9 Mouth-watering Foods to Try in New Orleans
Get ready to eat your way through New Orleans with these top ten delicious and delectable traditional foods from the city.
New Orleans is synonymous with two things: music and food. You can take in live music just about anywhere in this vibrant city, and you probably won’t be disappointed by any of it. But how can you know which foods to focus on trying, especially if you are only in town for a limited amount of time? Check out this list to be sure you don’t miss anything when it comes to the unique and delicious foods of New Orleans. And don’t worry—we’ve also supplied you with information on where to find the best examples of each food in the city.
What better place to begin a list of the best foods in New Orleans than with its signature classic? Gumbo is perhaps the most widely-recognized New Orleans food in the world, and its popularity has inspired restaurants throughout the United States and beyond to adopt this traditional dish into their repertoires. Traditional gumbo is made with rice, shrimp, okra, and a variety of seasonings that no chef will ever give up the secrets to. It is similar to jambalaya, but cooked somewhat differently.
Sample the gumbo at Commander’s Palace for a fine dining experience that nevertheless will allow you to try the flavors of middle-class New Orleans history. With a different type of gumbo available every day, this classy restaurant is sure to please your palate in style.
Commander’s Palace is located at 1403 Washington Avenue in New Orleans.
It is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 1:30pm, and for Jazz Brunch Saturday from 11:00am to 1:00pm and Sunday from 10:00am to 1:30pm.
Commander’s Palace serves dinner every night from 6:30pm.
Po’ Boys are iconic New Orleans classics. These sandwiches were originally created in the late 1920s and used to feed workers who were on strike and had no means of feeding themselves. Although you may find po’ boys throughout the United States in all different types of ingredient combinations, the traditional New Orleans version of the sandwich is served on hard French bread and topped with tomatoes, lettuce, and mayonnaise. It is stuffed with fried shrimp—but roast beef is a fine substitute for those out there with shellfish allergies.
Stop in Johnny’s Po’ Boys for the best version of these sandwiches that can be found in the city. Serving since 1950, Johnny’s has made a name for itself among the countless other po’ boy restaurants in New Orleans.
Johnny’s is located at 511 St. Louis Street in New Orleans.
It is open daily from 8:00am to 4:30pm.
In the Industrial age of the city of New Orleans, workers without a lot of money often packed these hearty sandwiches to help get them through their difficult and long shifts. The sandwiches may not cost much to prepare, but they are one of the most delicious flavor combinations the city has to offer. Served on sesame bread, they are topped with ham, salami, mozzarella, and sometimes other types of cheeses or deli meat. Dressed with olive salad, they are a savory and vinegary delight.
Take the advice of locals and famous TV personalities alike: the best muffuletta in the city can be found at Central Grocery. According to word of mouth, this grocery is responsible for the initial creation of the popular sandwich. Whether or not this is true, you can be sure that they’ve been putting together some of the most delicious muffuletta specimens in New Orleans for well over a century.
Central Grocery is located at 923 Decatur Street in New Orleans.
Its hours change depending on the season, but it is open for lunch daily.
Although pecan pralines are popular throughout the Southern United States, many would argue that no place does them quite like New Orleans. They are just one of the many recipes that were introduced to the area by French settlers long ago. Pecans grown in and around New Orleans and cane sugar harvested from the farms of Louisiana combine to create these sweet and tasty treats.
Look for anyone selling pralines out of their home or on the side of the road. Yes, it may sound a little bit uncouth, but sometimes the best pecan pralines are the ones made by the housewives and home cooks of New Orleans. If you prefer to purchase pralines from a shop, try Tee-Eva’s, which has become a popular praline location in the past few decades.
Tee-Eva’s is located at 5201 Magazine Street in New Orleans.
It is open Monday through Saturday from 11:00am to 6:00pm, and Sunday from noon to 5:00pm.
It also features online ordering options.
Char Grilled Oysters
Char Grilled Oysters are one of those ubiquitous New Orleans favorites that just seem to show up everywhere. This Louisiana take on the ever-popular oysters on the half shell recipe calls for firing up the grill to achieve the perfect flavor. Searing the oysters over an open flame gives them an undeniably fiery flavor that combines perfectly with the cheesy, buttery, herb-crusted topping that is applied throughout the cooking process.
