FOOD: What to Eat in New Orleans

New Orleans. It’s so difficult to capture the essence of this place without going there to experience the gorgeous architecture, the live music on almost every corner and the eclectic aromas of the food. When we told people we were going to NoLa, almost everyone and their baby mamas were handing us lists of places to eat. They have their lists of best beignets, muffulettas, gumbo, jambalaya, bananas foster, shrimp remoulade, po boys and on and on and on. But what I learned from my trip to NoLa is that it’s more difficult to find a bad place to eat than a good place to eat. Even places that looked crappy were amazing! So I feel as if it’s pointless for me to tell you the best place to eat in NoLa because I honestly think it’s hard to go wrong. Instead, I’ll just share with you some of my more enjoyable meals.

On our first day, we wanted to eat things on people’s lists. So for breakfast, we had beignets and coffee from Cafe du Monde. Cafe du Monde is famed for their, well, beignets and coffee. I thought the line would be crazy long, but they are so efficient we were in and out in no time. Their waitstaff is so quick, almost like an army of robots.

Then for brunch, we went to Stanley. I was feeling fat from eating breakfast 20 minutes prior, so I just ordered a light meal of Hearts of Romaine Salad with Toasted Pesto Crostini, Parmesan Cheese and House Made Spicy Chipotle Caesar Dressing. I added the Cornmeal-Crusted Oysters and man! Have you ever had a food O? I had one then.

For dessert, immediately following breakfast and brunch, we had a snoball. See Lea’s article about where you can find snoballs in NYC. We asked where we could get the best snoballs in the area, and everyone said Uptown. Unfortunately, we never made it Uptown, so we tried snoballs from Stanley. A snoball is basically like a snow cone but the ice is finer and you can, and should, add sweetened condensed milk to get the delicious creaminess. You can also get your snoball laced with vodka!

For dinner, we wanted to class it up a bit, so we went to Cochon in the Warehouse District. Cochon is tapas-style eating.

We tried the fried alligator with chili garlic aioli, mushroom salad and macaroni & cheese casserole. Everything was solid. It was my first time eating alligator, and you know when anyone describes how different meats taste, they usually say, “tastes like chicken.” It’s so typical, but alligator really did taste like chicken.

If you’re into oysters, everyone who handed us their lists suggested ACME Oyster House. If you ever go there, let me know how it is! The line was too long, so we went to Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar right across the street. Remember what I said earlier about there being a lot of restaurants that don’t look very promising, yet are amazing? Felix’s is one of those restaurants. We had blackened alligator, turtle soup, oysters rockefeller and oysters bienville. Oysters rockefeller (bottom right) are oysters in this rich, creamy, butter-cheese sauce. You need to be hungry to eat oysters like these. Oysters bienville (bottom left) are oysters baked with a sort of sherry-mushroom sauce.

One last restaurant I’d like to mention is Palace Café, but mostly for the ambiance. On the outside, this restaurant looks a bit cheap and Las Vegas-like. But when you enter this place, it’s like you’re being transported back to the turn-of-the-century. It’s so classy and like every other place we went to in NoLa, the food was amazing.

So if you ever find yourself in New Orleans, nine times out of ten, anywhere you eat will be delicious. Once that hunger pain strikes, just walk into the closest restaurant, and I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.