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Hey everyone, we just returned from an amazingly fun trip to New Orleans.  When you hear the name New Orleans what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  For me it’s always food, and yeah jazz also comes to mind, but let’s talk food!  When it comes to mouth watering cuisine you just can’t beat good ol’ NOLA!  New Orleans is filled with so many culinary temptations, and I’m excited to share with you our favorite eats and restaurants.

Warning: These foods below may cause serious side effects, such as clothes suddenly feeling tight and pants not zipping up.

RED BEANS AND RICE

Red Beans and Rice from Fete au Fete inside the St. Roch Market

Starting with the classic red beans and rice.  You just can’t beat this classic dish and I love how every restaurant puts their own spin on it.  This is from the St. Roch Market, a place you must visit!  Complete with sausage and a cornbread muffin it was so yummy!  St. Roch Market reminds me of a miniature version of the West Side Market in Cleveland.  Here inside the market you can find a variety of foods from Cajun to Thai food.  It’s a sure bet if you can’t decide what to eat.

SHRIMP AND GRITS

Left – Cresent City Brewhouse | Center – St. Roch Market | Right – Bourbon House

When it comes to NOLA food, shrimp and grits is #1 in my book!  Also called similar names such as barbecue shrimp with grits….it’s all good!  In my opinion if you aren’t a fan of grits then you’ve never had them prepared the right way.  I’m very passionate about my shrimp and grits and I love getting people hooked on them!  I’ve gotten my husband hooked on them and now during this trip my daughter Haley…and she doesn’t even like shrimp….haha.  When it comes to shrimp and grits in NOLA every place puts their own style and I usually love them all!  All 3 places had fabulous shrimp and grits in their own way, so you can’t go wrong.

GUMBO

Chicken Andouille Gumbo from the Gumbo Shop

Um…you can’t go to New Orleans without having some gumbo!  You can’t go wrong with any gumbo, seafood gumbo is certainly a delight but the chicken andouille gumbo from The Gumbo Shop has a cult following.  It was pretty incredible and definitely lived up to the hype.  For those unfamiliar with andouille it’s a spicy cajun sausage.  Seafood gumbo along with many other cajun classics are on the menu as well.  It’s a popular place so be prepared for a little wait during peak times, the patio is also lovely during nice weather.

JAMBALAYA RISOTTO

Jambalaya Risotto from Kingfish

The Jambalaya Risotto was another huge win.  This classic cajun rice dish can be made with chicken, sausage, or seafood with a rich spicy tomato flavor.  We stopped into Kingfish for a quick bite at the gorgeous wrap around bar.  Once inside we saw a walking food tour come inside and I knew we were in good hands!  We also had another favorite here, the boudin balls….I’ll get to those in a sec.

COMMANDER’S PALACE FAVORITES

Left – Turtle Soup | Center – Crawfish Gnocchi | Right – Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish

For years we wanted to eat at Commander’s Palace.  It was my Father-in-Law’s favorite restaurant, who visited New Orleans often.  We would hear stories how wonderful it was but we would always forget to pack for the dress code.  If there is the smallest chance you want to eat there check the dress code and pack accordingly.  Some of our favorites were the turtle soup, and yes it’s made from real turtle!  The turtle soup is a classic at Commander’s Palace and once you get over the mental block of eating turtle you realize it tastes delicious!  Another long time favorite on the menu is the pecan crusted gulf fish, the crawfish gnocchi was pretty incredible too!  The service and food at Commander’s Palace were impeccable!  Be sure to make reservations.

BOUDIN BALLS

Boudin Balls from Kingfish

Yep, this was our other delight while eating at Kingfish.  So those unfamiliar with cajun food are wondering just what the heck boudin balls are.  They’re a mix of sausage, rice, and pork.  Then rolled up, battered and fried into little balls of deliciousness often served with remoulade sauce or creole mustard.  I’m not a huge mustard fan but I still found these to be incredible!  They’re a perfect snack, appetizer, or side dish.

CRAWFISH ETOUFFEE

Crawfish Etouffee from The Gumbo Shop

There are many variations of etouffee but crawfish is definitely a classic around New Orleans.  It can be hard for tourists unfamiliar with cajun food to understand the difference between gumbo and etouffee.  Gumbo has a soupier texture and starts with a dark roux.  Etouffee is thicker and made with a light roux, and it’s shellfish based whereas gumbo can be made with a wide variety of meats.  This crawfish etouffee from The Gumbo Shop was rich and delicious.  You don’t want to miss out.  The Gumbo Shop is very popular and peak times will have a wait, but it’s worth it!

FRESH SEAFOOD FROM THE GULF

Left – Diver Scallops from Commander’s Palace | Center – Truffled Crab claws from Tableau

Right – Crab Stuffed Shrimp from Crescent City Brewhouse

Louisiana seafood is a true delicacy with flavor and quality like no other.  Minerals from 2 major fresh water rivers combined with the salt water from the Gulf creates one of the most productive natural habitats in the world, giving their seafood a unique amazing flavor.  It’s truly a seafood paradise.  All the seafood we experienced above was excellent, we especially enjoyed the truffled crab claws, which were marinated in a white truffle vinaigrette, and served chilled with black truffle shavings.  Yum.