Try the Char Grilled Oysters at Acme Oyster House. This restaurant dates back to the late 1800s and has been grilling up oysters for residents and visitors to New Orleans alike ever since. You can’t beat tradition!
Acme Oyster House is located at 724 Iberville Street in New Orleans.
It is open Sunday through Thursday from 10;30am to 10:00pm, and Friday and Saturday from 10:30am to 11:00pm.
Red Beans and Rice
It may not sound like much, but red beans and rice is as much a staple of New Orleans cooking as any other dish on this list—and perhaps more so than some! Families throughout the city enjoy the meal on a weekly basis, and its popularity has spread throughout the rest of the country, too. It’s just what it sounds like—spicy red beans served with a side of rice—and sometimes can be accompanied with a spicy sausage or shrimp.
Try Mother’s Restaurant for a wide variety of red beans and rice combinations. Definitely make sure to sample the version that comes with smoked sausage, as it is the signature dish of this simple but tried-and-true restaurant.
Mother’s is located at 401 Poydras in New Orleans.
It is open every day from 7:00am to 10:00pm.
Redfish is not a common seafood that is served on many menus throughout the United States, but this Creole classic is incredibly popular and easy to find in New Orleans. The dish consists of fileted redfish coated in butter and a secret blend of spices. The filets are seared over very high heat in a skillet to create a crispy and spicy outer crust hiding the juicy and sweet fish within. As the crust is hot and the fish is usually served with a spicy sauce on top, this is not a meal for the faint of heart—or of tongue!
One of the more recent additions to the list of restaurant recommendations in the city is Jacques-Imos, a modern restaurant that serves contemporary versions of traditional classics. They serve a delicious take on blackened redfish that combines the style of modern meals with the authenticity of New Orleans.
Jacques-Imos is located at 8324 Oak Street in New Orleans.
It is open Monday through Thursday from 5:00pm to 10:00pm, and Friday and Saturday from 5:00pm to 10:30pm.
It is closed on Sundays.
For a taste of perfection, New Orleans style, nothing beats a beignet. This delicious pastry dates all the way back to the French settlers who first lived in the New Orleans area, well before it was part of the United States of today. Similar to a donut, these fried treats are made of dough and topped with powder sugar. They are served at almost every major function, holiday gathering, or special event in the lives of New Orleans residents—so don’t pass them up on your next trip!
The best beignets in the city are made by homemakers who have been preparing them their whole lives. But, if you don’t have the benefit of knowing someone’s grandmother who could make a batch for you, stop in Café Du Monde, the most well-known beignet location in the city. They’ve been serving up beignets since 1862, so you can be sure they know what they’re doing by now!
There are lots and lots of Café Du Monde locations in New Orleans. However, the French Market location is the most famous and it was the first. It is located at 800 Decatur Street in New Orleans.
The French Market location is open daily 24 hours a day.
It is closed from 6pm December 24 to 6am December 26 and is open every other day of the year.
Last but not least, no trip to New Orleans would be complete without sampling boudin. This sausage is quite often hand made on the premises of whatever store, restaurant, or home kitchen is serving it. There is no hard and fast rule as to what ingredients are included in a boudin recipe, but it will usually have some version of dirty rice and spicy, well-seasoned meat. Sometimes the sausage is smoked and sometimes it is boiled, but no matter how it is prepared, the results are always the same. People love it!
Ronnie’s Boudin House is one of the best places to try boudin in New Orleans. They make and cook the sausage on site, and you can eat it there or take it home to prepare yourself. For the full and traditional boudin experience, nothing quite beats this place!
Ronnie’s Boudin House is the only restaurant on this list that is technically not located in New Orleans, but in nearby Baton Rouge.
It can be found at 9830 Florida Blvd. in Baton Rouge.
Ronnie’s is open Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 6:00pm, and Saturday from 7:00am to 4:00pm. It is closed on Sundays.
The next time you are in New Orleans, you will be prepared to make sure you eat everything you need to try while you spend time in this exciting city. Don’t pass up your opportunity to enjoy the best versions of these classic and traditional foods that New Orleans has to offer!
Lead image: flickr photo by ConspiracyofHappiness https://flickr.com/photos/97964364@N00/15175172307 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
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