures and periods of drought. Signs on each plant indicate the soil and sun conditions the species prefer, along with how big they will grow.

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Milkweed is also the only host plant where the butterflies will lay eggs. Nectar from the milkweed flower is an important source of food for monarch butterflies, as are other nectar-producing plants.

And while saving the monarchs

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Campoblanco and Richardson, whose mother, Jennifer Richardson, founded the grassroots anti-litter organization Keep Tiger Town Beautiful, say that one of the

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• Work by regional artists, like Amanda Takacs of Burned in Time, Mattea Studio in Lafayette and Baton Rouge jewelry line Mimosa Handcrafted.

Find it at 17873 Old Jefferson Highway in Prairieville. Its hours are WednesdaySaturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.





The BROC Foundation is a non-profit organization created to provide high-quality medical care to youth sports programs in schools across the Greater Baton Rouge area.

Provides thousands of free physicals for student-athletes annually

Employs Athletic Trainers and support to serve local schools and the Baton Rouge Soccer Association

Provides emergency medical equipment to be on-site during all school sporting events

Your support helps us expand these services to more local schools and programs!

JED’s Local

About 225’s food critic: Benjamin Leger previously served as managing editor for 225 and was the editor of its Taste section from 2012 to 2021, editing, writing and steering the direction of its food coverage in print and online. He is passionate about all things food and food journalism, and has written about the greater Baton Rouge area’s cuisine and culture for nearly two decades.


AT NEARLY SIX years old, JED’s Local already has the qualities of a neighborhood hangout in Mid City. But with its recently renovated, cozy interior and a focus on more than just po-boys—even dropping the word from its original name— JED’s is aiming to become a triedand-true spot for people craving Louisiana favorites in a casual and welcoming atmosphere.

I’ve eaten at JED’s a few times before, back when it was all metal chairs, tin serving trays and blackand-white photos on the walls with a general industrial aesthetic. I’ve also had some wonderful experiences with the elegant Southern classics and more upscale environment at its sister-concept, Eliza Restaurant.

The new JED’s builds a bridge between the two, with a warmer interior, lots of antique farmhouse furnishings and a menu that leans more on Southern dishes and cocktails with a handful of classic po-boys to satisfy the regulars.

I visited one Wednesday evening with two friends to give this new spin a try.

Fortunately, the host’s stand with the penny tile “Mid City” lettering is still there to greet visitors. And the bar to the left has kept several local beers on tap. Once seated at a roomy banquette, we immediately asked for an appetizer I had been eyeing: Cochon Chips.

I initially thought this dish would feature pork skins or cracklins, but instead, it was tender

THE BASICS: Russell and Sally Davis opened this Capital Heights spot in 2018 as JED’s Local Poboys, a companion restaurant to their Eliza Restaurant further down Jefferson Highway. Initially serving a variety of po-boys, fries and daily specials, the restaurant broadened its menu last fall with more classic Louisiana entrees, salads and signature cocktails.

WHAT’S A MUST: The Cochon Chips appetizer is an easy crowdpleaser with pulled pork and creolaise sauce atop housemade chips; the Shrimp and Fried Green Tomato Poboy is a heaping sandwich of blackened shrimp and crispy battered tomatoes on New Orleans-style French bread; and any of the Southern comfort food entrees are worth a try.

pulled pork piled high on housemade potato chips all doused in a creolaise sauce with cheddar cheese and green onions.

The chips were thick-cut and salty, the pork was seasoned well, and the creolaise had a horseradish-like kick that really made this appetizer sing.

For our entrees, we wanted to try a little of what JED’s is known for, as well as its newer plates.

First up was the Shrimp and Fried Green Tomato Poboy. Grilled and blackened shrimp, thick cuts of green tomato, chopped egg and slices of lettuce nearly hid the flaky French bread beneath it. The shrimp were spicy, the tomatoes were battered and fried to give a crispy exterior, the bread was just right, and a drizzle of remoulade on top was just enough without overpowering the other flavors.

Of several enticing entrees, we went with Smothered Chicken. Chunks of boneless chicken breast were cooked down in a light brown onion gravy. This was another heaping plate of food, served with two scoops of white rice and two toasted slices of French bread.

While the chicken was tender and the sauce was hearty, the dish needed more seasoning overall. The menu also mentioned cornbread instead of toasted French bread, and we were a little bummed not to have that option to contrast all the po-boy bread we were consuming.

