We are still reeling from all the amazing food in New Orleans.
First, bring multiple pairs of stretchy pants. Because I had ONE pair, and it was my pair for traveling back and forth in…and not warm enough for the cold snap that greeted us, anyways! Thank goodness for my lycra infused high-waisted skinnies because I needed the extra wiggle room-but didn’t need my belt by the end of the week!
Second, Yelp is not super helpful here. I feel like most places have 3-4 star ratings, and it’s not always indicative of how good the food actually is. It’s a little disappointing, mainly because I was on a mission to eat as much good stuff as possible, with a smaller appetite. So, we didn’t have time to waste on mediocre meals!
It’s no secret that NOLA is known for cajun and creole specialties like gumbo, jambalaya, étouffée, crawfish concoctions, pralines, bread pudding, and fried alligator…to name a few.
We tried to cross all of these off our lists, and we had a great time doing it!
Our first meal in NOLA was at The Gumbo Shop.
I had my first daiquiri of the trip (fun fact, my dad took me for my first strawberry daiquiri in New Orleans when I was like, 5 years old. Virgin daiquiri of course, but this was my proper reintroduction), and was not disappointed!
Sean had a Sazerac, arguably the first cocktail in America, derived here in New Orleans. I ordered gumbo and a crab cake appetizer!
Sean ordered a combo with jambalaya, red beans and rice, and shrimp creole.
We capped off the meal with desserts; a praline sundae for Sean and bread pudding with whiskey sauce for me!
Next morning, we met up with our friends Nanette and Sean for brunch at The Country Club, where we all ordered equally delightful meals, and proceeded to share them all across the table. I ordered from the “sides” to create my own meal of fried green tomatoes, cheese grits, and bacon.
Sean got a shrimp and rice dish, and we tried a Pimms’ Cup cocktail for the first time! Refreshing….and dangerous! Nanette got an amazing crab cake Benedict.
This was also an introduction to Boudin rice/meat balls that are fried.
They had a killer Mac and cheese starter with bacon, too! We left full and happy!
I also loved the decor at The Country Club! Apparently, they recently underwent a huge makeover, and I’m obsessed with the wall art and the cool mermaid installation in the restroom!
In warmer weather, there’s a pool in back surrounded by lush Palms and crisp white chairs, just waiting for a cool dip and a cocktail poolside!
That afternoon, we stopped by Cafe Beignet for a little something to tide us over before we went on a Steamboat dinner cruise. Cafe Beignet was just a block or so away from our hotel on Royal Street, and I’d argue the beignets are better than the ones at Cafe du Monde. Yeah, I said it! 3 piping hot beignets freshly sprinkled with powdered sugar, a hot cafe au lait….I was living the dream.
We actually ended up back here AFTER the steamboat cruise (as the food was terrible there), and several times throughout our trip! They make great breakfast sandwiches and omelettes, and we would go grab a bite on early mornings before we would start tours!
We met up with Nanette and Sean again later in the week for breakfast at Bearcat Cafe before heading out to Whitney Plantation, and it was one of our faves on the trip. I debated over what to order so long, and thankfully Sean ordered the Cat Daddy Biscuit I’d been eyeing, so I got the brisket hash!
His was better….but still. Our friends got the Chai Pancakes (not pictured) and the Cat Momma Biscuit! Again, our meals made a pass around the table, and we tried way too much (but not enough) deliciousness!
They also had an impressive menu of espresso drinks and juices!
Later that day, we headed to Deanie’s Seafood and I opted for a salad and small cup of Gumbo, but got the worlds largest Caesar salad! Sean ordered, of course, more shrimp!
That night, we headed to Bourbon Street, and in an effort to not be completely obliterated by whatever drinks were in my future, I insisted we stop at Willie’s Chicken Shack we’d kept seeing. It was surprisingly fresh and tasty, and the perfect spot for people watching!
The next day, we headed to Oceana Grill for breakfast at and shared “Maw Maw’s Cajun Breakfast” with was basically bits of bacon, shrimp and chicken all scrambled with eggs! It was gigantic, and I was so glad we decided to share!
We also tried an order of alligator tails, and we opted to do half blackened, half fried in order to try the best of both worlds. Alligator tastes like chicken, by the way. Tails are supposed to be less gamey, but I couldn’t vouch for the alternative. I have had alligator sausage before, which I thought tastes like kielbasa!
I also had a frozen Irish coffee with Baileys and Jameson…and I don’t know how I lived to tell the tale!