SEAFOOD CHEESECAKE

Seafood Cheesecake from Crescent City Brewhouse

Crescent City Brewhouse is a long favorite of ours in NOLA and the seafood cheesecake did not disappoint!  We couldn’t pass up this creative starter.  This savory cheesecake is a blend of imported cheese, crawfish, shrimp, and local crab topped with crispy fried onion and bread for serving.  It was a true delight and we were tempted to order another!

PO’BOYS

Po’Boys from Mother’s 

You can’t visit good ol’ NOLA without eating po’boys y’all!  Created in 1929 these sandwich favorites come in a variety of ways and can be filled with seafood like fried shrimp or oysters and meat like ham or roast beef.  We had the fried shrimp & oyster po’boy from Mother’s.  Mother’s is very popular with locals and with the tourists.  The inexpensive counter service restaurant usually has a line out the door, but it moves pretty quick.  If you aren’t near Mother’s restaurant no worries, you can find po’boys all over the city.  Those who aren’t big seafood fans try a roast beef po’boy, my daughter devoured it so fast that I couldn’t get a picture.

ALLIGATOR

Fried Alligator from Crescent City Brewhouse

Don’t knock it till ya try it!  Louisiana is filled with gators so naturally you’ll find them on the menu at lots of places from casual to fine dining restaurants.  You’ll find there are many ways to prepare alligator but you’ll easily find it fried in many places, and fried is a great way to ease into eating it if you’re a little unsure.  Our family, including the kids, actually found gator to be pretty tasty.  Don’t feel bad about eating them either, given the chance they’d love to eat you!

BEIGNETS

Beignets from Cafe Du monde

When you think of New Orleans food I’m sure beignets come to mind.  When freshly prepared these warm soft doughy nuggets covered in powdered sugar will melt in your mouth.  Cafe Du Monde is an open air coffee shop that originally opened during 1862 in the French Market.  It’s a big hit with the tourists but I was curious where the locals went, so given the chance I chatted up with the locals about where to get the best freshest beignets.  Sure enough every answer was Cafe Du Monde, sure there are other places but nothing beats the freshly made taste here.  No trip to NOLA is complete without a visit here so be sure and plan a stop.  Just a warning the lines can get pretty long, if you ever see no lines don’t walk….run and grab a table!  If you’re in a hurry a to go line is available too.

PRALINES

Being from Texas we call them “pray-leans” but the locals say “praw-lines”.  However you say the name be sure and eat one.  You can find La Belle Creole pralines in many local gift shops around NOLA, you won’t have trouble finding them.  I had a sample and they tasted amazing, but you know me after we purchased these I asked a local are these the best pralines?  The response I got was they’re pretty good but the locals only eat freshly made ones and I was directed to Nola Sugar and Spice.  These fresh made pralines just melted in my mouth they were so good!  I can’t find a website but they’re on Yelp and the address is 237 Royal Street in the French Quarter. 

MACARONS & GELATTO AT SUCRE

If there is a macaron store around you can count on me to find it and Sucre did not disappoint!  How do you make macarons even better?  Um….pair it with gelatto which is another huge favorite in our family.  This was the cupcake flavored gelatto, with amaretto and a rich buttery flavor plus chunks of cupcakes blended in, you could say it was the most delicious flavor I’ve ever had!  With 2 locations in New Orleans and tons more creative combos to try this place is a must!

BREAKFAST AT THE RUBY SLIPPER CAFE

Left – Strawberry Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast | Right – Oysters Sardou Benedict

Breakfast at The Ruby Slipper Cafe is a must with so many creative menu options.  Like s’mores pancakes – hello!  We were lucky this was across the street from our hotel.  Get there early because wait times can get long, if you do have a wait you can kill the time by sipping on one of there very generous sized mimosas!  We’re both huge fans of eggs benedict and this version had a fun twist with a fried oyster on a buttermilk biscuit. The girls devoured the french toast and I was fighting them for bites the entire time!

DRINKS

NOLA is definitely a drinking town, and with that comes plenty of bars, pubs, and breweries.  Be sure and sample some local craft beer, those dining at Commander’s Palace will find an exciting list of creative cocktails as well as many other places.  The Hurricane (shown right) is a must have while visiting New Orleans, being served all over, but the original is claimed to be from Pat O’Brien’s.  From upscale bars to dives on Bourbon Street you won’t go to far without a drink in your hand.

So there you have some of our favorites, each time we visit we like to eat some faves and try new things as well.  New Orleans is definitely a place for foodies! Be sure to check out some of the amazing tours through Viator, they make activities so fun and easy!