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What To Eat In New Orleans


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Theodora Rosales



Welcome to the vibrant city of New Orleans, known for its rich history, lively music scene, and most importantly, its delectable cuisine. If you have a passion for food travel, then New Orleans should be at the top of your list. This culturally diverse city is a melting pot of flavors, combining French, African, Caribbean, and Southern influences to create a unique culinary experience.


From mouthwatering seafood dishes to hearty comfort food, New Orleans offers a plethora of culinary delights that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more. Whether you’re a fan of savory or sweet, there is something for everyone in this food lover’s paradise.


One cannot talk about the food culture in New Orleans without mentioning the iconic beignets. These fluffy, deep-fried pastries coated in powdered sugar are a must-try when visiting the city. Served piping hot, they are the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee, especially at the world-famous Café du Monde.


Looking for a hearty and soul-warming dish? Look no further than gumbo. This thick stew is brimming with a medley of ingredients such as shrimp, chicken, sausage, and vegetables, all simmered together in a flavorful roux. Each spoonful is a harmonious blend of spices and textures, making it a true comfort food.


If you’re in the mood for a rice-based dish, jambalaya is the way to go. This one-pot wonder combines rice, meat (such as shrimp, chicken, or sausage), and an array of vegetables and spices. The result is a zesty and satisfying meal that showcases the essence of Creole and Cajun cuisine.


Another must-try dish in New Orleans is the crawfish etouffee. This flavorful dish features tender crawfish tails smothered in a rich and velvety sauce made with a roux, onions, bell peppers, and celery. Served over a bed of fluffy rice, this dish is a true Louisiana delicacy.



When exploring the food scene in New Orleans, one cannot miss out on trying beignets. These delightful deep-fried pastries are a beloved staple of the city’s culinary culture. Beignets are made from a dough that is light and airy, resulting in a fluffy and pillowy texture. They are generously dusted with powdered sugar, giving them a sweet and decadent flavor.


The most famous spot to indulge in this New Orleans delicacy is Café du Monde. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, this iconic café has been serving beignets since 1862. The café is open 24 hours a day, so you can satisfy your craving for these delectable treats any time, day or night.


As you enter Café du Monde, the aroma of freshly made beignets fills the air, inviting you to feast on their golden perfection. The beignets arrive at your table piping hot, with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. The first bite is pure bliss – the crispy outer layer gives way to a fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth center. The combination of the slightly sweet dough and the delicate sweetness of the powdered sugar creates a taste sensation that is hard to resist.


While Café du Monde is the most famous spot for beignets, you can also find these delectable treats in other restaurants and bakeries throughout the city. Each place may have its own unique twist, whether it’s adding a touch of cinnamon to the dough or serving them with a side of fruit compote for dipping.


Beignets are best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee or café au lait, which is a combination of coffee and hot milk. The pairing of the warm, rich coffee with the sweet and crispy beignets creates a perfect harmony of flavors. It’s no wonder that this quintessential New Orleans duo has become a beloved breakfast or snack option for both locals and tourists alike.


So, when visiting New Orleans, be sure to satisfy your sweet tooth with a plate of beignets. Whether you indulge at Café du Monde or discover a hidden gem elsewhere in the city, this classic treat is a must-try for any food lover. Bite into the sugary goodness, experience the vibrant atmosphere of the French Quarter, and savor the flavors that make New Orleans a true culinary paradise.



When it comes to iconic dishes in New Orleans, gumbo is at the top of the list. This hearty and flavorful stew is a true representation of the city’s culinary heritage. Gumbo is a harmonious blend of various ingredients, spices, and cooking techniques, resulting in a dish that is rich in flavors and history.


The base of gumbo is a roux, which is made by slowly cooking flour and oil or fat until it reaches a deep brown color. This process adds a unique depth of flavor and thickens the stew. In addition to the roux, gumbo typically includes a combination of proteins such as shrimp, chicken, and sausage. Okra, a vegetable often used in Southern cooking, is another vital component of gumbo as it acts as a natural thickener.


One of the defining characteristics of gumbo is its versatility. There are several variations of gumbo, each with its own regional and cultural influences. For example, Creole gumbo tends to include tomatoes, while Cajun gumbo omits them. Seafood gumbo showcases the abundance of fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, while chicken and sausage gumbo highlights the heartiness of Southern comfort food.


