For the past four years, we’ve put together a list of the must-try dishes in New Orleans for the upcoming year. It’s a mix of old and new, fancy and casual – the dishes we can’t stop thinking or talking about and the ones we can’t wait to try. This year, in true New Orleans fashion, we reached out to some of our friends within the community to do what New Orleanians do best–share their passion for their favorite foods.
We talked to local chefs, influencers, food writers, musicians, and our own social media and editorial team (after all, we’re the ones eating at all the places you see on @VisitNewOrleans and across the website) to find out their picks for the absolute best meals they ate this past year. It was a tough ask in a city so renowned for its one-of-a-kind food scene–finding a bad meal here is nearly impossible. But nevertheless, they persevered and provided us with the one dish that stands out above all others–the bites that live rent-free in their heads. Consider it your culinary roadmap for the year ahead.
And so, without further ado, here are the 23 best things to eat in New Orleans in 2023.
If you're going boneless fried chicken, dark meat is where it's at for me. The chicken is crispy, the mac is creamy, and the crawfish sauce is pure comfort. The dishes at Heard Dat Kitchen are legit high-end stuff getting served from a pickup window at a reasonable price, and you can taste the love and thoughtfulness that went into it. That's a hard-to-beat combo.
- Mason Hereford, Chef/Owner of Turkey and the Wolf and Molly's Rise and Shine
I am always getting asked for brunch suggestions and Broussard's always comes to mind as one of my faves! You always need a starter/appetizer to kick off your dining experience and my go-to is always the Oysters Broussard. It's perfectly fried oysters topped with bacon, creamed spinach, and an aioli sauce. The flavors all work together perfectly and everything is better with bacon!
- Jazmine Boutte, Local Influencer, @JDSeries on Instagram
The guava pastele Cuban sandwich from Que Pasta is the food mash-up that every little Cuban kid (myself included) dreams of!! Think sweet pastry paired with savory pork, ham and cheese - it’s the perfect sweet and savory combo. I love all the fusion dishes that Chef Amanda whips up to honor her Cuban & Honduran heritage and this sandwich is one for the books!!!
- Nicole Caridad Ralston, Local Influencer, @EatenPathNOLA on Instagram
Afrodisiac NOLA is one of my top restaurant choices because it is a fusion of two of my favorite types of food: Creole and Jamaican. The dishes are prepared exceptionally well and are loaded with flavor. I’m particularly in love with the jerk chicken nachos - which are made with freshly fried chips, mango salsa, Afrodisiac’s amazing jerk chicken, and their to-die-for house-made jerk sauce. I also love the Jamaican fish sandwich with escovitch sauce and green plantain fries. The food, paired with the drinks, aesthetics, sounds, smells, and the fresh breeze on the patio creates a euphoric experience that I can’t get enough of.
- Jalence Isles, Founder - @WhereBlackNOLAEats
This Gulf catch, also known as cobia, has a natural citrus-like zing. It’s accentuated by a clutch of sweet crabmeat on top of its honey-gold surface and rests on blackened scallion rice to mix with the thick, rich crab sauce. It’s elegant and contemporary and still very much in line with Creole tradition.
- Ian McNulty, Food Columnist for The New Orleans Advocate. @IanMcNultyNOLA on Instagram
This salad is actually simple and dramatic all at the same time. I crave this salad. It is a masterpiece of a restaurant/chef/kitchen using extensive knowledge creativity and execution to beautiful effect. I am nuts for Maypop and love so many dishes there, but this is the one I get every time.
- Ti Martin, Co-Proprieter of Commander's Palace
Rice is such a great comfort food. Jollof is something I ate regularly in Senegal, much like Jambalaya being a staple here in New Orleans. Who doesn’t love a spicy, tangy, flavorful red rice dish? We serve it with local veggies, delicious redfish or snapper and grilled shrimp.
- Chef Serigne Mbaye, Owner and Executive Chef of Dakar NOLA
BBQ shrimp is one of those dishes that lives in my mind rent-free. I’d never had one until I moved to New Orleans in 2016 and I can confidently say High Hat Café's version is unmatched. The sauce is spiked with beer for a depth of flavor and the whole thing is served with a thick slice of buttered and toasted French bread to mop up every drop. Pro tip: Do not wear white while attempting to enjoy this messy New Orleans classic.
- Chef Ana Castro, Executive Chef - Lengua Madre
The first thing that popped into my mind are the doubles at Queen Trini – chickpea-stuffed fried flatbreads. They are the best things I've ever eaten and incidentally vegan, which is a thing I don't particularly seek out. True miracle food.
- Bronwen Wyatt, Owner – Bayou Saint Cake, @BayouSaintCake on Instagram
My selection is the Vegan Ital-Plate from Ital-Garden Coconut. It comes with curry black-eye peas, greens, cornbread, and original cauliflower by Chef Ra Yoseph. I also love their crabless crab cakes and the Cauli wings (Chickpea battered cauliflower fried to a crisp). They are beyond anything I have ever tasted and simply exquisite.
