You should expect to put on a few pounds if you’re traveling to New Orleans. This Louisiana city has become a mecca for Southern-style Creole food. And while this unique cuisine isn’t exactly healthy since nearly everything is fried, it sure is delicious.
New Orleans is a great city for all foodies–regardless of your budget. You can visit and eat amazing food at every meal no matter how much money you want to spend. There are really fancy white table cloth restaurants and cheap local chicken shacks, both with equally delicious food albeit very different dining experiences.
During our time in New Orleans, we made an effort to eat at both the nicer restaurants and the more casual spots. Every single restaurant that we ate at was incredible. As long as you stay in the French Quarter, a great meal is never more than a stone’s throw away. Read on for some of our favorite restaurants that we ate at.
WARNING: These pictures will make you hungry!
Daisy Duke’s French Quarter
Daisy Duke’s Restaurant is definitely one of the more relaxed restaurants that we ate at. The location that we visited is located centrally in the French Quarter (on Chartres Street right off Canal Street) and is an easy walk from many of New Orleans’ top attractions.
We stopped into Daisy Duke’s for a quick bite to eat after our flight got in late on a Saturday night. Since we were looking for something casual and quick, we were happy when we got seated right away. The restaurant is pretty casual, with mainly booths and high tops for seating and colorful New Orleans paintings on the walls.
The service was friendly, but it was the food that really made our experience. The gumbo was served fresh and hot with a scoop of rice and a warm biscuit. Even better, the shrimp po boy was cooked to perfection and served with a side of cajun fries. Overall, we had a really awesome experience at Daisy Duke’s and recommend it for a casual place to grab a bite to eat.
Located in a bright pink building on Royal St., Brennan’s is very popular among New Orleans natives for its delicious brunch menu and decadent desserts. It’s definitely once of the fancier restaurants in New Orleans. It’s the kind of white table cloth establishment that you get dressed up to go for Sunday brunch…and that’s exactly what we did.
Every room at Brennan’s is decorated with a different colorful style, and each room is more elaborate than the next. We were seated in the front room, which was painted light pink and had colorful patterned plates mounted all over the wall.
The food is incredible, as expected. I had the corned beef hash and nearly licked my plate clean. Everyone at our table of four was raving about their order, and the portions are the perfect size so you don’t leave feeling stuffed. We were all very happy we got the experience of eating at Brennan’s.
Johnny’s Po Boys
This retro po’ boy spot has been in business since 1950! And there’s a reason Johnny’s Po Boys is still serving up po’ boys nearly 70 years later: their po’ boys are the best in town.
The restaurant itself isn’t much, but that adds to the authenticity of the whole experience. Checked table clothes give everything a retro vibe, and patrons order their food at the cash-only front counter. Pro tip: If there isn’t seating available in the front, head to the left of the counter to a small back room with extra seating.
The po’ boys are some of the best that you can get anywhere in New Orleans (or so we were told). We ordered the fried chicken po’boy and couldn’t believe how amazing it was. The bread, the chicken, the sauce–everything was perfect. Definitely head to Johnny’s Po Boys if you’re looking for an authentic but casual dining experience.
SoBou Restaurant is stunning. The entire dining area looks like something out of a glossy magazine. It’s modern and sleek, with unique touches everywhere to make you feel as though you are dining abroad. My favorite feature was the small glass bottles spanning the wall-mounted shelves.
The menu features lots of small plates to share as well as larger main courses. We tried a bunch of appetizers, which were all incredible, but our favorite was the sausage beignets and gumbo. For the main course, the pork dish (pictured above) that we split was incredible. It was warm, flavorful and spicy, without being overbearing.
The aptly named Bourbon House is an excellent seafood restaurant located on Bourbon Street. In addition to boasting a very extensive bourbon selection, Bourbon House is also home to the National Bourbon Society. This was definitely one of the more expensive restaurants we ate at, but boy was it worth it.
Every single thing that we ate was incredible, starting with the charbroiled oysters. The special of the night was a red fish with roasted potatoes (pictured above), which was a spicy grilled masterpiece.
We also had incredible service at Bourbon House. Both our beverage server and our food waiter were very knowledgable and helpful, which really made the dining experience special. Overall, Bourbon House is the perfect restaurant to visit for a tasty seafood meal.
Willie’s Chicken Shack
Willie’s Chicken Shack is a local fried chicken chain in New Orleans that serves up some of the best fried chicken–and daiquiris–that you can get in Nola. Willie’s is a casual counter-serve spot that’s perfect for a delicious, casual bite to eat when you don’t feel like spending a ton of money.
The menu features lots of delicious variations of fried chicken, as well as some seafood options like the seafood platter or cajun fish. If you feel like something a little stronger, try the mango or green apple daiquiris.
Cafe Beignet is an institution in New Orleans. The only place more famous for their beignets is Cafe du Monde, which often has a wait time twice as long. We stopped into Cafe Beignet having never tried a beignet before, and we were so happy we did. This charming Parisian-style cafe was the perfect place to enjoy a delicious afternoon dessert.
Beignets are definitely a messy food to eat, but at $3.99 for 3 beignets, it’s worth it to have a tasty warm dessert. You will definitely have powdered sugar all over you and your table when you are done, and don’t even bother trying to clean it up. You need a wet rag to really get the job done.
For those who don’t know, a beignet is similar to a donut. The center is a warm doughy texture that isn’t too sweet. The sweetness of the beignet comes from the insane amount of powdered sugar that they put on top, which is what gives it the look of a snowball.
The Governor Restaurant & Seafood Bar
Looking for a delicious breakfast of Chicken and Waffles? Look no further than The Governor Restaurant & Seafood Bar, located on Chartres Street in New Orleans. This retro restaurant has a theme that lives up to its name, with decor and menu items all revolving around a government theme. The “ballot bloody mary” and “election day rice and beans” were two of my favorites.
We stopped in for brunch at the Governor and ordered the Chicken and Waffles. It was incredible, and served with a unique fig sauce to pour over the waffles. Served with a small bowl of fresh fruit, we were really happy that we stopped into the Governor. The food was great and the service was quick. What’s not to like?
Just two blocks off Canal Street, Saint Lawrence is a casual bar with a big kitchen and extensive drink menu. The food puts a creole and cajun twist on typical pub food. They stay open until 2 AM every day, so it’s a great spot for a late-night bite to eat.
Like any self-respecting New Orleans bar, the Saints game was on while we were there, so it was great to have a few pints while seeing the local fans cheering their team and yelling out, “WHO DAT?”.
The beer menu is quite expansive, which made us happy to have some beers we haven’t had since we were East Coast dwellers. The food menu was equally amazing since it featured some eye-catching plates such as smoked gouda mac-and-cheese, fried chicken, and a bayou cheesesteak.
The smoked gouda mac-and-cheese is something you’ll be dreaming of for weeks to come, it’s truly a cheesy masterpiece. After paying the bill, our waitress asked if we would like go-cups for our beers. Cue a resounding “Yes please!” We left Saint Lawrence with full happy stomachs and drinks in hand.
The food scene in New Orleans is reason enough to take a trip to Louisiana. Whether you try creole style foods like gumbo and po’boys or take advantage of the fresh seafood scene, every meal you eat is sure to be incredible.
We found it funny that every table we sat at had an array of hot sauces, yet the food was already plenty spicy without it. One thing that New Orleans definitely doesn’t neglect is cajun seasoning. It’s delicious–especially on cajun style fries!
If you’re a foodie like us, you’ll also want to check out the Mexican food scene in San Diego. It’s as authentic as you can get north of the border.
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