Americans are spending more time and money on the US Gulf Coast, a gorgeous crescent of the United States that borders the Gulf of Mexico.
The US Gulf Coast is made up of parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The region is experiencing a decades-long renaissance in tourism and cultural appreciation.
The gambling industry has a lot to do with the ongoing revival of interest in the United States Gulf Coast. The state of Mississippi, much of which is located in the heart of the region, has a gambling industry worth more than $4 billion to the state coffers. The neighboring state of Louisiana, heavily influenced by the politics of the Gulf, reports another $4 billion or so in revenue from gaming. All told, the region’s many gambling enterprises produce more money than Las Vegas and Atlantic City combined.
Though tourism in the region is driven in part by gaming, it’s by no means the only attraction available. Hunting and fishing are plentiful – the Natchez Trace is one of the world’s great hunting grounds, and is bordered by a gigantic nature preserve that belongs on everyone’s bucket list. The state of Florida runs primarily on non-gaming tourism. Texas owns much of the US Gulf Coast, some 350 miles of it, and that state is decidedly unfriendly to gaming, though the state’s curving strip of Gulf beaches is among its most-visited areas.
By far, our favorite Gulf Coast attraction is food. Why is Gulf Coast food so unique and so appealing? It’s a blend of a dozen different food cultures, from Mexican to German with a bit of everything in between. If the United States is a melting pot of cultures, the Gulf Coast is its ladle, serving up hybridized meals the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
The next time you’re visiting the riverboats of Louisiana, the casinos of Mississippi, or the gambling cruises of Florida, consider a special stop or two to sample the unimpeachable flavors of America’s most original food destination. For guidance, check out our twelve favorite Gulf Coast food blogs, presented below in no particular order.
1. Dixie Dining
Gary Saunders, the blogger behind Dixie Dining, tells an amazing story in his About Me page. Apparently, during his time as the manager of a minor league baseball team, he became the first manager in pro baseball history to trade a player for a viny record, acquiring a Muddy Waters LP in exchange for independent league superstar Andre “The Giant” Keene. If that doesn’t make you want to read his blog, I don’t know what will. Dixie Dining focuses on Southern restaurants and Dixieland food experiences. This quite often involves the delicious cuisine of the Gulf Coast.
Typical post: New Orleans: A 4-Day Weekend, a long and mostly food-focused description of one of the eccentric blogger’s recent trips to the Big Easy.
The Amateur Gourmet is the blog of a young wannabe playwright, chef, food write, and cookbook author named Adam Roberts. Though this blogger currently lives 1,000 miles north of the Gulf Coast (in a little town you may have heard of called New York City), his focus is often on the myriad flavors of the South, especially the Gulf Coast. All the standard trappings of a food blog are here, from recipes and restaurant reviews to gorgeous photos of food and the blogger’s adventures around the culinary world.
Typical post: Quick Queso with Chorizo, a quick lesson on Tex-Mex aided by The Homesick Texan Cookbook, one of our favorite cookbooks from the Gulf Coast. We’re not so sure about his use of grated Monterrey Jack cheese for his queso, with not one drop of Velveeta, the true favorite and secret ingredient extraordinaire of Tex-Mex fans the world over. Still, it looks delicious.
The story of Joy the Baker is sort of the story of Gulf Coast cuisine itself. To wit, she’s a California native who fell in love with the flavors of the Gulf Coast and moved to New Orleans to pursue her new passion. She’s a transplant from Los Angeles, so while Joy wasn’t born in the Gulf Coast, she got here as soon as she could … which was 2014, apparently. The real star of the show at Joy’s blog is her recipes – something we appreciate in a world of blogs stuffed with restaurant reviews, advertisements for eBooks, and personal narratives.
Typical post: Chocolate Marbled Italian Easter Bread, a great example of how many different cultures have an influence on Gulf Coast cuisine. This legitimate Italian classic gets a bit of a Greek update, along with a modern touch – the bread is decorated with hand-painted Easter eggs.
4. Haute Plates
How much of a Gulf Coast native is the blogger behind Haute Plates? He name-drops the New Orleans hospital where he was born on his About page. Haute Plates is a production of myneworleans.com, though Roberty Peyton has also earned accolades for his personal site, appetites.us. The coverage at Haute Plates is a blend of New Orleans-focused reviews and news and notes from the blogger’s personal life – which is really just what you want out of a food blog, when you get down to it.
Typical post: Lahpet Thoke, a thoughtful review of a pop-up restaurant featuring Burmese cuisine.
