New Orleans is synonymous with great grub. In this city, a meal is much more than a necessity; it’s a cause for celebration. We say, “What’s for dinner?” as we eat lunch, revere our chefs (both in James Beard Award winning dining rooms and hole-in-the-wall neighborhood joints) as Patron Saints of the kitchen and linger a little longer around our dinner tables than most.

The city’s Creole fare exemplifies its rich heritage: a mix of Caribbean, African, Spanish, Italian and German influences in one delicious cuisine. A cultural gumbo (we’ll explain later), the city is recognized time and again as one of the top food cities, by some of the best in the culinary world. As an outsider, it may seem preposterous the amount of time, energy, excitement and love go into each meal. But to New Orleanians, it’s just the way it is.

Here are just a few of what you’ll be seeing and eating when you’re in the Big Easy, including our “official” recommendations on where to try them.

Barbecue Shrimp

Despite what its name suggests, there is no barbecue in this shrimp. It’s a delicious mess of butter, Worcestershire, spices and whole shrimp, made to be eaten (and peeled) by hand. With a French Bread accouterment, we bet the only thing left behind are tails.

Where to Get It?

Pascale Manale’s, on Napoleon Avenue Uptown, credited as the dish’s creator.

Charbroiled Oysters

When straight-off-the-boat oysters, fresh garlic and cheese meet the grill, there is a match in culinary heaven. By grilling the oysters in their shell, their flavor is deliciously intensified. It may be the best way to eat an oyster -maybe.

Where to Get It?

Drago’s in Metairie (or Downtown) -their oysters are so famous there’s even a Zapps’ Potato Chip flavor.

A Fried Shrimp (or Roast Beef) Po’Boy

Up North it’s called a “hero,” in the Midwest, a “grinder,” but down here they’re po’boys. Only in New Orleans they’re better… way better. Fluffy, yet crunchy French Bread, freshly fried seafood or hours-long marinated roast beef with gravy, then dressed with lettuce, pickles, tomato and mayo make our Southern variety unforgettable.

Where to Get It?

The matter is up for much debate, as each New Orleanian has their own unequivocal favorites, so we’ll give three: Domilise’s (Anthony Bourdain’s favorite) in the Irish Channel; Mother’s Restaurant in the CBD (which has an entire wall of celebrity appearances) and Parkway Bakery (Beyonce once ordered 150 after her show in the Superdome) in Midcity.

Seafood Gumbo

One of New Orleans’ most famous dishes, gumbo is an homage to the cultural melting pot that is the city. This (either okra- or filé-based) stew includes the “holy trinity” of vegetables: onion, bell pepper and celery, seafood and stock. Each restaurant or family kitchen has its own unique recipe, with the original tracing back to the 18th century.

Where to Get It?

The Tremé Gumbo Festival, if you’re able, where you can taste chefs from all over Louisiana’s recipes. Not in town in October? The Gumbo Shop in the French Quarter continues to win Gambit’s Readers’ Poll as the best.

Red Beans and Rice

Traditionally, New Orleans housewives would do the family’s laundry on Mondays (before washing machines were readily available) and thus would have little time to cook. Their solution? Start soaking kidney beans on Sunday nights, then on Monday add them, Sunday’s leftover meat and the holy trinity into one big pot to cook. An easy and delicious meal.

Where to Get It?

Liuzza’s By the Track, on a Monday, of course.


This rice and seafood dish is often compared to Spanish paella. It differs, however, as it adds the holy trinity (we see a pattern emerging… ), seasonings, sausage and tomatoes and replaces saffron found in traditional paella. The outcome is a flavor profile all its own.

Where to Get It?

Jambalaya is one dish you will find at every New Orleans get-together, from small gatherings to giant festivals. Restaurant-wise: K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, legendary chef Paul Prudhomme’s flagship restaurant in the French Quarter, serves some the best in the city.

Crawfish Étouffée

Originally “invented” in Cajun country (Breaux Bridge, the “Crawfish Capital of the World,” to be exact), étouffée quickly made its way into Crescent City kitchens. Its ingredients and preparation are similar to gumbo, but it uses a light “roux” (a water and flour mixture) to give it a completely different taste.

Where to Get It?

Bon Temp Cafe in the CBD, but be advised -they’re only open Monday-Friday.


First and foremost, this is NOT a snowcone or shaved ice. A snowball (sno-ball or snoball), may be ice and syrup, but that’s where the similarities end. And New Orleanians will argue this to the death. Snowballs are made of ice shaved so finely they have an almost fluffy consistency, then topped with fruit-, dessert- and even savory-syrup flavors that penetrate the entire cool treat (not sinking to the bottom like in the other varieties). They are pure heaven on a hot Summer day.

Where to Get It?

Snowball stands are in every neighborhood in the city, but the most notable has to be Hansen’s Sno-Bliz -it’s been operating since 1939! Get there early and be prepared to wait; there is almost always a line around the block.

Bananas Foster

This desert is as much about the flavor as it is the presentation. Bananas are flambéed table side with cinnamon, brown sugar, banana liqueur and rum and then served atop vanilla ice-cream. We guarantee this is a show-stopping end to any meal.

Where to Get It?

For the true original, Brennan’s is a must. Their chef, Paul Blangé, created this classic in the 1950s when the restaurant acquired a surplus of bananas. It’s even served at breakfast!


Could we really write a NOLA food blog without including these doughy, fried squares of perfection? Topped off with powdered sugar, these treats are great morning, day and night (and late night).

Where to Get It?

Café du Monde is a given. Located in the heart of the French Quarter and serving hot beignets 24/7, Cafe du Monde is the cure for late-night sugar cravings. CBD Oil

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