Get up and close with the dishes and drinks you love on a New Orleans food or beverage tour.

Étouffée, Oysters Rockefeller, the Sazerac cocktail and pralines — it's impossible to tell the story of New Orleans without talking about its famous dishes, drinks and desserts. You could read all about the finer qualities of these culinary icons, but to really get what Cajun and Creole cuisine are like, you simply have to come down here and taste it for yourself.

Thankfully, several companies have stepped up to give visitors an insider's look at the history and mysteries of these delicacies. Here are a few to whet your appetite.

Food Tours

Destination Kitchen/Food Tours New Orleans specializes in full-immersion cooking and dining experiences, with tours that go through the French Quarter, Uptown and St. Charles Avenue. Spend a day getting your fill of beignets and French Market products you won't find outside of New Orleans, or venture to Garden District landmarks, where guides will tell you about the history of New Orleans and its famous food.

Speaking of history, New Orleans Culinary History Tours takes visitors to two of the city's oldest restaurants (among them: Antoine's and Tujague's, both in business for over 150 years). If you're up for combining your tour with a cooking demo, New Orleans Culinary History Tours provides those, too.

Clearly, the food history in New Orleans goes deep, so check out these additional culinary tours — each offering a unique food tour around New Orleans.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum showcases the best of south Louisiana and beyond. The museum honors high-profile restaurateurs and chefs, as well as the small-scale cooks and homemakers who have added their own flavors to Southern cuisine for generations.

Cooking Classes

New Orleans School of Cooking 2
New Orleans School of Cooking
New Orleans has a rich dining tradition, and at Langlois Culinary Crossroads and The New Orleans School of Cooking, you can actively take part in it. Stand shoulder-to-shoulder with chefs and fellow culinary enthusiasts to learn tricks of the trade, all while dining on Creole and Cajun dishes in the heart of the city that made them famous.

Meet some of the city's most beloved local celebrities and chefs at New Orleans Cooking Experience, located just steps from the Lower Garden District. Start your visit with a glass of wine and a four-course cooking demonstration, while learning about the intricacies of Creole cuisine and the stories behind the dishes. Then tour the 19th century Queen Anne home where classes are held, followed by an expertly prepared dinner.

Beer and Spirits Tours

See what's brewing at Gordon Biersch, located, appropriately, in the old Jax Brewery building on the Mississippi riverfront. Join the brew master and staff on a behind-the-scenes tour of Gordon Biersch's beer making process, where you'll learn the difference between preparing Hefeweizens, pilsners and more exotic brews.

Head to a brewery tour at Crescent City Brewing. This brewery is believed to be the oldest in Louisiana and is located in a historic Creole townhouse just a few blocks from Jackson Square and Bourbon Street. Taste the four brews and dive in to the tasty menu while listening to live jazz daily.

At Drink & Learn, the experience delivers interactive presentations that use the city's famous drinks to describe the rich history of New Orleans. Historian Elizabeth Pearce will guide you through the libations as she tells the tales of rum, rebellion, whiskey and more. 

Drink up and enjoy Gray Line Tours' cocktail walking tours, offered at 4 p.m. daily. Learn the fascinating stories behind the Sazerac and absinthe, whose close association with New Orleans is the stuff of legend.

In south Louisiana, where sugar farming once reigned supreme, rum has a long and lush history. Celebration Distillation, makers of Old New Orleans Rum, carries on that tradition every day at its Frenchmen Street location. Stop in for a tour and see the distilling, filtering and fermenting processes in action, and then stop by the tasting room for a sip and to buy a bottle to take home.