Have you ever traveled to a new city just to stuff your face with all of its culinary delights? If you haven’t done so, I highly recommend heading to New Orleans and giving it a try. Crescent City is home to many things – the National World War II Museum, Mardi Gras, and parades that seem to pop up out nowhere – but its incredible, indulgent cuisine is perhaps its biggest claim to fame. Here are some must-try dishes and the best places to find them for your next trip to NoLa.
Shrimp ‘n Grits
Sure, you can enjoy a good bowl of shrimp ‘n grits just about anywhere south of the Mason Dixon Line. But the shrimp ‘n grits in New Orleans, specifically from Surrey’s Café and Juice Bar, is some of the best around. Plump Gulf shrimp rest on a bed of cheesy grits, and the entire thing is bathed in a rich, creole-style gravy. Is the addition of bacon absolutely necessary? Probably not, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Every restaurant in New Orleans seems to have its own twist on gumbo, but if you want the real thing, head to none other than the Gumbo Shop. Their thick, flavorful gumbo is made from a blend of okra, onion, celery, and carrots, and your choice of either seafood or chicken and Andouille sausage. The dollop of rice in the middle is the perfect vehicle for soaking it all up and ensuring you enjoy every last drop.
Po’ boys are one of New Orleans most customizable culinary pleasures. As long as you like fluffy French bread stuffed to the brim with toppings, you’ll probably want to try a po’ boy while you’re here. For the best selection and arguably most delicious po’ boys in the city, head to Domilise’s Po-boys and Bar. You’ll have your choice of smoked sausage, roast beef, catfish, oysters, and more. For the full experience, be sure to order yours “dressed” – that is, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and pickles.
Po’ boys don’t corner the market on amazing sandwiches in New Orleans – just ask the folks over at Central Grocery, who serve up the best muffuletta in the city to an enormous line of people every single day. This hearty Sicilian sandwich is packed with ham, salami, mortadella, and provolone cheese, and is topped with a briny olive salad that cuts the richness of the meat nicely. But it’s definitely not for the faint of heart: one should reasonably expect to take down just a ¼ of a sandwich in one sitting, so consider sharing with a friend (or three).
While eggs Benedict is far from a New Orleans-only specialty, the Ruby Slipper Café has turned this brunch delight into a truly decadent dish. Offering variations that include pulled pork, gravy-smothered fried chicken, or corned beef hash, you’ll probably have a tough time deciding which one to try. But Ruby Slipper has you covered: The Peacemaker allows you to mix and match your Benedicts. And like any respectable Big Easy establishment, they offer plenty of boozy breakfast cocktails to get your day started right.
Does it seem crazy to fly to another city just to eat a bowl of shrimp ‘n grits or a giant po’boy? One taste of NoLa cooking, and you’ll completely understand.