What to Eat in New Orleans – NOLA Favorites

This post may contain affiliate links. (Disclaimer here).

Are you wondering what to eat in New Orleans? There are endless opportunities to sample the local cuisine. New Orleans has some of the best creole and Cajun foods so whether you are looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, here are 7 must-try dishes in New Orleans!

1. Beignets

Fried Beignet served at Cafe Du Monde.

Beignets are believed to have originated in France. It is a popular food in New Orleans and the most well-known places to eat beignets are Cafe du Monde and Cafe Beignet. Some would even say there is a rivalry of sorts (just as Chicago and New York are rivals with pizza).

Beignets are made from a simple dough of flour, water, sugar, and yeast. The dough is fried in oil until it is golden brown, and then it is sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Beignets are typically served for breakfast or as a dessert. However, it is a popular street food in the US and can be eaten at any time. The insides can be puffy with large holes, or very doughy, depending how the recipe. Some versions are covered with chocolate.

2. Muffaletta

The exact origin of the muffuletta is unknown, but it is believed to have been created in the early 1900s by Salvatore Lupo, the owner of Central Grocery in the French Quarter. Lupo was a Sicilian immigrant, and he is said to have created the sandwich as a way to use up leftover meats and cheeses.

The muffuletta is a large sandwich made with salami, ham, provolone, and a finely chopped olive salad on a large round sesame seed roll. You can order them in grocery stores and delis within the different neighborhoods of New Orleans. The sandwich is hearty and is a tasty meal for lunch or dinner.

READ NEXT  What to do in London on a weekend

3. Gumbo

Different rice and gravy options served on a plate.
Southern trio with Gumbo

The stew originated in Louisiana and is considered to be one of the state’s signature dishes. The roux is a mixture of flour and fat that is cooked until brown. The ingredients include a perfect balance of celery, onions, and bell peppers. One of the main ingredients is okra, which is also a common ingredient in West African stews.

It is believed that this ingredient traveled to the state from that country. Get a taste of the genuine and authentic cuisine that New Orleans has to offer by trying a cup. Gumbo is served at most restaurants and should not be missed!

4. Jambalaya

Jambalaya a rice dish served on a plate.

Jambalaya is a rice dish that originated in Louisiana, home to St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the United States.

Made with rice, meat, sausage, and vegetables, the exact origins of jambalaya are unknown, but it is believed to have developed from a combination of African, Spanish, and French culinary traditions.

There are many different variations of jambalaya, but the most common types are chicken, shrimp jambalaya, and crawfish jambalaya.

Occasionally, andouille sausage is added, but everything is cooked with vegetables, rice, and seasonings. You may find some variations of this dish made with pasta instead of rice, and it is just as delicious.


Some restaurants in New Orleans offer a combination meal of their best dishes that include favorites like Jambalaya, Crawfish Etoufee, and Gumb. This is a great way to try several dishes and share them as an appetizer.

READ NEXT  What to Eat in London: 7 Iconic Dishes to Savour in the Capital

5. Shrimp & Grits

This dish is great for any meal. The grits are a breakfast dish that is made with hominy, a type of corn that is treated to remove the hull. Over time, the dish evolved to include shrimp which are plentiful in the area because they are near the gulf.

There are many different variations of shrimp and grits, but the basic dish consists of creamy grits topped with sautéed shrimp and a flavorful sauce.

Some popular variations include adding bacon, sausage, or andouille sausage to the dish. Shrimp and grits can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and it is a delicious and satisfying dish. The creamier the grits are, the better they taste!

6. Grilled Oysters

Fried Oysters and salad served on a plate.
Fried Oysters and Oyster Poboy

Seafood, especially oysters are a must-eat when visiting NOLA! Because of the freshwater that flows from the Mississippi River into the Gulf, the oysters are plentiful and full in body with less salt content.

Grilled oysters are made by placing oysters on the half shell on a hot grill. The oysters are typically grilled for a few minutes per side, or until they are slightly charred and the flesh is cooked through. Grilled oysters can be served with a variety of toppings, such as butter, lemon, cheese, or spices.

7. Crawfish

Display of various dishes like shrimp and grits, Jambalaya, Crawfish on table.
Southern Food

Crawfish are a staple in New Orleans and the harvesting of these freshwater crustaceans is a major industry in the state. The taste is somewhere between a shrimp and a lobster and they are slightly salty.

READ NEXT  Visiting Eilat: Quick trip to Israel's Southern-most Tip

The crawfish are typically boiled in spiced water and then eaten with their tails dipped in butter. You can also find them boiled in other flavors like beer or lemon. They are used in a variety of other dishes, such as crawfish etouffee, crawfish pie, and crawfish pasta.

In conclusion, New Orleans is a city with a rich culinary history, and there are many delicious dishes to try. From beignets and gumbo to crawfish and jambalaya, there is something for every taste. If you are looking for a truly unique dining experience, be sure to try some of these signature dishes!

Bio: Tanya from Travels and Treasures

Tanya from Travels and treasures
Tanya from Travels and Treasures

Tanya Taylor is a freelance writer and content creator who has lived in Chicago for over 40 years. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her managing IT projects at a global financial services company and discovering new places to visit for vacation. She loves coffee and creating itineraries that are scenic, inspiring, and a bit spontaneous. You can find more travel content on her blog at Travels & Treasures or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Other posts you might like

Pinterest Images of Jambalaya served on a plate and buffet of New Orlean's delicacies.
Pinterest images of Gumbo and Fried Beignet.

Leave a Comment