13556 Jefferson Hwy.
Baton Rouge, LA
By Matt Norris
Mason’s Grill is the embodiment of everything I love about the state of Louisiana—the best state in America for eating.
End of discussion.
Even at an ordinary, non-descript place on the outskirts of Baton Rouge like Mason’s Grill, you will find something extraordinary to light up your taste buds.
Now, throughout my travels, this isn’t the kind of place I would normally seek out.
There is nothing historic or quaint about it. It’s not some Travel Channel dining landmark.
Mason’s Grill has no divey charm or scary clientele, which I also enjoy.
It’s just a boring looking restaurant on the side of the road with a big parking lot filled with the pickup trucks of local families out for a good meal.
But looks can be deceiving—especially in the Bayou State where “a good meal” is almost never boring.
There is nothing boring about chowing down on giant dangerous reptiles, especially the way Mason’s prepares their alligator.
While I personally prefer my oversized lizards fried, you must try blackened gator just once in your life.
This alligator was generously seasoned with Cajun spices and served with tangy New Orleans style remoulade on the side.
Tender, juicy, and packing a nice kick, Mason’s blackened gator was like a Mardi Gras parade in every bite.
So does gator taste like chicken?
Well, yeah. Kind of.
Like swampy, greasy, delicious chicken.
But the real reason to come to Mason’s Grill is for their famous Cajun Shrimp Burger.
This burger is epic!
A half-pound of fresh ground beef spiked with jalapeno peppers comes grilled to order, then topped with more jalapenos and Cajun spices—then topped again with a rich sauce of melted Monterey Jack cheese and shrimp.
On a burger.
How awesome is that?
Pretty awesome as a matter of fact.
And these aren’t those lame little cocktail shrimp you’ve had a million times everywhere else.
We’re talking big, jumbo Gulf Coast shrimp. The real deal.
The cheese and shrimp sauce was thicker than the burger and oozed with every delicious bite.
Fortunately, Mason’s uses an industrial-sized sourdough bun made fresh from a bakery in Houston to keep it all together.
Too often these epic-sized, over-the-top burger creations transform into an epic failure because the buns just can’t hold up to the meat, cheese, and grease assault.
But not here. Mason’s has mastered the art of burger integrity.
Cooked exactly the way I asked for it—a nice medium pink with plenty of juices flowing, my burger had a harmonious yin and yang of sweet and spicy.
The jalapenos let their presence be known, but didn’t turn my mouth into an inferno of fire.
The creamy shrimp and cheese sauce was a perfect balance to the Cajun spices.
This burger is a Proud American Traveler Hall of Famer for sure.
Along with a side of first rate onion rings, I had trouble finishing my plate. And that’s saying something.
The bartender said most folks can’t finish the burger. And most folks don’t start with a whole appetizer of gator either.
But then again this proud traveler ain’t most folks.
I’m a professional after all.
As for the beer, I found Mason’s selection to be pretty decent for Louisiana—a state with the least adventurous tastes in craft beer, confirming that Louisianans really are all about the food.
I decided to try the local beer, Canebrake, a wheat beer from Parrish Brewing Company in Lafayette, but it was bland and boring with a sweet aftertaste— adding further proof to my theory that wheat beers are brewed for people who don’t actually like the taste of beer.
So I switched to the familiar.
Mason’s sports a nice lineup of Abita beers from another local brewery down the road in Abita Springs, so I opted for my favorite Abita, the Turbo Dog.
First of all, it’s fun just telling the bartender, “I’ll have a Turbo Dog.”
The dark, heavy ale is a perfect companion to the Cajun delicacies you will find on just about any menu in this state.
Even at a boring-looking place like Mason’s.
Sure, this would have made a far more entertaining story if I could tell you that I risked my life walking into a smoky biker bar with heads turning, beady eyes glaring, fingers on switchblades twitching, as soon as I swung open the saloon doors.
But you know what? Sometimes it’s nice to know our readers won’t have to risk their lives to find an epic Cajun shrimp burger!
Rating: Bought the Shirt!