Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

The Top 10 Must-Try Foods in New Orleans

New Orleans, a city steeped in rich culture and vibrant history, is renowned for its incredibly diverse and delectable cuisine. From iconic classics to unique Creole and Cajun flavors, exploring “The Big Easy” ‘s culinary scene is an adventure.

Here are the top 10 must-try foods that capture the flavors of New Orleans:

Gumbo

A trip to New Orleans would be incomplete without savoring a bowl of gumbo. . This hearty dish is a melting pot of flavors, typically featuring a roux base, okra, and a mix of seafood, sausage, or chicken. The blend of spices creates a symphony of taste that embodies the essence of Creole cooking.

There are well-loved fine dining establishments in the French Quarter that you must try, and one of them is Galatoire’s Restaurant for its famous Seafood Okra Gumbo and Duck and Andouille Gumbo. For a more casual environment, stop by Herbsaint, Gris-Gris, or Coterie Restaurant & Oyster Bar.

If you find yourself in New Orleans the week of Easter, visiting Dooky Chase for Gumbo Z’herbes is a must. This unique version of gumbo, served only on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) at Dooky Chase, is full of nine different greens (including mustard greens, collards, turnip greens, carrot tops, beet greens, spinach, cabbage, lettuce and watercress), and of course a whole lot of meat – two kinds of sausages, smoked ham, beef brisket and veal brisket. Legend has it that you make a new friend for each different green in the pot!

Po-boy

A New Orleans classic, the po-boy sandwich is a culinary masterpiece. Originally called “poor boys” after men who were striking during the streetcar strike of 1929, the name was eventually shortened to “Po-Boy” due to the thick accents of those who first spoke it. Served on crispy French bread, it’s loaded with fillings such as fried shrimp, oysters, or roast beef and generously topped, or “dressed” as the locals call it, with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise.

To taste the best po-boys in town, check out Domilise’s Po-boy & Bar, Parkway Bakery and Tavern, Johnny’s Po-Boys, or Mahony’s Po-Boys & Seafood.

Jambalaya

A tantalizing rice dish, jambalaya combines meats like andouille sausage, chicken, and sometimes seafood, cooked with the “holy trinity” of onions, celery, and bell peppers. This one-pot wonder is seasoned with Cajun and Creole spices, delivering a spicy and flavorful punch.

Some of the best spots for an epic Jambalaya foodie delight include Coop’s Place, Cafe Maspero and Louisiana Pizza Kitchen for the best Jambalaya pizza.

Beignets

Beignets are New Orleans’ beloved “French” fried pastries, fluffy on the inside and dusted generously with powdered sugar. Served hot and fresh, these pillow-like treats are a staple at the iconic Café Du Monde, best enjoyed with a cup of café au lait.

Crawfish Étouffée

A mouthwatering Creole dish, crawfish étouffée features tender crawfish smothered in a rich and savory roux-based sauce, seasoned with spices, and served over a bed of rice. The blend of flavors in this comforting dish is an ode to Louisiana’s culinary heritage. You can also find chicken, vegetable, or shrimp étouffée at many establishments.

Muffuletta

Originating from Italian immigrants in New Orleans, the muffuletta is a sandwich masterpiece. It’s made with a round sesame seed bread loaf stuffed with layers of salami, ham, provolone, and tangy olive salad—an actual flavor explosion.

For a truly memorable tasting experience, try Central Grocery, Verti Marte, or head to Metairie, only about 15 minutes from downtown New Orleans, and try Giorlando’s Restaurant.

Red Beans and Rice

Traditionally a Monday favorite, red beans and rice is a soul-warming dish made with red kidney beans, the “holy trinity” of onions, bell peppers, and celery, smoked meats such as tasso, pickled meat, hambones, sausage and Cajun and Creole spices. The popular dish is served alongside fluffy white rice and with warm cornbread. Its humble ingredients deliver a taste that’s rich in history and flavor.

You can never go wrong with trying a plate of red beans and rice at these places: Joey K’s, Lil Dizzy’s Cafe, Creole House Restaurant, or Hobnobber’s Variety Bar and Restaurant.

Oysters

Although oysters can be found in coastal cities around the country, we do oysters a bit differently in New Orleans. At many restaurants around the city, you can find them raw, fried, chargrilled, baked, or barbecued.

The most popular style of oysters are chargrilled – consisting of butter, cheese, garlic, and herbs and then grilled on the half shell. Chargrilled oysters are served with French bread, used to dip in the “sauce.” The best-chargrilled oysters in New Orleans are found at Drago’s in the Hilton Riverside or Acme Oyster House.

You can find Oysters Rockefeller, a dish of baked oysters topped with a blend of herbs, breadcrumbs, and a creamy sauce, often flavored with spinach or other greens, at one of the oldest restaurants in the country at Antoine’s in the historic French Quarter. 

Pralines

For those with a sweet tooth, pralines are a must-try. These sugary confections, made with caramelized sugar, butter, and pecans, create a delightful blend of crunchy and chewy textures, delivering a taste of Southern sweetness. After visiting New Orleans, pralines make a great souvenir to take home.

Gator Bites

Embrace the adventurous side of New Orleans cuisine with alligator bites. These bite-sized portions of alligator meat, often breaded, fried, or grilled, offer a unique and flavorful experience, showcasing the city’s penchant for unconventional yet delicious eats. Try them at Zesty Creole Restaurant and Bar!

Start Your Culinary Journey Now!

Visiting New Orleans isn’t just about sightseeing; it’s about indulging in a culinary journey that celebrates the city’s diverse heritage and flavors. From savory stews to sweet treats, each dish tells a story and invites you to savor the essence of this vibrant city’s food culture.  So, whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply seeking authentic flavors, these top 10 must-try foods in New Orleans promise an unforgettable foodie adventure. Book your NOLA experience now to try them!