Run by the former editor of At Home magazine, Mississippi Made is all about the food and lifestyle of the Central Gulf Coast. We especially love the What I Ate Wednesday feature, which is the best sort of food exhibitionism. It seems like the focus at this blog is on the healthier side of Deep South cuisine, though she’s not too shy to post a ridiculously rich chocolate dessert or two.
Typical post: Plant-Based Lunch Ideas, proof that not all Gulf Coast foodies are shameless carnivores who subsist on fried food and only the reddest meats.
6. Foodie Frog
Foodie Frog is the personal project of a couple of young Tampa Bay foodies. The focus is on the city of Tampa Bay, but the pair don’t stop there. They post often about their “food travels,” mainly in the state of Florida, but also outside the state from time to time. Their palates are refined, their posts are a bit snarky, and their blog is a joyful look at the real local food scene in a legitimate Gulf Coast city.
Typical post: Frog Eats Frog at Fancy’s Southern Cafe, a review of a local eatery where the menu includes fried favorites like frog’s legs and fried chicken along with comfort food. The chicken pot pie they describe made us head out for an early lunch.
South Florida’s food scene is still in the middle of an explosion. Not only is the area’s population trending younger and more hip, it’s also trending more healthy. We wanted to feature Take a Bite Out of Boca because of the blogger’s pescatarian diet. A focus on seafood is a perfect fit for our blog tour of the Gulf Coast. You’ll find lots of interesting fish and seafood recipes and reviews, but mainly we get a dose of the blogger’s extreme sweet tooth. Good writing, frequent updates, and gorgeous photos of food with a focus on the Gulf Coast. What else do you want?
Typical post: South Beach Wine and Food Festival Recap, a post reflecting on the blogger’s recent adventure at a major area food festival.
If every city in America had a version of this site, we’d all be better off. The goal of Eat Local Orlando is to showcase new and beloved locally-owned (hint: that means non-chain) restaurants and food trucks in the Orlando and Winter Park area. The brains behind this site document, photograph, and review their food finds, and present it in an easy-to-read and easy-to-search format. Kudos for driving the local food movement in an area not always known for indie innovation.
Typical post: Tapa Toro, a review of a new Spanish tapas cafe in Orlando.
Southern Bite is the production of Stacey Little, a true Southern gentleman with a passion for food and sharing love and culture through the medium of food. Stacey Little has become something of an Internet celebrity, and rightfully so. The recipes and reviews here are second to none, as is the blogger’s focus on the true cuisine of the US Gulf Coast. If you like food, you’ll love Stacey Little’s Southern Bite.
Typical post: 30-minutes Cheese Tortellini Soup, proof that not all Southern recipes involve truly Southern ingredients, or hours slaving over a hot stove.
What happens when two Philly natives move to Birmingham, Alabama? They fall in love with the food of the Alabama Gulf Coast. Describing themselves as foodies (definitely NOT food critics), the bloggers’ tastes are wide-ranging, covering everything from roadside fruit stands to elegant fine dining. We love the ultra-local focus (it’s tough to find posts about anything outside the Birmingham area) and the casual writing and post style.
Typical post: Pho 280, a review of a local Vietnamese cafe. We included this review to highlight the HUGE Vietnamese presence in the Gulf Coast. Even if it is mostly of the “pho-and-banh-mi” variety, we’re still thrilled to see so much Viet cuisine in what is essentially the Bible Belt.
Houston is the biggest city in the Gulf Coast region, just a half hour’s drive from the Gulf of Mexico, situated on two of the region’s most important waterways, and surrounded by swamp and marsh land. It’s a major destination for people in the region, and one of the most diverse melting pots of cultures, languages, and (most importantly) food traditions anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, there aren’t many good food blogs focusing on the Bayou City, and we think that’s unfortunate. More bloggers should take after Hungry in Houston, where the writer no doubt puts tens of thousands of miles on his car chasing down the city’s many delights, sharing the good, the bad, and the scary with us along the way.
Typical post: Stanton’s City Bites, a review of a Houston institution that goes a long way to convince us to take a trip to the Third Coast.
The name of the blog, which is French for porridge, is a beautiful thing to hear when pronounce by a native speaker. Don’t try it at home, unless you’ve had a couple of mint juleps or one of those famous New Orleans daiquiris. Bouillie is a term used by Louisiana French speakers to describe a specific texture, like that of egg custard or hogshead cheese. The blog is – obviously – focused on the French-Cajun aspects of Gulf Coast food, particularly that found in Louisiana.
Typical post: Time to Make Gumbo, because how could we make a list of Gulf Coast bloggers without mentioning the region’s best-known dish at least once?