That included our final entree.

Persuaded by a listing on a nearby chalkboard, we opted to try the Pulled Pork Poboy of the Month to round out the meal.

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Served with a ton of fries sprinkled with a surprising red pepper-cumin seasoning, this huge dish could have easily satisfied two.

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Beer-braised pork shoulder was slow-cooked and pulled, then covered in a fig barbecue sauce with cheddar cheese and a house coleslaw. It was, again, a huge serving with enough crispy onion

• Additional revisions must be requested and may be subject to production fees.

Carefully check this ad for: CORRECT ADDRESS • CORRECT PHONE NUMBER • ANY TYPOS This ad design © Melara Enterprises, LLC. 2024. All rights reserved. Phone 225-928-1700



11AM-11PM SAT: 10AM-11PM SUN: 10AM-9PM

A tower of the Cochon Chips at JED's Local

rings on the side for all three of us to get our fill. The sandwich’s pulled pork was nearly the same as what we got on the appetizer, but the fig barbecue sauce added some complex sweetness, and the coleslaw offered zesty crunch.

With all that food, we had no room for dessert. But I can save that for next time. There are several other comfort food entrees I’m interested in trying, like the Fried Oyster and Crawfish Pasta or the Grilled Pork Chop with cane syrup glaze.

And if it’s a damn good po-boy I’m craving, JED’s would still be high on my list. Some po-boy spots offer more bread than filling (or the other way around), and JED’s doesn’t skimp on either. Paired with a draft beer or nice cocktail, you have the makings of a lovely dinner at a neighborhood hangout that’s found a sweet spot between casual and just a little bit sophisticated.

The Shrimp and Fried Green Tomato Poboy

Rice to meet you

A new local pop-up is drawing crowds with its Japanese rice balls and street food

IN FEBRUARY AT the crowded Asian Night Market, longtime friends and former Chow Yum line cooks Shawn Cao and Riley Dunaway introduced a new Japanese street food venture specializing in onigiri. Serving handheld rice balls stuffed with different ingredients, Oni Onigiri sold out at the well-attended downtown festival, timed this year with the Lunar New Year.

Since then, Oni Onigiri has been making the rounds with popups at local bars and breweries. Reception has been strong, say Cao and Dunaway. The business partners have also been popping up in New Orleans, and have plans to expand into Lafayette and Hammond.

“It kind of started on a whim,” says Cao, who grew up cooking burgers, fried turkey wings and other gas station fare in his family’s Port Allen convenience store. “I guess you could call it a happy accident.”

The two Baton Rougeans first met via online gaming back in middle school. After graduating from Baton Rouge Magnet High, they got jobs working in the Chow Yum kitchen around 2018. In 2020, they left the restaurant, taking jobs in the construction industry. But by early this year, they say they were both itching to get back into hospitality.

Cao reached out to one of Chow Yum’s original co-founders, Vu “Phat” Le, for advice. Le was

Oni Onigiri’s Snowkrab Onigiri photographed at Okki Tokki downtown

involved in organizing the Asian Night Market and suggested the two sign up for a vendor booth. The Night Market was to be expanded and relocated to Rhorer Plaza, following a wildly popular inaugural event held in May 2023 at the Electric Depot.

“Riley and I came up with a plan to do onigiri because we realized there wasn’t really a market for it here in Baton Rouge yet,” Cao says. “We just pulled the trigger, thinking it would be a great snack for people to have in their hands to just walk around. It was something that was easy to eat.”

It was also the kind of eye-catching dish that would make people stop and notice. And it could be assembled beforehand, making face-to-face sales easier. Their gamble paid off with the booth selling out of all 750 rice balls the partners had prepared for the event.

Next up came pop-ups around Baton Rouge, as well as in New Orleans.

Cao says the onigiri are made

by forming a mound of cooked short-grain sushi rice and creating a pocket within to insert fillings. More rice is mounded on the top, and the “ball” is gently maneuvered into its traditional triangular shape. Some are wrapped in nori, while others are grilled lightly. Each is topped with a house-made yuzu-ginger-eel sauce, Dunaway says.

Currently, Oni makes four signature flavors of onigiri: traditional tuna mayo, which is made with cooked bluefin tuna and homemade Japanese mayo; a vegan option featuring kimchi and furikake (a savory Japanese dried seasoning blend); caramelized beef and snow krab.