Regardless of the specific variation, gumbo is a labor of love that requires time and patience. The ingredients are slowly simmered together, allowing the flavors to meld and develop. As the aroma of simmering gumbo fills the air, anticipation builds for the moment when you can finally savor the finished dish.


When it’s time to serve gumbo, it is traditionally ladled over a bed of hot rice. The rice soaks up the flavorful broth, creating a satisfying and comforting meal. The combination of tender proteins, aromatic vegetables, and well-seasoned broth makes each spoonful of gumbo a delightful experience.


Gumbo is more than just a dish; it reflects the diverse cultural influences that have shaped New Orleans. It is a testament to the city’s history of French, African, and Caribbean influences blending together to create something truly unique. Whether enjoyed at a local restaurant or prepared in the home kitchen, gumbo is a quintessential New Orleans experience that should not be missed.


So, immerse yourself in the rich flavors of New Orleans and sample a bowl of gumbo. Let the warmth of the stew comfort your soul as you appreciate the culinary legacy that continues to thrive in this vibrant city.



When it comes to hearty and flavorful one-pot dishes, jambalaya takes the spotlight in New Orleans cuisine. This iconic dish is a perfect representation of the fusion of cultures that make the city’s food scene so unique. Jambalaya is a vibrant and robust dish that combines elements of Spanish paella with Creole and Cajun flavors.


The key components of jambalaya are rice, meat, vegetables, and a medley of fragrant herbs and spices. The dish typically features a combination of proteins such as shrimp, chicken, and sausage, which add depth and complexity to the flavor profile. The meat and vegetables are cooked together in a rich tomato-based sauce, resulting in a tantalizing blend of textures and tastes.


What sets jambalaya apart from other rice dishes is the cooking method. Unlike risottos or pilafs, jambalaya is made by adding the rice directly to the simmering mixture of meat and vegetables. This allows the rice to absorb the flavors of the dish and develop a slightly toasted, nutty taste.


The spices used in jambalaya play a crucial role in defining its distinct flavor. Traditional Creole seasonings such as paprika, thyme, bay leaves, and cayenne pepper add layers of warmth and complexity. The result is a dish that is both savory and slightly spicy, offering a unique sensory experience with every bite.


Just like gumbo, jambalaya offers different variations depending on regional and cultural influences. Creole jambalaya is known for its inclusion of tomatoes, while Cajun jambalaya is typically tomato-free. Seafood jambalaya highlights the abundant coastal resources, while other versions focus on the combination of chicken and sausage.


Whether enjoyed at a local restaurant or prepared in the comfort of your own kitchen, jambalaya is a crowd-pleasing dish that brings people together. It’s the perfect choice for a gathering with friends or family, as it can easily be scaled up to feed a large group.


So, be prepared to embark on a flavor-packed journey with a plate of jambalaya. Let the aromatic spices and hearty ingredients transport you to the vibrant streets of New Orleans. With each mouthful, you’ll experience the diverse culinary heritage that makes this dish a true symbol of the city’s rich and flavorful food culture.


Crawfish Etouffee

When it comes to traditional Louisiana cuisine, crawfish etouffee stands out as an exceptional and flavorful dish. Etouffee, which translates to “smothered” or “suffocated” in French, perfectly describes the preparation method for this savory delight. Crawfish etouffee is a rich and velvety dish made with tender crawfish tails smothered in a flavorful sauce.


The star of crawfish etouffee is the crawfish, also known as mudbugs, which are freshwater crustaceans that are plentiful in the bayous and swamps of Louisiana. These little delicacies, resembling small lobsters, are known for their sweet and succulent meat.


The dish begins by sautéing the holy trinity of Creole cuisine – onions, bell peppers, and celery – in a mixture of butter and oil. This combination creates a fragrant base that infuses the entire dish with rich flavors. The crawfish tails are then added to the pan and cooked until they become tender and juicy.


To create the signature sauce, a roux is prepared by cooking flour and fat together until it reaches a caramel-colored hue. This roux acts as a thickening agent and adds a nutty flavor to the dish. Chicken or seafood stock is then added, along with an array of aromatic herbs and spices such as garlic, thyme, paprika, and cayenne pepper. The sauce is simmered until it reaches a silky, velvety consistency.


