Gourmet Guide to the Best Food in New Orleans
The best food in New Orleans is quite possibly all the food in New Orleans. With a blended legacy rich in Southern soul food, spicy French Cajun, saucy Creole and extraordinary seafood, the best food in New Orleans has a little bit of each and a whole lot of everything.
Not unlike gumbo and jambalaya, the character of New Orleans cuisine is a happy blend that celebrates the influence of all the cultures that have impacted the region throughout its history. So much fusion of tradition is bound to result in culinary innovation.
Did you know that the best food in New Orleans includes several favorites invented in the region? The po’boy sandwich, oysters Rockefeller and bananas Foster all sprang from the imagination of chefs creating culinary magic in New Orleans through the decades.
With so much to explore, how do you find the very best of the best food in New Orleans? We’ve compiled a starter’s guide for the best places to find true New Orleans creations that top our list as the best food in New Orleans.
Jump to Section
- The Best Way to Explore New Orleans Food
- Best Po’Boys in New Orleans
- Best Beignets in New Orleans
- Best King Cakes in New Orleans
- Best Gumbo in New Orleans
- Best Seafood in New Orleans
- Best Muffaletta in New Orleans
- Best Jambalaya in New Orleans
- Best Pralines in New Orleans
- Best Étouffée in New Orleans
- Best Bananas Foster in New Orleans
The Best Way to Explore New Orleans Food
Without a doubt, finding the best food in New Orleans is an excursion worth taking. Since New Orleans is very much a walking city, why not schedule one of several food tours in New Orleans to make sure you find all the hidden jewels scattered throughout NOLA?
New Orleans tours are a great way to sample local cuisine while soaking up the incredible architecture and learning from an expert about the heritage, history and long-surviving character of one of the greatest cities in the U.S. You’ll explore neighborhood hotspots, warm and cozy restaurants, mom n’ pop eateries and more — it’s truly the best way to learn where the best food in New Orleans lies so you can get started trying it all!
If you prefer your search for the best food in New Orleans to be a self-guided adventure, try the amazing restaurants, grills and diners below to find beignets, étouffée, jambalaya and more, all waiting for you around every corner.
Best Po’Boys in New Orleans
1. Domilise’s Po-Boys
The hundred-year legacy of Domilise’s may be long, but the menu gets straight to the point: overstuffed po’boy sandwiches loaded up with the very best of fillings, including hot smoked sausage, roast beef, catfish and more. If you’re committed to finding the best food in New Orleans, this is a tremendous place to start.
Domilise’s Po-Boys | 5240 Annunciation St., New Orleans, LA 70115 | $
2. Parkway Bakery and Tavern
First opened in 1911, Parkway has represented the best people as well as the best food in New Orleans by operating 24 hours a day to feed factory workers in the early years and offering free food to union members while on strike. Their offerings include a po’boy studded with French fries, one named after James Brown and one featuring alligator sausage. It doesn’t get more New Orleans than that!
Parkway Bakery and Tavern | 538 Hagan Ave., New Orleans, LA 90048 | $
3. Killer PoBoys
With their skull-and-cross-baguette Jolly Roger logo and their no-frills dining room, this sly diner celebrates the culinary diversity of the American South by filling their po’boys with Waygu beef, pork belly, chicken confit — and sweet potato! You can’t sample the best food in New Orleans without stopping in for a bite here.
Killer PoBoys | 219 Dauphine St., New Orleans, LA 90048 | $
Best Beignets in New Orleans
4. Café du Monde
An iconic locale steeped in Louisiana tradition as well as beignets loved the world ‘round, Café du Monde has been serving up some of the best food in New Orleans since 1862. Their version of the powdery, pillowy French confection can be sampled with their proprietary blend of coffee and chicory, an authentic hot beverage served black or au lait. You can also buy beignet mix and canned coffee to take the flavor of New Orleans magic home with you!
