About Food in New Orleans
Where do you begin with food and wine in New Orleans? The choices are endless! Where ever you go in the city, there is guaranteed to be a great wine bar and food selection. With its deep rich French and Spanish heritage and love for great food, New Orleans has an endless selection of places. Even for locals that go out to eat every weekend, it is easy to visit a different place every week, and try something completely new and adventurous!
The city's food scene reflects its rich history and also a new wave of adventurous chefs. So you will find the classic Creole dishes for which the city is known. Creole refers to the local French-Spanish-African-Native American Catholic culture that developed in the colonial period of the 1700s. Creole food is mainly a mixture of French, Spanish, African, and Native American styles of cooking, with gumbo being the ultimate example of this good genre. Creole sauces tend to be French-inspired butter-based. To the confusion of many tourists, authentic cajun food is not found in New Orleans, but is best found in rural areas or Cajun towns to the west like Lafayette.
In the past ten to twenty years, new chefs have been creating contemporary variations of older dishes, and also placing an emphasis on fresh-local ingredients. Given New Orleans' proximity to surrounding fisheries, all the seafood in the city is fresh daily. The fact that there is a year-round growing season means that most vegetable are also locally grown. And the city enjoys a citrus season in the winter, a strawberry season in the spring, and pecan season in the Fall - all of which are used liberally in local restaurants by inventive chefs.
What to Eat?
What to eat in New Orleans? Really? I mean everything is great! We are known for our distinct local dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, corn maque-choux, po-boy and mufaletta sandwiches, barbecued shrimp, and beignets with cafe au lait. Local seafood (oysters, shrimp, crab, crawfish, red fish) is alway fresh and prepared with lots of flavor. If you go to any restaurant from the best local celebrity chefs (Emerils, John Besh, Adolfo Garcia, Susan Spicer) you are always treated to the freshest local ingredients. Even when you go to a local neighborhood restaurant like Maurepas Foods in the Bywater, they buy their food from local farmers and ranchers. Of course, if you want down-home food, you can even venture to a fried-chicken joint like Manchu, which is the local's secret, or even get some boiled crawfish or shrimp at Cajun Seafood (both of which are Vietnamese owned but have learned to make spicy local-style food). And if you are super adventurous, join a second-line parade on a sunday afternoon (check the Backstreet Cultural Museum for schedules) and eat a hot sausage patty sandwich) - another local secret that is packed with flava!
Always tip your servers generously! Most people don't realize that servers only make about $2/hour in wages and they depend on their tips for income. If they are super nice and helpful (hello you are in New Orleans), then give them EXTRA tips. Make friends with them and get all of their local advice which will hopefully take you beyond these limited suggestions!
Price per Meal
Depends on the meal: Nice restaurants = $35/entree while Manchu chicken = $5-$10/plate
New Orleans has always been known as a great food city, especially now in the era of the fresh-local food movement. So many local chefs have embraced that whole idea it is difficult to endorse them all. The Brennan family owns some of the finest in the city including Commanders Palace, the Palace Cafe, Mr. B's, and Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse. Among the celebrity chefs, one could choose from any restaurant of Emeril Lagasse (Emeril's/Delmonico/NOLA), John Besh (Restaurant August/Luke/American Sector), Adolfo Garcia (Rio Mar/Hi Hat/AMano/LaBoca), or Susan Spicer (Bayona/Mondo). But there is so much more!
In the Treme neighborhood, Dooky Chase offers excellent Louisiana food from gumdo to fried chicken, and Willie Mae's Scotch House is considered to serve some of the bet fried chikcen in the city.
In the warehouse district, Chef Donald Link serves high-end cajun food at Cochon on Tchoupitoulas Street. Tamarind on Lee Circle serves excellent Asian fusion.
Uptown along Magazine Street, Dominique's and Le Petit Grocery are local favorites. In the Carrollton area local favorites include Brigsten's on Dante St., Matt and Natty's on Leake Avenue, Boucherie on Jeanette, and Rue 127 on Carrollton Avenue.
Across the river on the West Bank, there are a number of excellent Vietnamese restaurants including Pho Tau Bay and 9 Roses, while Mosca's serves incredible Creole Italian food.
In the Bywater, Maurepas Foods is a local favorite for Louisiana-inspired contemporary dishes.
New Orleans also has an incredible selection of cafes. In the French Quarter,tourists often flock to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait. The Napoleon House has one of the best courtyard atmospheres of any place in the city. Croissant D'Or is a classic French-style cafe, while several places in the French Market offer healthy salads and Creole meals with outdoor seating.
Uptown on Magazine Street, Cafe Rani, Baru, and Rum House Taqueria have great al fresco cafe dining, while Magasin Vietnamese cafe has become a popular place for outdoor lunch and dinner dining.
In the super cool Bywater neighborhood down river from the French Quarter, check out Satsuma Cafe or Cake Cafe for great local sandwiches and small meals.
And in New Orleans, locals always enjoy the local po-boy sandwich. The Parkway Tavern in Mid-City is often considered the best combination of food and outdoor chilling on Bayou St. John. And if you are on a po-boy adventure, don't pass up Domelise's Uptown and Zimmer's in Gentilly. If you make it out to the Vietnamese community of Michoud on Chef Menteur Highway, the ban mi at Dong Phong Bakery are some of the best in the world (not kidding) with their home-made french bread, grilled pork, fresh veggies, and hot sauce.
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