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31 New Orleans Food Favorites That You Will Love

Are you wondering what to eat in New Orleans during your first or second trip to NOLA? We reveal 31 must eat New Orleans food favorites that you can’t miss during any food-focused trip to the Big Easy.

Gumbo at Herbsaint in New Orleans

New Orleans is an over-achiever when it comes to food.

While other cities in the United States have a signature dish or two, New Orleans, the 50th largest city in the US, has dozens of dishes that were either invented in the Crescent City or are better due to the NOLA food culture and the city’s proximity to the Gulf.

Many traditional New Orleans food favorites incorporate elements of the city’s melting pot with influences from countries like France, Germany, Italy and Vietnam. Others have ties to Cajun and Creole cuisines introduced by descendants of Acadians and Carribean islanders who emigrated to New Orleans. Then there are Soul Food dishes, with deep direct roots to the African diaspora, that stick to the ribs and taste like home.

Read more about why New Orleans is one of the best food cities in America as well as the world.

Fried Oysters at Herbsaint in New Orleans
Skilled chefs who aren’t afraid of spices or calories elevate the food in New Orleans. They aren’t afraid to serve us Fried Oysters with a big bowl of Hot Sauce and we weren’t afraid to eat them.

Though varied in origin, food is a cohesive factor that helps the city’s disparate groups co-exist and come together after devastating events like Hurricane Katrina and the more recent pandemic. Like all large American cities, New Orleans has homelessness, crime and other urban issues, but, nevertheless, its enduring spirit of community shines through during tough times. It’s why people love living there.

This deep food culture, combined with NOLA’s live music culture and craft cocktail culture, makes the city both a unique and fun place to visit. Most of all, though, it makes everything in New Orleans taste excellent.

New Orleans Food Favorites

Daryl Eats Stuffed Shrimp at Dooky Chases in New Orleans
Open wide! It’s time to explore the food of New Orleans.

We both fell for New Orleans before we fell for each other.

How could we not? The city plied us with sugary fried Beignets while beguiling our college-aged penchant for alcohol with high octane Frozen Daiquiris.

Daryl can still recall watching stories about Paul Prudhomme’s revolutionary food while he was just a teenager. He can also remember eating a simple yet exquisitely cooked cheeseburger at a pedestrian tourist restaurant just across from Jackson Square as his first meal in NOLA. On his second trip, less than a year later, a deeper dive introduced him to Po Boys as well as an even better burger at now-closed La Peniche in the Marigny.

Hot Sauce Dilemma at Brennans in New Orleans
We make new memories every time we return to New Orleans. Mindi made this Hot Sauce memory during our breakfast at Brennan’s.

Mindi has her own memories involving eating at Emeril’s, exploring the best New Orleans sites and accidentally driving across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Since then, after visiting NOLA several more times together with a goal of eating all the best food from New Orleans, we’ve succeeded in eating a wide variety of New Orleans cuisine including all of the city’s signature dishes.

Read on to discover the New Orleans food favorites you must eat during your visit.

1. Gumbo

Cajun Gumbo at Herbsaint in New Orleans
This bowl of Gumbo at Herbsaint proves that not all Gumbos are created equally. The deep dark chocolate brown soup burst with flavors of the Bayou while retaining a luxurious texture that wasn’t overly thick.

Gumbo could be one of the greatest soups in the world… assuming that it’s a soup and not a stew. A roux-thickened, brown bowl of Louisiana gumbo, filled with thick slices of Andouille sausage, chicken or seafood, is a quintessential dish in America.

Discover more American food favorites.

Gumbo’s name traces back to the West African word for okra. But, in a typical twist of food evolution, not all Gumbos have okra. While some Gumbos are indeed thickened with the slimy green vegetable, others, in a nod to Choctaw influence, are thickened with file (a thickening powder from the American sassafras tree). There are also light brown Creole gumbos and deeper darker versions of the soup with Cajun roots. We prefer the Cajun version.

A food trip to the deep south is not the same without enjoying a heaping bowl of the stuff. Options include Duck Gumbo, Crab Gumbo, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and Gumbo z’Herbes, a (sort of) Vegetable Gumbo served at New Orleans restaurants on Friday during lent.