Café du Monde | 800 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70116 | $
5. Café Beignet
You know you’re in for a real treat with a café bold enough to feature the best food in New Orleans as part of its name! Beignets are the shining star atop a rich menu that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner options, as well as a full cocktail listing. Feel free to grab a few orders and linger awhile.
Café Beignet | 311 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 90048 | $
Taking a savory angle on the beloved classic, Katie’s offers a crawfish beignet filled with cheese, peppers and onions that sounds like a southern comfort food dream come true. There’s a version with shrimp too, proving you’ll never run out of exciting options when it comes to exploring the best food in New Orleans!
Katie’s | 3701 Iberville St., New Orleans, LA 70119 | $$
Best King Cakes in New Orleans
7. Haydel’s Bakery
King cakes are a holiday tradition beyond New Orleans, but they’ve become so connected with Mardi Gras that pop-up shops will open specifically for king cake season. Luckily, Haydel’s operates year-round, so you can always sample one of the best foods in New Orleans.
You can order the traditional ring-shaped king cake in a variety of flavors and fillings such as strawberry, German chocolate and praline pecan, all decorated with the hallmark green, gold and purple sugar crystals shining like glitter on a crown. And they ship their delicious creations worldwide, so this best food in New Orleans can come straight to your door.
Haydel’s Bakery | 4037 Jefferson Highway, New Orleans, LA 70121 | $$
8. Joe Gambino’s Bakery
Who doesn’t love having options when they order their king cakes? At this historic bakery in the Metairie area of New Orleans, you can choose from a single king cake or a multipack, with single- and double-filling versions available. They even carry a creamy rum beverage that tastes like a “king cake in a glass” for die-hard king cake lovers. When the best food in New Orleans is this sweet, you know you’ll be back for more.
Joe Gambino’s Bakery | 4821 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, LA | $$$
This bakery offers delicious king, queen and Kringle cakes featuring a choice of fillings, complete with the hidden baby figure inside to crown the fortunate finder Mardi Gras royalty. With vibrant decorative takes on the traditional colors and covered in decadent frosting, the best food in New Orleans is also some of the most exciting to experience.
Antoine’s | 3030 Severn Ave. Suite 8, Metairie, LA 70002 | $$
Best Gumbo in New Orleans
10. Mr. B’s Bistro
Savor the country-style gumbo ya-ya at Mr. B’s. Loaded with chicken and andouille sausage, this sure-to-satisfy mix of roux, meats and vegetables forgoes the seafood elements for a version of gumbo that inspires those who taste it to search for the recipe. High praise indeed for some of the best food in New Orleans.
Mr. B’s Bistro | 201 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70130 | $$$
With a history dating back to 1918 and a legacy of serving quality Creole cuisine as a flavor of the best food in New Orleans, Arnaud’s has been a four-generation family restaurant for 40 years. They offer some of the most satisfying gumbo in the region. Try both country- and seafood-styles for a double-dose of authentic Louisiana flavor.
Arnaud’s | 813 Rue Bienville, New Orleans, LA 70112 | $$$$
12. Restaurant R’evolution
For a more contemporary version of traditional Creole gumbo, why not give this swanky cocktail bar and restaurant a try? Their take is titled “Death by Gumbo,” and it’s filled to the brim with oysters, roasted quail and andouille. It certainly sounds like a trip to heaven, and if you’re going to indulge in the best food in New Orleans, you might as well go in style.
Restaurant R’evolution | 777 Bienville St., New Orleans, LA 70130 | $$$$
Best Seafood in New Orleans
13. Pêche Seafood Grill
The best food in New Orleans is often served with a good twist, and Pêche serves up a delicious one. A combination of Spanish and South American culinary style with a fair helping of Gulf Coast cooking thrown in for good measure, this James Beard award-winning restaurant features unique live-fire fish and seafood samplings in every course except dessert.
You’ll find much to love on their bar and wine menus as well — a bit of spirit to go with your unforgettable New Orleans seafood!
