Small Town, Big Flavor
Across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, sits Covington, a booming culinary town where first-rate restaurants just keep seeming to land. The small town, just 24 miles north of the city, is an amazingly flavorful surprise attracting some of the world's best chefs. Covington has quickly, but quietly, become a paradise for foodies looking to break outside the confines of New Orleans.
One of Covington's hot spots is Lola, which offers a creative take on Louisiana favorites. Chefs Keith and Nealy Frentz left NOLA Restaurant, Brennan's after Hurricane Katrina brought the New Orleans's culinary scene to a temporary halt. Lola's menu includes speckled trout and okra, hummus and tomato confit and a chargrilled Spanish octopus. For dessert, buttery and creamy cupcakes fill the dessert counter.
2. Del Porto Ristorante
There is also the three-time James Beard award winning Del Porto Ristorante which offers traditional, yet unique dished that combine flavors in a remarkably weird way. The menu offers a yellowfin tuna crudo topped with oranges, parsley, mint, chili-mint vinaigrette and sweet orange crackers. The restaurant's house-made pastas are delicious and include a saffron tagilatelle with yellowfin tuna chunks, artichokes and smoked tomatoes.
3. Oxlot 9
Inside the town's trendy, recently-renovated Southern Hotel is Oxlot 9, run by Chef Jeffrey Hansel. Named for its location - the spot on which oxen were once sold - Oxlot 9 feels like a casual hole-in-the-wall but with upscale food and wine. The menu varies seasonally, but offers twists on local favorites including crawfish pie with pepper jack and crème fraîche atop a fennel salad. Pickled celery is a surprise treat with plump frog legs. Fried rabbit comes stuffed with tasso and house-made mozzarella.
The hotel's Cypress Bar has incredible happy hour prices. A $12 glass of wine is often discounted to less than $4.
Covington is emerging as a culinary hub and stepping out of the shadow of it's south shore neighbor. We recommend taking in the scenic ride across the Causeway Bridge and exploring one of South Louisiana's hottest little towns.
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