Where to Eat Gumbo in New Orleans
Commander’s Palace, Herbsaint and pretty much every New Orleans restaurant that serves Cajun and Creole dishes

2. Jambalaya

Jambalaya at Coops in New Orleans
We enjoyed every flavorful bite of this Cajun Jambalaya at Coop’s Place. The humble bar serves one of the best versions of the dish we’ve ever eaten.

It’s not unusual for a visiting New Orleans eater to confuse Jambalaya with Gumbo. After all, the two dishes are both Creole/Cajun dishes popular in the Bayou. But, in reality, these two dishes have stark differences. While Gumbo is a soup, Jambalaya is rice dish inspired by settlers from Spain and West Africa. Though nobody knows for sure, we like to think that Spanish settlers from Valencia attempted to recreate their abuela‘s Paella using West Indian spices along with local pork and seafood products.

Fun Fact
Jambalaya inspired Hank Williams to write Jambalaya on the Bayou, a festive song that’s been covered by a slew of artists including Hank Williams Jr.

Beyond rice, a proper Jambalaya recipe includes andouille sausage, shrimp, Louisiana’s vegetable trinity (celery, onions and green peppers) and a whole bunch of spices. Creole Jambalaya adds tomatoes while Cajun Jambalaya is a tomato-free dish.

Where to Eat Jambalaya in New Orleans
Coop’s Place and pretty much every New Orleans restaurant that serves Cajun and Creole dishes

3. Po Boys

Po Boy in New Orleans
Po Boys at Parkway Bakery & Tavern, like this fully dressed stunner stuffed with fried oysters, never disappoint us.

The only thing confusing about the Po Boy is its name. Also called a Poor Boy, there’s nothing low class or deficient about this iconic sandwich especially when it’s topped with fried oysters or overflowing with melt-in-your-mouth roast beef.

Invented by New Orleanians (from what are believed to have been Italian immigrants – see the Muffaletta below), this submarine hybrid stands out from the sandwich pack starting with its Leidenheimer baguette. Yes, all traditional Po Boys use the same bread. Adding crispy seafood and slow cooked beef elevates the sandwich to icon status.

Discover more of the best sandwiches in the world.

Most NOLA natives have their favorite Po Boy spots depending on the topping and neighborhood. You can read about our favorites in this guide to the best Po Boys in New Orleans. However, you’ll want to eat them yourself to find your personal favorites.

Where to Eat Po Boys in New Orleans
Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar, Killer Poboys, Liuzza’s by the Track and Parkway Bakery & Tavern are standout Po Boy shops in a city filled with Po Boy shops.

4. Muffalettas

Muffaletta at Central Grocery in New Orleans
We ate this hearty Muffaletta at The Central Grocery & Deli, the spot where the famous New Orleans sandwich was invented.

Invented by some of the first Italians to immigrate to America more than a century ago, the Muffaletta is NOLA’s second sandwich icon. Those immigrants channeled their roots when they first made this round sandwich with bread traditionally eaten in Sicily.

They didn’t stop with the aforementioned Sicilian bread. Instead, they proceeded to add a whole lot of tasty toppings like cured meat, cheese and marinated olive salad. In our opinion, the punchy, acidic olive salad is what makes this sandwich sing.

Where to Eat Muffalettas in New Orleans
Central Grocery & Deli creates the most iconic Muffaletta in New Orleans. However, you can eat excellent versions at Bywater Bakery, Cochon Butcher and Napoleon House too.

5. Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House
Many consider the Fried Chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House to be some of the best Fried Chicken in America. We don’t disagree with this assessment.

Southern Americans didn’t invent the concept of battering chicken and frying it to crispy goodness. That honor goes to savvy Scotts and ancient Romans before them (and let’s not forget the Portuguese, of course). However, it’s fair to say that Soul Food cooks in America’s south have more than mastered the art of preparing Fried Chicken. It’s also fair to say that New Orleans serves some of the best Fried Chicken in the country.

Discover more of the best Fried Chicken in American and beyond.

Female chefs Leach Chase and Willie Mae Seaton, both now deceased, perfected the art of frying chicken at their restaurants (Dooky Chase’s Restaurant and Willie Mae’s Scotch House) located a block apart from each other. Now managed by their descendants, those two Tremé restaurants both won James Beard awards and have become destination dining for Fried Chicken fans around the world.

