Leave Bourbon Street in the French Quarter behind, and discover another side of New Orleans as you eat your way through the best restaurants in the Garden District.
Venture beyond the jazzy streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, and you’ll be treated to the charming, tree-lined streets of the Garden District. Historic mansions, cemeteries, cottages and gardens surround diverse restaurants, running the full spectrum of cheap eats and fine dining. Simple yet sensational delights, such as hot dogs, and unique plates, like Louisiana-Italian dishes, will stretch your appetite all the way down Magazine Street.
This is no run-of-the-mill sandwich joint. As quirky and colorful as a Mardi Gras parade, Turkey and the Wolf has had a James Beard Award within its grasp multiple times. Some call it wacky, some call it wonderful, we just call the inventive menu absolutely delicious. Where else can you find a collard-green melt with cherry pepper dressing, a fried bologna sandwich topped with potato chips, or a hog’s head cheese taco with hot sauce?
Southern cooking staples are elevated and elaborated at Gris-Gris. Who knew a BLT was missing fried oysters and sugarcane vinegar? How have shrimp platters survived without being dipped in Cajun caviar ranch? Gris-Gris answers your questions with a single bite, letting its stone-ground grits, hand-pulled chicken and Louisiana popcorn rice do the talking. You’ll only ask, “how could this get any better?”, to which the brunch menu will reply, “with a crawfish omelet and blueberry bourbon pain perdu”.
Mexican food rarely finds its way on the typical NOLA menu, and, yet, Superior Grill’s success proves that the Crescent City needed a little south-of-the-border flair and flavor. Scan through the traditional tacos, and you’ll find a handful of locally influenced items like thick crawfish con queso and uptown enchiladas stuffed with shrimp, crawfish and spinach. The usual suspects like chimichangas, street tacos and nachos are all up for grabs if you’re fancying something familiar.
If you’re one to seek out the hole-in-the-wall haunts, you’ll be rewarded with a one-of-a-kind experience at Cafe Abyssinia. As the first, and one of the extremely few, Ethiopian restaurants in the city, Cafe Abyssinia invites you to dine family-style. Silverware is swapped for injera, a spongy bread that doubles as a utensil. Nibble on savory sambusa, pastries filled with beef and veggies, and dip your injera into a spiced butter sauce as you experience new flavors with new friends.
Topping the long list of must-eats in New Orleans is the famous po’ boy, a local dish made classically and creatively at Mahony’s Po-boys & Seafood. Take your pick of fried shrimp, fried oyster or fried catfish slathered in mayo, sprinkled with lettuce and topped with tomatoes. Already a po’ boy pro? Mahony’s has a few twists for you to try, such as the poor-boy with french fries and roast beef debris or the root-beer-glazed Chisesi’s ham and cheese.
Newbies to NOLA, take note: you’ve never truly experienced the city until you’ve attended a backyard boil. BOIL Seafood House invites you to sink into a bucket of crawfish, Gulf shrimp, andouille sausage, potatoes, crawfish, crab and corn – and, then, order up a plate of oysters, crawfish beignets and voodoo rice, for good measure. As unpretentious as a bottle of Abita beer, BOIL will have you making friends with the table beside you, swapping stories and sharing appetizers.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Ann Marshall-Thomas.
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 on your bucket list to exploring the best museums around or trying local specialties such as a po’ boy at these top spots.