New Orleans is certainly regarded for its party scene, with its yearly Mardi Gras celebration representing the pinnacle thereof, but it is also one of the top culinary destinations in the United States. Known for its unique blend of cultural influences and emphasis on fresh seafood, there is really nothing else quite like authentic New Orleans cuisine. You will certainly find an abundance of the classic New Orleans food staples many of us know and love such as gumbo, red beans and rice, beignets, and po’ boy sandwiches, but the fun doesn’t stop there; New Orleans is a major metropolitan center like any other, and no matter what type of cuisine you might be looking for, you will find a high-quality option to suit your needs in the Big Easy.
If you are looking to experience the local New Orleans culinary culture, you are definitely going to want to enjoy some good Cajun cuisine. You will not be able to experience Cajun cuisine of the level of authenticity New Orleans has to offer in any other city in the country, so you would be advised to take advantage of the opportunity while visiting the Crescent City. For an inexpensive option, enjoy some of the best po’ boys in town at Domilise’s Po’ Boys, serving the good people of NOLA since the 1920s. Mulate’s in the warehouse district is a great option in the mid-level price range, featuring a festive atmosphere with live music nightly. For a higher-end Cajun dining experience, try world-famous chef Paul Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter.
New Orleans is famous for the strong French Creole influence on its culture, and it only stands to reason that the city would be a notable hub for French cuisine in the US. No restaurant in New Orleans better represents French Creole cuisine than Antoine’s, a true French Quarter staple which has been open for over a century-and-a-half. Broussard’s Restaurant And Patio is another stalwart French Creole dining establishment which has been in business for almost 80 years. Broussard’s epitomizes New Orleans’ melting pot of culinary influences, building upon a French foundation with touches of Indian, Caribbean, Spanish, and other world cuisines to form their own unique blend of gourmet fare.
With the city being a prominent seaport, New Orleans cuisine has a strong foundation in fresh seafood. Interestingly, one of the better seafood restaurants in the city, GW Fins sources much of their seafood from around the world rather than locally. At GW Fins, you will find exotic seafood dishes you will not be likely to find anywhere else in the city. Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, a family-run establishment open since 1969, is a true New Orleans classic specializing in oysters (a New Orleans staple) and lobster. Galley Seafood Restaurant in Metairie is another locals haunt you should be sure to check out if time permits.
As the birthplace of jazz music and a classic multicultural deep Southern city, New Orleans is a town with a lot of soul, and this extends to the cuisine. If looking to experience some authentic Louisiana soul food, look no further than Willie Mae’s Scotch House, open since 1957 and known for serving up some of the best fried chicken you will find in the American South. You might also consider the Praline Connection, known for their fusion of Creole/Cajun and soul cuisines, or the longtime family-run NOLA staple Dooky Chase’s Restaurant.
When you think New Orleans, you may not automatically think Asian cuisine, but as the culinary hub and major urban center that it is, NOLA has a plethora of excellent options for the Asian food enthusiast. When it comes to sushi and Japanese fare, some of the better choices include Shogun in Metairie, open since 1981 and claiming to be the “Original” Japanese restaurant in the deep South since 1981, and Sake Cafe Uptown in Kenner. For Thai food, La Thai Uptown and Sukho Thai are great choices, while if you are hungry for good Vietnamese cuisine, consider Pho Tau Bay in the West Bank. Five Happiness on South Carrolton Ave. is hands-down one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city, as is Hoshun, serving up an interesting fusion of Chinese and local New Orleans cuisine.
Nothing better epitomizes New Orleans culture than its unique cuisine which makes it one of the better destinations in the country for culinary enthusiasts seeking authentic regional fare. There is truly no other place in the US where you can experience quite the same cultural gumbo (no pun intended) of influences melded together into one unified culinary aesthetic. Hopefully our overview of the restaurant scene simplifies your NOLA dining experience so you can focus on the food without the headache that comes with trying to find the best restaurants while visiting a new city.