Where to Eat Fried Chicken in New Orleans
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant and Willie Mae’s Scotch House in the Tremé and Coop’s Place in the French Quarter

6. Turtle Soup

Turtle Soup at Commander's Palace
We intended to be slow and steady when we ate this bowl of Turtle Soup. However, we won the race by quickly slurping this tasty soup during our lunch at Commander’s Palace.

Popular in New Orleans where Cajun and Creole food rule the roost, Turtle Soup proves the age-old adage that most proteins taste like chicken. But make no mistake – the savory soup does indeed include turtle meat in its stock and also as an ingredient.

Though rare in much of the country, this thick soup is a staple at upscale New Orleans restaurants. Plan to add a splash of sherry when you eat Turtle Soup at iconic New Orleans restaurants like Brennan’s and Commander’s Palace. The fortified liquor adds a bit of zing to the meaty mix.

Where to Eat Turtle Soup in New Orleans
Brennan’s Restaurant and Commander’s Palace

7. Yak-a-Mein

Yakamein at Bywater Bakery in New Orleans
This cup of Yaka Mein at Bywater Bakery was the tastiest hangover cure we’ve ever slurped with a spoon.

Yaka Mein sounds like it should be a Tibetan soup. Instead, it’s a Cajun-Chinese food favorite in New Orleans that doubles as a local hangover remedy.

Crescent City cooks prepare Yaka Mein by adding beef and noodles to a salty broth before topping the fusion soup with chopped green onions and a hard boiled egg. Sometimes they go crazy and replace the beef with shrimp.

After sampling a cup in the funky Bywater neighborhood, we now wonder why the hangover remedy hasn’t become a brunch staple in cities like New York.

Where to Eat Yak-a-Mein in New Orleans
Bywater Bakery

8. Shrimp Remoulade

Shrimp Remoulade Salad at Coops Place in New Orleans
Eating this Shrimp Remoulade salad at Coop’s Place prepped our taste buds for a barrage of flavorful dishes.

Remoulade wasn’t invented in New Orleans. That honor goes to France centuries ago. But New Orleans cooks made the creamy mayonnaise-based emulsion their own when they combined it with Gulf shrimp to create the salad dish appropriately called Shrimp Remoulade.

Discover more of the world’s best salads.

Simpler than many New Orleans dishes, Shrimp Remoulade is basically a shrimp salad served with Remoulade sauce in lieu of dressing. But this Remoulade is slightly different from its French cousin. Cajun seasonings and ingredients like spicy mustard and horseradish bring a bit of heat to the saucy party.

Where to Eat Shrimp Remoulade in New Orleans
Coop’s Place, Galatoire’s Restaurant and Liuzza’s by the Track

9. BBQ Shrimp

Loaded Po Boy at Liuzzas by the Track in New Orleans
We satisfied our BBQ Shrimp craving when we devoured this BBQ Shrimp Po Boy at Liuzza’s by the Track.

BBQ Shrimp in New Orleans resembles the shrimp that Crocodile Dundee ‘slipped on the barbie’ in just one way – both involve shrimp. However, unlike the Australian approach to slathering crustaceans with BBQ sauce and cooking them on a grill, NOLA chefs sauté plump Gulf shrimp in a pan with Worcestershire sauce and a whole lot of butter.

While many New Orleans restaurants serve BBQ Shrimp swimming in sauce as a main course or starter dish, Po Boy shops pile the buttery beauties on top of baguettes to create BBQ Shrimp Po Boys. Expect to wear a bib while eating this down home dish regardless of how you choose to eat BBQ Shrimp in NOLA. It’s as messy as it is tasty.

Where to Eat BBQ Shrimp in New Orleans
Although Mr. B’s Bistro is the most famous spot to eat BBQ Shrimp in New Orleans, this dish is also available at restaurants and Po Boy shops around the city.

10. Oysters

Louisiana Oysters
We ate these plump Louisiana oysters with mignonette sauce and fresh lemon juice. The combination was a winner.

Finding oysters in New Orleans is the opposite of a problem. Restaurants serve the plump bivalves raw over crushed ice all year long, not just during months that contain the letter ‘r.’

Some NOLA cooks fry the little critters before piling them inside Po Boys. Then there are restaurants like Antoine’s and Arnaud’s which have signature baked oyster dishes, Oyster Rockefeller and Oyster Bienville respectively. Meanwhile, Drago’s charbroils their oysters to create a dish that gets its own category in this guide.

