A Louisiana Take on Middle Eastern Cuisine

Middle Eastern immigrants have been settling into Louisiana for over a century, and with them came their famous cuisine.

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Enjoy the Chicken Shawarma at Albasha in Baton Rouge.

Louisiana’s Lebanese population has added spice to the state’s rich culinary heritage for more than a century. Starting with an influx of immigrants in the late 1800s, Lebanese farmers, grocers and merchants have spread throughout the state, bringing their cooking skills with them and passing the expertise on to younger generations.

“It’s always been a matter of cultural preservation,” Jay Campbell, president of Associated Grocers in Baton Rouge, said. “All four of my grandparents were Lebanese, and so that’s the kind of food I ate growing up.”

Lebanese cuisine is a combination of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences, heavy on olive oil, garlic, pickled vegetables and skewered meats. Lamb figures prominently in Lebanese cooking, though in Louisiana markets and restaurants, you’ll likely find it replaced with beef.

When you’re traveling the highways and back roads of Louisiana, try some of the fresh flavors of the Middle East at restaurants such as Serops Café, Albasha Greek & Lebanese Restaurant and Arzi’s in Baton Rouge; Kebab and Mona’s Café in New Orleans (located on the world-famous music strip known as Frenchmen Street); Mazen’s Mediterranean Foods and Zeus Café in Lake Charles; and Poseidon's Greek Restaurant in Lafayette.