Metairie, LA

Searching for the 1970s at The Ground Pat'i in Metairie

DeanLand

Growing up in the 1970s in St. Charles Parish, Friday date nights often meant trips to Metairie for a movie and dinner. Ground Pat'i was one of our favorite stops, and that carried on to my college days at LSU when we wanted a more upscale burger outing.

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After I spread some napkins around and then unhinged my jaw, I took that first wonderful bite of the thick burger at Ground Pat'i.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Besides those teen year memories, Ground Pat'i coincidentally was my final pre-Covid dine-in experience, too. On a March 2019 evening, I took refuge in a dark corner, as far away from others as I could get, and caught up on the depressing news of soaring hospitalization rates, alarming death rates, and school and business closures. Unbeknownst at the time, this would be my last dine-in meal for 14 months.

Back to the present, when travel with a teenage boy meant choosing a hamburger joint for lunch. The memories of Ground Pat'i beaconed on our drive from Baton Rouge, so we navigated to the David Drive location for burgers and nostalgia.

The Tuesday lunchtime was very busy, with few tables readily available. We spotted one under a newspaper account of LSU's 2007 football championship, where Nick Saban smiled over my shoulder throughout my lunch.

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No, this isn't out of focus. It's the first nanosecond of time travel as I was transported back nearly 50 years in one tasty bite..Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

The menu has expanded significantly since the 1970s, with ribs, chicken, and seafood available. But we came for the 8 ounce Angus beef burgers cooked to order, topped with Wisconsin cheese and a side of fresh-fried Idaho potatoes, and those other distractions were not going to deter us on this quest.

We ordered three burger versions, though the specific configurations really don't matter. Each came exactly as remembered and anticipated: A thick, juicy patty (oops, "pat'i) topped with lettuce, tomato and onion, all on a lightly toasted bun. I tossed my onion aside, added a dollop of ketchup and mustard, carefully placed a few napkins around, and then unhinged my jaw for the huge first bite.

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We ordered three burgers, and the specific configurations don't really matter. Each came open faced, topped, and tempting.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

There's no promise that you will feel the same exhilarating experience, but I'm pretty sure that nearly 50 years instantly evaporated, at least for a few seconds, while I enjoyed those memorable burger flavors. I would swear that Nick Saban and the 2007 LSU championship disappeared from that picture, replaced instead by a Pete Finney account of some titanic defensive struggle between the football squads of Bear Bryant and good old "Cholly Mac."

As we compared notes around the table, we agreed that each had a tasty, enjoyable and filling lunch, though I was the only one who admitted to being transported through time.

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I'm a trained journalist, global traveler and retired business executive who worked for more than 20 years with some of the world's best and largest restaurant enterprises. I left the business world behind, living in Northwest Georgia and writing about avocations including outdoor excursions, family-friendly travel, road trips, exploration ideas for active seniors and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries, and I'm still counting up. I'm a traveler, hiker, cyclist, blogger, marketing consultant, community volunteer and local high school band nerd who previously has lived in Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Mississippi. I'm a South Louisiana-born French Cajun whose great-grandparents were sugar farmers, bar owners and reputed bootleggers. My upbringing in food-rich Louisiana and my restaurant industry career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. That also inspired the name of my blog, OurTravelCafe.com. There, I offer up a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

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