Ironically, we didn’t eat our favorite Oysters at any of these restaurants. Proving that great Oysters are available all over the city, we ate outstanding preparations at both Brennan’s and Herbsaint.

Where to Eat Oysters in New Orleans
Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar is a solid choice for raw Oysters. Antoine’s, Arnaud’s and Drago’s all have signature Oyster dishes. Fans of Fried Oysters can order Oyster Po Boys at shops like Parkway Bakery & Tavern.

11. Charbroiled Oysters

Charbroiled Oysters at Dragos
We added Tabasco to our Charbroiled Oysters at Drago’s for an extra kick of flavor.

Charbroiled Oysters are the solution to the dilemma when you can’t decide between eating Oysters or Garlic Bread. Cooks channel both foods by topping Oysters with butter, garlic, oregano, parsley and two cheeses (Parmesan and Romano) before charbroiling them on a grill.

While you could eat Charbroiled Oysters elsewhere, Drago’s is the dish’s standard bearer. Not only did Tommy Cvitanovich add the dish to the Drago’s menu in 1969, but his family’s restaurant claims to serve more than 900 dozen Charbroiled Oysters on a daily basis.

Where to Eat Charbroiled Oysters in New Orleans
Drago’s

12. Alligator

Fried Alligator in New Orleans
We didn’t say ‘see you later’ to this plate of Fried Alligator at Drago’s.

Eating alligator meat is an unusual thing to do in most cities. Located in the Bayou, New Orleans is not one of those cities. Instead, it’s a city where it’s easy to find Alligator meat in Cajun and Creole dishes like Gumbo, Creole Stew and Fried Alligator Tail.

Our first alligator meal featured lush Alligator Cheesecake at Jacque-Imo’s prior to listening to live music at the nearby Maple Leaf Bar. We’ve since eaten Fried Alligator at Cochon and Drago’s as well as Alligator Sausage at Dat Dog, one of our New Orleans cheap eats favorites.

If you’re wondering what Alligator tastes like, we have a one word answer: chicken.

Where to Eat Alligator in New Orleans
Cochon, Dat Dog, Drago’s and Jaque-Imo’s

13. Crawfish (Seasonal)

Crawfish Boil
New Orleanians eat Crawfish by the bucket but only when the sea critter is in season.

Spring time is Crawfish time in New Orleans. Locals eat as many of the small crustaceans as possible at Crawfish boils, festivals and restaurants from February until the middle of May. Don’t worry, food travelers are welcome to the annual seafood party too.

If you’re not familiar with Crawfish, you may known the freshwater seafood by a different name. Mindi grew up fishing for Crawdads. Other names for the seafood critters are Crayfish and Mudbugs.

Whatever you call them, plan to eat Crawfish in buckets along with andouille sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes. Also plan to roll up your sleeve unless you prefer to eat Crawfish Étouffée instead.

Where to Eat Crawfish in New Orleans
BOIL Seafood House and Clesi’s Seafood Restaurant & Catering

14. Étouffée

Shrimp Etouffee
Although you could hypothetically eat a bowl of Étouffée with a fork, we recommend using a spoon when eating the stew-like dish.

Some people like to eat Crawfish Étouffée while others prefer Shrimp Étouffée. Regardless of the protein choice, they all like to eat the savory dish over rice. But what is Étouffée?

A derivative of the French word étouffer, which translates to smother, Étouffée is a thick seafood stew typically served over rice. While it’s easy to assume that the ‘smothering’ happens when the stew is poured over the rice, the name actually refers to the Cajun / Creole technique of cooking food low and slow in a covered pan.

Unlike Gumbo, Étouffée’s roux can be either dark brown or sweet blonde. In other words you have two choices with this dish – the type of roux and the type of seafood.

Where to Eat Étouffée in New Orleans
Traditional Cajun and Creole Restaurants in the French Quarter and Jaque-Imo’s in Uptown

15. Red Beans & Rice

Fork in Red Beans and Rice at Willie Mae's
True confession: We ate this satisfying bowl of Red Beans & Rice at Willie Mae’s Scotch House on a Tuesday.

Monday and Red Beans & Rice are synonymous in New Orleans. The simple dish, in which red beans are stewed with leftover pork bones or smoked ham hocks and served over white rice, became a Monday tradition as an easy dish to cook on ‘clean up’ days.