The business partners are also making a novel dish they call the Snow Dog, an all-beef frank topped with snow krab salad and Kewpie mayo, and further gilded with eel sauce, furikake, fried shallots and green onions.

While rice balls are their signature dish, Cao and Dunaway

say they aren’t pigeon-holed by them. The menu has also featured tofu miso soup and inari, tofu skin filled with seasoned rice and topped with salmon and snow krab salad.

Oni is also working with Em’s Bakery, a Japanese cottage baker in Baton Rouge that supplies a number of Asian restaurants, on collaborative pop-ups.

Where to find Oni Onigiri

The pop-up has been slinging its Japanese rice balls from these local spots in recent months. Follow it on Instagram at @oni225 for the latest

• Chelsea’s Live

• Cypress Coast Brewing Co.

• Miel Brewery (New Orleans)

• Oak St. Brewery (New Orleans)

• Pelican to Mars

• The Radio Bar

• Teatery Tea & Tapioca

Industry Makes:

Essential Products

More than 96% of all manufactured goods are directly touched by the chemical industry.

Quality Jobs

Manufacturers in Louisiana employ over 135,000 citizens at an average salary of $95K.

Economies Grow

In 2022, Louisiana industry paid 66.74% of the state’s property taxes.

more at

Shawn Cao and Riley Dunaway, founders of Oni Onigiri


Well fed

Easy summertime recipes to serve at your next book club get-together

I LOVE THE slower pace of summer. Even though work and deadlines may not stop, with kids out of school and people vacationing, summertime takes on a much more laid-back vibe. I tend to take the time for more leisurely activities during the summer, too, like reading a good book. So, this month, I decided was the perfect time to reinstate something that I’ve not done in a long time: Start a book club with friends.

I pulled together a few of my favorite go-to recipes for easy summertime entertaining. The great thing about these dishes is that they can be made ahead of time and they do not require a lot of prep or cooking—leaving you plenty of time to get your reading in.

Find the recipe for this flavorful Sweet Corn, Creole Tomato and Avocado Salad at 225batonrouge.com/ recipes

Non-dairy Fresh Pineapple Sorbet

Yields 1½ quarts

8 cups fresh cut pineapple

¼ cup agave syrup

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)

1. Place the cut pineapple into a large blender or food processor. Add in the agave syrup.

2. Pulse until the pineapple is pureed. With the blender running, pour in the coconut milk, vanilla and rum if desired.

3. Puree until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into a large freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid.

4. Place the pineapple sorbet into the freezer for 6 to 8 hours or until it’s completely frozen.

5. Before serving, remove the sorbet from the freezer and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. This sorbet will last in the freezer for up to a month.

Moorish-rubbed Grilled Chicken

Serves 6

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro

½ cup olive oil

1. Rinse the chicken thighs, pat them dry and place them into a large zip-close bag.

2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture over the chicken thighs. Close the bag and shake to evenly coat the chicken thighs. Place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour. This chicken is more flavorful if it marinates for several hours before grilling.

3. Preheat the grill to 375 degrees. Then place the chicken thighs on the grill. Close the lid and grill the chicken thighs for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the chicken over, close the lid and continue grilling for another 8 to 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.

4. Remove the chicken from the grill and place it on a platter. Cover the chicken with foil and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

and music events

out GEEK

A guide to Baton Rouge's passionate gaming and comic communities—and how they bring people together




3131 College Drive, Suite A 6401 Bluebonnet Blvd., #2012 (Mall of Louisiana) gameware.com

Little Wars

7543 Jefferson Highway, Suite B littlewars.com

The Rogue Games

10330 Airline Highway, Suite 10B theroguegames. tcgplayerpro.com

Gamers Paradise

11222 N. Harrells Ferry Road gamersparadisela.com

Game X Change

9450 Airline Highway, Suite D gogamexchange.com



Louisiana’s Double Play

2834 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. Find it on Facebook

Southeast Cards & Comics

1152 S. Acadian Thruway secardsandcomics.com

Know a shop we missed? Tell us at editor@225baton rouge.com.

EMMA JOHNSON STILL remembers escaping into superhero comics for the first time about a decade ago. She discovered them when the Supergirl television series premiered in 2015, while she was growing up in San Antonio.

