Every Southern city takes prides in its food and New Orleans is no different; the city is a culinary melting pot that blends French, Italian, Caribbean, and Native American influences. From flavorsome Creole and Cajun cuisines to street food classics and delicious candies, here are some of New Orleans’ must-try dishes.
Jambalaya: NOLA’s most famous export is a paella-inspired dish of sausage, rice, and vegetables typically topped with meat or seafood; each restaurant in New Orleans’ French Quarter seems to have its own version of jambalaya (which loosely translates as ‘mish-mash’)—challenge yourself to sample as many varieties as possible.
Po’Boy Sandwiches: The grab-and-go lunch of choice for locals, a po-boy is a simple French bread sandwich with a not-so-simple filling. Anything goes in a po’Boy, from fried shrimp or crawfish, to roast beef with gravy, or catfish with lashings of fresh coleslaw.
Muffuletta: Another beloved sandwich is the muffuletta, which has Italian origins and comes served on a large round loaf. The traditional filling is ham, mortadella, salami, Emmental cheese, and provolone, topped with a marinated olive salad. Central Grocery, where the first muffulettas were created back in 1906, is the best place to sample this sandwich; a whole one will easily feed two.
Gumbo: Nothing tastes as quintessentially Louisianan as a steaming pot of gumbo, a hearty stew that blends different flavors. Opt for a chicken gumbo with andouille sausage or a seafood gumbo, packed with oysters, shrimp, and crab.
Red beans and Rice: Simple yet satisfying, the Caribbean-inspired dish of red beans and rice is a Creole classic that’s traditionally served on a Monday night. The best recipes inject flavor with some smoked sausage.
Beignet: The French version of a donut, beignets are fried dough parcels dusted with sugar; they make the perfect accompaniment to a coffee break in a New Orleans’ cafés. Enjoy them for breakfast or grab a bag to go at any time of the day.
Pralines: Those with a sweet tooth won’t be able to resist New Orleans’ version of the classic praline. Pronounced ‘praw-leen’ down in the south, the local specialty is made with crushed pecans, caramelized sugar, and cream, and there’s no way you’ll be able to stop at one.