While Mondays are no longer relegated for doing laundry, this day of the week remains the traditional day to eat Red Beans & Rice at black-owned restaurants like Dooky Chase’s, Neyow’s Creole Café and Willie Mae’s Scotch House. However, Monday isn’t the only day to eat heaping bowls of Red Beans & Rice in New Orleans.

All three of these restaurants serve the iconic NOLA dish all week long, not just on Monday. They also serve crispy Fried Chicken which pairs well with… you guessed it… Red Beans & Rice.

Where to Eat Red Beans and Rice in New Orleans
Dooky Chases’ Restaurant, Neyow’s Creole Café and Willie Mae’s Scotch House

16. Praline Bacon

Praline Bacon at Elizabeths in New Orleans
These four crispy strips of Praline Bacon were simultaneously sweet, salty, nutty and crunchy.

Praline Bacon is so wrong that it’s right.

When we saw the dish on the brunch menu at Elizabeth’s Restaurant, we had to order it. Later, when we returned to the Bywater restaurant with friends, we enjoyed the Praline Bacon so much that we ordered a second serving.

As we later learned, cooks at Elizabeth’s invented Praline Bacon, a dish that should be served all over New Orleans and beyond. Seriously, caramelizing bacon with pecan brown sugar until it develops similarities to Pralines (see below) isn’t just genius. It’s also delicious.

Where to Eat Praline Bacon in New Orleans
Elizabeth’s Restaurant

17. Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese at Dooky Chases in New Orleans
This side dish of Mac + Cheese at Dooky Chase’s made us smile almost as much as our main dish of Fried Chicken.

A deep dive into American food history reveals that Macaroni & Cheese has been part of American cuisine for two centuries. The dish dates back to the 18th century when founding father Thomas Jefferson and his African American chef James Hemings brought the concept back to Monticello from Europe.

We sometimes forget about the magic of eating a hot bowl of Mac + Cheese but then we eat it and remember why it’s so good. Soul Food restaurants in New Orleans are great spots to rekindle the Mac+ Cheese magic. Not only does the dish pair well with Fried Chicken, but it also stands tall as a meal on its own.

Where to Eat Mac & Cheese in New Orleans
Dooky Chases’ Restaurant, Neyow’s Creole Café and Willie Mae’s Scotch House

18. Zapp’s Kettle Chips

Zapps Potato Chips in New Orleans
We spotted these Zapp’s Kettle Chips at a CVS store on Canal Street.

Potato Chips are fairly standard except in New Orleans where Kettle Chips come in flavors like Spicy Cajun Crawtator and Voodoo. Zapp’s has been producing these unique flavors, as well as special edition Mardi Gras chips, in Louisiana since 1995.

Zapp’s cooks their chips in peanut oil in large kettles. We’ve spotted colorful bags of the company’s Voodoo Chips at Po Boy shops like Killer Poboys as well as at CVS stores on Canal Street. They’re also available for online purchase if you get a craving and you’re not in NOLA.

Warning – Salty, vinegary, smoky, spicy, sweet, crunchy Voodoo Kettle Chips are addictive. In other words, buy two bags of instead of just one.

Where to Buy Zapp’s Kettle Chips in New Orleans
Grocery Stores, Pharmacies and Sandwich Shops

19. Hot Sauce

Hot Sauce in New Orleans
New Orleans is big enough for more than one Hot Sauce. We spotted these two Crystal and Tabasco peacefully co-existing on the same restaurant table.

New Orleans is hot and we’re not just talking about the weather. We’re also talking about bottles of Hot Sauce available at restaurants all over the city. In New Orleans, the question isn’t if you should add Hot Sauce to your food. Instead, the question is which Hot Sauce to add.

Many New Orleanians choose Crystal, a three-ingredient Hot Sauce produced locally. Those three ingredients are aged red cayenne peppers, vinegar, and salt. Nothing more and nothing less.

Others opt for Tabasco made with aged tabasco peppers, salt and vinegar. While still a Louisiana product, Tabasco is produced in Avery Island near Lafayette. Yet others choose Louisiana Hot Sauce made with the same ingredients as Crystal but in New Iberia also near Lafayette.

Which Hot Sauce will be your favorite? There’s only two ways to find out – either by tasting each in New Orleans or by buying bottles online or at your local market.

