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What to eat and drink when in New Orleans and Louisiana

Here are some of the culinary specialties, with Cajun and Creole influences, that you can find in Louisiana and New Orleans.

Écrevisses vapeur

The cuisine found in Louisiana reflects its festive and vibrant nature, with its colorful and spicy accents.

Like its history and culture, Louisiana is in a class of its own when it comes to gastronomy.

It’s a mixed cuisine, in contrast to what you’ll find elsewhere in the United States.

A cuisine of many influences

The various influences that have shaped New Orleans and Louisiana are also reflected in the dishes: European, African and West Indian inspirations.

Cajun and Creole cuisine is also rich in ingredients, from spices to meat, fish and vegetables.

Cajun or Creole cuisine?
In a nutshell, Cajun cuisine is that of the Acadians who came to Louisiana.

Creole cuisine, meanwhile, reflects the definition of the term Creole, a blend of European, West Indian and African influences.

Grilled oysters

Chez Cochon's grilled oysters in New Orleans, a real treat - Louisiana culinary specialties

While I usually eat my oysters raw, the ones served in Louisiana when I was there were so meaty (and huge) that I don’t think I could have eaten them any other way than cooked.

And so much the better, because here, the art of charcoal or wood-grilling oysters has been mastered.

Every restaurant has its own recipe, and it’s a delight every time.

Whether the oysters are served with tomatoes, garlic butter, chili or pancetta, parmesan and lemon, they’re the best!

Not to be missed in New Orleans: Chez Irene ‘s and Chez Cochon, and in Houma, Restaurant Cristiano.

A word about oysters Rockefeller: Rockfeller oysters were invented at Chez Antoine restaurant.

This restaurant is an institution, and just about every guidebook recommends it.

In my opinion, unless you really want to check this place off your to-do list, you can skip the visit.

It was the only time during our entire stay that we were not welcomed and that we ate the least well, and at a very high price.

Otherwise, the place is indeed very beautiful, with an old-fashioned charm linked to the city’s history.

If you go, ask for the restaurant tour after your meal – it’s well worth it.

The Po-Boys

Chez Johnny's Po-Boys, New Orleans

A contraction of the words Poor Boy, this is a compound sandwich:

  • of white underwater bread,
  • sauce (often mayonnaise, but not always),
  • a cooked ingredient (breaded shrimp, chicken strips, roast beef, pastrami, crab, oysters, alligator, etc.),
  • and garnished with lettuce, tomato and gherkin.

We’re not talking haute cuisine here, but the sandwiches are good and hearty (very! one sandwich is enough for 2 people).

Po-Boy with popcorn shrimp at Johnny's Po-Boys, New Orleans. If the po-boy's garnish overflows onto the plate, it's a success.

If the po-boy’s garnish overflows onto the plate, it’s a success.

In New Orleans, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating good po-boy’s.

Don’t miss the pastrami and Creole mustard at Napoleon House, or the shrimp popcorn at Johnny’s Po-Boys.

The muffulatas

Muffulata and Pimm's at Napoleon House

The muffulata is New Orleans’ other iconic sandwich.

Served warm or cold, muffulata is made with cold meats, mozzarella and a salad of olives and other ingredients (carrots, chickpeas, capers, etc.).

I loved the one served hot at Napoleon House, with the cheese a little melty (a quarter is enough, and they also offer the muffulatta as a salad with the house vinaigrette, which is to die for).

The sandwich at Central Grocery is also worth a try, especially as the olive salad is prepared on the premises.

Spicy white pudding

Cajun black pudding

A Cajun specialty, boudin is a sausage made from different cuts of pork with onions, rice, garlic and spices.

Each shop has its own recipe, and boudin can be enjoyed on the go, for lunch or as a complete meal. You can now find seafood puddings, smoked puddings, etc.

For fans, don’t miss the Cajun Boudin Trail, a gourmet itinerary that lists the best boudins.

Crawfish étouffée

Crawfish etouffee

A great favourite of the trip! Etouffee is made with scaled crayfish and a tasty spicy sauce, served over rice. A real treat.

If you’re visiting Avery Island, you’ll want to stop off at the restaurant adjacent to the Tabasco factory.