Crawfish etouffee is traditionally served over a bed of fluffy white rice, allowing the sauce to soak into every grain. The combination of the tender crawfish, aromatic vegetables, and rich sauce creates a symphony of flavors that is both comforting and indulgent.


While crawfish etouffee is the classic version of this dish, variations can be found throughout Louisiana. Some variations include the addition of other seafood such as shrimp or crab, adding extra layers of flavor and texture.


No trip to Louisiana is complete without sampling this iconic dish. Whether enjoyed at a fine dining establishment or a casual neighborhood joint, crawfish etouffee offers a taste of the unique culinary traditions that make Louisiana cuisine so renowned.


So, allow yourself to savor the rich and complex flavors of crawfish etouffee. Let each bite transport you to the bayous of Louisiana, where the essence of Cajun and Creole cuisine comes alive in this delectable and satisfying dish.


Po’ Boys

When it comes to iconic sandwiches in New Orleans, Po’ Boys reign supreme. This beloved and satisfying dish has deep roots in the city’s culinary history and is a true representation of New Orleans’ working-class roots. A Po’ Boy is a sandwich made with French bread and filled with an array of fillings ranging from fried seafood to roast beef.


The story behind the name “Po’ Boy” is as rich as the sandwich itself. Legend has it that the term originated from the phrase “poor boy” when two brothers, Benny and Clovis Martin, started selling sandwiches to support striking streetcar workers in the late 1920s. As they provided affordable and filling sandwiches to the workers, the name “poor boy” eventually morphed into “Po’ Boy.”


The classic Po’ Boy starts with a sturdy French bread that is light and airy on the inside with a crisp crust. The bread is traditionally stuffed with fried seafood such as shrimp, oysters, or catfish. The seafood is battered and deep-fried to a golden brown, creating a crispy exterior that contrasts beautifully with the tender and flavorful filling.


In addition to fried seafood, other popular Po’ Boy fillings include roast beef, ham, turkey, or even vegetarian options like fried green tomatoes or grilled vegetables. All variations come with a generous spread of mayonnaise, a tangy remoulade sauce, or a combination of both, adding a creamy and slightly tangy element to the sandwich.


A traditional Po’ Boy is served “dressed,” which means it comes with shredded lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, and pickles. This adds a refreshing crunch and brightness to the sandwich, balancing the richness of the fried seafood or meat.


No discussion of Po’ Boys is complete without mentioning the local establishments that have perfected the art of making these sandwiches. Places like Domilise’s, Parkway Bakery & Tavern, and Johnny’s Po-Boys have become institutions in New Orleans, serving up some of the most mouthwatering Po’ Boys in the city.


Whether enjoyed at a corner shop or a sit-down eatery, sinking your teeth into a Po’ Boy is a quintessential New Orleans experience. The combination of flavors and textures, the nostalgia of its history, and the joy of indulging in a true local favorite make the Po’ Boy a must-try when visiting the city.


So, get ready to enjoy a taste of New Orleans with every bite of a Po’ Boy. Let the crispy bread and flavorful fillings transport you to the bustling streets of the French Quarter as you experience the unique sandwich that has become a cultural icon in this city that knows how to savor every delicious moment.



When it comes to iconic sandwiches in New Orleans, the muffuletta holds a special place in the hearts and taste buds of locals and visitors alike. This hearty and flavorful sandwich originated in the city’s Italian community and has become a beloved fixture in New Orleans’ culinary landscape.


At the heart of a muffuletta is the bread. Unlike other sandwiches, the muffuletta is made with a round loaf of sesame bread, which is sturdy and has a perfectly crisp crust. The inside of the bread is then hollowed out slightly to make room for the delicious ingredients that await.


The star of the muffuletta is the unique olive salad. This tangy and briny concoction features a blend of chopped olives, pickled vegetables, garlic, and various herbs and spices. The olive salad is generously spread on both sides of the bread, infusing each bite with a burst of zesty flavors.


