What to Eat in New Orleans? 12 Best Local Food To Try in New Orleans

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor October 5th, 2021 Posted in North America Travel Blog, Restaurant and Recipes, Travel Blog No comments

Nothing is more exciting than having a taste of a country’s authentic dishes. And this local food in New Orleans is not an exception.

If you will ask, “What is US’ staple food?” Most of the world population will answer fast food such as burgers, hot dogs, etc. But you have to know that every district in the US also has its signature dishes. This is also applied for the Louisiana district, especially New Orleans City.

Best Local Food in New Orleans
João Francisco

New Orleans, which is located on the Mississippi River, has abundant ingredients to make its cuisine rich and special. With the inhabitant of French and Spanish a hundred years ago during the colonialism period, New Orleans cuisine was also influenced by those countries’ cuisine. Here we have a list comprising 12 best local food in New Orleans that you should try while you’re visiting this city.

1. Po-Boys

Best Local Food in New Orleans
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Discussing New Orleans’s most popular food, Po-Boys might be on the number one of the list. This is a sandwich-type of a dish that uses classic French bread. The original Po-Boys were using beef, but nowadays fried seafood is more popular to use as the filling on the sandwich. This is because New Orleans’s location is on the coast and there are abundant seafood resources.

A sandwich is not complete without French fries, and Po-Boys French fries is quite unusual. The fried potatoes just paired with sauce and spices on the French bread loaf. The meat was dressed with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and pickle. Po-Boys is an inexpensive dish, so anyone can afford to buy it and it has a savory taste.

The best place to get Po-Boys is in the French-Quarter area, New Orleans. There are so many choices, you can find Po-Boys started from the street food stalls to high-end restaurants. All of those places offer their Po-Boys signature that will never upset your tongue.

2. Muffaletta

Best Local Food in New Orleans
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Another type of sandwich popular in New Orleans is Muffaletta (read it as muff-uh-LOT-uh). Although this dish was invented in New Orleans, it got influence from Italian cuisine. The meat used to make Muffaletta usually is ham and salami. This meat then combined with provolone cheese, olive-based dressing, and wedged in between great bread. The dressing was made from minced green and black olives with olive oils, onion, and other spices.

It was said that Sicilians inhabiting New Orleans since the 19th century. They invented this dish with an authentic Italian dish recipe and modified it with the available ingredients in New Orleans. You can get the best Muffaletta in the Central Grocery that is still serving the original Muffuletta recipe on Decatur Street. Other restaurants also provide this dish on their menu. It won’t be hard to find Muffaletta in New Orleans.

3. Gumbo

Best Local Food in New Orleans
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Seafood dishes are an obligation when you’re in the coastal area. One of the most popular seafood local food in New Orleans is Gumbo. And since Louisiana loves their Gumbo, natives made Gumbo as State Official Dish in 2004. The most common ingredients to make a Gumbo is crawfish and shrimp, and you can find this recipe on Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine.

Gumbo is one stew that uses thick and strong-flavored stock to cook meat or shellfish. Spices such as celery, onions, and paprika added on the stock. This is usually eaten along with white rice. Gumbo usually also cooked along with okra or filé powder. There are some types of Gumbo, those are:

  • Creole Gumbo that contains shellfish and a dark roux file. Sometimes both of the ingredients added together at the same time. The traditional Creole Gumbo also contains tomato in it;
  • Cajun Gumbo is made from shellfish or fowl and added with sausage or ham and vegetables. To make the best Cajun Gumbo needs at least 3 hours to perfecting this dish;
  • Gumbo Z’herbes is a Gumbo that using less meat and cooked with the technique of slow-cooked greens.

4. Red Beans and Rice

Best Local Food in New Orleans
Photo by Kent Wang CC BY 2.0

Red beans and rice dishes might be the Latin America staple dish, but New Orleans also consumes this dish as much as Latin Americans. Locals usually enjoy it to overcoming their Monday blues and eat it along with bacon and eggs.

The most important thing to make this dish is its preparation. Ham, sausage, or pickled pork is placed in the chamber along with red beans and seasoned with bay leaves, cayenne pepper, and sage. All of this mixture was placed on the stove for several hours until the spices were absorbed perfectly by the meat. But this type of cooking can be varied since every household has their signature recipes to make the best red beans and rice that suited their taste.

5. Jambalaya

Best Local Food in New Orleans
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Jambalaya had been New Orleans’ staple food since the Spanish Colonialism hundred years ago. This dish was invented when the Spanish in New Orleans wanted to duplicate their signature dish Paella but then modified it since the available ingredients were different. Using the same main ingredient, which is seafood, New Orleans style Paella formed, and they named it Jambalaya.

