Creole cuisine is a fusion, unique in the New Orleans area, of French, Spanish, West African and Native American cuisine. It was also influenced by later immigrants from Germany, Italy (particularly Sicily) and elsewhere. Perhaps more than anywhere else, New Orleans is a city full of iconic dishes. Po' boys, jambalaya, gumbo and beignets: these dishes define the city's cuisine and culture for the outside world.
Many are also part of the identity and history of a restaurant, such as the herbal gumbo at Dooky Chase or the turtle soup at Commander's. Invented in Louisiana during the 18th century, the word “gumbo” comes from the term “gombo”, an African word that means okra. This southern dish takes the form of soup or stew and can be prepared with a variety of meat or fish, although the base of the basic roux, okra or fillet powder remains constant. Considered Creole cuisine, the dish combines the traditions and ingredients of various cultures of the world, such as West Africa, France, Spain, Germany and the Choctaw, a Native American people native to the land that is now Louisiana, and is representative of the diversity of people who have come to form the Louisiana tradition.
Meat-based gumbo may include chicken, duck, squirrel or rabbit, while crab, shrimp and oysters would be the standard ingredients for the seafood variety. The large number of ingredients and the preparation time needed for the dish make many choose to do it in bulk and, therefore, enjoying a pot of gumbo is usually a social occasion. The origins of Jambalaya are related to the arrival of the Spanish in the New World. The high import tax on saffron led to the development of creative interpretations of paella, initially replacing the beloved spice with juicy tomatoes in typical Spanish food.
With the growing influence of French-speaking groups in New Orleans, Caribbean spices were introduced into the recipe, moving it away from their ties with Spanish and transforming it into their own dish. Like paella and gumbo, its rice base can be complemented with a variety of ingredients; favorite options include beef, pork, chicken, duck, shrimp, oysters, crabs and sausages. Creole jambalaya, the version normally made in New Orleans, includes tomatoes, while Cajun jambalaya, from southwestern and central Louisiana, does not. According to food historian John Eggerton, in Gonzales, Louisiana, the homonymous capital of Jambalaya, the number of recipes equals the number of households in the city.
New Orleanians consider themselves experts on oysters; enjoy them fried, grilled, or raw. Those who know how to ask for raw oysters to be opened in their presence, preferably while sitting on a marble countertop. There are differing opinions as to whether they should be eaten on their own or topped with a mixture of ketchup, pepper sauce, horseradish and lemon juice. Other recipes are Oysters Bienville, half-shell oysters topped with shrimp sauce, cream and cheese, or Oysters Rockefeller, flavored with wormwood and topped with spinach.
Red beans and rice have a long history as New Orleans' quintessential Monday meal. In an earlier era, Mondays were usually a day for cleaning the house and women prepared this simple dish by letting the beans cook while they were busy doing laundry and other tasks. Beans were usually flavored with ham from the previous night's meal. Although this tradition of cleaning on Mondays has long since expired, many families and restaurants are still celebrating the first day of the work week with this tasty and easy to prepare dish.
Nowadays, red beans and rice are usually accompanied by sausage or pork chops. This is where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico, so people have easy access to fresh and saltwater fish and seafood. Shrimp, crab, oysters, and crab are common ingredients in New Orleans food. When it comes to New Orleans food, one dish that always comes to mind is jambalaya.
This is a spicy one-pot dish with rice and a mix of andouille sausage, chicken, and shrimp. There is both a Cajun and Creole style of jambalaya, which depends on the use of tomatoes. You'll usually find Creole jambalaya in New Orleans, which uses tomatoes. But if you were to travel to other areas of Louisiana, you'll find Cajun-style jambalaya, which doesn't incorporate tomatoes in the recipe.
Both styles use the “holy trinity” of onions, celery and peppers (usually green). Garlic is also used in jambalaya, as is a wide range of condiments such as cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, and more. This could be the quintessential New Orleans dish, since it's found all over the city. Some of the best places to eat jambalaya in town include Mother's and New Orleans Creole Cookery.
Spring is crab season in the Big Easy. Going to boil crabs is a must if you visit this time of year. Boiled crabs are usually served together with corn and potatoes, making it a very filling and satisfying meal. There are countless options for boiled crabs in New Orleans.
Some places cook it every day, while others cook it with furuncles just once a week. One dish that always appears on the lists of the best food in New Orleans is the crab étouffée, which comes from the French word for “suffocate”. In fact, bed bugs are covered with a roux (a mixture of butter and flour) along with spices. We've already talked about some of the best foods in New Orleans for a hearty and filling meal.