Now, fellow readers will find her behind the counter at Louisiana’s Double Play, one of Baton Rouge’s locally owned comic book stores. Dressed today in a Marvel T-shirt, the bubbly, blond-haired Johnson is happy to share her enthusiasm for comic books with anyone who walks into the Sherwood Forest Boulevard shop. No matter where they are in their fandom, she’ll walk them through the shelves of comics and sports and gaming cards.

Johnson, who has worked at Double Play for two years, says it’s wonderful to see fathers coming in with their daughters to buy comics of the same characters she felt represented her during the early days of her own fandom like Supergirl, Harley Quinn and the Scarlet Witch.

While her clientele at Double Play is mostly older men, she feels

there is representation for diverse voices in newer comics, specifically ones that reflect her as a woman and member of the LGBTQ+ community.

“(Comics are) a way to bring people together,” she says.

Johnson is one of many Capital Region residents who have found community in groups and shops for gamers, comic book readers and cosplayers.

A recent LSU grad and aspiring filmmaker who directed a short film with local indie production company Chateau Rouge Cinema, comic books are one of her chief inspirations as a screenwriter. She says she often references Gotham City in her writing.

“(The film industry) is a very similar energy to working in a comic book store, of really loving what you’re around and loving talking to people about the equipment and camera techniques,” Johnson adds. “It’s very similar to the rants people go on at the store about their favorite characters.”

Across town, Robert Ross has centered his career around gaming. As the co-owner of BR.cade on

Government Street, he spends his days pairing pop culture-themed cocktails with a rotation of nine pinball machines and 30 arcade cabinets.

“It really brings people together,” Ross echoes. “That’s what arcades do; that’s what they’ve been doing forever.”

He grew up playing games like racer Pole Position and Super Punch-Out!!, a cabinet version of the Nintendo Entertainment System classic. He and his partners took over the former home of Pop Shop Records to open the arcade bar in 2022.

Ross says the games at BR.cade are meant for both the novice and the pro who’s been playing since the ’80s. He takes pride in sourcing and restoring original cabinets from fellow local gamers and feels that making the systems accessible is the best way to pique interest in the hobby.

While attendees have to pay a cover to enter the bar, once they’re inside, the arcade games are free to try at no additional cost. During Sundays and certain happy hours, the bar even waives cover and offers free arcade play.

Emma Johnson has worked at Louisiana’s Double Play for two years.

“(BR.cade) gives people a chance to find something they didn’t know they liked,” Ross says. “There’s people who had never tried pinball, and now they come in all the time and it’s their hobby.”

Mid City Micro-Con, the Capital Region’s comic convention, has also provided an outlet for gamers and comic fans since its 2018 launch.

In its first year, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library-hosted event was themed around platforming diverse voices in the cosplay space. The inaugural theme became the ongoing mission for the gathering, which doesn’t charge admission for guests or fees for the over 60 vendors it hosts, says Josh Hill, the event’s initial organizer.

After a brief hiatus this year, Hill is currently helping to plan the 2025 return of the annual event. Formerly EBRPL’s community program and outreach librarian, he’s transitioning to a new role as a data librarian, but says he does not want to lose sight of the importance of creating a safe space like Mid City Micro-Con for fans, young and old.

Located on Sherwood Forest Boulevard, Louisiana’s Double Play stocks comics, sports cards and gaming cards.


your fandom

Meetup groups to connect with around town


This Facebook group, a division of the Louisiana Game Collecting Guild, welcomes members to buy, sell and trade with fellow gamers in Baton Rouge. Find it on Facebook


The Baton Rouge chapter of STARFLEET, the international Star Trek fan association, brings together about 300 Capital Region Trekkies to exchange theories and discuss all things Star Trek brstartrek.com


The Baton Rouge branch of New Orleans’ Doctor Who fan club gives Whovians a place to dissect their favorite depictions of the titular Doctor. kreweduwho.com


This group connects players of Warhammer 40,000 and other miniature tabletop games. Members of this group can share model painting tips and arrange meetups to play various games at Little Wars. Find it on Facebook


Have a script you just can’t crack, or want to find peers who live and breathe movies? This writer’s fraternity boasts more than 900 likeminded members. meetup.com/screenwriters-down-south

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“I think the people that we’ve connected with over the years, that’s what gets me passionate,” Hill says, “whether it’s kids doing their first cosplay contest with some costume they made themselves, or a creator who has a booth for the first time who is nervous as all get out but they’re showing their comic for the first time.”

