There is no shortage of restaurants, but what to eat in New Orleans? The question is how big is your stomach, and how much time do you have?
Restaurants abound within a few short blocks of each other, you can walk to all these restaurants in or near the famed French Quarter. Tantalize your taste buds with these 17 eats in the city affectionately known as the “Big Easy.”
1 – Souffle Potatoes from Antoine’s
The oldest family run restaurant in New Orleans, Antoine’s has been serving the Pommes de Terre Souffle since the 1800s. These fried puffed potatoes served with a bernaise dipping sauce are not quite like any other. Fried at low temperature, then high temperature, it creates a french fry of sorts that is crispy and filled with air.
A bit tricky to make at home, these potatoes are best tried at the restaurant that has been making them for more than a century.
2 – Shrimp Remoulade from Arnaud’s
The bright orange sauce that coats poached shrimp is a New Orleans classic. Arnaud’s even makes their own remoulade sauce that is sold in bottles in local grocery stores. You can try the fresh version in their century old restaurant made with creole mustard, mustard oil, olive oil, and spices.
They are also well known for their French 75 champagne cocktail at their adjacent bar, Arnaud’s 75.
3 – Vegan Butter Beans at Willie Mae’s Scotch House
While largely lauded for its “Best Fried Chicken” moniker received from the Food Network and Travel Channel, Willie Mae’s Scotch House also has vegan menu items, including vegan butter beans and vegan red beans.
Soft, creamy, and oh so seasoned, you are unlikely to miss the usual addition of smoked meat or ham.
4 – World’s Best Ham at Mother’s Restaurant
Self-ascribed as the “World Best Ham,” it sure does seem to live up to the title. This ham is tender to the bone, not too salty, and nearly melts in your mouth.
Read the full review of Mother’s Restaurant.
5 – Shrimp & Oyster Po’ boy at Acme Oyster House
You can’t leave Louisiana without having a po’ boy, sandwiches named after the poor boys who bought them. Stuffed with fried shrimp, fried oysters, and a cajun remoulade sauce in a crispy, light bun, you’ll have no problem finishing the whole thing at Acme Oyster House.
6 – Oysters at Felix’s Oyster Bar
You could get your oysters, served raw on the half shell or char-grilled, at Acme’s Oyster House, or walk across the street to Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar. Locals will say that you can get the same thing here as at Acme without the lines and attitude. Felix’s is also more well lit with natural light, whereas Acme tends to be darker in the dining room.
To each their own. Pictured at the top of the page is their featured oyster special of the day, fried with Thai chili sauce.
7 – Seafood Gumbo at Gumbo Shop
Voted the best gumbo for 27 years and counting, the Gumbo Shop is legendary. You can even order a gumbo trio featuring the seafood, chicken and andouille, and featured gumbo of the day. Served with a fresh baguette, you just need to leave room for anything else you might order.
8 – Bread Pudding at Mr. B’s Bistro
Mr. B’s is where the locals apparently go. Well known for their BBQ shrimp, their bread pudding is not bad either. It is souffle like, fluffy, and airy, versus other heavier styles of bread pudding. They have a large bar that seats quite a few, in case the dining room is full.
9 – Sweet Potato Pie from K-Paul’s
Another southern classic, this sweet potato pie is topped with caramelized pecans making it almost like a cross between a pecan pie and sweet potato pie. Two pies for the price of one at K’Pauls Louisiana Kitchen, the restaurant opened by the late and legendary Chef Paul Prudhomme.
10 – Pralines from New Orleans School of Cooking
Pralines (pronounced prah-leens) are meant to be nibbled within a few days of being made. Made by carefully cooking a caramel to softball stage and stirring in pecans, they are a New Orleans classic sweet treat. It does not get any fresher than if you watch them being made at a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. They have both demo classes and hands on cooking classes.
11 – Muffaletta from Central Grocery
Central Grocery is purportedly the originator of this iconic sandwich. What is difficult to reproduce is the bread: a flat round loaf much like focaccia but baked to brown and topped with sesame seeds. Inside are layers of cured meats, provologne, and a marinated chopped olive salad, which they also sell in glass jars.
At Napolean House (#16 below), they have the same recipe for the fresh made bread and sandwich, but it is toasted and served warm. Go to Central Grocery, if you do not mind standing in line and taking your sandwich to go, since there is no seating area. The Mississippi River, however, is just across the street for an impromptu picnic.
12 – Beignets at Cafe du Monde
This is like the holy mecca where every visitor must come to pay their respects. These are not exactly the lightest or fluffiest beignets you could eat in a lifetime but definitely covered with the most powdered sugar. You must try to say you have tried.
13 – Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s
Many stores sell the red hurricane mix in packages, but Pat O’Brien’s is where the cyclone started. Named after the hurricane lamp shaped glasses it was originally served in, the drink is a sweet concoction of rum, passion fruit juice, and lime juice topped with an orange slice and maraschino cherry.
Story has it that the bar needed to get rid of 50 cases of rum to make room for incoming whiskey and bourbon, so they came up with this drink that eventually became popular with sailors in the 1940s.
Most drinks at Pat O Brien’s are served in a souvenir glass that you get to keep. Upon exit, the staff will box up your glass, along with a green pearled mardi gras necklace, and package the rest of your drink in a plastic cup to continue drinking al fresco along Bourbon St.
14 – Mint Julep at Dooky Chase
Dooky Chase is as much known for their fried chicken as being a gathering place for the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Opened by Leah Chase, the Queen of Creole Cuisine, and her husband, “Dooky,” she updated the menu with family recipes that reflected her African American, Spanish, and French heritage.
Most mint juleps have fresh mint muddled into the bourbon, but at Dooky Chase, the mint is blended into the drink with a special housemade mix. It matches one of their mint green colored dining rooms, if you are lucky enough to be seated there.
15 – Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House
Situated in a 200 year old landmark building, the Napolean House is named after the famous French general who almost sought refuge there during his exile from Europe.
Since the 1940s, the restaurant has served the Pimm’s Cup, a gin based drink with lemonade, 7-Up, and a slice of cucumber. They will also package these in a plastic cup to go.
16 – Iced New Orleans Coffee from French Truck Coffee
The French introduced chicory into coffee, and it came to be called New Orleans coffee. Local roastery, French Truck Coffee, makes their own cold brew version, served with milk on ice. A cool caffeine beverage to sip on is eventually a must to in the New Orleans humidity.
17 – Vieux Carre from Carousel Bar
Pronounced “view car,” this drink was invented at Carousel Bar & Lounge in 1938 by bartender Walter Bergeron. It contains a curious mix of rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura bitters, and Peychaud’s bitters, the latter of which was invented by a local Creole pharmacist in the 1830s as medicinal tonic. If you are ever going to try this drink, this would be the definitive place for your initiation.
Yes, the bar and your stool revolve like a merry go round, while the bartender stays put. Just be sure to get here early, since it does get packed at night. Located at the Hotel Monteleone.
There are many tour companies that do walking culinary and cocktail tours of the French Quarter. Nola DeTours has an insider view of the restaurant scene as the founder is a former owner of the Broussard’s restaurant in the French Quarter.
Can’t Eat Anymore?
If you want to do some walking but still look at food, try these options just outside the French Quarter.
Crescent City Farmers Market runs a number of fresh produce markets throughout the city on different days of the week. Check out the best of what local farmers are producing that season.
This is one of three posts written in exchange for a discount at the International Food Bloggers’ Conference held in New Orleans in August 2018.
Published on October 17, 2018.
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