Any visit to New Orleans must include a stop at the French Quarter. But don’t spend all your time bar-hopping on Bourbon Street when there are so many good Cajun and Creole restaurants to try out. Here’s our pick of the best.
It may sound silly to make your first stop in the French Quarter at a market, but this small Italian shop is the birthplace of a New Orleans staple: the muffuletta. This round sandwich stuffs ham, mortadella, provolone, swiss, salami, and a marinated olive salad between two Sicilian sesame slices. You can grab a fresh one every day at Central Grocery where Decatur Street converges with Peters. The spicy Central Grocery olive salad – on sale in the shop – means you can whip up your own muffulettas at home.
Acme Oyster House
The French Quarter has an ocean of seafood restaurants to choose from – but we guarantee you’ll have a shucking good time at Acme Oyster House. This salty, century-old eatery, just off Rue Bourbon, challenges you to down a boatload of oysters. If you can get through at least 180, you’ll land a coveted spot in its 15 Dozen Club. Don’t think you can stomach so many? No matter; add a mere half dozen to your order and leave room for Acme’s Cajun-creole entrees.
The Original French Market
Spicy Creole dishes made from scratch have made the Original French Market a mainstay in Nola for 80 years. Let your nose lead the way to a steamy pot of boiling jumbo shrimp, crawfish, and snow crab – all available by the pound or by the boatload. Snag a coveted balcony seat where you can savor a spicy stew of crawfish étouffée with jazz music filling the air and a great view of the French Quarter.
With signature marinated shrimp in tangy Creole remoulade, flaky and buttery Burgundy snail casserole, and soufflé potatoes swimming in béarnaise, it’s difficult to make a dinner choice at Arnaud’s. Thankfully, the six-course tasting menu lets you sample everything from the turtle soup to veal chantal. After a baked Alaska for dessert, feast your eyes on the photographs, masks, jewelry, and costumes of the on-site Mardi Gras Museum, which is free for all visitors.
No reservations, snarky bartenders, and an age limit of 21 and up, Coop’s Place stands as a counter to the New Orleans fine dining scene. You won’t empty your wallet filling your plate at this Decatur dive. A cup of Creole green beans, rabbit and sausage jambalaya, or seafood gumbo will run to only a few dollars. You can sample all of the above, along with shrimp Creole and Cajun fried chicken, for less than the price of a cocktail.
The Court of Two Sisters
Live jazz and architecture more than three centuries old, are the backdrop for an unforgettable brunch at The Court of Two Sisters. You’ll quickly agree that the mid-morning meal of sausage gumbo, candied sweet potatoes, and corn maque choux are best enjoyed in the charming courtyard. The sound of jazzy trombones and trumpets fills the air, and if you’re planning a meal for two, time your rendezvous a little later in the evening for a romantic Creole dinner.
If you’ve ever eaten pommes de terre soufflés, eggs Sardou, and oysters Rockefeller, you can thank Antoine Alciatore. As the oldest family-run restaurant in the country, it’s no surprise that Antoine’s Restaurant has birthed culinary creations adored around the world. The aforementioned eats are no-brainers, but you can’t go wrong with an herb-roasted chicken Rochambeau, fried oysters Foch, or an extra-cheesy Creole andouille au gratin. Another sure bet is the jubilee cheesecake, a Creole cream cheese and cherry compote tart that will leave your taste buds tingling.
Broussard’s Restaurant & Courtyard
Classic French dishes met with local Creole culture at Broussard’s a century ago, and ever since, a balanced menu of fine yet familiar plates has drawn locals and visitors. This is the place to get your local fix of New Orleans usual suspects – such as shrimp remoulade, bronzed redfish, and crawfish ravigote. Or you can delve a little deeper in the region’s cooking with duck and alligator sausage gumbo, creole turtle soup, or a crawfish and tasso gnocchi or the chef-prepared special seared scallops St Jacques or duck breast l’satsuma.
Jewel of the South
The menu is always changing at Jewel of the South, so there’s no telling if your small plates of Oaxacan strawberries or broccolini will arrive alongside a Cajun, creole, or other cultural dish. A restaurant run by renowned Big Easy bartender Chris Hannah, your trip to this tavern will turn into a liquid lunch. Classics such as french 75 are poured as often as the signature jewel sazerac and the brandy crusta made with Remy 1738 cognac. Skip dinner altogether and settle in for the prix-fixe cocktail-hour menu, which includes three drinks and snacks.
Cafe du Monde
While technically more of a cafe than a full-blown restaurant, Cafe du Monde’s pillowy beignets covered in powdered sugar will convince you to skip a meal elsewhere. Located at Old Jackson Square, you’ll easily spot this coffee stand thanks to the crowd of java junkies queuing up at all hours. Don’t expect to sip an average cup of joe under Cafe du Monde’s green and white striped awning. Their brew is blended with chicory in classic French style, served to you black or au lait.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Lou Boyd.
Why not make a weekend of it? Book a stay with Culture Trip at one of the best hotels in New Orleans or stick to a tighter budget at one of these budget hotels and hostels in Mid-City. There’s plenty to keep you busy too, from ticking off the best things to do in New Orleans off your bucket list to exploring the best museums around or trying local specialties such as a po’ boy at these top spots.
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