Pêche Seafood Grill | 800 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130| $$$
14. GW Fins
Opened in 2001, this New Orleans seafood joint’s philosophy is that “nature writes our menu,” meaning daily changes to dishes that range from lobster dumplings to fried calamari to ceviche and more.
And it isn’t just Gulf Coast catches you’ll enjoy here; their selections are culled from around the world, with delicacies such as Alaskan king crab making seasonal appearances. A delicious international take on the best food in New Orleans.
GW Fins | 808 Bienville St., New Orleans, LA 70112 | $$$
15. Deanie's Seafood
Deanie’s is a local favorite, the first New Orleans seafood and fish market in the Bucktown fishing camp area along Lake Pontchartrain — and now a partner in the preservation of Louisiana’s wetlands. Their overstuffed offerings of crab meat nachos, BBQ oysters and peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp make the best food in New Orleans feel like a seafood festival any day of the year.
Deanie's Seafood | 841 Iberville St., New Orleans, LA 70112 | $$
Best Muffaletta in New Orleans
Some of the best food in New Orleans comes in the form of giant sandwiches. At this Italian bistro in the French Quarter, that means loading a full loaf of Italian bread with every filling imaginable — including stuffed artichokes and lasagna — and dubbing it the Frenchuletta. It’s a dining extravaganza not to be missed by muffaletta fans…but maybe you should bring a friend to share it with!
Liuzza’s | 3636 Bienville St., New Orleans, LA| $$
17. Napoleon House
The walls of this rustic historic eatery carry the charm and patina of its legacy, dating back to the mid-1800s. Enjoy their specialty Italian muffalettas or a more whimsical muffaletta salad. While you’re there, soak in the sounds of opera and classical music for an immersive regional experience while you enjoy some of the best food in New Orleans.
Napoleon House | 500 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 90048 | $$
18. Cochon Butcher
When you want a sandwich brimming with fresh meat and deli selections, you can’t do any better than a visit to a butcher. And since Cochon’s prime cuts present some of the best food in New Orleans, you know their muffalettas are bound to be a festival. Served with olive salad on a Sicilian roll, this delicious creation will remind you of the magic in a well-made sandwich, New Orleans-style!
Cochon Butcher | 930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130 | $$
Best Jambalaya in New Orleans
19. New Orleans Creole Cookery
With vegetarian and pasta variations available, the jambalaya served in this winsome nook is some of the best food in New Orleans. And of course, there’s the traditional version, loaded with sausage and chicken smothered in rice and spiced up with authentic Cajun seasonings.
New Orleans Creole Cookery | 510 Toulouse St., New Orleans, LA, 70130 | $$
20. Mother’s Restaurant
For 81 years, Mother’s has been serving up some of the best food in New Orleans in the form of Jerry’s Jambalaya, a magical brew of ham, sausage, beans and debris gravy, named for the bits of meat that end up in the sauce. It’s a hearty blend, and if you love it so much after you try it that you can’t wait to enjoy it again, you can always whip it up in your own kitchen with the recipe on their website! A dictionary of Mother’s specialized cooking terms is included.
Mother’s Restaurant | 401 Poydras St., New Orleans, LA 90048 | $$
21. Café Maspero
The not-so-secret ingredient of penne pasta adds a bit of Italian flair to the sweet Gulf shrimp and spicy smoked sausage in Café Maspero’s gourmet take on a Creole classic. Served with garlic bread for an extra kick, the best food in New Orleans wears its blended international flair with pride.
Café Maspero | 601 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA, 70130 | $$
Best Pralines in New Orleans
22. Loretta’s Authentic Pralines
For an authentic Southern sweet that turns fresh ingredients into a magical chewy treat, you can’t do better than Loretta’s pralines. Thirty-five years of experience in two locations serving the best food in New Orleans pretty much makes her the praline queen. Order some souvenirs and gift baskets for friends back home or have them sent to your house for enjoyment after the good times slow their roll!
