When you come to New Orleans, come hungry. This is a town full of eaters who start talking about what they’re going to have for dinner before lunch is over. Crackling with an effusive gumbo of culinary history and cocktail culture, New Orleans is the best place to eat in America. Just ask anybody who lives here.
Here are some of the best of the best:
Po-Boys: Fried oyster, shrimp, catfish, garlicky roast beef ... try some or try them all. Parkway and Domilise’s are two favorites for the classics, but in the world of po-boys, there’s really no wrong choice. For a true feast, visit the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival held Uptown every November.
Friday Lunch at Galatoire’s: Patrons of this “Grand Dame” of Creole dining show up early (even waiting on line) to grab a table in Galatoire’s famous downstairs dining room. And, if they’re truly dedicated, they’ll stay all the way through dinner.
Beef Brisket at Tujague’s: This traditional New Orleans restaurant has perfected its brisket dish so it melts in your mouth.
Traditional Vietnamese Food: New Orleans’ thriving Vietnamese community delivers seriously authentic (and crazy good) Vietnamese staples such as pho and báhn mì all across the city. And if you happen to be visiting over the Vietnamese New Year, make sure to check out Tet Fest, where the food stands are legend.
The Lunch Buffet at Dooky Chase: Chef Leah Chase’s famous Tremé restaurant has been synonymous with decadent Creole cuisine since it opened as a sandwich shop in 1939. The buffet allows you to try a little of everything, but the major don’t miss item is a bowl of gumbo z’herbes, which is served only one day a year on the Thursday before Easter.
Fried Chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House: Around the corner from Dooky Chase, you’ll find what the Travel Channel labeled “America’s Best Fried Chicken.” There may be a line, but it’s worth it.
Sno-balls: Perhaps one of the most delicious ways to cool off, the snowball is a favorite treat from early spring through late fall. Fans fiercely support their favorite places with Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, which has been open since 1939. It has a cult-like following, and for good reason (especially with their Bananas Foster Snoball, which they serve exclusively on Wednesdays). Another favorite is Plum Street Snoballs.
Bananas Foster: Invented at Brennan's but offered many places, it's a dessert to savor with its fiery flames always impressive and it's sauce a splendid delight. And it's a perfect end to -- Breakfast at Brennan’s: They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s especially true when it involves brandy milk punch, Brennan’s signature Eggs Hussarde and Bananas Foster (which was invented by the Brennan family in the early 1950’s).
Crawfish: While it should be on every foodie’s list to try boiled crawfish, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy delectably spicy mudbugs all over town ... like, say, a hot dog made with crawfish sausage and topped with crawfish étoufée at Dat Dog. Lucky enough to get invited to a boil (or stumble upon one at a bar), brush up on your peeling technique here.
Trying a Taste: In a city that celebrates food as much as New Orleans, it’s no surprise we have a strong scene of talented up-and-coming chefs. Try them out at culinary incubators like St. Roch Market or Roux Carre, or check out the amazing talent behind our ever-growing food truck scene.
Feasting Your Way Through a Festival: There’s no shortage of festivals, and many are devoted to every type of NOLA’s food (and drink). But even the city’s non-food related festivals have great eats: just ask anyone in line for famous dishes like crawfish Monica, cochon de lait po-boys or crawfish crepes at both Jazz Fest and the French Quarter Festival.
Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine’s: Not only has Antoine’s been serving classic French-Creole cuisine since 1840, the storied Creole Palace also invented Oysters Rockefeller. Finishing off a meal with the kitchen’s famed Baked Alaska is a capital idea.
Experience James Beard Award-Winning Cuisine: New Orleans has a ton of James Beard Winning chefs and restaurants, so it may be ambitious to say you want to try them all. But if you’re planning on working your way through the list, expect a truly delicious journey.
Get in the Holiday Spirit with a Reveillon: Historically, Reveillon dinners were multi-course, extravagant meals served after Christmas Eve mass. Today, many of the city’s best restaurants celebrate the holiday season with special prix fixe menus all December long. You can find detailed menus and participating restaurants beginning in early October on FollowYourJoy.com.
Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace: This teal-colored Garden District classic has been a destination for impressive (and decadent) New Orleans cuisine for decades. The multi-course brunch menu is offered on weekends, or come for a 25-cent martini lunch during the week.
Gulf Oysters: Whether you like ‘em raw on the half shell, enjoyed at the scarred marble oyster bar at Acme Oyster House or drenched in garlic-butter and chargrilled at Drago’s, New Orleans is an oyster-lover’s dream come true.
Barbecue Shrimp at Pascal’s Manale: New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp is as messy as it is delicious, and that’s a good thing. French bread is the key to sopping up as much of the buttery, peppery sauce as possible. The dish originated at this unassuming Uptown gem, where you can also get your raw oyster fix.
Sazeracs at The Sazerac Bar: Find this historic cocktail at any good bar or restaurant across the city, but its namesake bar is the gold standard. Looking for something a little sweeter? Try a Ramos Gin Fizz, a favorite of the infamous Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long, at The Columns Hotel or the Bourbon O Bar.
Muffalettas from Central Grocery: These gargantuan sandwiches are perfect for sharing ... or not (we won’t judge). Grab one from Central Grocery and then take it up to Woldenberg Park for a picnic along the river.
Gumbo: Always great at The Gumbo Shop, gumbo is also pretty perfect at Liuzza's by the Track. The dish is delectable at so many places, just make sure you have a cup or two or three while you are here.
Learn The Tricks of the Trade: Looking to expand your own cooking skills and bring a little New Orleans back with you? Try out cooking classes at one of our many fantastic cooking schools. Your friends and family will be forever grateful.