New Orleans' Most Famous Foods and Where to Try Them

Kaylee Giacomini

New Oreans is a city brimming with exciting nightlife, arts, culture, and of course - food. No trip would be complete without sampling a bite of Jambalaya or some classic gumbo. The Big Easy is a gastronomic paradise featuring cuisines from all over the world. Some dishes have served the test of time and still appear on restaurant menus and in family kitchens from the banks of the Mississippi to Lake Pontchartrain. I’ve lived in New Orleans for two years now and with the help of local friends curated a list of some of the best restaurants to try the city’s most iconic dishes.

Dooky Chase Restaurant, Parkway Bakery & Tavern, Cafe Du Monde French Market, Mother's Restaurant, Gambino's Bakery, Brennan's, Gumbo Shop, Aunt Sally's Pralines, Napoleon House, Hansen's Sno-Bliz, Drago's Metairie, The Court of Two Sisters, Dat Dog, Chef Ron's Gumbo Stop

  • Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans, United States

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      Gumbo: Gumbo is a roux based stew typically featuring a variety of meats, seafood, and served with rice. It can be found year-round, but is particularly in season when the temperature dips below 70 degrees in the winter. The best place to try gumbo in the city is at Dooky Chase. Dooky Chase’s food is so nationally recognized that two US presidents have visited the establishment, however it stays true to its roots and has the no-frills feel of entering grandma’s kitchen. Leah Chase - former chef at the establishment was nicknamed the “Queen of Creole Cuisine” for her artistic cooking abilities.

  • Parkway Bakery & Tavern in New Orleans, United States

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      Po'Boys: Parkway has been serving Po’Boys for over a century, and there’s a reason that this Mid City eatery has been open for so long. All sandwiches come overstuffed with simple options that leave a lasting impression. Try their BBQ shrimp Po’boy, the classic roast beef, or my personal favorite - the fried oyster. The answer to “dressed” is always yes.

  • Cafe Du Monde French Market in New Orleans, United States

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      Beignets: There is a contested debate in New Orleans over the best beignet. Some side with Cafe Beignet, but my personal favorite will always be Cafe DuMonde. At times the line can span an entire city block due to their notoriety. My advice: get there early, take your order of beignets and chicory coffee to go, and enjoy the sweet, pillowy donuts on the riverwalk.

  • Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans, United States

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      Red Beans & Rice: Red Beans and Rice is traditionally eaten on Mondays in New Orleans. The dish is as simple as it sounds, yet is by far one of my favorite things to order when I see it on menus. The best place to try it is at Mother’s. Mother’s has the homestyle feel of a family inviting you over for supper, and the food is just as good. They stick to tradition and simmer the beans with a harmonious array of seasonings all day before serving it with rice and smoked sausage.

  • Gambino's Bakery, United States

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      King Cake: King Cake is particularly popular during Mardi Gras season which spans from the Catholic holiday Epiphany on January 6 until Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in February or early March. I could write an entire list on the best places to get King Cake, but Gambino’s is my favorite. They have the classic featuring a doughy brioche cake, the perfect amount of glaze, and of course the traditional green, gold, and purple sprinkles on top.

  • Brennan's in New Orleans, United States

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      Bananas Foster: There are plenty of places to try bananas foster in the city, but Brennan’s is the original. For over 100 years they have been flaming this tableside and serving it a la mode. The resulting dessert is composed of fresh flambeed bananas with notes of cinnamon, brown sugar, and rum.

  • Gumbo Shop in New Orleans, United States

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      Jambalaya: Jambalaya is a rice based dish that is made with a tomato or roux base, a variety of fish and meats, and always smoked sausage. The Gumbo Shop never disappoints. This hole-in-the-wall French Quarter restaurant is so good that they are also high on my list for best red beans and rice, po’boys, and gumbo. Go with a group and share plates, and be sure to try their bourbon bread pudding to cap off the meal.

  • Aunt Sally's Pralines in New Orleans, United States

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      Pralines: Pralines are something that I will typically bring to my family as souvenirs whenever I go North. They are sweet, toffee-like cookies with a base of brown sugar, butter, and pecans. Plenty of stores in the French Quarter sell boxes to go, but Aunt Sally’s is the best. I prefer creamy pralines to chewy, but both varieties are outstanding.

  • Napoleon House in New Orleans, United States

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      Muffuletta: Muffuletta was invented in the famous Central Grocery and Deli at the turn of the century by Italian immigrants. Hurricane Ida in 2021 temporarily shut the business down, so until they reopen The best place to try Muffuletta is at the Napoleon House. The Napoleon house serves the traditional sandwich composed of Italian meats, provolone, and olive salad toasted - most leave it cold. Wash it down with a Pimm’s Cup and enjoy the century old establishment that was built to house exiled Napoleon Bonaparte.

  • Hansen's Sno-Bliz in New Orleans, United States

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      Sno-Balls: Sno-balls are an iconic summer time treat in the city, where temperatures tend to remain around 85-100 degrees in July and August. Sno-balls are cones of shaved ice with a variety of flavored syrups to choose from. My favorite: tart satsuma or the classic peach.

  • Drago's Metairie, United States

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      Chargrilled Oysters: Chargrilled oysters were invented at this establishment in 1993. Although one of the most recent New Orleans dishes to reach icon status, these oysters pack a significant punch. Fresh oysters are grilled to reach a smokey taste with touches of garlic butter and fresh herbs. There are a few Dragos locations, but the one in Metairie is the original and does it best.

  • The Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans, United States

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      Turtle Soup: The first time I saw turtle soup at a restaurant, I was skeptical to say the least. Yet when it appeared on the Court of Two Sisters’ tasting menu I knew I had to try it. The roux based stew has an array of unique flavors and only small bits of turtle for the faint of heart (like me). The soup is served with a small pour of sherry wine on top to brighten the flavors.

  • Dat Dog in New Orleans, United States

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      Gator: Gator can be found all over the Southern United States, yet New Orleans does it best due to their expansive swamps and culinary expertise. It is served all over the city fried and grilled, but I personally like gator sausage the best. Dat Dog has the best that I’ve found. This gourmet hot dog joint serves gator sausage with a range of topping choices from Crawfish Etouffee to sauerkraut.

  • Chef Ron's Gumbo Stop, United States

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      Crawfish Etouffee: Crawfish Etouffee is a roux based stew of sweet crawfish meat and a hearty gravy filled with a depth of seasonings. The best place to try it is Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop. From the outside you can’t tell that this award winning establishment is one of the best places in New Orleans; it’s located in a strip mall. However the food and service is outstanding.