New Roads, about 45 minutes north of Baton Rouge if traffic cooperates, is known as the “prettiest city on the water.”
Or it was, until residents voted last year to change the town slogan to “come for the culture, stay for the sunsets.”
At a recent Mardi Gras luncheon, a table of Lions Club members pulled out their phones to show me sunset after sunset, trying to outdo each other’s photos of orange and pink skies over False River.
The sunsets are pretty, but they’re not the only reason to make the trip. If you get to New Roads in the morning, Mikey’s Donuts are some of the best I’ve had anywhere. I go for plain glazed or the cinnamon roll. It’s not unlikely that you’ll be asked if you want to take what’s in the display case or wait a minute for a fresh, hot batch (worth it).
For something more substantial, Ma Mama’s Kitchen on Main Street serves modern, seasonal Creole dishes. Sauces and bread are made from scratch and produce comes from Glaser’s Farm.
Morel’s claims to be the oldest restaurant in New Roads. It’s a shame there’s no outdoor seating, as it’s right on the water, but there are floor-to-ceiling windows. Morel’s is more casual than Ma Mama’s and great for a sandwich or salad. The fried soft shell crab salad, when in season, is my favorite.
And if you’re craving fried chicken and biscuits, head to Southern Chicks. The service can be erratic, but the chicken is good.
Aside from a few shops, there’s not a ton to actually do in New Roads. But just over the Mississippi River in St. Francisville you can walk off your lunch at Cat Island National Refuge, home to the largest bald cypress tree in the United States. (Also the single largest tree east of the Sierra Nevada mountains). It’s about 90-feet tall, 57-feet around, and more than 1,200 years old.
Or, take a history tour, which is more like a ghost story tour, at The Myrtles, “one of America’s most haunted homes.” Those brave enough can spend the night. If you do, skip the hotel restaurant and get pie for breakfast at Audubon’s Cafe.
The antique stores next door typically have a great vintage (aka pre-seasoned) cast iron pan collection.
And if you’re still around for lunch, I’m told Magnolia Cafe has incredible burgers.