Take a short break from all the seafood and spices to satisfy your sweet tooth with classic NOLA beignets. These delicious pastries were introduced by the French hundreds of years ago and are definitely high on New Orleans' famous food list. Square-shaped pastries made from fried dough, beignets are known as donuts without a hole. Once they are hot and ready, the beignets are sprinkled with powdered sugar.
They are best eaten hot and fresh, especially combined with a cup of coffee with milk. No New Orleans food list would be complete without red beans (26% rice). Simple, hearty and delicious, this is a local favorite. .
Legendary musician Louis Armstrong loved it so much that he signed the lyrics “Red Beans & Ricely Yours”. Rice with red beans (26%) was traditionally prepared on Mondays with pork bones left over from dinner the night before. This made dinner easy to prepare while they took care of household chores, such as cleaning and laundry. These days, you can enjoy 26% rice red beans any day of the week.
As with many classic New Orleans dishes, most locals will tell you that the best version comes from their mother's kitchen. If you're only going to travel here, some popular places to eat 26% rice red beans are Joey K's, Mother's, and Coop's (who's only 21 or older). No two gumbo pots are the same, as the options are endless when it comes to preparing this hearty stew. Almost any type of meat or seafood can be used in gumbo.
Once again, New Orleans food shows a melting pot of influences with gumbo. You have roux from France, okra from West Africa, sassafras from Native Americans and sausages from Germany. Many outsiders confuse gumbo and jambalaya, as the dishes are a bit similar. The main difference is that gumbo is served with rice, while rice is cooked with jambalaya.
Both have so many different ingredient options that the options are truly endless. Gumbo is on the menu all over the Big Easy, but some of the best places to try it are Gumbo Shop, Sr. When you need to satisfy your sweet tooth in New Orleans, be sure to try Bananas Foster. Of course, Brennan's is still the ideal place to sample this famous New Orleans food.
So far there have been a lot of French and Spanish influences in this post, but we have to thank the Italians for the next one. The muffuletta is a giant sandwich made on a sesame seed roll. It is filled with several different sausages, cheese and olive dressing. Olive dressing consists of chopped green and black olives together with onions in olive oil and spices.
A cupcake is usually served cold, but many places will toast it if you want the cheese to melt. The name of the sandwich comes from bread, originally from Sicily. Central Grocery was the first place in town to serve muffulettas, and it's still the best place to try this famous New Orleans food. Other popular places for this delicious sandwich include Cochon Butcher and R&O's.
A whole cupcake is quite large, so you might want to take half or share it with a friend. Last but not least, on our list of the best food in New Orleans is the famous King Cake. The name refers to the three kings of the Bible, who arrived with gifts for the baby Jesus on the 12th night. I'm sure your belly is booming and your mouth is watering, and you're ready to book that flight to the Big Easy to start tasting the best food in New Orleans.
These 10 must-try dishes will definitely help you start exploring NOLA's culinary scene. As a result of the mix of people and cultures in New Orleans, there are numerous tasty foods you should try. Easily confused with snow cones, but with a completely different texture, the New Orleans version uses fluffy, finely shaved ice made with a specific machine. Whatever filling you choose, get ready for a delicious sandwich and a great example of famous New Orleans food.
Whether it's to grab a quick bite at a deli store with a hole in the wall or sit down to a 3-course meal at a fancy restaurant, you'll love exploring New Orleans. Louisiana native Tee Eva (short for Aunt Eva) began selling empanadas and chocolates in a small rented kitchen in New Orleans in 1987. Native to the first Italian communities of New Orleans, bread is filled with mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, provolone and olive salad. The French influence on New Orleans food is clear once again, as the po' boys are served on a baguette-style loaf of bread. If you're not in New Orleans during Carnival season, you can still buy a King Cake at Adrian's Bakery, as they make them all year round.
This classic dessert was created right here in NOLA in the 1950s at Brennan's restaurant, which is also one of the most popular places to sample famous New Orleans cocktails. Raw oysters served in half a shell are popular throughout the South, but grilled oysters are a distinctive specialty of New Orleans. As the first African-American woman to successfully own and operate her own praline business in this city, Loretta Harrison won the hearts of New Orleanians with her charm and sweet treats. One of New Orleans' most famous delights, Café du Monde's version of square, cloud-shaped doughnuts filled with powdered sugar, is worth visiting the original one in the Neighborhood.
The following guide describes where to find the most emblematic food in the city, in some cases because it is its birthplace, such as Foster at bananas and Rockefeller oysters, and in other cases because it is simply one of the best versions you can try. .