- Lauren Darnell, Executive Director – Made in New Orleans Foundation
It’s a twofer…I couldn’t help it. The ribs have a root beer glaze and are the kind of ribs I loved from the NYC Chinese food places of my youth, but juicy and big and all grown up in the Louisiana sunshine. The shrimp and grits with pineapple and tasso are the perfect blend of Louisiana tradition and tropical vibe that goes so well with the drinks and ambiance there.
- Abigail Gullo, Famed Mixologist and Creative Director at Loa New Orleans
I'd like to add Tacos Para La Vida, which is a pop-up. Their menu rotates, but the best thing I've had from them lately is Birria Pizza with consommé to dip. Their version of a Crunchwrap Supreme, which they call a "Wrapped Up Crunchy Thing" is also the bomb.
The shrimp ceviche at Maïs Arepas is one of my favorite dishes in the city. I go long periods of time without it and then I pop in and remember what makes this restaurant and that dish so special. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and acidic. The shrimp are perfect and the soft buttery avocado paired with the crunch of pickled red onion is a delight. The crispy plantain chips take it over the top. I get it every time I eat there. When the kids are with us, we get two!
The fried chicken itself is lightly spiced and has a batter that is lighter than air. It's served in a bowl with a flavorful Thai ranch and covered in a shower of fresh mint, basil, cilantro, and dill. This dish is cravable and a must when dining at Bijou.
- Breanne Kostyk, Owner - Flour Moon Bagels
It was exactly what it said it would be…a ramen gumbo. It had the spice of a ramen but all your favorite meats and seafood from a gumbo. Sausage, crabs, shrimp, BUT with noodles!
- Tarriona "Tank" Ball, Tank and the Bangas
One of the dishes I think about often is the carrot yogurt at Molly’s Rise and Shine. You might be thinking that sounds weird but you just have to trust. What you’re getting: yogurt topped with carrot marmalade, fruit (typically orange sections and blueberries), lemon zest, mint, and Nini’s granola. The combination of the fruit, carrot marmalade, and fresh mint really make this dish. I encourage people to order one for the table, even if they plan on ordering something else. If you’re someone who likes to try the best of everything, do not sleep on the carrot yogurt.
- Susan Whelan, Local Influencer, @NOLAMaven
When I first started hearing about Ayu Bakehouse, the baked good that initially grabbed my attention was the muffaletta breadstick. And don’t get me wrong – that’s absolutely divine, not to mention genius. It’s all the deliciousness of a muffaletta in a completely portable form (plus there’s an option to get it meat-free for any olive-salad-loving vegetarians out there). But the thing that really blew me away was the boudin boy. It’s (what seems like) a billion thin layers of perfect, flakey laminate pastry stuffed to the brim with boudin and an egg, and I’ve honestly thought about it daily ever since.
- Hartley Wasser, Director of Editorial and Content Marketing, NewOrleans.com/New Orleans & Co.
Akin to Mexican flan, the Butterscotch Budino is a standout at Gianna. A humble pot holds the rich, butterscotch custard, topped with a rosette cookie. Smooth, creamy, crunchy, and sweet – you’ll want to save room for dessert.
- Lauren Saizan, Editorial & Online Content Manager, NewOrleans.com/New Orleans & Company
I know seeing a salad on a list of 23 dishes to try in 2023 probably seems like a joke but the P&P Salad at Palm & Pine made me see God. It's just the perfect salad that hits on every level. It's got so much depth and dimension when it comes to flavors, it's almost impossible to describe, you just gotta try it!
- Andy Kutcher, Senior Social Media Manager, @VisitNewOrleans/New Orleans & Company
Blue Oak BBQ has completely changed my opinion on what makes a Brussels sprout divine. Regarding cravings, I have found myself daydreaming about their Chili Glazed Brussels Sprouts almost every week. From the crisp, well-toasted edges, the sweet smokey glaze, and the after-bite, I am entirely sold on them as my main course! Do yourself a favor and upgrade to the pint-size.
- Colton Clifford, Social Media Content Creator, @VisitNewOrleans/New Orleans & Company
Eastern Asian cuisine has always been my favorite food genre, and I’ve always had a place in my heart for a great cheesesteak, so when I saw both combined, I knew I’d be hooked. Warm steak with sweet ginger soy sauce, fried pickled red onions, and cream cheese – what’s not there to love? Plus, all of Trilly’s menu items have a vegan version. Pair your sandwich with a side of pickle fries for the full (and filling) experience.
- Mads Reineke, Social Media Coordinator, @VisitNewOrleans/New Orleans & Company
Yakuza House is family owned and makes you feel at home. I usually sit at the bar and it’s like a show and dinner. Chef Huy goes above and beyond to show his customers what they are eating. He also teaches people about the food and that’s why I love Yakuza House.