Where to Eat Hot Sauce in New Orleans
Everywhere

20. Brunch

King Cake French Toast in New Orleans
This King Cake French Toast may be the most unique brunch dish we’ve ever eaten in New Orleans. The cinnamon cream cheese stuffed brioche french toast tasted great.

Brunch wasn’t invented in New Orleans but it should have been. This is a city that celebrates everything that makes the mid-day meal great – decadent food, boozy beverages, lack of stress and live jazz.

We’ve eaten brunch all over the world from New York to Cape Town as well as in Amsterdam and Lisbon. While we can eat pancakes and waffles in all of these cities, New Orleans is the only city where we’ve eaten French Toast outrageously decorated in Mardi Gras colors and stuffed with cinnamon. It’s also where we’ve eaten Oysters so divine that we could cry. Additionally, as previously noted, NOLA is the only city where we’ve eaten Praline Bacon. Enough said.

Where to Eat Brunch in New Orleans
Brennan’s Restaurant, Elizabeth’s Restaurant and French Toast

21. Food Halls

St Roch Market Interior
St. Roch Market bustled during our 2016 afternoon visit.

Food Halls became a ‘thing’ in New Orleans when the St. Roch Market opened in 2015. The at-the-time new retail concept involved assembling a curated mix of local food and beverage vendors in a friendly, comfortable space. It was an immediate hit.

Not only is St. Roch Market still thriving, but that original New Orleans food Hall has inspired additional Food Halls around the city. Notable newcomers include the Auction House Market in the Warehouse District and the Pythian Market in the Central Business District.

Food Halls to Visit in New Orleans
Auction House Market, Pythian Market and St. Roch Market

22. Vietnamese Food

Banh Mi at Banh Mi Boys in New Orleans
You’re not off the mark if you see the similarity between Po boys and this Char Siu Banh Mi we ate at Banh Mi Boys. We saw it too.

Many people visit New Orleans when the city is at its most pleasant. The breezes are cool and the skies are blue. Who would, in their right mind, visit the Crescent City between the humid months of mid May to September when the air is thick, the temperatures are stifling and the rains fall hard? Well, we did. And the weather reminded us of Vietnam.

As it turns out, Vietnamese people have become an influential element of the city’s cultural tapestry. In fact, it’s become difficult to imagine New Orleans without this growing population. Chefs, like Mopho chef Micheal Gulotta, have riffed ideas off of them and restaurants like Brigtsen’s source unique vegetables from Vietnamese co-op farms. Meanwhile, Vietnamese establishments like Lily’s Cafe and Dong Phuong Bakery have gone mainstream.

The best way experience NOLA’s Vietnamese food in its purest form is to drive or take an Uber east of the city. You can slurp Pho and eat Vietnamese dishes at restaurants like Ba Mien in the heart of the original East New Orleans area where many Vietnamese settled in the late 1970s. You’ll feel the history of this relatively young community as well as the trials and tribulations they’ve endured to become an integral, thriving section of New Orleans. Another option is to visit Banh Mi Boys in Metairie, not far from the airport, where you can experience a mashup of Vietnamese and New Orleans street foods.

Where to Eat Vietnamese Food in New Orleans
Ba Mien Restaurant, Banh Mi Boys, Dong Phuong Bakery, Lily’s Cafe and MoPho

23. Bananas Foster

Flaming Bananas Foster at Brennans in New Orleans
Breakfast at Brennan’s is both a meal and a performance with Bananas Foster as the main event.

Bananas Foster debuted more than a half century ago at Vieux Carré, the restaurant which eventually assumed the Brennan family name. Brennan’s has perfected the flaming dessert over the years, with servers flambéeing the bananas tableside throughout the day and into the night.

Read about our boozy breakfast at Brennan’s.

This preparation of Bananas Foster involves combining butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and bananas (of course) in a pan before adding rum and banana liqueur. Flames flair and excitement builds before the caramelized mixture is plated along with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Bananas Foster is one of those ‘only in New Orleans’ dishes that’s not to missed. And, while you could hypothetically eat Bananas Foster dessert at another New Orleans restaurant, Brennan’s has built its reputation as THE place to savor caramelized bananas floating in liquor and topped with ice cream.

Where to Eat Bananas Foster in New Orleans
Brennan’s Restaurant

24. Beignets

Chicory Coffee and Beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans
Paired with Chicory Coffee and smothered in powdered sugar, the Beignets at Café du Monde are as iconic as New Orleans food gets.

