Food You MUST Try in New Orleans (& where to find it!)

To put it simply, New Orleans food blew my mind. Meal after meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner was amazing. Because New Orleans was originally controlled by the French (until a little something called the Louisiana Purchase) the city still has heavy French influence in its building architecture and of course, in its food. I’m so excited to share this little New Orleans food tour with you because I know you’ll love all these places as much as I did. Get ready to drool!

New Orleans Food You Must Try

New Orleans Food You Must Try

Po’boys

The history of the po’boy sandwich dates back to the Great Depression. The sandwiches were named “poor boys” after they were given away for free during the Great Depression. The depression ended but the sandwiches remained popular. The name “poor boy” mixed with the New Orleans dialect became shorted to “po’boy”.

You can get a po’boy with nearly anything you want inside it, but the most authentic New Orleans po’boy to get is fried shrimp, roast beef, or oysters. Just like Chicago and their pizza and Philly and their cheesesteaks, there’s some debate about where to get the best po’boy in New Orleans.

Where to find it

Parkway Bakery and Tavern: Parkway has been a destination ever since it opened in 1911. They’ve won numerous awards and have even been featured on The Food Network. Rest assured, I heard this place was one of the top places in New Orleans to get a po’boy. You can read more about my experience at Parkway here.

Parkway Bakery Po'boy

Oysters

I’m sending out the disclaimer now that I’m not a big oyster person, BUT the Gulf is known for having some amazing oysters so I was up for trying some down in New Orleans. I’m glad I gave them a chance because they were way better than my past oyster experiences. Southern oysters are known to be pumper, softer, and meatier than oysters found up North. Also, because of the warm waters of the south, oysters in the gulf can be harvested year-round! Oysters in New Orleans are served with lemons, saltines, and cocktail sauce.

Where to find it

The Blind Pelican: The Blind Pelican has an awesome outdoor porch and great location along the popular St. Charles Avenue. On top of that, it’s an awesome place to find delicious oysters at an even more awesome price. The Blind Pelican often has happy hour deals on oysters so be sure to ask your waiter about them!

If you’re looking for some other great oyster joints in New Orleans check out this article.

Oysters

Beignets 

You had to know this one would be on the list. No New Orleans food list is completely without beignets! I, of course, had heard so much about these delicious French doughnuts before arriving in NOLA and part of me was worried they’d been so hyped that I wouldn’t be impressed with them. I am here to tell you, I am now a beignet believer! These fried doughnuts are the real deal, and a must-eat when visiting New Orleans.

Where to find it

Cafe Du Monde: 9 out of 10 people will tell you Cafe Du Monde is the best place to get beignets in all of New Orleans. Located in the French Quarter, Cafe Du Monde serves up beignets 24 hours a day. Beware: Cafe Du Monde has been known to have a line out the door at all hours of the day and night.

Morning Call: I stayed at an amazing AirBnB in New Orleans. The woman who owned the house had lived in New Orleans nearly her entire life and swore up and down that Morning Call was the best place to get beignets and waaaay less crowed than Cafe Du Monde. You can read about my experience at Morning Call here.

beignets

Pralines

In the north we pronounce pralines: PRAY-LEANS. In New Orleans they pronounce them PRAW-LEANS. Pralines are another delicious treat that came across the pond from the French. This tasty sugary treat is essentially just caramelized sugar mixed with pecans (either whole or chopped up) and then spread out to harden and cool. Pralines can be made with milk chocolate and dark chocolate, but I prefer the traditional caramel flavor.

Where to find it

The Praline Connection: I have nothing else to say other than these were so delicious. My friend and I got dinner at the Praline Connection and of course needed to try some pralines. Lets just say we were disappointed we each only bought one.

Fried Chicken

I never understood the South’s obsession with fried chicken…until I came to the South and tried their fried chicken. It is out of this world, and I am now one of those people who is obsessed with Southern fried chicken.

Where to find it:

Willie Mae’s: This place came to me as a recommendation from a friend who had been in New Orleans a few months before me. Willie Mae’s looks like nothing special from the outside, but don’t let that detour you. This fried chicken was incredible and definitely one of my New Orleans food highlights.

willie maes

Gumbo and Jambalaya

Two creole staples: gumbo and jambalaya. Both dishes have similar ingredients but are a tad different. Gumbo is a stew that includes shellfish (usually shrimp), vegetables and then served over rice. While, Jambalaya almost always includes andoullie sausage, (sometimes shrimp and chicken as well), onion, celery, bell peppers and is also served over rice. Both can have a strong flavor and even be a bit spicy.

