Planning to eat amazing things in New Orleans? Your planning starts now. You should know that food in New Orleans can be a truly global experience. It is known for its culturally diverse food offering many unique and delicious dishes.
This is a city that loves its food! If you are someone that looks forward to trying new regional dishes when you travel you are heading to the right place. New Orleans is famous for its Creole and Cajun cuisines and it is something you don’t want to miss.
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Eat Amazing Things on a New Orleans Food Tour
I recommend starting your stay with a food tour.
A food tour in any city is always a good idea but in a food-loving city like New Orleans, it’s a no-brainer. Schedule your New Orleans walking food tour early in your visit to make the most out of what you learn. You’ll want the great advice of your guide on where to grab the best meals.
CHECK AVAILABILITY HERE– WALKING FOOD TOUR
If walking is not your thing, or you just stayed out too late the night before, try a cooking demonstration that ends in a meal. You’ll learn all the history of each dish as you watch it being prepared. Check here for the availability of this cooking demo at the New Orleans School of Cooking that includes lunch. You even leave with the recipes as a souvenir.
CHECK AVAILABILITY HERE– Cooking Demo New Orleans School of Cooking
For food history and cocktails, this highly praised tour is sure to check all the boxes. Possibly the highlight of your trip, this walking tour includes 4 full-size cocktails.
CHECK AVAILABILITY HERE – COCKTAIL AND FOOD HISTORY TOUR
If you are looking for other fun things to do in the French Quarter check out this article.
If you haven’t found the perfect hotel in New Orleans yet, use this guide.
In the meantime, below is a selection of what to eat and places to try them where you can’t go wrong.
What and Where: Amazing Food in New Orleans
Here are some of the best New Orleans dishes you have to try:
- Crawfish are a type of freshwater crustacean, often served boiled with spices or in dishes such as gumbo or jambalaya. Also known as mudbugs, they are available seasonally from February to May. A crawfish boil is a fun, social event where friends and family come together for a big seafood party. The crawfish (or other crustaceans) are boiled in big pots along with corn on the cob, andouille sausage, and potatoes.
Where can I try crawfish?
Live and learn the ‘boil’ culture firsthand with an unforgettable experience: Mr. Gregory’s Shrimp Boil. A very personal, small group tour with authentic New Orleans tastings, live music and entertainment, and of course the boil.
CHECK AVAILABILITY HERE- MR. GREGORY’S SHRIMP BOIL
Deanie’s Seafood is famous for its seafood dishes and has a crawfish dish served four different ways.
If you are dreaming of those delicious seasonings while cooking in your own kitchen you can grab them here. If you fall seriously in love with the crawfish boil and want to host your own backyard feast for family and friends check out this Creole Feast fryer/steamer.
- Gumbo is a hearty stew made with a roux base, meat or seafood, and vegetables. Okra is a prime ingredient as the word gumbo itself derives from the West African language.
Where should I try a bowl of Gumbo?
For upscale casual try Mr. B’s Bistro
Creole House Restaurant on Canal Street for a more down-to-earth experience.
- Jambalaya! If you are a fan of the television show Seinfeld, you know that Jambalaya became a household word across the U.S. by being mentioned in the infamous soup nazi episode. Jambalaya is a rice dish made with meat or seafood, vegetables, and spices. This dish is derived from the Spanish influence on New Orleans cuisine. It is more reminiscent of paella than it is a stew-like gumbo.
Where can I get a bowl of Jambalaya?
Coop’s Place 21 and older crowd only here.
The Original Pierre Maspero’s for a cool atmosphere.
- Po’ boys are an iconic New Orleans sandwich made with fried seafood or roast beef on French bread, often served with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. Local bakeries make the delicious absorbent bread that soaks up the gravy and juices of the po’ boy ingredients. The sandwiches are overflowing with flavorful fillings.
The story of po’ boys origin is that they were created to feed striking streetcar drivers. The hungry strikers were referred to as “poor boys’ which was later shortened to “po’ boy”
Where can I get a po’ boy sandwich?
Mother’s is an iconic cafeteria-style restaurant for Southern cooking.
- Beignets are square-shaped doughnuts, fried and coated with powdered sugar. A beignet with a cup of hot chicory coffee is a classic breakfast while visiting the Crescent City.
Where can I try beignets?
Although beignets are found everywhere around New Orleans you must try them at least one time at the iconic Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter.
Cafe Du Monde the original down by the French Market and Jackson Square is not to be missed.
If you prefer champagne with your beignets or wish to try some with delectable fillings head to The Vintage.
- Red beans and rice are a traditional dish made with red beans, rice, and sausage or ham. It was a customary dish served on Mondays to use up the scraps of meat leftover from the family Sunday dinners. So as not to be wasteful and to stretch the budget the meat was combined with the red beans and rice. Today red beans and rice can be found everywhere in New Orleans.
The tradition of red beans and rice on Monday is illustrated in this fun children’s picture book featuring multiple classic Louisiana recipes and dishes. You can purchase your own copy here.
Try red beans and rice at these iconic Big Easy restaurants:
Napoleon House is a 200-year-old landmark and the courtyard is lovely.
Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe paired with some amazing fried chicken you will feel like a local here.
- A muffuletta is a sandwich made with salami, ham, and cheese, topped with olive salad Served on big squares of Italian bread and drizzled with oil. This sandwich indicates the Italian influence on the New Orleans food culture. Muffulettas are huge and made for sharing.
Where is the best muffuletta sandwich?
Central Grocery is a must-stop as it is the place where the sandwich was first said to be invented. Grab a sandwich and some drinks and have a picnic along the Mississippi river.
- Banh Mi are sometimes referred to as Vietnamese po’ boys. Served on a rounder bread but stuffed with delish ingredients nonetheless. Banh Mi sandwiches are layered with meat or pate, cucumber, cilantro, and pickled vegetables.
Where to find a banh mi sandwich in New Orleans?
For a modern twist that includes options for vegans try Banh Mi Boys on Magazine Street
- Boudin is a Cajun food similar to a sausage stuffed with pork, onions, spices, and rice.
Where can I find boudin in the French Quarter?
Or for a more casual spot at NOLA Poboys on Bourbon Street near Royal Street
The cultural influences of New Orleans cooking is as interesting as it is flavorful. To gain a deeper understanding of Creole and Cajun cooking check out this short video that does an excellent job of explaining what they are.
Finish up with Dessert
If you ate your way through this list of amazing things to eat in New Orleans, I hope you remembered to leave room for dessert. Just as unique as the entrees, but no less delicious. look for bread pudding, pralines, bananas foster, and snowballs in the summer to satisfy your sweet tooth.
From the sweetest beignets to the spiciest Gumbo, New Orleans’ amazing food will not disappoint. The classic Cajun and Creole dishes along with tasty local delicacies are sure to satisfy your foodie travel obsession.
If you are an avid foodie traveler or know someone who is, check out this guide for all your gift-giving needs.
“300 Years and Counting: A New Look at New Orleans and ‘Creole Cuisine.’” National Museum of American History, 9 Mar. 2018, https://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/creole-cuisine.
From Acadian to Cajun – Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (U.S. National Park Service). https://www.nps.gov/jela/learn/historyculture/from-acadian-to-cajun.htm. Accessed 25 Jan. 2023.
What’s the Difference between Cajun and Creole—or Is There One? | The Historic New Orleans Collection. https://www.hnoc.org/publications/first-draft/whats-difference-between-cajun-and-creole-or-there-one#:~:text=For%20Cajuns%20were%E2%80%94and%20are,rural%20parts%20of%20South%20Louisiana. Accessed 25 Jan. 2023.