Eating Your Way Around New Orleans

New Orleans is a bona fide foodie city. The convergence of flavors from different cultures is perhaps most prevalent here than in any other city in the United States. You can say that the gastronomy in New Orleans is “Southern comfort, mixed in with Caribbean flair, and topped off with French artistry” (Alon, 2013, p. 9). People come to New Orleans just love to eat and they hardly ever leave disappointed. Here’s my New Orleans food guide.

New Orleans Food Guide

The Culinary Holy Trinity

When staying in New Orleans, you’re likely to hear about the “holy trinity” of Cajun cuisine. It has nothing to do with religion, but it does matter greatly when it comes to culinary talk. It’s basically equal parts celery, bell peppers, and onion. This combination is key to some of the region’s most famous items like gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée.

Cajun and Creole Are Not the Same

Many travelers to New Orleans (or Louisiana in general) are unaware of the fact that Cajun and Creole cuisines are two completely different types of food. This is due to some people using them interchangeably. As mentioned earlier, Cajun’s cuisine is made up of the holy trinity and though much of Creole cuisine utilizes the same ingredients, the biggest difference comes with using tomatoes. Creole cuisine has it and true Cajun does not. Keep that in mind when you’re eating your way around New Orleans.

New Orleans Food Guide: The Food Experiences You Ought to Try

No food experience in New Orleans is complete without trying fresh oysters particularly at Casamento’s where many would say serves some of the freshest anywhere in Louisiana. Commander’s Palace is the place to get the best of Creole cuisine. The restaurant sits in New Orleans’ beautiful Garden District and its turquoise colored home has been a New Orleans landmark for over 100 years. If you can’t get a table there, try DelMonico, the first restaurant of acclaimed New Orleans trained chef Emeril Lagasse. It too specializes in Creole cuisine. Its signature dish is chicken Clemenceau.

New Orleans Food Guide: Image via Commander's Palace Facebook
Seared gulf fish with roasted Butternut squash, garlic grilled kale and vegetables: Image Commander’s Palace

For down-low Cajun food at it’s best, head over to The Original Pierre Maspero’s. They offer a “Crescent City” sampler that consists of crawfish étouffée, Andouille gumbo, and Cajun jambalaya. At Cochon Butcher, the butchery, sandwich counter and wine shop, order their famous boudin. It’s a form of sausage stuffed with meat, rice and green onions and peppers. Its filling, it’s flavorful, and it’s a Cajun cuisine staple. If that’s not enough to satisfy you, drive down to Willie Mae’s Scotch House and order their world-renowned fried chicken. Top your fried chicken with some of their amazing sides: potato salad or red beans and rice.

New Orleans Food Guide: Boudin at Cochon Butcher
Boudin at Cochon Butcher

We finally come to the best part—desserts. Everyone’s heard of Café du Monde and their addicting beignets. They’re a must-try when visiting New Orleans. The original café at the French Market is open 24 hours so you can have beignets for breakfast, after lunch as a snack or as pre-emptive hangover cure after a night of one too many drinks.

New Orleans Food Guide: Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde
Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde

If you prefer something more refreshing, get yourself a cup of Hansen’s Sno-Bliz. This legendary shaved ice stand first started its operation in 1939. Its fluffy ice and homemade syrup toppings are perfect for the grueling New Orleans heat.

Hansen Sno-Blitz
Hansen Sno-Blitz: Photo Image: Facebook

New Orleans Food Guide: Must-Try Drinks

It technically isn’t food, but part of experiencing New Orleans is downing a few cocktails and/or beers particularly as you explore the many bars and pubs along Bourbon Street. Start off with a classic, The Hurricane. This rum cocktail is part sweet and part tangy and is associated with the city more so than any other cocktail apart from Sazerac. Locals and well informed cocktail connoisseurs know that Sazerac is the city’s official cocktail. Its main ingredients consist of Sazerac rye whiskey and Peychaud’s Bitters.

New Orleans Food Guide: Sazerac Rye
Sazerac Rye by Mike McCune / CC BY 2.0

When you’re eating your way around New Orleans, you’ll likely see a few beers by the Abita Brewing Company on the menu. They brew beers at their local brewery just 30 miles north of New Orleans. Among the seven year-round brews, Turbodog is the favorite among craft beer aficionados. Finally, you’ve probably seen those long and tall skinny plastic cups whose bottom is shaped like a grenade. These frozen drinks are referred to the Hand Grenade. It was created in New Orleans for the 1984 World’s Fair by the Tropical Isle and now sold exclusively by the bar and its affiliates on Bourbon Street. It claims to be the “most powerful drink” in New Orleans. Drink responsibly.

There’s so much more to know and experience about cuisines that I have not featured in this New Orleans food guide. To find out more about them, visit the “Where to Eat” section of the New Orleans official visitor’s guide. The website also has information on hotels in New Orleans and other activities to do in the city.

What do you think about our New Orleans food guide? Let us know in the comments below!

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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