Where to find it: 

Mother’s: This place serves up classic New Orleans food in authentic New Orleans style. I was in love with a gumbo at first bite and was sure it was the best thing there, until I tired my friend’s jambalaya and was suddenly conflicted about which was better.

mothers gumbo

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New Orleans is such a great food city! Fried chicken, beignets, gumbo, it's all in New Orleans. This is the food you must try in New Orleans (and where to find it!)

What New Orleans food is a must-eat for you?

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  • Lauren @ atipsygypsylife.com

    UGH! New Orleans food is to die for- lived there for a year and gained about 10 lbs… Can’t deny yourself a bowl of gumbo or red beans & rice! Highly suggest getting some pecan-crusted gulf fish next time. Mr. B’s near the French Quarter is the best.

    Great list 😉

    • omg, that sounds amazing! I’ve definitely heard of Mr. B’s before. So cool you lived in NOLA. I was so impressed with what a vibrant city it was! 🙂

  • One of my best friends just moved there and I can’t wait to visit and eat my way through the city!

  • I adored the chargrilled oysters at Felix’s, the beignets at Cafe du Monde, and the muffuletta at Central Grocery. But honestly everything I had to eat in that city was great.

    • I have no clue what a muffuletta is but it sounds life changing!

  • Seriously, NOLA has so of the best food ever! Cafe Beignet also has good beignets, but I feel like you have to go to Cafe Du Monde when in New Orleans. I tried oysters for the first time in New Orleans and fell in love with charbroiled oysters, not the raw ones. They were so delicious! And now I’m officially hungry and want to eat some Cajun food right now!

    • Cafe Du Monde has the most authentic vibe i think. I’ve didn’t make it to cafe beignet. i’ve heard it’s much smaller..? I think next time i go to NOLA I’m going to go for a weekend and eat at t different beignet place every day…maybe twice a day. haha

  • Oh yum! Love pralines and beignets! I had no idea pralines were originally French. How fun!

    I’m not sure what the taste difference is, but you can buy Cafe Du Monde beignet boxed mix online and at some stores. It is so good! And has, since trying it, sealed my interest in visiting Cafe Du Monde if ever I get to New Orleans. 🙂

    • I did see you could buy the mix! i was really temped to do so, but i think i would have gotten majorly hooked on beignets and my waistline would have been in trouble. lol.

  • I love chicken so I’d probably love Nola a lot! And I’m really curious to try gumbo and jambalaya – sounds so exotic!

    • omg the chicken is out of this world. that’s actually probably the food that surprised me the most. Fried chicken in the mid-west is always similar and kind of soggy. This chicken was absolutely dreamy!

  • Allllll of these are must eats for me! OMG! They all look sooooo good! Fried chicken, pralines, beignets, how could I choose just even one? I seriously need to get to New Orleans stat! Thanks for sharing and linking up! 😀

    • you definitely can NOT choose just one!! at least i didn’t! lol. I love cities with a great food scene NOLA is definitely that kind of city! 🙂

  • I am more than drooling in here! I am not a fan of oysters neither. I would take that of my list but my husband would love to go to the place you recommend in here. That chicken looks finger licking delicious!

    • the oysters surprised me! have you ever tried Charbroiled oysters? those are usually more of a fan favorite. definitely a little bit of a different taste and texture.

  • AHHHHH!!! I cannot WAIT to get to New Orleans! Just marked all of these places on the map, thank YOU! I think I’ll be able to go next summer…hoping a relative will be getting married in the South then!!! Every post of yours is gold, Carrie!

    • Aww thank you so much for your kind words, Swags! Means the world to me! I hope you make it to NOLA. you’ll love it! 🙂

  • Ahila Thillainathan

    Loved reading about the must-try food when in New Orleans, Carrie. Have bookmarked it.

  • omg look at all this amazing food. yum. saved it for the hopefully one day i make it back to NOLA. can’t believe i went and didn’t eat any of this. silly me.

    • I seriously ate my face off on this trip. #NoRegrets!

  • Wow, what a spread! I haven’t heard of lots of these takes on different foods, love learning about new dishes!

    • I’m the same way! it’s the best way to get to know a new city/country. 🙂

  • Well, I shouldn’t have read this on an empty stomach. Food in NO sounds so good 🙂 I have always heard great things!

    • hahaha! just writing this post had my taste buds excited again 🙂

  • New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world and the food is unlike anything you can find elsewhere. At Mother’s I also like the po’boys and my favorite oysters are from Acme. Were you able to hit up the martini lunch at Commander’s Palace?

    • we didn’t make it to the Commander’s Palace! sad face. it’ll definitely be something I do on my next trip because of course I’ve heard awesome things!

  • Rachel Nursey

    It will be my third time going to NO this New Years and there’s always more and more restaurants I need to try! Excited to eat at some of these places! 🙂 Thank you for your recommendations!