Cave Daughdrill, Casey Wells and Robert Ross opened BR.cade, pictured right, on Government Street in 2022.

Let's play trivia

A multitude of trivia nights has popped up lately. Each venue has its own range of rotating topics, but expect themes about gaming, Disney, movies and more.


(Irregular pop-up; every other Sunday)

2963 Government St.


Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

124 W. Chimes St.


Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

660 Arlington Creek Centre Blvd.


Mondays at 6 p.m.

2904 Perkins Road


Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.

4225 Nicholson Drive, #101


Wednesdays at 8 p.m. 6353 Bluebonnet Blvd.


Mondays at 8 p.m. 4215 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd.

HOW TO FIND MORE TRIVIA NIGHTS: Follow groups like Suspense Games and Let's Get Quizzical Trivia Nights on Facebook, where you'll find updates on themes and schedules.


Melanin magic


ART AND BEAUTY are practically synonymous with Black culture. Traditional African hairstyles like braids, cornrows and Bantu knots, as well as hair adornments like cowry shells, beads and wraps, provide a playground for creativity. From the shades of Black skin and striking Black features to Black clothing styles and forms of expression, Blackness has inspired every art form.

It’s no wonder Black people are visual artist Ciara Sanders’ muse. The Hammond native captures their essence through intentional paintings with bold colors, depth and attention to detail.

She deploys acrylic paints, spray paint, paint pens and varnish to create realistic, animated images. Her work includes imaginative paintings of celebrities like LeBron James, Erykah Badu, Rihanna, Janelle Monáe and Ari Lennox. She also paints otherworldly fictional characters and meaningful commissions of customers and their families.

The 30-year-old is a graphic designer at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge. It’s a position that holds a special place in her heart, since her mother passed away from breast cancer in 2019. She has compassion for the patients and their families, and it’s part of why she cherishes depicting people with their loved ones, living and deceased.

She started painting during her senior year of high school. She was accepted into a gifted arts program and fell in love. During the summers, she would save her money from working at the beloved neighborhood Blockbuster (if you know, you know) to pay for art supplies. What started as one of her favorite high school classes, quickly became her calling.

“Internal Conscious Amplified,” an acrylic painting on canvas, is a powerful depiction of the side profile of a Black woman with defined curls holding her head high. Multicolored silhouettes of the same woman pointing in different directions are layered on top. The piece takes the viewer’s eye on an adventure to reveal the various figures on the canvas.

Another of Sanders' creations, “Just Let the Intrusion Walk on By,” is a reminder to paint outside the lines (literally).

For this 3D work, she removed the glass from a picture frame and painted directly inside and on the sides of the frame. What other artists may have considered a frame, she interpreted as the canvas.

The solemn woman in this work has her hair slicked back into an afro puff. Her chiseled face is framed with gelled, wavy baby hairs. Highlighter bounces off her nose, the inner corners of her eyes, cheekbones, full lips and square chin. She wears large hoop earrings and a chunky black turtleneck. A bold red-and-blue hued silhouette covers half of her face, piecing together with the purple silhouette that provides the backdrop for the woman.

It’s a work that embodies Black womanhood: multi-layered, resilient and beautiful. ciarabadumonaeartistry.com

See her work

After taking a hiatus from painting, Sanders plans to start creating new works and have her first solo exhibit at the The Healthcare Gallery & Wellness Spa with art collective Ellemnop.Art in September. Visit ellemnop. art for info.

“Internal Conscious Amplified”

black and white. I use yellows, reds, purples and blues as undertones to emphasize the color of Black skin tones and the depth of Black features. I like to make things colorful and bright because I want to see more of that in my community. Being a Black person, there are many more facets to what social media tries to portray. I try to bring positivity and keep it vibrant.”