The fillings of a traditional muffuletta typically include layers of thinly sliced Italian meats, such as mortadella, salami, and capocollo. These flavorful cured meats provide a balance of savory and salty notes that complement the tangy olive salad. Additionally, provolone cheese is layered on top of the meats, adding a creamy and slightly nutty element to the sandwich.


Each bite of a muffuletta is a symphony of textures and flavors. The crisp crust of the bread gives way to the soft interior, which is perfectly soaked with the flavors of the olive salad. The combination of the salty meats, tangy olive salad, and creamy cheese creates a taste sensation that is both comforting and satisfying.


To experience the authentic taste of a muffuletta, one must visit Central Grocery, a legendary deli in the French Quarter that claims to have invented this sandwich back in 1906. Central Grocery is synonymous with muffulettas and continues to satisfy hungry customers with their classic recipe.


While the traditional muffuletta is a timeless favorite, variations can be found throughout New Orleans. Some variations feature different types of meats, cheeses, and even additional toppings like roasted peppers or fresh basil. However, no matter the variation, the spirit and essence of the muffuletta remain intact.


So, when in New Orleans, treat yourself to a muffuletta and experience the delicious flavors of Italy fused with the vibrant spirit of the city. Each bite is a celebration of the diverse cultural influences that have shaped the culinary landscape of New Orleans, leaving you craving for more of this delightful sandwich.


Oysters Rockefeller

When it comes to indulgent seafood dishes in New Orleans, Oysters Rockefeller takes the crown. This rich and flavorful appetizer is a classic in the city’s culinary repertoire and has been delighting diners for over a century.


Oysters Rockefeller was created in the late 1800s at Antoine’s Restaurant, one of the oldest and most iconic dining establishments in New Orleans. The dish was named after John D. Rockefeller, a prominent businessman known for his wealth. The green sauce topping the oysters was meant to mimic the color of money, paying homage to Rockefeller’s fortune.


The star ingredient of Oysters Rockefeller is, of course, the oyster. New Orleans is renowned for its fresh and briny Gulf Coast oysters, which are the perfect canvas for this decadent creation. The oysters are topped with a mixture of finely chopped greens such as spinach, parsley, and green onions, along with bread crumbs, butter, and a hint of anise-flavored liqueur such as Pernod.


After being carefully assembled, the oysters are baked until the topping is golden and bubbling. The heat of the oven cooks the oysters just enough to achieve a delicate balance between the briny flavor of the oyster and the savory richness of the topping. Each bite is a symphony of textures, with the oyster’s tender and slightly chewy consistency complemented by the contrasting crunch of the breadcrumb topping.


The combination of flavors in Oysters Rockefeller is a perfect marriage of earthy, herbal, and slightly buttery notes. The greens provide a fresh and herbaceous element, while the bread crumbs add a subtle crunch and textural contrast. The anise-flavored liqueur contributes a delightful depth and complexity to the dish, elevating it to a new level of indulgence.


Oysters Rockefeller are traditionally served on the half shell, providing a beautiful presentation that showcases the oyster’s natural beauty. A squeeze of lemon juice is often added to brighten the flavors and provide a touch of acidity. This rich and elegant appetizer is a favorite among seafood lovers and a must-try for any culinary adventurer in New Orleans.


As the birthplace of Oysters Rockefeller, Antoine’s Restaurant remains a top destination to experience this delectable dish. However, many other restaurants throughout the city have put their own spin on this classic, offering variations that incorporate different ingredients or preparation techniques.


So, indulge in a taste of New Orleans with a plate of Oysters Rockefeller. Let each bite transport you to a world of opulence, where the briny richness of the oyster merges with the vibrant flavors of the toppings, leaving you craving more of this iconic and indulgent creation.


Red Beans and Rice

When it comes to comforting soul food in New Orleans, it doesn’t get much better than a steaming plate of red beans and rice. This classic Creole dish has been a staple in Louisiana cuisine for centuries, and its rich flavors and hearty ingredients continue to satisfy locals and visitors alike.


Red beans and rice are a perfect marriage of flavors and textures. The dish is centered around tender red kidney beans, simmered slowly with a medley of aromatic vegetables such as onions, bell peppers, and celery, commonly known as the “holy trinity” in Louisiana cooking. The beans soak up the flavors of the vegetables and spices, creating a thick and flavorful sauce.


