I just returned from a fabulous Southern road trip, which was spurred on by an invitation to speak on plant-based eating at the Alabama Dietetic Association Meeting and the Louisiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Meeting—each just a few days apart from each other. Read on to learn more about my plant-powered adventures in the South.

J Clyde, Birmingham, Alabama

Peter came along with me, as he has never been to this region—only once to New Orleans and once to Charleston. We landed in Birmingham and enjoyed our first meal at J Clyde, a cool, low-key gastropub. I enjoyed a really delicious salad and hummus there—and good local hand-crafted beer.

Pizitz Food Hall, Birmingham, Alabama

After speaking in Birmingham the next morning to a wonderful group of dietitians, we went to lunch at this new food hall. The local dietitians were raving about it, and indeed, it was pretty cool. I loved the open air space, and the small, casual ethnic eateries. It was swarming at lunch time.

Pizitz Food Hall, Birmingham, Alabama

I chose a Puerto Rican eatery at the food hall—and I had this delicious vegan roasted vegetable plantain sandwich. Those are flattened plantains encasing my sandwich instead of bread slices. Brought back memories of my trip to Puerto Rico last year!

Revelator Coffee, Pizitz Food Hall, Birmingham, Alabama

This is a hot local coffee roaster in Birmingham, and it’s popular all around the South. I had a fabulous soy latte after lunch.

Little Savannah, Birmingham, Alabama

I had read about this restaurant in Birmingham, and it was certainly special. Located in a kind of Bohemian section of the city, the ambience was very unique and artistic, with hand-painted tables and a local artist displaying her wares on the walls.

Little Savannah, Birmingham, Alabama

Chef Holt came out to greet us and give us a tour of the restaurant—even showing us the vegetable garden, which was just starting to spring up. I had a beautiful asparagus salad with watercress for starters, followed by artisan breads with olive oil and Brussels sprouts. Yum!

Red Beans at Native Cafe, Pensacola Beach, Florida

The next morning we took off for the Gulf Coast, stopping in Pensacola Beach, Florida for lunch. This is a true resort, and tourists were taking advantage of the gorgeous early spring weather. We stopped for a casual lunch, and I enjoyed a hearty cup of Southern-style red beans (so flavorful) and a fresh green salad with strawberries.

Pensacola Beach, Florida

My first visit to the Gulf Coast, and the water was lovely. Though I had to remind myself that this is home to one of the biggest dead zones on the planet, a result of agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River.

Three Muses, New Orleans

We worked our way along the Gulf Coast, through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and then Louisiana, arriving into New Orleans just in time for a late dinner at this hot spot. In fact, behind me at the bar is a celebrity sighting—Lea DeLaria from Orange is the New Black, who was quite friendly with all of the patrons in this restaurant.

Three Muses, New Orleans

There were so many great plant-based options on the menu at this restaurant—just check it out!

Tofu Rice Bowl, Three Muses, New Orleans

This tofu rice bowl had it all: hearty rice, spicy house-made kimchi, crunchy tofu, and pungent greens.

Bruschetta, Three Muses, New Orleans

We also enjoyed this really tasty bruschetta with basil and balsamic vinegar.

Napoleon House, New Orleans

We had to stop by for a drink in the famous Napoleon House, which was said to have been offered as a respite for Napoleon during his exile. The spot is so historic and rustic.

Tony Seville and The Cadillacs

A visit to New Orleans is not complete without listening to some really good jazz. This was straight up, old school jazz, with silvery melodies coming from brass instruments, guitars, and drums.

Tribal Seeds at One-Eyed Jacks, New Orleans

We stumbled across a performance of this San Diego group, which plays urban reggae music, at this popular hangout. Such fun!

Bacchanal Food and Wine, New Orleans

I was pleased to hear that the alternative food scene is alive and well in New Orleans, and playing its part in revitalizing neighborhoods. Right in the Ninth Ward, this neighborhood in New Orleans is home to vibrant energy—historic homes are being painted in bright shades; artsy, Bohemian folks are moving in, and great restaurants—like this one—are popping up.

Bean Soup, Bacchanal Food and Wine, New Orleans

The unique concept for this restaurant is that you enter into an old residential home turned food, wine, and music venue and select your wines (the owner has done an amazing job curating approachable, eclectic wines) to purchase at the counter. Then you take the wine back to the courtyard to enjoy while you listen to music. You can order from a small menu at the window and food will be brought to your table. The menu was locally sourced and plant-friendly—I had this lovely bean soup and a gorgeous rigatoni with smoked cauliflower and oyster mushrooms.

Make it Right Project, Ninth Ward

After lunch, we drove around the Ninth Ward to see the Katrina site—this is the area that was simply wiped out by Katrina. Brad Pitt famously oversaw the creation of 21 new eco-friendly homes in this area, and there is a small park dedicated to his Make it Right Project.

Make it Right Project, Ninth Ward

Here are some of the Make it Right eco-friendly homes in the Ninth Ward.

Big Easy Bucha, St. Roch Market, New Orleans

We also checked out this local food hall—again, really close to the Ninth Ward—which was so fascinating. Lots of street food, local farm fare, and plant-based options in this spot. Love this locally made Kombucha—we tried it and loved it.

Coast Roast, St. Roch Market, New Orleans

Loved this locally roasted coffee!

St. Roch Forage, St. Roch Market, New Orleans

Loved this local produce vendor—had to buy some pecans to bring back! They even have a CSA box and really creative grab and go foods, such as Cajun Caviar.

St. Roch Market, New Orleans

Loved this stand that sold all of these fresh microgreens! The rutabaga microgreens were my favorite.

Snake Sighting, Bayou Coquilles

We took a drive out to bayou country and hiked at the Jean Lafitte National Park. We ran into snakes and alligators in the heart of the bayou.

Café Beignet, New Orleans

Of course, we had to stop into the historic Café Beignet for some chicory coffee and some good old jazz!

Sylvain, New Orleans

For our last dinner in New Orleans, we visited the critically acclaimed Sylvain, which is in a 200-year-old former carriage house in the French Quarter. The food is elegant, and all about seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients. This shaved Brussels sprouts salad was tossed with apples and hazelnuts.

Sylvain, New Orleans

I asked the server about plant-based menu options, and he suggested that I trust the chef, who produced my favorite meal of my trip: savory couscous with lima beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, greens, and micro-greens. Divine!

LAND Conference

It was such a treat presenting at the LAND Conference in Baton Rouge the next day. What a fabulous group of dietitians!

Caitlin Finton’s Inspired Veggie Dish

I had a book signing at the conference in Baton Rouge, and so many RDs came up to speak with me. One dietitian named Caitlin said that my talk inspired her to go back home and make this gorgeous plate: sweet potato noodles with cinnamon and walnuts and a frittata with red pepper, onion, garlic, kale, and spices. Fabulous!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This