Nowadays not only seafood was made as to the main ingredient of Jambalaya but also chicken or sausage. Sometimes even the combination of chicken, sausages, and seafood was used at the same time. This dish was seasoned with peppers, onions, and other spices and also added some kinds of vegetables.

6. Barbecue Shrimp

Best Local Food in New Orleans
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As long as you didn’t have seafood/crustacean allergy, you can enjoy this dish with no worry. Although it named barbecue, it’s not grilled as any other barbecue was supposed to be. It’s more like sauteed shrimp in butter sauce.

This dish made with a lot of butter and shrimp cooked with it still has its shell, so when you eat it you have to use your bare hand. Though it has a heavenly flavor, it’s not suited with the formal occasion since the way to enjoy it isn’t too elegant for the occasion.

7. Crawfish

Best Local Food in New Orleans
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What is your spring favorite dish? Whatever it is, you can add crawfish to your favorite local food in the New Orleans list. The most common way to serve crawfish is by boiling or steaming and served along with other carbs such as corn.

There are so many places in New Orleans that provide this menu this season. Let’s say Cajun Seafood, which is located in 1479 N. Claiborne Ave. This place is the locals’ favorite restaurant to enjoy their crawfish. When you want to come here, you have to know that this place usually has a long wait on Saturday afternoon.

8. Beignet

Best Local Food in New Orleans
Photo by Peter Burka CC BY-SA 2.0

The name of Beignet is the Frech term for a pastry made from deep-fried Choux pastry. At a glance, the dough of the Beignet is similar to doughnuts but the way to process it is quite different. This dish is one of the most common breakfast menus in New Orleans and it served along with sugar powder on top and enjoy it while it is still fresh and hot.

In the 18th century, French colonists brought the recipes to New Orleans and invented the Beignet that we know now. Nowadays there are various types of Beignet, such as the Beignet that made from banana, plantains, or berries. The most popular place in the city is Café du Monde.

9. King Cake

Best Local Food in New Orleans
Photo by syvwlch CC BY 2.0

A beautiful cake that used to celebrate the festival of Epiphany at the end of Christmas or pre-Lenten celebration of Mardi gras/Carnival in New Orleans is the King Cake. This is another evidence of French’s existence in New Orleans since this dessert was brought to the city from France in the 19th century. 

This cake usually formed in an oval-shaped and crossed between a coffee cake and a French pastry, topped with glazed sprinkle sugar. It has a moist texture and rich flavor. Some places also made it with cinnamon to enrich the flavor on the cake or even add filling such as fruit paste or cream to make it more special.

10. Pralines


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The combination of nuts, chocolate, and sugar always produces a tasteful dish. Praline or Pecan candy is one of those delicious combination dishes. This is a chocolate biscuit that was brought to Louisianan by French during the 19th century. The original recipe was using pecan but New Orleans chef substitutes it with almond and modified it with adding cream to thicken the confection.

Besides New Orleans Praline, there are two other types of Pralines, that is Belgian Praline and French Praline. While the New Orleans one is softer, creamier, and resembling fudge, Belgian types are using luxurious Belgian chocolate as an ingredient and more liquid, and French types are firmer compared to the other two.

11. NOLA Beers


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One of the biggest and most popular breweries in New Orleans is NOLA or New Orleans Lager and Ale Brewing Company. The brewery was located in a converted warehouse building at the corner of Tchoupitoulas Street and it is offering 6 types of beers.

This brewery started to operate in 2009 and provided beer in most of the Southeast US bars and groceries.

12. Ramos Gin Fizz


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Ramos Gin Fizz or also called Ramos Fizz or New Orleans Fizz is a cocktail made from gin, cream, egg white, soda water, orange flower water, fresh lemon and lime juice, and sugar or syrup. This combination then shakes vigorously for 10 seconds before you can drink it. Locals usually enjoy it as a breakfast drink and it’s best served with ice.

It’s said that Ramos Fizz was invented in the 19th century by Henry Ramos. The bar which Ramos used to invent this drink became the most famous bars to taste this cocktail, and it’s named Meyer’s Restaurant. There was no recorded history to prove this theory, but you can still enjoy this drink as it is.

That was the local food in New Orleans that we can compile to be listed and hoping it can help you to decide on the menu that you want to try here. So, which one of that local food in New Orleans would you try for the first time? Tell us your opinion!​

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at [email protected]