The key to a perfect batch of red beans and rice lies in the cooking process. Traditionally, the beans are soaked overnight to soften them and reduce the cooking time. The next day, the soaked beans are combined with the vegetables, spices, and other seasonings such as garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. The mixture is then simmered for hours on low heat, allowing the flavors to meld together and the beans to become tender and creamy.


The dish gets its hearty depth from smoked meats such as ham hocks, sausage, or andouille sausage. These meats infuse the dish with a smoky and savory element that complements the creamy beans perfectly. The slow cooking process allows the flavors of the meat to permeate the entire dish, creating a rich and satisfying experience.


Red beans and rice is not just a meal; it’s a cultural tradition that runs deep in Louisiana. It is often associated with Mondays, known as “Red Beans and Rice Day,” when families would cook a large pot of red beans as a way to stretch their resources and make use of leftover ham from the weekend. The tradition continues to this day, with many restaurants featuring red beans and rice as a special on Mondays.


Whether enjoyed at a local eatery, a neighborhood cookout, or a home-cooked meal, red beans and rice offer a comforting and soulful experience. The combination of creamy beans, smoky meats, and fragrant spices creates a dish that is not only delicious but also a symbol of the warmth and hospitality that defines Louisiana culture.


So, savor the flavors of New Orleans with a plate of red beans and rice. Let the rich and earthy flavors envelop your taste buds as you partake in this time-honored dish, and discover why it has become a cherished part of the city’s culinary legacy.


Shrimp and Grits

When it comes to Southern comfort food, few dishes can compare to the delightful combination of shrimp and grits. This iconic dish, which originated in the Lowcountry of South Carolina but has found a beloved home in New Orleans, showcases the delicious marriage of succulent shrimp and creamy, buttery grits.


Grits, a staple in Southern cuisine, are made from coarsely ground cornmeal that is cooked with water or milk until it reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. The addition of butter and cheese enhances the richness of the grits, creating a velvety base for the shrimp.


The shrimp are the star of the dish, with their sweet and tender meat adding a burst of flavor to the creamy grits. They are typically cooked in a flavorful sauce made from a combination of ingredients like sautéed onions, garlic, and bell peppers, along with spices and herbs such as paprika, thyme, and cayenne pepper. The sauce infuses the shrimp with a depth of flavor that perfectly complements the mildness of the grits.


Shrimp and grits can be enjoyed in various ways depending on regional and personal preferences. Some variations include the addition of bacon or Andouille sausage, which add a smoky and savory element to the dish. Others may incorporate ingredients like mushrooms or tomatoes to enhance the flavor profile even further.


While traditionally served as a breakfast or brunch dish, shrimp and grits have become a popular choice for any time of the day. Whether you’re enjoying it as a comforting weekend brunch or a satisfying dinner, this dish always delivers a winning combination of flavors and textures.


New Orleans boasts many restaurants that serve exceptional shrimp and grits, each with their own unique twist on the classic dish. Whether you’re dining at a trendy eatery in the heart of the city or a charming neighborhood joint, you’re sure to find a version of this indulgent dish that will leave you craving for more.


So, treat yourself to the satisfying flavors of shrimp and grits in New Orleans. Let the creamy grits and succulent shrimp transport you to a world of Southern comfort, where every bite is a celebration of the rich culinary traditions that define this vibrant city.


Bananas Foster

When it comes to indulgent and flamboyant desserts, Bananas Foster takes center stage in the vibrant culinary scene of New Orleans. This delicious and decadent treat is not only a feast for the taste buds but also a spectacle for the senses, with flames dancing and flavors melding together in a mesmerizing display.


Bananas Foster was invented in New Orleans in the 1950s at the iconic Brennan’s restaurant. It was created as a way to showcase the abundance of bananas in the region, along with the rich flavors of Southern comfort food. The dessert is named after Richard Foster, a friend of the restaurant’s owner who helped popularize the dish.


The preparation of Bananas Foster starts with ripe bananas, which are sliced and cooked in a caramelized sauce made from butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of rum. The mixture is flambéed, creating a spectacle of flames that caramelizes the bananas and infuses them with a rich and boozy flavor.