New Orleans foot-tapping funk comes to Baton Rouge courtesy of Flow Tribe. The six-piece group will take the stage at Chelsea’s Live performing hits like “Keep Pushing” and “Walk it Like an Animal.” chelseaslive.com

Check off your grocery list and see the work of local creatives at the Baton Rouge Arts Market, held in conjunction with the Red Stick Farmers Market. Browse artwork while swaying along to live music by jazz pianist Ronald Rodriguez. artsbr.org/arts-market


Put on your boogie shoes and prepare to travel back to a groovier time with a concert from That 70's Band of Louisiana at Manship Theatre. The band of nine seasoned musicians is well versed in classics from artists such as The Carpenters, Chicago, Donna Summer and more. manshiptheatre.org


Give back to Louisiana military charities at the Red, Rock & Blue concert experience at Varsity Theatre. Sing along to music from multiple acts including Debbie Landry Band, The Drunk Uncles, Money Shot and ReGeneration Band. redrockandblue.com



Beatlemania is back again! Tribute band The Fab Four will bring its talents to L’Auberge Casino & Hotel for a concert covering the British rock legends' chart toppers like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Yesterday.” lbatonrouge.com

The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge is gathering civic leaders, community health providers and locals to participate in Arts for EveryBody, a national campaign focused on artmaking. The local all-day event aims to help show the healthy benefits of the arts through performances, interactive art projects, workshops, art therapy and more. artsbr.org

4th of July Concert by the Baton Rouge Concert Band The Main Library at Goodwood, 7-8:30 p.m.

LET FREEDOM RING Celebrate the red, white and blue with local Independence Day events throughout the Capital Region.

REV IT UP Put the pedal to the metal and get to the Raising Cane’s River Center for the Bayou Motor Fest. Beat the heat and drool over rare classic vehicles, imports, muscle cars, motorcycles and more. raisingcanesrivercenter.com

LSU Museum of Art and Tsunami Downtown Baton Rouge's 4th of July Rooftop Celebration Shaw Center for the Arts, 7-10 p.m.

WBRZ's Fireworks on the Mississippi Downtown Baton Rouge, 9 p.m.

JULY 4: 4th Fest in Crescent Park, frenchmarket.org

JULY 4-7: ESSENCE Festival of Culture, essence.com/festival2024

JULY 12-14: Running of the Bulls, nolabulls.com


Head over to the LSU Rural Life Museum for the Baton Rouge Orchid Society's Annual Show & Sale. Witness the beauty of these locally grown plants, or take one home for yourself. batonrougeorchidsociety.com


JULY 6, 13, 20 + 27

Learn all about fruits and veggies at the Red Stick Farmers Market’s Fresh Fest events. Celebrate in-season produce with activities, tastings and cooking demos by local chefs. breada.org


Grab your latest read and head over to Pelican to Mars for Silent Book Club. This event is a collaboration between the bar and Red Stick Reads. Attendees can grab a drink, enjoy a quiet reading session and connect with other bookworms. Find it on Facebook

JULY 26-28


Spend an evening in Tiger Stadium and support the BROC Foundation at the annual BROC, Rock & Wine event. Waltz through a wine walk and pick up tasty bites at culinary stations before checking out auction items and enjoying live music from Blue Verse. brortho.com/broc-rock-wine

Calling all duck hunters! Dust off the duck calls and don your camo, because the Delta Waterfowl Duck Hunters Expo is coming to town with informative seminars, special events, exhibitions and more. deltawaterfowlexpo.com


Learn about Baton Rouge’s communities at the inaugural (Neighbor) Hood Fest organized by the Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room Museum Foundation. The new festival aims to celebrate neighborhoods’ diverse culture with live music, food, vendors and even short films. htjmuseum.org


Subscribe to our newsletter 225 Daily for our twice-weekly roundups of events. 225batonrouge. com/225daily


JULY 6: Lebeau Zydeco Festival, cajuntravel.com/events

JULY 17: Taste of Acadiana, cajundome.com/events

JULY 20: Lafayette Nutcracker Market, Find it on Facebook

In every issue of 225, you’ll find a free print on this page. FRAMED celebrates life and art in Baton Rouge, each one featuring a local photographer, place or graphic designer. Cut it out to hang in your cubicle, or frame it for your home gallery wall. Show us where you hang them by tagging them on social media with #225prints.

GET FEATURED We love spotlighting local photographers, artists and designers for this page! Shoot us an email at editor@225batonrouge.com to chat about being featured.

PHOTO BY COLLIN RICHIE FOR ‘225’ / collinrichiephoto.com


Advanced spine care changes lives, and our doctors deliver the deep expertise and innovative technologies to help you get there. Enjoy life again with help from a range of effective treatment options, from simple pain management therapies to ultra-minimally invasive spine surgery.

If a life free from back pain is what you’re after, request an appointment today.

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