Although the Beignet wasn’t invented in New Orleans, it’s become an integral part of the city’s food culture since the 18th century when Acadian settlers started frying French fritters in Louisiana. It’s even the state’s official donut. Apologies to France and ancient Rome who also claim credit for this donut varietal.

Open since 1862, Cafe du Monde is the most popular spot to eat the famous dessert in New Orleans. Click here to buy Cafe du Monde’s Beignet Mix if you want to make Beignets at home. Just make sure you have plenty of powdered sugar on hand before you fry them up.

Where to Eat Beignets in New Orleans
Eating Beignets at Cafe du Monde is a bucket list item, so start there. Then try creative versions at spots like Bakery Bar and Rosie’s on the Roof.

25. Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding at Parkway Tavern in NOLA
This Bread Pudding, served to us in paper French Fry boat at Parkway Bakery & Tavern, tasted better than most desserts we’ve eaten on fine china.

Originally a dish born out of scarcity, Bread Pudding counts pantry items like stale bread, milk, cream and eggs as its main ingredients. But it doesn’t stop there. Additional ingredients like fruit, nuts, cinnamon and vanilla give the dish a richness that belies it humble roots.

Though their ancestors didn’t invent the dish, New Orleans bakers take Bread Pudding to the next level by topping the ‘carbolicious’ desert with creamy sauces featuring bourbon and rum. Talk about taking a great dish and making it even greater!

While we’ve eaten Bread + Butter Pudding in London as well as Bread Pudding in destinations like Tallinn and Scotland, our favorite version remains the one served in a paper boat and smothered in sweet rum sauce. We eat that version every time we visit New Orleans at one of the city’s best Po Boy shops and it never disappoints.

Where to Eat Bread Pudding in New Orleans
Commander’s Palace and Parkway Bakery & Tavern

26. Grilled Pecan Pie

Grilled Pecan Pie at Camellia Grill in New Orleans
This slice of Grilled Pecan Pie at The Camellia Grill made us wonder why all Pecan Pie isn’t grilled. It was that good.

Grilling Pecan Pie in butter seems like overkill… until you bite into a slice of luscious Grilled Pecan Pie at The Camellia Grill. This bold move isn’t just over the top, it’s also a winning move.

The Camellia Grill doesn’t stop at grilling plain and chocolate slices of Pecan Pie. The iconic New Orleans diner takes the extra step of topping these ooey-gooey slices with scoops of vanilla ice cream upon request. The ice cream is worth the additional cost and calories.

Where to Eat Grilled Pecan Pie in New Orleans
The Camellia Grill

27. Pralines

Pralines on a baking sheet in New Orleans
We spotted these traditional New Orleans Pralines at Leah’s Pralines in the French Quarter. They’re different from French Pralines but equally enjoyable to eat.

Although the French Quarter is less than a square mile in size, this relatively small space is more than big enough for two iconic Praline shops – Aunt Sally’s Pralines and Leah’s Pralines. Not to be confused with Praline shops in France, these two Praline purveyors craft a style of Praline that’s different from those we’ve eaten in both Belgium and France.

Click here to buy New Orleans-style Pralines on Amazon if you want to try them at home.

As Elna Stokes, the current owner of Leah’s Pralines and the original owner’s niece, showed us, the physically demanding process to create traditional New Orleans Praline involves smothering local pecans with a mixture of butter and sugar. Less traditional Pralines feature ingredients like chocolate, caramel, marshmallows and even rum.

Where to Eat Pralines in New Orleans
Aunt Sally’s Pralines and Leah’s Pralines

28. Snoballs

Snowball in Hand at Hansens Sno-Bliz in New Orleans
We ate this Strawberry Cream Snoball with both a spoon and a straw.

Don’t confuse New Orleans’ Snoballs with typical snow cones sold in other cities. The NOLA version features shaved iced instead of crushed ice. We find the icy dessert somewhat similar to Water Ice and Italian Ice in east coast cities like New York and Philadelphia.

Snoballs have been a thing in New Orleans since 1934 when the Hansen clan started shaving ice and topping each cup with homemade syrup. Now operated by the family’s third generation, this Snoball shop is a James Beard prize-winning local institution.

