New Orleans is a city full of soul, good music, fun times, and with the melting pot of cultures, Cajun and Creole cuisines, they know their food.
Here are just a few things you must try when you’re visiting the Big Easy!
It’s where the original muffuletta was created—an Italian sandwich that is comprised of a wheel of sesame-crusted bread, brushed with salty olive juice, stuffed with salami, mortadella, ham, provolone, and Swiss cheese. All topped with a house-made Italian olive salad spread. Get the sandwich with a side of Zapp’s potato chips, and you’ve done it right. Central Grocery in the French Quarter is a classic.
People love the olive salad so much that they sell it in jars to take home in your checked luggage.
Shrimp, oysters, and crawfish, oh my! You name it, they got it. Locals love Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar in Kenner. Think classic poboys, crawfish boils, oysters, and gumbo! It’s affordable and near the airport.
Pro tip: If the wait is too long, visit Smitty’s Seafood just around the corner. The wait is much shorter, and the food is just as good.
Beignet and café au lait
An order of freshly fried beignets dusted in powdered sugar with a side of café au lait, it’s the perfect snack in the morning, afternoon, after dinner, or heck, after the a night of drinking!
Locals and visitors alike line up at the original Café Du Monde on Decatur Street, and you can even purchase beignet mix and coffee with chicory to bring home!
These sandwiches are simply heaven. Lightly breaded and fried seafood, stuffed between a soft, crusty roll, poboys are a simple, cheap, and cheerful lunch.
Two places to check out are Parkway Bakery & Tavern (historic and lines up around the corner—worth it!) and New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company (their one-handed poboy is grab and go, so there’s no need to stop the party for lunch!).
Jumbalaya and gumbo
Jambalaya and gumbo are traditional Creole food, perfect comfort food to compliment drinks and live music.
A classic backyard barbecue food, Jacques-Imo’s Cafe in Carrollton brings the atmosphere to match.
Willie Mae’s Scotch House is an institution since 1957. Situated on St. Ann Street outside the French Quarter, you’ll find the perfectly crispy and juicy fried chicken that many say is the absolute best in town. It’s the definition of soul food, complete with their mac and cheese, fried okra, and Brussels sprouts. One bite and you’ll understand why they’re so storied!
Believe it or not, this Vietnamese bakery in New Orleans East does it right. Dong Phuong a bit of a drive, but thousands of locals make the trek to pick up this bakery’s take on a New Orleans King cake. Be warned, they often sell out within an hour of opening, so plan ahead to get there early.
The pastry is crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, reminiscent of a flakey croissant, and topped with icing and coloured sugar.
And while you’re there, grab some of their banh mi sandwiches and traditional Vietnamese pastries—you won’t regret it!
You won’t find a shortage of pralines in New Orleans, but my favourite has got to be Aunt Sally’s. They’ve been around since 1935, and are readily available around town.
Stop by their factory location in the Warehouse District, where pralines are being handmade and packed. Variations are available including creamy, triple chocolate, bananas foster, and café au lait. They make great souvenirs!
Local faves: Boudin, alligator
Cochon Restaurant in the Lower Garden District does local Cajun faves right. From a boudin spicy pork sausage to fried alligator (people love it—not my favourite), it’s a great chance to try local favourites done by some of the best in town.
What are some of your favourites? Leave them in the comments below!