Once the flames subside, the warm and caramelized bananas are then served over a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. As the ice cream begins to melt slightly under the warm bananas and sauce, it creates a delightful contrast of temperatures and textures.


One of the most exciting parts of experiencing Bananas Foster is watching it being prepared tableside. Many restaurants in New Orleans take pride in the art of flambéing the dessert right in front of diners, adding an element of theatricality to the dining experience.


Bananas Foster is not just a dessert; it’s an experience that showcases the city’s playful spirit and love for decadence. It embodies the essence of New Orleans’ unique food culture, combining rich flavors, spirited flair, and a touch of Southern hospitality.


While Brennan’s restaurant is known for originating Bananas Foster, you can find this indulgent dessert on the menus of various restaurants throughout New Orleans. Each place may offer a slightly different interpretation, but the core elements of caramelized bananas, rum-infused sauce, and velvety ice cream remain constant.


So, indulge in the captivating flavors of Bananas Foster when visiting New Orleans. Let the flames mesmerize you and the sweet and boozy combination tantalize your taste buds. It’s a dessert that embraces the spirit of celebration, making every bite a delightful and unforgettable experience.



When it comes to delectable sweets in New Orleans, pralines reign supreme. These irresistible confections have a long-standing tradition in the city’s culinary culture and are a popular treat loved by locals and visitors alike.


Pralines have their origins in French and African culinary traditions, combining the European technique of candy-making with the use of pecans, a native nut to the region. The result is a sugary, nutty, and melt-in-your-mouth delight that is hard to resist.


The main ingredients in a praline are sugar, cream, butter, and pecans. These ingredients are heated together to create a rich and gooey caramel-like mixture. Once cooked to perfection, the mixture is spooned onto a wax paper-lined surface in small rounds or patties, where it cools and solidifies into the iconic praline shape.


The flavor and texture of pralines are what make them truly special. The roasted and caramelized pecans add a toasty and nutty element, while the sugary caramel creates a luscious and silky coating. The combination of flavors and textures creates a harmonious balance that satisfies even the most discerning sweet tooth.


Pralines can be found throughout New Orleans, from specialty confectionery shops to local markets and even in some family recipes passed down for generations. They are often enjoyed as a standalone treat or incorporated into other desserts. Some restaurants even feature pralines as a delightful accompaniment to coffee or as an indulgent topping for ice cream and pastries.


The rich history of pralines in New Orleans is intricately tied to the city’s cultural heritage. These beloved confections are not only a delicious treat but also a representation of the diverse influences that have shaped the food scene in the city.


So, when you visit New Orleans, treat yourself to the sweet and nutty goodness of pralines. Let the flavors transport you to the historic streets of the French Quarter as you savor this beloved confection with every bite. It’s a sweet experience that captures the essence of the city’s culinary traditions and leaves you wanting more.



New Orleans is undeniably a mecca for food travel enthusiasts, offering a tantalizing array of culinary delights that reflect the city’s rich history and cultural diversity. From iconic dishes like beignets and gumbo to lesser-known gems like crawfish etouffee and Po’ Boys, there is no shortage of delectable options to explore.


The city’s vibrant food scene combines influences from French, African, Caribbean, and Southern cuisine, resulting in a unique fusion of flavors and techniques. The use of fresh seafood, aromatic spices, and a touch of southern charm make for an unforgettable dining experience.


Each dish tells a story, reflecting the city’s traditions, ingenuity, and love for food. Whether you’re indulging in the sweet, powdered perfection of a beignet or savoring the soul-warming comfort of gumbo, you’ll find that every bite brings you closer to the heart and soul of New Orleans.


As you travel through the city, don’t miss the chance to try shrimp and grits, oysters Rockefeller, red beans and rice, or the classic muffuletta. These dishes showcase the breadth and depth of the city’s culinary heritage, leaving a lasting impression on your taste buds.


New Orleans is a city that revels in its food culture, where even the simplest meal can be a culinary adventure. From humble street food to upscale dining establishments, the city offers a wide range of options to suit any palate or budget.


So, immerse yourself in the vibrant food travel experience that New Orleans has to offer. Indulge in the diverse flavors, savor the iconic dishes, and let the city’s rich culinary history captivate your senses. With each taste, you’ll discover why New Orleans is truly a food lover’s paradise.