If there was ever a city for foodies in the USA, it would be New Orleans! Renowned for its unique culinary history and Cajun flavors, New Orleans is the perfect place to visit for culinary tourism. Going into my long weekend in New Orleans, I knew I would be eating + drinking — a lot! That’s what you’re supposed to do in NOLA, but little did I know how delicious my culinary adventures would be.
Since it was my first trip to the New Orleans, I did a lot of restaurant research to find the best spots — both local favorites and places with good accolades. I knew I wanted to try all kinds of Cajun and Creole dishes that I hadn’t had before like etouffee, po’boys, gumbo, oysters and red beans, and that means doing the leg work of research ahead of time. Thankfully, I saved most of my research to share with you!
Here are 13 of the best restaurant experiences for foodies in New Orleans!
In the trendy warehouse district in central NOLA, Cochon is a foodie yet casual spot where you can get some top-notch Southern cuisine. I went here with all of my coworkers as our “fancy” meal for the week, and it was a spectacular experience. The wood paneled walls and open concept kitchen with wood-fired oven makes for an inviting and modern ambiance, especially when paired with family-style dining. We got pretty much everything on the menu, and to be honest, all the dishes were amazing — flavorful, rich & modern. My favorite dishes were the skillet mac’n cheese, fried alligator with chili mayonnaise, and the pork cheek. Wow, the pork cheek was so tender after being braised for hours. We also ordered the 5 pound pork chop special served with seasonal vegetables (parsnips) which was incredible!
If you want an authentic, homey and damn-good Cajun experience, Lil Dizzy’s is the place to go. Totally unassuming from the outside, this place has a vibe about it. You can just feel that this is a local favorite and a hidden gem. We went during the lunch buffet, and there were 3 different sets of police officers eating lunch here — you know it’s legit when cops are taking their lunch break here! I can’t overstate how delicious this classic creole food was. The fried chicken was some of the best I’ve ever had, the red beans were to die for, and the gumbo was so rich and flavorful. With friendly & welcoming service, this is a place that just feels right at home in New Orleans.
Housed in a cozy old house, Atchafalaya offers up contemporary creole cuisine with live Jazz music on the weekends. It feels quintessentially New Orleans. You can stop by for brunch on the weekends or dinner during the week. They don’t accept reservations for brunch, so expect to wait. But when I finally did get sat, it was well worth the wait. The brightly acidic seafood po’boy was perfectly balanced and fresh, and the cocktails were tasty!
You know those nights when you just need some BBQ? Well, the Joint BBQ with certainly scratch that itch! Photo-clad walls with rich wood paneling adorn the interior of this homey restaurant, and the friendly counter service feels like you’re part of the family. You can either eat in or take out, even for large parties with their by the pound meat menu. Fall off the bone ribs are their staple dish, but the brisket and pulled pork were both incredible too, thanks to their slow smoker out back.
Wondering where all the cocktails are? I wrote a separate post all about cocktails + drinking in New Orleans!
Skip the line at Acme across the street, and head over to Felix’s for some fresh oysters whatever way you prefer! This spot cranks out plates of freshly shucked oysters, in multiple styles — raw, wood broiled, fried or topped with a variety or ingredients. With a friendly staff and approachable price point, this place is perfect for people who aren’t sure what kind of oysters they like (aka my husband). I opted for the raw gulf oysters because those are my favorite, but the broiled ones that Sam ordered were also awesome, given that they were covered in butter, cheese & herbs. What could be wrong with that??
On a quiet corner in the Marigny, Horn’s is a no-frills classic cajun breakfast joint with sidewalk seating and classic lattes. While catching a few rays of sun, I enjoyed the Crabby Wife, an oversized crab cake soaked in crawfish étouffée served on a biscuit. A hot spot for locals in the neighborhood, this is a fun place to people watch and slowly start your day.
Located just north of the French quarter, Meauxbar is serving up French inspired new American cuisine in an upcoming neighborhood. A small yet sleek restaurant, you absolutely must order the french onion grilled cheese, but I would also highly recommend the escargot and moules-frites. All of the dishes we had were perfection — the grilled cheese is decadent and flavorful, while the moules frites are light and savory, with the escargot as the perfect balance between the two. Along with some strong cocktails, this is a place where you’ll end your night with a full belly and a hearty buzz.
If you’re looking to drop $50/person on a fancy-ass (and totally guilt-free) New Orleans brunch, then Brennan’s is your place. I absolutely loved the over-the-top white glove service and opulent old-world decor of this French Quarter mainstay. The menu packs a punch of classic cuisine with creative interpretations with dishes such as the bruleed grapefruit or BBQ lobster. I can confidently say however the egg yolk carpaccio was the best dish I ate in New Orleans. I would fly back just to eat this dish again. The egg yolk is sousvided at a low temperature until perfectly smooth & gooey. It is then spread out on the plate like a carpaccio, covering the whole bottom in a bright orange layer. Topped with acidic grilled gulf shrimp and perfectly crisp fried sweet potato strings, this dish is truly something special. If you saved room, Brennan’s claims to have invented bananas foster and will put on a show for you as they cook it table side.
Regularly rated one of the top AM spots in town, Elizabeth’s is a Bywater staple and one of the only places like it in the neighborhood. More breakfast than brunch, this place feels like a joint — colorful decor, questionably sober staff and heaping plates of approachable food. Don’t miss the praline bacon or Breakfast Po Boys, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try the fried chicken livers or smoked salmon grilled cheese.
Need more suggestions for your trip to New Orleans? Check out my 48 hour itinerary + guide!
Fresh juice, a quaint off-street patio and solid music selection? What more do you need in a hipster-friendly coffeehouse? Satsuma was a local recommendation from my AirBnb host because of its locally sourced, farm fresh fare and funky vibe. You order at the counter off an ever-changing chalkboard menu. Although I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as a brunch place, the chefs cook up some simple & tasty breakfast dishes like quiche or green egg sandwich. And their coffee is spot-on!
Perhaps the most beautiful and romantic garden patio in the French Quarter, Cafe Amelie is a place where you can watch the afternoon go by while sipping on refreshing cocktails and snacking on small plates of fresh Louisiana fare. It is built inside a historic carriage house on Royal Street, and I literally spent 4 hours here one afternoon. It’s just that delightful.The cocktails & ambiance are definitely the star of the show over the food but I still thoroughly enjoyed my lamb meatloaf and charred brussel sprouts.
With live music every night on the weekend and a delightful outdoor patio, this is a cool spot. When you walk in, you’ll enter the wine shop where you can buy bottles or glasses of a variety of different vinos. The knowledgable staff will give you recommendations based on your preferences and they will uncork the bottles for you to drink out on the patio. You can also design your own cheese & charcuterie plate to pair with you drinks. Take your number out to the patio and find a great spot. You can order hot food at the outdoor window that they’ll bring out to your table. I personally loved the rigatoni with smoked cauliflower and confit chicken leg, but I also really enjoyed the simple bread & butter and olives! With the music changing every few hours, this is an easy place to watch the night go by while taking in a special New Orleans experience!
A New Orleans institution, Cafe Du Monde is a must-visit for all first time visitors to the Big Easy. Yes it’s full of tourists, and yes they may not be the best beignets in the city, but it is one of those key places you just have to go. If you want to avoid the long line, grab a quick table inside their sprawling covered patio. You’ll be in and out in no time, because there is no need to consult the menu — you’re ordering 3 beignets and a cafe au lait. That’s it, and you’ll love it. Just look at my face above!