Eat, drink and be Festival

by Kari Walker

The low-down on what to try this weekend when you head Downtown for the most wonderful time of the year

Maybe you've heard this one before - "Man, I really love the crawfish nachos at Dean-O's. But there's something about eating them at Festival International that makes them taste so much better." We here your, Festival foodies. Is it the sunshine? Is it the music? Or maybe it's washing it all down with an icy cold cup of Festival Punch.

This weekend is as much about the food and drink as it is the music. So, when planning what stages and acts to catch, you better plan around what you also want to chow down on. If you forgot to bring the handy Festival guide for reference, download the Festival app for mobile viewing and never miss where to find  your favorite food vendors and music acts.

Here are our picks for what to try as you travel around the festival grounds:

Over by the LUS LA Craft Biergarten you can grab a bite from food trucks like Viva La Waffle, Pelon's Mexican Hot Dogs and LA strEAT. The Biergarten's neighbor, Jefferson Street Pub, is also serving up dishes outside like mac and cheese, Shepherd's pie and a Cuban sandwich. The ice cream floats Viva is selling have caught our eye - we can only guess that the fizz on top the float is as sweet as sugarcane. While in the Biergarten, you can grab a beer from local brewers including Bayou Teche, Parish Brewing and our neighbor to the east, Abita.

At the main stage inside Parc International, some crowd-favorites are Poupart's crawfish pistolettes for $6 and Poor Boy's Riverside Inn sweet potato beignets for $4. Expect lines, but it's worth the wait while you listen to acts like Black Joe Lewis scheduled to play Saturday, April 26 at 9:30 p.m. Follow the rowdy bunch over to the New Orleans Daiquiris booth for a slushy strawberry daiquiri or margarita located near this stage, too.

It's a never ending smorgasbord of eats at the Popyes Pavilion de Cuisine - if the kiddos are in tow, an ice pop from Meltdown should be on the to-do list or a soft serve cone from the Dairy King. This is where you can find those delicious Dean-O's crawfish nachos and also "the boat" from Bon Creole Seafood - it's a bread bowl brimming with a crawfish and spinach in a melty mix you may or may not want to share. Teak's is also serving chargrilled oysters - grab a dozen and plop yourself on the grass to hear performances on Saturday starting at 2:45 from Sassafras Jubilee and then Julie Williams.

The Fais Do Do stage is where you can find Freetown Fries dishing up fresh cut fries served as simple or loaded if you dare - think loaded baked potato, but better. Seafood lovers should get some crawfish enchiladas from Blue Dog or a shrimp poboy fro Lagneaux's. And of course, this is where the party doesn't stop thanks to the Malibu Party Center booth - hello, Festival Punch, it's been a while.

Finally, the last stop is the TV5 Monde Stage Lafayette - settle down your sweet tooth with a bite of crêpes from Crêpes a la Cart. From butter and sugar to Nutella and banana, you can't go wrong here.

One last word to the wise: bring some cash as food vendors are cash only and drinks are purchased with tickets. Tickets are sold in strips of ten - it'll sent you back only $5 for those ten tickets, but they'll be worth it for a frosty beer in hand while the sun beats down and the music plays on.