The city of New Orleans is renowned for its colorful culture—boasting live music, festivals, history, art and, of course, fabulous food.
Foodies flock to the Big Easy from around the globe, eager to enjoy delightfully diverse menus cultivated by an equally diverse history spanning more than 300 years. Local cuisine incorporates recipes from Paris to Port au Prince and from the Congo to Cadiz. The result is a delectable mixture of Creole, Cajun, French, soul food, and more.
“Of course, New Orleans is a mecca for culinary adventures of all kinds,” attests Billie Ruff, owner of Travel Cafe. She believes a visit to New Orleans is worth the trip—just for the food alone.
“Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants continue to be show stoppers,” she says, referring to the über famous chef who has made a name for himself and New Orleans’ cuisine worldwide. His four local restaurants serve Cajun and Creole dishes that highlight the region’s distinctive fare.
“By all means, visitors to New Orleans should try the abundant seafood,” Billie urges, “including oysters, crawfish, shrimp, crab, blackened redfish, stuffed flounder, red snapper, pompano or trout en papillote and fried catfish.” One of the dishes most widely associated with NOLA may combine all of the above.
“Gumbo is a special case,” Billie explains. “It can be made with all or just one of the above, as well as with chicken, okra and sausage. Jambalaya is also made with a variety of ingredients, including peppery rice with chicken or seafood.”
Billie is particularly fond of Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill, an award-winning restaurant located at the gateway to the iconic French Quarter.
“They are famous for their southern oyster dishes,” she says. “Other legendary oyster bars include Acme Oyster House and Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar.”
The city caters to patrons of all tastes, offering more than 1,000 eateries to satisfy every palate. Relish red beans and rice with spicy andouille sausage, a traditional Monday meal which is often offered for free in bars on that night.
Other regional treats are:
+ Boudin—sausage stuffed with a spicy mixture of pork and rice
+ Fried chicken
+ Deep-fried turkey
+ Stuffed artichoke
+ Dirty rice—made with seasoning and chopped giblets or other meat
+ Po’boys—the local name for sub sandwiches, often filled with fried seafood
+ Muffulettas—a round sandwich stacked with deli meats and Italian seasonings
+ Beignets—heavenly fried dough dusted with powdered sugar
+ Chicory—laced coffee or café au lait
+ Warm bread pudding—served with whiskey or rum sauce
+ Pecan pralines
“Don’t forget the local tradition of the Jazz Brunch—a late morning meal spiced with live music,” Billie adds. “That will kickstart your day. Just be aware that some of New Orleans' Old Guard restaurants require jackets for men and equivalent attire for women.”
Plotting a course through the Crescent City (a name derived from the Mississippi River’s route around and through the town) yields one primary challenge: how will I have time to do it all? Be assured, each sector holds its own secrets and surprises, so there is no “best way” to visit. Yet, with the guidance of Travel Cafe, we have assembled a basic roadmap to culinary bliss and cultural fulfillment in New Orleans. Be advised, additional pitstops for listening to jazz music, perusing museums and sipping cocktails are encouraged.
Ready your tastebuds for an unforgettable adventure.
This is the flagship restaurant of the internationally known food icon. It is located in the Warehouse District and is famous for breaking culinary boundaries with its unique blend of "new New Orleans" cuisine.
Red Fish Grill
It's a seafood-centric landmark on the first block of Bourbon Street. Enjoy innovative twists on casual NOLA seafood in a laid-back and lively setting.
French Quarter Tour
Take a break from feasting to indulge in the vibrant history behind one of New Orleans’ most famous neighborhoods. According to NewOrleans.com, "The walking tours of the Vieux Carre bring the neighborhood to life—with specialized guides possessing expert knowledge of all sorts: Creole cuisine, spirited cocktails and antebellum architecture are only a few."
Acme Oyster House
Founded in 1910, this is a vintage piece of New Orleans popular with locals for generations. Wear casual attire. It's great for dinner or lunch and is in a prime location just off Bourbon Street.
Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar
There are two locations in New Orleans: French Quarter and Lakefront (located right along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain). Both offer diners some of the freshest oysters around, harvested from the best Louisiana oyster beds.
New Orleans’ Shellfish: Choose Your Favorite Way to Order
+ On the 1/2 Shell
Crawfish (aka mudbugs)
+ Étouffée (A very thick stew served over rice—the French word means “to smother.”)
+ Boiled Soft-Shell