Although this dish is a one-pot meal, the best thing about jambalaya is that no two pots are the same. Wherever you eat the long-grain rice dish, your meal is guaranteed to be different than the last. Your taste buds will be pleased whether you order your jambalaya with chicken and sausage or packed with juicy shrimp. Bold in flavor and perfectly spiced, jambalaya is not only a city tradition. It’s also a must-try for any visitor. We have narrowed down eight eateries where you can enjoy one of the foods that helped build NOLA’s unmatchable culinary legacy.
Coop’s Place is a Decatur Street staple that’s been serving up the true Cajun flavors of New Orleans since 1983. The 21-and-over restaurant features rabbit and sausage jambalaya simmered with tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and local seasonings. Coop’s Place, which prides itself on serving affordable seafood and cocktails in a laid-back atmosphere, is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. until close and does not take reservations, so arrive early to get your grub on. Ian McNulty says, “The best restaurant jambalaya I’ve found, by far, comes from Coop’s Place, a veritable late-night emporium of good Cajun-style eating in the Quarter.” A nod from this famous local food critic is something to take into serious consideration when choosing your next dining destination.
K-Paul’s promise to never deliver customers frozen fare is something we deeply respect. This legendary New Orleans restaurant serves upscale Cajun/Creole fare on Chartres Street in the heart of the French Quarter. Founded by the late Chef Paul Prudhomme, a celebrity cook who specialized in Southern cuisine, this down-home eatery puts together one mean variation of the most famous rice dish in Louisiana, starting with onions, bell peppers, celery, tasso, sausage, chicken, tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic, combining it all with a rich stock, and simmering it for four hours with just the right amount of rice. K-Paul’s is open for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. If you plan on visiting during Jazz Fest, make sure to check their website for special hours.
You may find it hard not to get behind this restaurant’s mantra: “Eat at Melba’s. Pray before meals. Love New Orleans.” Born in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, this New Orleans landmark is a favorite for locals and neighbors alike. While they’re known for their po-boys, Melba’s sides are tasty and come in shareable sizes so the whole family can try. Our top recommendation for passing around the dinner table is Melba’s jambalaya. Make your way to the intersection of North Claiborne Avenue and Elysian Fields to get a taste for the epic flavors from Melba’s any time of the day or night because they’re open 24/7.
A French Quarter landmark, Café Maspero opened its doors in 1971 and has been slinging Southern favorites ever since. The best way to enjoy a New Orleans classic dish is at a classic New Orleans restaurant. Who knew the simple combination of rice, Gulf shrimp, smoked sausage, chicken, and vegetables could be so tasty? Run, don’t walk, to Decatur Street Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., or Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. to get your fill.
Our last pick to satisfy your jambalaya craving on your next visit to the Big Easy is not technically in New Orleans, but it’s well worth venturing to Metairie for. Although their gumbo tends to take the spotlight, the jambalaya is worth an order. Cooked with smoked sausage and diced chicken, this traditional recipe is also hard to beat. Get your jambalaya fix Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop on Causeway Boulevard.
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