As an avid travel planner, I know how daunting it can be to figure out where to eat in a big city. There are so many restaurants in New Orleans. SO MANY! So how in the world do you narrow it down? You could wing it, and many do. Spontaneity is the spice of life, right? But if you’re reading this it’s probably because you’re a bit Type A like I am and enjoy planning out all the little details of your trip. Why not? This might be your only time in New Orleans and why would you want to waste a meal on mediocre food in a city known for its amazing dishes? Am I reading your mind? Good, read on my organized friend!
This list is one that I’ve been keeping for a few years. Every time I visit New Orleans, I try to eat at different restaurants. Some are duds, but some I absolutely love. So keep in mind this list is by no means a complete, but it’s a great start for anyone planning a trip to this delicious city.
Café Du Monde
Is it touristy? Of course, darlin’! But there’s a good reason for that. It’s amazing and not to be missed. Food Network might try and tell you there are other places to get beignets, but don’t listen to them. This is it. Others can try, but they will never live up to Café Du Monde.
Tips for your visit:
- When you get to the main location near Jackson Square, you will see an atrociously long line especially in the morning. Don’t let this discourage you! The tables turn very fast because no one is eating a full meal here.
- Don’t wear black! or if you do, make sure to cover yourself in napkins before your beignets come. Did you know that most people breathe out their nose when they eat? If you didn’t know that, you will as soon as a beignet is in your face; POWDERED SUGAR EVERYWHERE!
- Ask for a glass of water. When you’re done with your beignets, dip a napkin in your water to clean your hands and mouth. They will be sticky, there’s no way around it.
- Finally, there is another location that not many people know about. There’s a mall called Riverwalk. It’s located on the river past the ferry port, kind of next to Harrah’s (across the street, really). Same beignets, smaller lines. However, unless you’re staying in a hotel near this, it’s a bit of a walk. It’s close to the aquarium so keep that in mind if you’re planning on going there.
New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company ($)
All I really need to say about this one is garlic herb fries… but I’ll say more. Their burgers are great and so are their seafood options. There are several locations, but the one in the Quarter is on Decatur Street. They have a balcony upstairs which is a fantastic place to eat when the weather is nice. Website: NOH&SC
Crescent City Brewhouse ($)
This is next to NOH&SC. They have some great food and of course great beer (brewed in house!). My favorite is their BLT which has fried basil on it (pictured). Sounds weird, but it’s very delicious. They also have many classic New Orleans dishes that are great. If you’re just interested in a beer, they have a walk-up window where you can grab one to-go. Cheers! Website: Crescent City Brewhouse
Napoleon House ($)
This is a great little restaurant and bar on Chartres Street (pronounced Charters). If you’re looking for a place with a little history mixed in with your muffuletta, this is your spot! The building is over 200 years old and restaurant is 100. They claim it’s haunted… you’ve been warned! The courtyard in the back is a beautiful place to have lunch. Website: Napoleon House
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen ($$$$)
Disclaimer: I have not eaten here. However, I have been told that this is a wonderful place to have dinner if you’re looking for something more upscale. Great traditional Louisiana dishes and a household name. Website: K-Paul’s
Acme Oyster House ($$ – $$$)
This is another one I haven’t been to, but have been told by family that it is awesome if you are craving oysters! FYI oyster season in Louisiana runs from September through April of the following year. Located on Iberville Street. Website: Acme
Sucré ($$ – $$$)
Craving something sweet? Sucré is a high-end dessert shop with over-the-top sundaes. They also have my absolute favorite macarons (outside of Paris, bien sûr). Be prepared, you will pay a pretty penny for your treats, but it’s so worth it! There are 2 locations in/near the quarter: 1 in the Quarter on Conti Street and 1 in the Garden District. The Quarter location features a shop as well as a restaurant. The Garden District location is only a shop, but they have tables to sit at to enjoy your treats. Website: Sucré
NOLA Poboys ($)
There are a million places to get poboys in New Orleans. In fact, I’d say most restaurants have them on their menus. But if you’re looking for a great lunch on Bourbon Street that won’t break the bank, NOLA poboy is your answer. Their portions are generous and that’s putting it lightly. I don’t eat a ton of seafood, so I usually get a ham poboy and it is out of this world delicious. Their fried food comes spicy, so if you want it mild make sure you ask. You can also get extra spicy, but I caution doing this if you’re not used to Louisiana spicy (it’ll burn your tongue off, mon cher). Something unique they offer that other poboy places don’t is the option to add a ladle of gumbo ON TOP of your sandwich. I think Guy Fieri needs to make a stop here. It’s counter service and they don’t have many tables. If you can swing it, try and go for an early or late lunch. Website: NOLA Poboys
Central Grocery ($)
MUFFULETTAS! They are known for them and do them very well. It’s a small place with counter service and very few tables. Grab a sandwich and take it to the river to enjoy while watching the massive barges pass through or go people watch on a bench in Jackson Square. Located on Decatur Street. Website: Central Grocery
Pat O’Brian’s ($$ – $$$)
I’d suggest Pat O’s as one of your must-do dinner options in New Orleans. It’s not just about the food; the courtyard with the fire fountains makes it such a unique place to dine. You absolutely must get a hurricane and you’ll probably have to get half of it to go (it’s big…see picture above). Also, if alligator is in season, get the alligator bites as an appetizer (tastes like chicken, but better)! If your birthday falls anywhere around the time you’ll be in New Orleans, sign up for their birthday club online and you’ll get a voucher for a free drink (including the glass to take home). It does get a bit rowdy later in the evenings, so if you prefer a quieter dinner make your reservation earlier in the evening. Located on the corner of Bourbon St. and St. Peter St. (there are entrances on both streets, use either one). They will ask for your ID at the entrance, so have it ready. If you’re under 21, you can still eat here for dinner, but they will seat you in an under 21 section. Pro-Tip: if you don’t want the souvenir glass that comes with your hurricane, you can give it back to the bar and they will give you $2 cash. Website: Pat O’s
Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone ($$)
Forgive me, I know this isn’t a restaurant, but this bar is so pretty and it actually revolves like a carousel! Stop in for a Sazerac or 2 and enjoy this beautiful bar. Immediately to your right when you walk in the hotel. Located on Royal Street. Website: Carousel Bar
One of my favorite areas in New Orleans to get away from the crazy crowds is the Garden District. It’s beautiful and you can read more about it
here (post in progress). I have only been to a few restaurants in this area, so my list is short. Please send me some of your favorites if you have any!
Commander’s Palace ($$$$)
This is an iconic New Orleans restaurant. Considering it’s one of the best restaurants in New Orleans, it’s very expensive unless you go for lunch. I’ve never eaten here, but it’s on my list for the future! Website: Commander’s Palace
The Grocery ($)
Different than the Central Grocery. It’s on a little corner and looks like a hole in the wall. They have the BEST sandwiches. The Cuban is a great pick, but you can’t go wrong with a poboy or a pressed sandwich! Website: The Grocery
GG’s Dine-O-Rama ($$)
Located on Magazine Street and only open for breakfast and lunch. Their turkey BLT is seriously one of the best BLTs I’ve ever had. Website: GG’s Dine-O-Rama
There’s also a smaller Sucré location on Magazine Street if you’re sticking to the Garden District for your trip.
There you have it! Do you have any favorite eateries that can’t be missed in New Orleans? Since I go every year, I’m always looking for new places to try. Leave suggestions in the comments below.