New Orleans is a city with a heartbeat that sings to the soul with its unique Southern charm. What sets it apart is its vibrant blend of cultures that have affected the essence of the Big Easy throughout its 300-year-old history.
Restaurants in New Orleans You Must Try
Various food influences have meant that cuisine here differs from anywhere else in the world, and experiencing the city is only complete upon trying some of these tempting delights. All of these locations are either in the French Quarter or its surrounding areas.
Creole cuisine refers to the traditional cooking style and flavors associated with the Creole culture in Louisiana, particularly New Orleans. It is a fusion cuisine that blends elements of French, Spanish, African, Caribbean, and Native American culinary traditions.
Signature dishes include gumbo, jambalaya, étouffée, red beans and rice, and crawfish étouffée. Common recipe elements include spices and a base of the “holy trinity” — celery, bell pepper, and onion. It usually includes a blend of spices, okra, seafood, and tomatoes.
1 – Commander's Palace
This iconic restaurant has been operating from the same location since 1893. Its distinct architecture makes it a popular photo opportunity, but you'll find award-winning Creole cuisine inside.
You'll find locals dining here, celebrating anniversaries, graduations, and other special occasions. You can experience dishes like Creole Gumbo and Turtle Soup au Sherry. There's also a jazz brunch available. Reservations are required, and there is a dress code.
2 – Brennan's
Have you ever heard of The Bananas Foster? Well, it was invented here. Back in the early 1950s, there was a substantial import of bananas into the Crescent City, and the restaurant owner challenged his head chef, Paul Blangé, to create a dish using the fruit. Multiple eateries are making it today, but this is where it all started.
This is a fine dining restaurant that includes some fabulous breakfast dishes. The dinner menu includes sumptuous eats such as Trout Blangé and the New Orleans classic Gulf Fish Amadine.
3 – The Gumbo Shop
If you want to try some classic Creole cuisine without the price tag of the above restaurants, this is the place to go. Since opening its doors in 1948, it has become a go-to spot for locals and visitors seeking a taste of authentic Creole cuisine. The restaurant is renowned for its flavorful and hearty gumbo. This traditional Louisiana dish combines a rich roux, tender meats (such as chicken, sausage, and seafood), and a medley of vegetables and spices. In addition to gumbo, The Gumbo Shop offers a diverse menu featuring other New Orleans favorites like jambalaya, red beans and rice, and étouffée.
Cajun food refers to cuisine originating from the Acadian settlers who were expelled from Canada and settled in the rural areas of Louisiana. Cajun cuisine is characterized by its robust and flavorful dishes, often featuring ingredients readily available in the Louisiana countryside.
Some dishes share similarities with Creole favorites, and you'll often see them together on menus.
4 – Cochon
This is the French word for “pig.” You may hear New Orleanians speak fondly of Cochon de Lait — essentially a traditional Cajun dish that involves slow-roasting a whole suckling pig seasoned with spices. The menu at this restaurant revolves around pork but also offers items like a fried alligator.
Located in the Warehouse District, Cochon provides a rustic and cozy atmosphere, making it a popular choice for locals and visitors seeking an authentic taste of Louisiana's rich flavors.
5 – Coop's Place
For a less expensive option, try Coop's Place. It's a popular, no-frills restaurant in the French Quarter. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and affordable Cajun and Creole fare, it offers classics like gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice. With hearty portions and a lively vibe, Coop's Place is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Beignets and Chicory Coffee
6 – Cafe du Monde
I'm writing about this cafe because it's an iconic must-visit for every first-time tourist in New Orleans. This cafe has a limited menu, including traditional coffee, New Orleans-style coffee and chicory, hot chocolate, and beignets. The blend of coffee and chicory is a traditional favorite and is usually served in a cafe au lait style — with equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk.
For those unsure what a beignet is, it's essentially a square donut topped with powdered sugar. French immigrants brought over the recipe, and it has been a popular treat associated with the Big Easy ever since.
While several Cafe Du Monde locations exist, the alfresco spot with the striped awning at the French Market on Decatur Street is one of the most photographed. There's often a jazz band playing outside who appreciates your tips. This place can be crowded and hot in the summer, so if you want to try beignets and chicory coffee without the historic spot, you should try another Cafe du Monde location, Cafe Beignet or Morning Call.
7 – Morning Call
This is my favorite place for beignets. They seem softer, and you can add as much or as little powdered sugar as you prefer. Morning Call is a historic New Orleans coffeehouse established in 1870. Initially located in the French Market, it moved to Metairie in 2016 but has retained some of its historic elements, including furniture such as the vintage bar in the middle of the cafe.
It also offers the infamous cafe au lait with chicory plus for those who want to try some traditional Cajun or Creole — fare without the price tags of Commander's Palace or Brennan's — this a great spot. You'll see rotating menu items such as crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, or red beans and rice. You can jump on the historic no. 47 Streetcar anywhere along Canal Street and Morning Call at the north terminus.
A po'boy is a classic sandwich originating in Louisiana, particularly New Orleans. It consists of a long French bread roll, typically filled with various meats, seafood, or fried ingredients.
8 – Johnny Po'Boys
This casual eatery is well-known for its delicious selection of Po'Boy fillings, from savory roast beef to crispy fried seafood and zesty hot sausage, all served on French bread and dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayo. I recommend the fried breaded oysters — yum!
The vibe here is relaxed, with checkered table clothes and memorabilia gracing the walls. Besides the Po'Boys, they have an extensive breakfast menu and some Creole and Cajun favorites.
9 – Killer Poboys
This French Quarter establishment offers a modern twist on the classic sandwich while still honoring its traditional roots. They have two locations — one within Erin Rose Bar and the other on Dauphine Street. Killer PoBoys offers a menu of creative and flavorful Po'Boy combinations, including options like glazed pork belly and fried shrimp. If you’re vegetarian, don’t despair, there’s also a roasted cauliflower option.