After a hectic summer season, my husband and I treated ourselves to a short 4-day trip to The Big Easy, also known as New Orleans! Here is a foodie’s guide to New Orleans, showcasing our favorite dishes and experiences for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in The Big Easy! (Update: Lots of readers have mentioned to us that we stuck with the traditional spots, but keep in mind this was our FIRST TIME in New Orleans and we wanted to go with the classics before discovering the trendy!)
Traveling has become our way to explore new cities, where we basically just eat as much as we can for as long as we are on vacation. We’re culinary travelers, seeking out the best meals in town. In St. Louis, we discovered craft beer brewing and in Chicago, we walked our way through the city, eating for three hours straight on a food tour. Of course, New Orleans would be no different, so without further ado, here are our top favorites!
The Court of Two Sister’s, a known establishment on Royal Street, serves a Jazz Brunch EVERY DAY for 9:00am to 3:00pm! So whether you’re an early bird or a late riser, you’ll have the opportunity to sit down and grab some brunch while relaxing to the sounds of the jazz band playing. Voted as the Best Outdoor Dining and Best Brunch/Breakfast, we can only nod in agreement. As you walk through the restaurant, you have the choice of indoor or outdoor seating, but if the weather permits (and in New Orleans it normally does!) sit outdoors and enjoy the sights and sounds.
Start your meal off right, (heck you’re in New Orleans!), so order up a Mimosa or Bloody Mary and then slowly make your way over to the brunch. Grab a plate and serve yourself up with Cajun Corn Salad (don’t miss it!), a selection of cheeses, and a small bowl of their Turtle Soup Au Sherry. This is your first round, so slow down! After you’re down with the cold selection, turn around and grab a second plate: jambalaya, creamed spinach, hash browns, gumbo, and cornbread are awaiting! If you’d like to go the more traditional route, ask your server for Eggs Benedict or a stack of Pancakes. End your meal with a slice of King’s Cake or a bowl of Bananas Foster and you’ll be ready to take on the day!
Cafe du Monde, a New Orleans staple and one that should not be missed, can be done at any time during the day. We loved waking up and starting our day with a cafe au lait and three warm, fluffy and utterly ethereal beignets. Oh and don’t just think Cafe du Monde is only a breakfast thing; stop by during the afternoon of a quick pick me up! Pick up some of their coffee to take home and if you’re like me, a coffee cup as well!
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, was by far, hands-down, THE best lunch we had. Not only was the food amazing, but we had the opportunity to meet and chat with the queen of Creole cooking herself, Mrs. Leah Chase. The restaurant opens at 11am for a lunch buffet (they also have an a la carte menu), that we definitely recommend. Mrs. Chase is KNOWN for her amazing fried chicken and oh was it amazing. Crispy and so moist, this was a fried chicken to write home about. Served up with local specialties like cornbread dressing, rice and beans, fried sausage, green beans and potatoes, glazed sweet potatoes, and a delicious peach cobbler as dessert, it was a lunch we will always remember.
Bayona, by Chef Susan Spicier, was the place were we had the best Shrimp and Grits on our entire trip! The restaurant sits right across the street from the Dauphine Hotel, where we stayed (more about the hotel in a later post!). Barbecue shrimp, pimento cheese grits, and smothered greens made this one of our favorites of the trip. Also, be sure to check our their non-alcoholic beverage selection, great drinks!
Cafe Adelaide, part of the Commander’s Palace restaurant group, was our last lunch in New Orleans and we started it off at the bar with a few drinks. They make a mean Sazerac, so be sure to grab one! If there’s on thing you need to order at Cafe Adelaide, it’s the Shrimp and Tasso Corn Dogs.
Commander’s Palace, is a must while you’re in New Orleans. Located in the Garden District (just a cab ride away from our hotel, the Dauphine Orleans), we arrived for dinner on our second night in NOLA. Stepping into Commander’s Palace is like literally stepping back in time. A legend since the 1800’s, it’s become an establishment where chefs and locals flock to for a special meal. Chef Tory MacPhil stepped out of this kitchen to greet us and talk about the history of the restaurant (he’s been there for the past 12 years!). One of our favorite dishes was a classic, the Wild Louisiana white shrimp with tasso ham, pickled okra, sweet onions, 5 pepper jelly, and Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc (shown below). Dazzling everyone on the cover of Saveur April 2013, you can find the recipe here.
Criollo at The Monteleone, is housed inside the luxurious Monteleone Hotel. The cuisine at Criollo is inspired by the Creole cuisine of Louisiana, using local seafood and produce, showcasing traditional recipes. When we saw the indulgent “Shellfish COO-BE-YON” on the menu, we knew we had to order it! Packed with Grilled Grouper, Gulf Coast Shrimp, Louisiana Blue Crab, and Diver Scallop, served with Creole Tomato- Fennel Broth and Citrus Linguini, this was a dish that screamed freshness and flavor. Not only was the food great, but we had one of the best Sazerac’s of our trip at this restaurant. Their cocktail list showcases classic drinks of the city, which you must order. Oh and leave room for dessert – order the bread pudding.
Borgne, a collaboration between Chef John Besh and Brian Landry. How awesome is it that they both grew up fishing on Lake Borgne and ended up creating Borgne Restaurant, which celebrates Louisiana seafood. Our last dinner in NOLA, Chef Brian Landry completely took care of us and didn’t even let us order from the menu. He slowly brought out dishes that best represented the restaurant and his way of cooking, letting us indulge. I tasted one of the best shrimp croquettes I’ve ever had and M. loved the perfectly cooked Black Drum with luscious brown butter, pecans, and jumbo lump crab, as one of the entrees. Oh and below is pictured a salad of apple, mach, and pistachio brittle that blew our minds! Hands down one of our favorite meals of the trip. “When people ask where in New Orleans to go for great local seafood, I want the answer to be Borgne.”– Brian Landry, Executive Chef
New Orleans is a city that we fell in love with; with the people, the food, the streets, and its culture. It’s a city that instantly captured our hearts, as we both turned to each other and said “Can we move to New Orleans?!”. Someday honey, someday.
Disclaimer: We paid for our travel, hotel, and most food, but a couple restaurants, museums, and events were covered for by the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Basically, we got some freebies here and there, but as always, this post is 100% our own and we only share what we loved. Now go visit New Orleans, it’s seriously awesome. Now go Follow Your NOLA!