Ask people what they love about visiting New Orleans, and nearly everyone will tell you the local cuisine is at the top of the list. Cajun and Creole cooking are some of the most distinctive culinary styles in America, and New Orleans has embraced the two – as well as some international influences – to create a flavor of its own. Featuring simple, local, straightforward ingredients, you’ll be impressed by the foods you can find at restaurants, snack shacks, and cafes scattered across the city.
While you won’t have any trouble finding delicious snacks and meals to fill your belly in New Orleans, you can’t take a trip to the city without sampling these five foods. (Excuse the poor quality iPhone photos as it was easier taking pics with my phone for this since I much preferred eating.)
Jambalaya is a simple, humble, and delicious dish that’s delighted locals and visitors for decades. Consisting of rice, veggies, and meat and/or seafood (a common combination is sausage and shrimp), it’s a hearty way to fill up that truly shines a spotlight on fresh, in-season ingredients. One of the best spots to sample the dish in the city is Coop’s Place, but you’ll want to steer clear if you’re visiting with family – it’s a 21+ establishment. Fortunately, there are plenty of other places serving up a mean jambalaya, like Acme Oyster House.
When you visit New Orleans, make sure your lunch plans include at least one po’boy sandwich. These tasty treats are pretty straightforward: fried seafood or roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and remoulade sauce served on a piece of crusty French baguette. However, you can find spots like Crabby Jack’s scattered throughout the city that serve up their own twists on this much-loved classic, like the Slow Roasted Duck Po’boy or the Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Remoulade Po’boy. My particular Po’boy was the Gator Po’boy.
RED BEANS AND RICE.
This local dish got started as a Monday tradition. Families would slowly simmer a pot of red or kidney beans, flavored with some kind of meat and plenty of seasonings, as they tackled their weekly laundry. Fortunately, you’re free to enjoy red beans and rice any day of the week, and you’ll find it on the menu at many restaurants throughout New Orleans. For some of the best in the city, try it at the Gumbo Shop.
Speaking of the Gumbo Shop, you can’t visit New Orleans without indulging in at least one bowl of authentic, delicious gumbo. After all, it’s the official state cuisine! Gumbo is essentially a stew made of meat or seafood, celery, onions, and bell peppers. It’s not that simple, though – you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds, of variations on this classic dish at restaurants across the city. However, you’ll almost always find it served over rice, making it a hearty and filling meal.
Who can say no to dessert on vacation? This popular treat was first served up in New Orleans in the early 1950s, and it’s been a popular feature on dessert menus ever since. It consists of bananas cooked and served in a decadent buttery brown sugar rum sauce, and it’s often flambeed tableside for an impressive effect. For an experience you literally can’t replicate anywhere else, you can actually order a bananas foster at the same restaurant the dish was first invented – Brennan’s. Here’s a tip for you, for faster service I recommend having a reservation at Brennan’s.
From fast bites and filling meals to decadent desserts, New Orleans is known for a whole host of foods – only a handful of which were mentioned here. Embrace your sense of adventure and don’t be afraid to try the strange and unfamiliar on the menus here. Odds are, you’ll like what you find!