So lets talk food!! New Orleans is known for it’s food and before I went down there everyone was telling me how I was going to have the best food experience EVER! So I have put together a list of the must-eats while in New Orleans and where some of the best places to eat them are!
During my stay in New Orleans, I ate at over 30 restaurants which didn’t even seem to touch the surface of New Orleans dining. One time I met a man who said he had lived there 50-some years and he still finds a new restaurant to eat at every day. There are so many restaurants in New Orleans, way more than I could ever eat at, so I’m sure you can find many of these New Orleans staples at other restaurants as well.
Beignets (pronounced “ben-yays”) are the one food item that you must try while visiting New Orleans. Beignets are thought to be brought to New Orleans from French colonists who first settled the area. They are basically fried dough shaped in a square and covered in powdered sugar. Some people compare them to a donut, but I personally think they are much better!
The best place to eat beignets is at Café Du Monde. Café Du Monde was
the first coffee shop in New Orleans, and still sticks to menu it had many years ago – coffee a luit and beignets. There are two lines, one for take-out and one for dining. The long lines are worth it, and if you go during the week chances are you won’t have to wait in line to get a table. Also, you can go around the back-side and see the bakers hand-making the beignets. One more tip, they take cash only so just be aware of that.
Other places to get beignets include Café Beignet (which have several locations around
New Orleans) and Morning Call (a cute café right in City Park).
Gumbo is a dish much like a stew that comes from the Creoles. It is one of the most popular dishes in Louisiana and can be found in every household. It is a cheap dish to make, can serve many people, and you can use almost any ingredients in your household. The base of gumbo is roux which is flour mixed with oil or fat. The roux is cooked first and depending on one’s preference, you can make this roux as dark or light colored as you would like – each would have a different flavor. Once the roux is prepared to the color of your liking, vegetables are added and then a type (or two) of meat. Seafood gumbo is one of the most common dishes and it can be served over rice.
Gumbo is on most menus at any restaurant in New Orleans. However, one day when I was touring plantations, my friends and I were told to stop at B & C Riverside for lunch. B & C Riverside was a true Louisiana feel with fresh delicious food (especially their crawfish). I ate rabbit gumbo here and it was the best gumbo I had tried yet. So if you are out visiting plantations (Oak Alley, Whitney Plantation, Laura’s Plantation, any plantation along this strip), make this place your lunch stop for a good Louisiana dining experience!
Jambalaya is a similar dish to gumbo just without the roux. It is a mixture of rice, vegetables, meat, and seasonings. It can be made with either a Cajun or Creole influence, using different seasonings or meats.
Jambalaya was one of my favorite dishes and I ate it as much as I could. Much like gumbo, it is offered at just about every restaurant in New Orleans. It is also a delicious treat at many festivals.
Just about every plate of jambalaya I had was the best so it is hard to pick the best place. But I would have to say that K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen had one of the best jambalaya’s I had during my stay. K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen has both Creole and Cajun dishes on the menu. Another delicious place for jambalaya is Cornet which also has balcony seating giving you a view of Bourbon Street as you dine.
Po-boys are another New Orleans staple and date back to when the streetcar line was being built. At one point during this time, the streetcar workers went on strike as they wanted higher pay. While on strike they were very poor and looking for food. One man, Bennie Martin, started handing out sandwiches made on French bread to the strikers. These sandwiches were called “poor-boy” sandwiches and the name eventually shortened to po-boys. Once the strike was over, the sandwich stayed as a favorite in New Orleans.
A po-boy is basically anything in-between a loaf of French bread. If the contents were in-between regular bread, it would just be called a sandwich.
My first po-boy I tried had way too much French bread making it taste bready and then I didn’t try po-boys again until my last week there. During my last week I went to Johnny’s Po-Boys which had so many different types of po-boys to chose from. My cousin and I split a cheeseburger po-boy. Johnny’s Po-Boys has big portions, so I suggest to share the dish with a friend.
New Orleans is a port city meaning they have access to plenty of fresh seafood. Oysters, shrimp and grits, turtle, crawfish, alligator, blue crab, and red fish are just a few of the many fresh seafoods in New Orleans. Most of the seafoods have seasons where there are more available, or they are bigger, than other times of the year. Since New Orleans is so fond of festivals they even have seafood festivals, with crawfish festivals being the most common. During crawfish season, many locals gather for big crawfish boils on the weekends.
A really good seafood restaurant is Seafood Superior. Here they have delicious char-boiled oysters, bacon-wrapped shrimp, and many more seafood choices. For turtle, the turtle soup at Commander’s Palace is a wonderful choice. Alligator is common and is cooked in many different ways; you can find it deep fried or on a stick. In the French Market there is an alligator stand that has many options for this meat. Blue crab and red fish were just coming in season as I was leaving, but I’ve heard that they are both must-eats as well.