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New Orleans is home to thousands of restaurants offering anything from authentic Creole cuisine to French delicacies, but here’s what the locals say.
With over 1,000 restaurants in the city, travelers flocking to New Orleans may not get unanimous answers from locals when they ask: Where’s the best place to eat? Aside from its festive Mardis Gras celebrations, New Orleans is world-famous for its Creole and Cajun cuisines, which are 2 distinct cuisines native to Louisiana.
Primarily inspired by French cuisine, Cajun food usually consists of meat ingredients with rice, such as jambalaya or boudin (a spicy smoked pork sausage). Meanwhile, Creole food draws inspiration from cuisines in Europe, Africa, and Native America and is characterized by rich, tomato-based sauces.
When combined, New Orleans offers the traveling foodie a rich culinary experience exclusive to The Big Easy. With millions of tourists visiting New Orleans every year, popular cafes and bistros are filled to the brim with out-of-towners, especially in the city’s French Quarter. Travelers seeking a superb eating experience while dining in New Orleans should consider visiting some restaurants while touring the city!
Updated by Gabriel Kirellos, November 7th, 2021: As mentioned in this article, New Orleans has more than 1,000 restaurants that locals frequent. Moreover, the eateries in the city are constantly expanding, and new unique places are opening up to cater to the region’s growing population. This article was updated to reflect some additional names and information about the delicious restaurants at which locals in New Orleans enjoy eating.
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For Beignets, Visit the Morning Call Coffee Stand
Simply put, beignets are French-style donuts dusted with mountains of powdered sugar. Cafe du Monde is famous for these sinfully delectable pastries, which first opened in 1862 in the French Market. Today, multiple chains can be found across New Orleans. The original Cafe du Monde on Decatur Street is known for its great atmosphere but can get a little busy.
So if you’re looking to satiate your beignet cravings, locals flock to the Morning Call Coffee Stand in City Park. Regarded as the “most famous coffee drinking place” in New Orleans, order some fresh beignets alongside café au lait, a local coffee mixed with chicory and milk.
Great Seafood Can Be Found All Over the City
In New Orleans, tourists can often enjoy delectable seafood (and other local) delights from restaurants like Deanie’s Seafood, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, and the Gumbo Shop. Tourists worldwide can easily find a seafood restaurant in the city’s French Quarter, a bustling tourist destination, which means that restaurants can get a little crowded (and noisy).
Even among the tourist-driven restaurants found in the famous French Quarter, more quaint restaurants like GW Fins offer an extensive seafood menu perfect for date night. Good things can also be said about Basin Seafood and Spirits, as well as Adolfo’s Italian Eatery on top of the Apple Barrel Bar Inn (though locals say there is a lineup due to the restaurant’s reputation for making delicious Italian food with a Cajun-Creole twist).
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For Po’Boys, Visit These Local Gems
Another famous New Orlean favorite, the Po’Boy, is a sandwich made of French bread, usually filled with fried seafood, roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and a generous slather of sauce like mayonnaise. However, the “best” po’boy in New Orleans is debatable among locals.
Places like Mother’s Restaurant in the heart of downtown serve their famous po’boy sandwiches to tourists and locals alike. Locals recommend joints like Johnny’s Po-Boys, Killer Po-Boys, Acme Oyster House, and Verti Marte in the French Quarter for great sandwiches and deli fare. If you find yourself in uptown New Orleans, visit Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar to try their sandwiches (they’ve been a family-owned restaurant since 1918).
Skip the Fine Dining Experience at Commander’s Palace and Visit Vyonne’s
The Commander’s Palace stands out with its charming and distinct blue building in New Orleans Garden District. This fine-dining restaurant has served Haute Creole cuisine since 1893 and is known for items like their Turtle Soup Au Sherry and the Commander’s Creole Gumbo.
Regarded as the most expensive restaurant in New Orleans, patrons wishing to dine at The Commander’s Palace must adhere to the formal attire dress code while preparing themselves for a possibly hefty check.
Travelers looking for a more cozy wine and dine experience should instead visit Vyonne’s. This restaurant has been recognized as one of the best restaurants in New Orleans in recent years. Serving French cuisine with a modern twist, this establishment is tucked away within the city’s Warehouse District. Visitors can enjoy a range of French-inspired dishes, from escargots de Bourgogne to tuna tartare.
Travelers looking for a more cozy wine and dine experience should instead visit Vyoone’s. This restaurant has been recognized as one of the best restaurants in New Orleans in recent years. Serving French cuisine with a modern twist, this establishment is tucked away within the city’s Warehouse District. Visitors can enjoy a range of French-inspired dishes, from escargots de Bourgogne to tuna tartare.
Address: Vyonne’s restaurant, 412 Girod Street, New Orleans, LA, 70130, United States, 504-518-6007.
Recommended: The mussels in white wine, herb, cherry tomatoes, topped with plaquettes, known as Lesmoules De Marinara, is a must-try at Vyonne, alongside the Award-winning French onion soup.
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Hit The Levee Baking Co Paradise
Christina Balzebre owns a paradise of a bakery in New Orleans called Levee Baking Co. Balzebre serves savory loaves of bread, coveted croissants, and delicious cookies in her shop, where locals visit the bakery and don’t mind standing in line to taste its yummy food. Levee Baking Co started recently serving savory galettes, hand pies, jam-filled biscuits, and scones.
Address: Levee Baking Co., 3138 Magazine Street, Ste D, New Orleans, LA 70115, 504-354-8708
Brunch Options Away from the Crowds
Hungry travelers looking to munch on some brunch often flock to places like Elizabeth’s on Gallier, The Ruby Slipper Cafe, Mr. B’s Bistro, The Court of Two Sisters, and Antonie’s Restaurant. These restaurants are praised for their cheery vibe and eclectic atmosphere, while some unhappy patrons dub them “overrated tourist traps.”
On the flip side, locals enjoy having breakfast at Dots Diner, a 24/7 diner chain that serves traditional American breakfast at an affordable price. While there are multiple locations across Louisana, there’s a chain located in New Orleans, specifically in Jefferson. Keep in mind that Dots Diner is a little far from the city’s tourist areas, but patrons rave about their large portions, low prices, and delicious menu (especially their big American-style breakfasts).
For a quaint setting with a quieter crowd, tourists visit Chais Delachaise, Gris-Gris, or Patois for a lovely brunch. While they are a little far from the bustling French Quarter in New Orleans, locals complement these restaurants for their elegant take on French cuisine and local favorites, such as blueberry bourbon pain Perdue (Gris-Gris), chicken and wild boar sausage gumbo (Patois), and coconut curry mussels (Patois).
Otherwise, travelers keen on staying in the French Quarter should visit Vacherie, located on the first floor of the Hotel St. Marie. This restaurant serves authentic Cajun food, serving breakfast specials such as andouille hash, boudin benedict, and breakfast bread pudding.
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