AROUND THE PORT
St. John the Baptist Parish’s list of ‘must-dos’ whether you’re a local or a visitor just passing through
San Francisco Plantation
Must-Do No. 1: Find something to eat
This task is equal parts easy and hard. Easy in the sense that St. John offers a bevy of restaurants featuring great chefs skilled in a variety of culinary genres. Hard in the sense that such delicious diversity makes it tough to pick just one place for a meal.
Our suggestion? Stick around and try them all!
For those seeking classic South Louisiana flavor and a picturesque view, Frenier Landing in LaPlace (113 Dottie Lane, frenierlanding.com) and Bec’s at the Lake (105 Gary Road, becsatthelake.com) are ideal settings to satisfy both those desires. Nestled on the western shores of Lake Pontchartain, neighboring the St. John Boat Launch, Frenier Landing’s menu is jam-packed with seafood dishes including the ever-popular Stuffed Catfish and the Eggplant Napoleon, with shrimp, crabmeat and a crawfish cream sauce. After enjoying those dishes, stick and sip a glass of wine while taking in the magnificent South Louisiana sunset.
Bec’s at the Lake — operated by longtime local restauranteur George Becnel — is basically right next door, so the splendid views are nearly identical. Try the Steak Pontchartrain — seared medallions of Angus sirloin and butterflied shrimp caramelized in Bec’s signature Lake Sauce – and thank us later.
Connie’s Grill in Reserve (1462 Hwy 44, 985-536-3256) and Pirogue’s Cafe (719 W 10th St, Reserve, LA 70084, (985) 479-7800) both specialize in delicious plate lunches and, are popular workday destinations for those employed within the Port District.
Looking for something outside of the traditional, regional cuisine? Well, there’s Zaman Mediterranean in LaPlace (1502 W. Airline Hwy, 985-359-5566) which features fantastic dishes like Shish Kabob and Moussaka, or Petra’s Restaurant for a variety of veal, pasta and seafood dishes (1036 W. Airline Hwy., 985-359-8888). Chung’s Heavenly Sweets offers Korean dishes coupled with fantastic desserts (607 Belle Terre Blvd, Ste J, 985-359-7987).
Must-Do No. 2: the Andouille Festival
Consider this the ultimate MEAT-up. From October 19 to October 21 this year, expect a crowd of 20,000 visitors to come to the grounds next to the St. John Community Center on Highway 51 for the 45th annual Andouille Festival — a celebration of the Parish’s signature spicy sausage.
Besides dozens of food vendors, rows of carnival rides, and good music, the Andouille Festival features a handful of headline events, more importantly Andouille. To work off those calories, feel free to move and sway and dance to some of the best gospel bands around in the Gospel Tent on Sunday.
For information on the 2018 festival, visit andouillefestival.com.
Must-Do No. 3: Admire the architectural beauty of three historic plantation homes
St. John the Baptist Parish features historic plantation homes on both the East Bank and West Bank of the Mississippi River.
On the West Bank stands Evergreen Plantation and Whitney Plantation — both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the East Bank sits San Francisco Plantation nestled under centuries-old live oaks, home to one of the finest antique collections in the United States.
Evergreen Plantation, located in the community of Edgard, is still privately owned, still fully intact, and is located on the grounds of a sugar cane operation that’s still functioning. Built in 1790 and restored in 1832, the main house reflects the Greek Revival Style. On the grounds, 29 of the 37 buildings are antebellum, making Evergreen regarded as one of the most authentic and intact plantations in the South. Tours are offered every day but Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., although spots fill up fast and tours have been known to sell-out days in advance. For more information on Evergreen Plantation, visit its website: www.evergreenplantation.org.
Not far down the road in Wallace, Whitney Plantation focuses on the lives and legacies of the slaves that once lived there, offering visitors a look at a 1830s sugar plantation through the eyes of those who worked the land. In 2014, Whitney Plantation opened its doors to the public for the first time in its then 262-year history, and features museum exhibits, artwork and first-hand narratives from those enslaved. During Whitney Plantation’s 90-minute walking tour, visitors get to experience the only surviving example of a true Creole Barn and the oldest detached kitchen in Louisiana. For tickets and information, please visit www.whitneyplantation.com.
San Francisco Plantation is located on River Road in Garyville, and is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the area. The main house was built in 1856, but was restored in an opulent manner in the 1970s and 1980s to a style not typical of the antebellum period. Because of its architecture and the natural beauty of the grounds, San Francisco Plantation is a popular setting for weddings and social events. Tours begin every 20 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, taking patrons through all 14 rooms of the plantation and the grounds. For more information, go to www.sanfranciscoplantation.org.