Later that afternoon, we headed on a French Quarter cocktail tour, and needed a good meal to soak that up (more on that on the next Installment of the NOLA Travel Guide series)! We left the quarter and headed to Zea’s Rotisserie a few miles away, and it was a great meal! We started with Duck empanadas!
I got a rotisserie half chicken while Sean opted for a rotisserie combo with chicken, pork, and beef.
For the chicken, they offer it with an original rub, or you can opt for a pesto version, and another as well. I got the OG version, and Sean went for the pesto. Both were delicious! I chose cabbage and roasted potatoes for my sides, and Sean went for red beans and rice and macaroni and cheese. That cabbage was almost as good as my Auntie Elsie’s, and if you’ve had hers, you know that’s a high honor!!
If you’re a fan of fancy confections, you want to make sure you stop by Sucrè for beautiful and delicious macarons and chocolates. They even serve brunch here! It’s an adorable shop, with macarons in flavors like lavender honey and salted caramel. We also had delicious wedding cake chocolates, shaped like little white three-tiered cakes.
Side note: wedding cake flavored sweets are definitely a thing in New Orleans, and I’m here for the almond-flavored deliciousness.
At some point we also made a late night dessert run to Bakery Bar in the Garden District, and Sean had a praline cheesecake, while I opted for a slice of caramelized pineapple layer cake. We also tried a couple of their great cocktails. They have books and board games galore, with subtle lighting and just the right ambiance for dessert with your fiancee or catching up with friends! I’m glad we ventured over there!
We had to make the obligatory run to Cafe du Monde, and while the beignets were pretty disappointing-heavy and dense-the coffee doesn’t disappoint. We headed to their company store up the street and shipped home several cans of their coffee (its under $7 a can there, versus at the stores around the city or ordering on Amazon) and beignet mix! I didn’t realize they were open 24 hours, and we were lucky to go on a rainy day, which explains the lack of long lines and the ease of finding a small table. It’s a must on your list, but maybe make sure they give you fresh beignets!
Another amazing breakfast was had at Cafe Fleur de Lis on Chartres St, just a few blocks over from our hotel. Amazing pecan pancakes, a killer creme brûlée oatmeal, great fried green tomatoes, and even shrimp and grits for Sean!
Also, a great coffee/espresso menu, and friendly service! We really enjoyed it! So much, so we spent our last two breakfasts there!
We were in for a real treat when we were introduced to SoBou as the first stop on a Walking Food Tour with took with Dr. Gumbo’s tours. Our guide, Lindsay, was so amazing! She knew so much about the history of the city and the origins of its most popular foods. We started here with a cocktail (all of which were delicious), and tried the house made pork rinds, a killer apple and sausage beignet, and duck croquettes!
We actually went back on our last day before heading to the airport to try all three of these items again, and we tried the gumbo and pork cheek tamale, too!
I was on the hunt for awesome, fresh pralines the whole trip, and Leah’s Pralines delivered! These treasures are in a cute little shop full of goodies, and we even tried some of the chocolates they make there, too. It’s a shop run by women for generations, and you can feel the love
and authenticity (and sugar rush) there!
Nola PoBoys is the New Orleans I was looking for! A killer Muffaletta sandwich, and a great fried catfish poboy! We learned the origin of the Po’boy here, and how a couple of men began making these simple sandwiches (and they were much simpler back then) to feed to workers who couldn’t afford food, and how the bread was especially created for this sandwich. You’ll always be asked if you want it “dressed” with mayo, tomato, lettuce, and pickles! Just say yes. Also, the bread for the Muffaletta sandwich is likely what pulls together that pile of lunchmeat and cheese and olive salad (I mean, I like one variety of Italian olive and I can’t even refute the fact that this olive salad is an essential part of the sandwich) is the buttery, round, seedy bread it comes on. It was truly delightful! Apparently, they have a location in Texas, too! And um…we ate these too fast for me to get a photo! My bad?
Tujagues is the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans, and also houses the oldest standing bar (there’s literally never been a stool there) in America. It’s got a colonial charm and we tried some brisket with a creole cocktail sauce, and it was zesty and delicious!
We capped off the day at Tableau, with a cup of seafood gumbo in the bar on the second floor of the restaurant. It was definitely in the Top 3 of the gumbos we tried on this trip, with the best being the one Nanette made for us at her home for the Monday night Saints’ game.
There are over 1400 restaurants in New Orleans, and we didn’t even get to hit most of the ones recommended to us by friends! But with some local guidance, some walking around, following smells, and being a little adventurous, we came across some true gems to hit when we go back, and a list of others to try!