However, Hansens’ Sno-Bliz isn’t the only Snoball stand in New Orleans. Each New Orleans Snoball shop typically offers a range of flavors like classic strawberry and orange as well as more modern flavors like honey lavender and satsuma. Additional ingredients like ice cream and coconut milk are also typical.

Warning – Queues at these shops are inevitable on hot summer days.

Where to Eat Snoballs in New Orleans
Hansens’ Sno-Bliz

29. King Cake (Seasonal)

King Cake Mix in New Orleans
King Cakes are so popular in New Orleans that they’re even sold in mixes you can bake at home. We spotted this kit at a New Orleans shop.

King Cake has a very specific shelf life at traditional New Orleans bakeries like Metairie’s Manny Randazzo’s King Cakes. However, other other bakeries like Haydel’s Bakery sell them beyond the Mardi Gras season.

Click here to buy a box King Cake kit to make at home.

Made with braided dough and frosted with icing, King Cakes are cinnamon-flavored cakes notable for having the Mardi Gras tricolor of purple, green and gold sugar on top. Each King Cake contains a plastic baby hidden inside the cake.

People who find hidden babies in their slices are considered lucky. In addition to the risk of breaking a tooth or choking, they’re also responsible for hosting future Mardi Gras parties or buying the King Cake for next year. Go figure.

Where to Eat King Cake in New Orleans
Haydel’s Bakery and Manny Randazzo’s King Cakes

30. Chicory Coffee

Chicory Coffee at Cafe Du Monde
Café du Monde’s Chicory Coffee is a classic New Orleans drink.

Chicory doesn’t actually contain caffeine but don’t let this factoid dissuade you from ordering Chicory Coffee at Café du Monde. The famous French Quarter cafe blends chicory with coffee to create a nutty, caffeinated beverage that people have enjoyed in New Orleans since the Civil War.

Click here to buy a can of Chicory Coffee from Amazon to brew at home.

We recommend pairing a Chicory Cafe Au Lait with a plate of Beignets at Café du Monde. The milky coffee is an ideal accompaniment to the cafe’s sugary pastries. We always do this one time when we arrive in New Orleans before moving on to third wave coffee.

Where to Drink Chicory Coffee in New Orleans
Cafe du Monde

31. Sazerac Cocktails

Sazerac at Herbsaint in New Orleans
The Sazerac is one of the most popular cocktails in New Orleans. We drank this one during our dinner at Herbsaint.

A complex cocktail that’s simultaneously strong, spicy and sweet, the Sazerac is one of the most popular cocktails invented in the Crescent City. According to the Louisiana legislature, it’s also the official drink of New Orleans.

The potent potable’s history dates back to the 1930s when Antoine Peychaud created the original Sazerac at his French Quarter apothecary using a recipe involving Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils cognac, absinthe and bitters. Almost a century later, Peychaud’s signature bitters remain a key ingredient in any proper Sazerac.

We enjoyed learning all about the history of this classic New Orleans cocktail during a fascinating tour at the Sazerac House. However, we typically enjoy drinking Sazeracs whenever we see the cocktail on a New Orleans menu.

Where to Drink Sazeracs in New Orleans
Every Reputable Bar

New Orleans Quick Facts

Jazzy Passes in New Orleans
  • USA
  • North America
  • Dollar
  • English
  • Tips are expected and comprise a large component of a server’s compensation. The standard is 15-20%.

Where to Stay in New Orleans

Troubadour Hotel Room 1 in New Orleans
We were happy to return to this room at The Troubadour Hotel after a full day of food tripping in New Orleans.

Staying at a comfortable, convenient hotel is a must in New Orleans. During our most recent visit, we stayed in the following two hotels that met these criteria:

Check back soon to read the article about our stay at these hotels. Spoiler Alert: We enjoyed and recommend both of them.

Planning Checklst

Hungry for More in New Orleans?

Check out our guides to the city’s Restaurants, Cheap Eats, Po Boys, Desserts, Coffee Shops, Bars and Drinks.

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About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosures

Sponsorship
We thank Visit New Orleans and its partners for their assistance to facilitate this and other articles.

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Important Update
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.

Peggy Marallo

Tuesday 20th of July 2021

As far as BBQ shrimp go you were way off the mark. Manales' Restaurant serves the original BBQ shrimp, shell and head still on. Manales' is famous for their BBQ shrimp. They are delicious!!!!!