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Dining out on the Northshore
The Northshore dining scene these days is vibrant, exciting, and still expanding, a foodie's haven rich in authentic Louisiana culinary tradition: the seafood, the poboys, the gumbo, but also outstanding chef-driven kitchens delivering gourmet fare, ambience and impressive wine lists.
You can enjoy gumbo, red beans and rice or an oyster poboy washed down with a cold Abita beer for lunch, then feast on bouillabaisse, osso buco or crispy duckling with lavender honey for supper. Dress down for a mountain of steaming, spicy crawfish; dress up for pan-roasted striped bass or locally grown beef tenderloin grillee with pommes dauphinoise, smoked marrow and spring vegetables.
But it's not just about restaurants. It's about farmers markets in Covington, Mandeville and Slidell, and the green-thumbed Northshore residents who sell their beautiful fruits and vegetables at them. It's about locally produced honey, cheeses; wine from Pontchartrain Vineyards; beer from the tiny Covington Brewhouse and its popular cousin, Abita beer. It's about generations of really good home cooks, passed-down recipes and festivals built around food.
It's all about options. And entertainment. As is true for most of south Louisiana, dining is recreation in this part of the planet where residents often are discussing their next meal even as they lap up every crumb of the one in front of them.
Chef John Besh's purchase in 2007 of La Provence, a Provencal-inspired restaurant on the edge of Lacombe, from its founder and his one-time mentor Chris Kerageorgiou, kicked in star power to an already burgeoning dining scene.
The culinary scene has been ascending for a while now, but gained new momentum after Hurricane Katrina. A number of New Orleans' well-known eateries opened Northshore outposts, including Mandina's(Creole-Italian), Carmelo's Ristorante (Classic Italian) and Café Du Monde (coffee and beignets). And new restaurants have popped up from one end of the parish to the other. A few highlights include Café Lynn in Mandeville, Speckled T's in Slidell, as well as the lovely Zachary's in Mandeville.
The newcomers join the lineup of local favorites, including casual spots like Phil's Marina Café in Slidell and Liz's Where Y'At Diner in Mandeville and Buster's Place in Covington, and chef-headed dining rooms like the elegant Dakota (Kim Kringlie); Slidell's relaxing Palmettos on the Bayou (Kirk Dunbar); and two in Covington whose chefs are nationally recognized – Del Porto Ristorante, led by husband-wife chef team Torre Bagalman and David Solazzo, and Lola, led by husband-wife team Keith Frentz and Nealy Crawford-Frentz.
It's an exciting time to have an appetite on the Northshore. Visitors are discovering what locals have known all along - you'll eat well (and probably often) here in St. Tammany Parish.