The crawfish etouffee is succulent (and cheap), not to mention the crawfish nachos!!!

Crawfish boil

3 pounds of crawfish to shell, there's nothing there!
In Lafayette, just before attacking my 3 pounds of crawfish!

Another Louisiana classic: steamed crawfish. But deconstructing them requires a certain skill, although the taste is well worth it!

You can compare your speed with that of the regulars, who peel everything off neatly and quickly, while chatting away.

There’s no need to look for a fancy place to eat it, as there are several small shacks open in season that offer good eats.


Jambalaya - Louisiana

Jambalaya is an emblematic Louisiana dish that perfectly embodies the essence of the Cajun and Creole cuisine of this southern region of the United States. Jambalaya is an explosion of flavors that harmoniously blends African, French and Spanish influences.

Basically, jambalaya is a slow-cooked rice stew with a mixture of spices, smoked sausages, shrimp, chicken or pork. The secret lies in the way these ingredients blend together to create a symphony of tastes and textures. Louisiana’s music and cultural festivals are the ideal place to enjoy this traditional dish, but you’ll also find it in local restaurants.


Gumbo from the Gumbo Shop in New Orleans

Gumbo is found in both Creole and Cajun cuisine, with slight differences between the two. It’s a simmered rice dish with vegetables, seafood or meat. They often include gumbo (okra), which gives the broth a thick texture, but not always.

If you’re not sure you’ll like it, order the smaller portions as appetizers or side dishes rather than the main course.

Beignets (Doughnuts)

Café du Monde doughnuts

These beignets are no lightweight!

Still, they’re excellent with coffee, freshly prepared while they’re still hot and the sugar on top is melting a little.

But I warn you, you’ll want to take a nap afterwards, especially if you eat all three portions.

Café du Monde is the (tourist) institution to order from, but if it’s too crowded, Café Beignet is an excellent alternative.


Another sweet to discover, pralines are a blend of cane sugar and pecans.

The taste and texture are reminiscent of creamed sugar.

You can find them everywhere, and many companies manufacture them.

Banana Foster

Banana Foster

Bananas Foster, created in New Orleans, is a unique dessert that captures the city’s vibrant culinary spirit. This indulgent treat features ripe bananas sautéed in a rich blend of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and dark rum, all flambeed to create a stunning spectacle. Served over creamy vanilla ice cream, it offers a delightful contrast of hot and cold, sweet and boozy flavors.

What makes Bananas Foster a must-try is not just its delicious taste, but also the captivating tableside preparation.

Bread pudding

Bread pudding at Napoleon House
Bread pudding at Napoleon House

Bread pudding is the unofficial dessert of New Orleans.

Pieces of bread, eggs, sugar and milk make up this cake, enhanced with a rum syrup. Yummy!


Le Sazerac

New Orleans means cocktails! Among those to try are :

The Sazerac: The official cocktail of New Orleans, this is one of my favorites.

It consists of Sazerac (a rye), Herbsaint (a herbal liqueur reminiscent of absinthe), bitters and simple syrup.

Where to enjoy one: In New Orleans, the Hotel Roosevelt’s Sazerac Bar is the place to go.

It’s a little more expensive than elsewhere, but it’s the best sazerac in town and the decor is well worth it.

For a good deal, try Domenica, one of the hotel’s restaurants right next door, which offers cocktails (including sazerac) and pizzas at half price during Happy Hour from 3pm to 5pm. Great for an aperitif and an early supper at a good price.

To find out all about Sazerac, don’t miss a visit to The Sazerac House.

Pimm’s : Made with Pimm’s No. 1, simple syrup, lemon juice and a slice of cucumber.

The Hurricane : This cocktail of fruit juice (passion fruit, orange, lemon), grenadine, rum and crushed ice can be enjoyed at Bar Pat O’Briens, which has a magnificent courtyard and is the instigator of this Louisiana cocktail.

Mint Julep: A typical South American cocktail, this drink with fresh mint, bourbon, water, sugar and ice is perfect on a hot day.

And the list could go on and on… Yes, New Orleans and Louisiana are a great destination for gourmands!


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