Eat Your Way Through The South On This Gorgeous Road Trip From Houston To New Orleans

The sound of sizzling links of sausage and buttermilk biscuits griddled to perfection is pure music to the ears on this Southern U.S. road trip route from Houston to New Orleans. Traversing two of America's leading food bastions, road trippers will kick off this intrepid route with exquisite Tex-Mex in Houston and wrap up with authentic Cajun in New Orleans' iconic French Quarter. Five and a half hours is all that separates drivers from the alluring street markets and compact restaurants that characterize the city of New Orleans, marking the landing point of this route. While New Orleans might sit at the helm of Louisiana's culinary scene, don't disregard the indulgent hot spots along the way that set the stage for the French Quarter.

Famed for its Tex-Mex, but boasting a slight overlap with classic Southern comfort food, buttermilk biscuits, chicken fried steak, and chili con carne will comprise most of your meals on the Texas portion of this route. Just across the Texas state line, Lafayette and Baton Rouge introduce drivers to the renowned Creole and Cajun cuisine that Louisiana is famous for. Bordered by the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, drivers will find themselves in a New Orleans haven of culinary craftsmanship — the pinnacle of classic Creole cuisine that put Louisiana on the map. While it's possible to complete this route all in a day's drive, it's best to spread the journey out over at least a couple of days to give each city's foodie landscape the respect it deserves.

Houston, Texas to Lafayette, Louisiana

Austin has been receiving a lot of attention these days as the culinary capital of the Lone Star State. However, Austin's restaurant scene has steep competition in Houston. Home to over 10,000 restaurants representing more than 70 different countries and ethnic cuisines, visitors will find everything from Asian fusion markets to Tex-Mex food trucks. Not that it needs any further introduction, but Houston is among some of the best food cities in the United States. Oh, and don't forget that Houston holds its annual Restaurant Week from August to September. Grab some Korean barbecue tacos from Coreanos or some Asian-Latin American sandwiches from Hawker Street Food Bar before heading on to Lafayette.

Leaving behind Houston's culinary scene, Lafayette, Louisiana, sits just under three and a half hours away, and should be at the top of every food lover's bucket list. This bayou city was once named the Happiest Town in America by MarketWatch (via Daily Advertiser), and with all of the good food passed around, how could it not be? Visitors are quick to crown New Orleans as the Creole capital of this state, but often overlook Lafayette despite being the "heart of Acadiana." From tasting trails to street food markets and the famous Festivals Acadiens et Creoles that's held in October, it's hard to top this soulful Southern city. Seasonal crawfish, boudin balls, and fried shrimp are the stars of the show in Lafayette's foodie landscape that's believed to house more restaurants per capita than any other U.S. city.

Baton Rouge to New Orleans, Louisiana

Local radio show host Jay Ducote once described Baton Rouge as "a gumbo pot of all Louisiana cultures in one place" in an interview with USA Today — a portrait that couldn't be more true of this Pelican State city. Just an hour from Lafayette, Baton Rouge might be an underrated foodie destination, but it's a pure odyssey of seafood-rich plates and international flavors. These Southern stomping grounds are home to beloved birria tacos, hot honey chicken, and Viet-Cajun crawfish at Chow Yum, while you can find fried platters and gumbo at Phil's Oyster Bar & Seafood Restaurant. Before pulling back onto the highway, restock your pantry staples at the Red Stick Spice Market, selling everything from spice blends and oils to infused sugars sourced from local purveyors.

With 81 miles separating Baton Rouge from New Orleans, drivers will be saving the best for last on this road trip route. Named the Best Food City in the United States by U.S. News, New Orleans holds the rest of America's culinary industry to a high standard. You'll find a colorful labyrinth of Creole joints, jazz tunes, neon lights, and iconic bars on Bourbon Street — the beating heart and soul of the historic French Quarter. While Cajun might be the talk of the town, Caribbean, African, and European influences mean you'll find a diversity of flavors from around the globe. Jambalaya from Mother's, crawfish etouffee from Creole House, and grilled cheese and gumbo at Heard Dat Kitchen are just a few essential NOLA staples.