Loretta’s Authentic Pralines | 2101 North Rampart, New Orleans, LA 90048 | $
23. Southern Candymakers
The relative new kids on the praline scene, this confectionary has become beloved in the French Market since opening in 1992. They offer other treasured candies such as turtles and toffee, but their signature praline is among the best food in New Orleans and makes them worth a visit when you’re in the area.
Southern Candymakers | 1010 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA, 70116 | $
24. Mister Apple
This sweetshop is a candy-covered wonderland that offers a unique take on the praline with a praline-coated caramel apple studded with pecans and wrapped in sugary goodness. They also offer traditional pralines to tempt your sweet tooth. There’s even an Apple of the Month club that brings the best food in New Orleans to your home for praline apple enjoyment all year long.
Mister Apple | 201 N Peters St., New Orleans, LA 70130 | $
Best Étouffée in New Orleans
Horn’s is a fun family dining experience that offers a full array of traditional eats. Their menu boasts world-famous butter-based crawfish étouffée that uses traditional trinity, a rustic blend of celery, bell pepper and onion. It’s available by the plate in the restaurant, or you can order it by the quart for catering or pick-up, which means the whole crew can enjoy the best food in New Orleans, even if they aren’t onsite.
Horn’s | 1940 Dauphine St., New Orleans, LA 70116| $$$
26. Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Don’t let the name fool you…it may say “oysters” but if étouffée tops your list of the best food in New Orleans to try, you’ll find a version that customers claim to be the best they’ve ever had. And if you fancy a full-blown New Orleans experience, you can enjoy live music while you dine and soak up the unique, vibrant atmosphere that abounds in the French Quarter.
Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar | 739 Iberville St., New Orleans, LA 70130 | $$
27. Oceana Grill
Oceana was voted a Top 10 U.S. restaurant for everyday dining, and with their rich menu of seafood treasures, it’s easy to see why. Put them on your list when you’re looking for étouffée during your search for the best food in New Orleans and you’ll find a no-nonsense version served with steamed rice for a culinary adventure you’ll remember forever.
Oceana Grill | 739 Conti St., New Orleans, LA 70130 | $$
Best Bananas Foster in New Orleans
In 1951, restaurant owner Owen Brennan made a special request of his sister, Ella Brennan, and head chef, Paul Blangé: The request was to whip up a banana dessert for visiting friend and chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission, Richard Foster. Born that day was the sinfully sweet indulgence beloved by everyone looking to sample the best food in New Orleans.
The original "world-famous" bananas Foster at Brennan's smothers bananas in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and rum before being flambéed tableside and topped with local vanilla bean ice cream — the perfect sweet ending to any meal.
Brennan's | 417 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70130 | $$$
29. Ruby Slipper Café
If you find yourself enjoying brunch at Ruby Slipper Café, you'll be smitten with the inviting, laid-back atmosphere. You'll also be smitten with their mouthwatering bananas Foster pain perdu; a decadent pile of French bread French toast topped with raisins and rum-flambéed bananas. When it comes to the best food in New Orleans, there's no place like home.
Ruby Slipper Café | Multiple Locations | $$
30. The Court of Two Sisters
The Court of Two Sisters is one for the history buffs, sitting pretty on a property with centuries of steep ties to local history. It's one for the dessert buffs, too — Two Sisters' bananas Foster swaps rum for brandy and banana liqueur before being flambéed tableside. A heaping helping of vanilla ice cream completes the picture.
The Court of Two Sisters | 613 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70130 | $$$
It’s no mystery why New Orleans is home to some of the best-loved dishes in the world, not to mention dozens of iconic New Orleans drinks. The culinary magic here is undeniable, and with such a deep history to draw from, the best food in New Orleans makes the entire city a traveler’s dream and a foodie’s peak adventure.
If you’ve never experienced the best food in New Orleans, or you’re looking to check a few items off your New Orleans food bucket list, there’s no better reason to plan a voyage and dive into the delicious depths for yourself. Be prepared to return time and again to sample and savor everything; you’ll be hard-pressed to fit a taste of all the best food in New Orleans in one trip!
For even more ways to explore exciting cuisines, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.