20 Absolute Must-Try Dishes To Eat in New Orleans

20 Absolute Must-Try Dishes To Eat in New Orleans

If you want to visit an American city that has the most amazing food bursting with flavour, there's no better place to visit than New Orleans. This city, renowned for its rich cultural tapestry, can also offer you an unparalleled culinary journey. In New Orleans, food isn't just about eating, it's about celebrating life and history. From the busy streets to the extravagant dining rooms, let's take a look at 20 of the best, must-try dishes that New Orleans has to offer.

1. Gumbo

When you think of New Orleans dishes, none stand out more than the quintessential gumbo. It's a hearty stew that truly exemplifies the melting pot of cultures in the city. It features a delicious roux, a variety of meats or seafood, the "Holy Trinity" of onion, bell pepper, and celery, and is often served over a steaming bowl of rice.

Shrimp Gumbojons2 at pdphoto.org on Wikimedia Commons

2. Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a flavorful, one-pot Creole dish, bursting with spices, meats such as chicken and sausage, and seafood. It's a versatile dish that combines European, African, and Native American influences, simmered together to create a meal that's both comforting and exciting. It's an absolute must-try in New Orleans if you ever get a chance to visit this beautiful city.

Mmm... Jambalaya - 14287665779jeffreyw on Wikimedia Commons

3. Po' Boys

With a fun-to-say name, the Po' Boy is an iconic New Orleans sandwich. Typically stuffed with fried seafood like shrimp or oysters, or even roast beef smothered in gravy, it's then served on toasted French bread and dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise. It's everything you could ever want in the perfect sandwich! Each bite will transport you to another world, giving you a taste of the local history and flavour.

1024Px-Mahony's Po-Boys Uptown New Orleans March 2016 - Roast Beef Po-Boy With OnionsInfrogmation of New Orleans on Wikimedia Commons

4. Beignets

When it comes to a sweet treat in New Orleans, there's no dish more iconic than the beignet, the official state doughnut of Louisiana. These light and fluffy pillows of fried dough are generously dusted with powdered sugar before being served, making them unbelievably tasty. They're best enjoyed with a café au lait at a classic New Orleans café!

Beignets At Pastis (15057250578)Jun Seita on Wikimedia Commons


5. Crawfish Étouffée

Now that sounds fancy, doesn't it? Crawfish Étouffée is a luscious, spicy dish of crawfish smothered in a thick sauce with the Holy Trinity (onions, bell peppers, and celery) and served over rice. It's a dish that embodies the soul of Louisiana's cooking, offering a taste of the bayou in every spoonful.

Crawfish Etouffee At Fleur De LisGary J. Wood on Wikimedia Commons

6. Red Beans and Rice

Traditionally cooked on Mondays using Sunday's leftover ham, Red Beans and Rice is a staple in New Orleans cuisine. It's very simple, but so so hearty and filling. This beloved dish is flavored with andouille sausage and the Holy Trinity, making it a delicious everyday dish.

1024Px-Dmacs Monday Red Beans And Rice New Orleans June 2018Infrogmation of New Orleans on Wikimedia Commons

7. Muffuletta

The Muffuletta sandwich, originating from the Italian community of New Orleans, is a round sesame bread filled with layers of marinated olive salad, cheeses, and various cured meats. It's an incredibly hearty meal that reflect the city's amazing cultural background.

Muffuletta From Cochon Butcherthe foodhoe on Wikimedia Commons

8. Shrimp and Grits

Here's another iconic New Orlean's dish - Shrimp and Grits. It's a dish that combines creamy, buttery grits with spicy, seasoned shrimp, creating a delightful Southern classic. This dish showcases the simplicity of Southern cooking, elevating humble ingredients to something truly extraordinary.

1024Px-Shrimp And Grits At The Green GoddessJason Riedy on Wikimedia Commons

9. Bananas Foster

Created in New Orleans, Bananas Foster is a decadent dessert featuring bananas caramelized in a sauce of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum. Often flambéed and served over ice cream, it's a dish that certainly won't disappoint. You'll want to have seconds for sure.

Bananas Foster - 11167449754rulenumberone2 on Wikimedia Commons

10. Chargrilled Oysters

If you love seafood, you're going to fall in love with this one. Chargrilled Oysters, a New Orleans specialty, are freshly shucked oysters grilled over an open flame with a rich topping of butter, garlic, and herbs. This dish, often enjoyed with a crisp white wine, perfectly encapsulates the city's love for fresh seafood and bold flavors.

Chargrilled OystersDJC1970 on Wikimedia Commons


11. Dirty Rice

Don't be fooled by its name, dirty rice is absolutely delicious! Dirty Rice is a classic Creole dish that gets its name from the appearance imparted by the mix of ground meat and spices. It's a flavorful combination of rice, chicken liver, green bell pepper, celery, and Cajun seasoning, offering a rich and hearty taste of local tradition.

1024Px-Vegan Dirty Rice And Veggies (4628578426)Vegan Feast Catering on Wikimedia Commons

12. Turtle Soup

Compared to the more homely flavours listed already, turtle soup is a luxurious dish found in upscale New Orleans restaurants. It is a unique culinary experience after all - can you say you've tasted turtle before? Made with snapping turtle meat and seasoned with Creole spices, sherry, and often served with a lemon slice, this soup is a rich and complex one, giving you a true taste of what New Orleans cuisine can offer.

Black Bean Soupnewton64 on Wikimedia Commons

13. Boudin Balls

Boudin Balls are a delightful snack made from boudin sausage meat rolled into balls, breaded, and deep-fried. These savory bites, often dipped in Creole mustard, are a perfect example of New Orleans' love for deep-fried comfort food with a spicy kick.

Bergeron's Boudin And Cajun Meats Of Shreveport - Boudin BallsShreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau on Wikimedia Commons

14. King Cake

King Cake, a traditional Mardi Gras treat, is an oval-shaped, brioche-like sweet bread adorned with purple, green, and gold sugar. Filled with cream cheese or cinnamon, and hiding a tiny plastic baby (representing luck and prosperity), it's a festive and colorful reflection of New Orleans' vibrant culture.

King Cake From Coffee Science, New Orleans, January 2022 - 01Infrogmation of New Orleans on Wikimedia Commons

15. Fried Green Tomatoes

As a tasty side, fried green tomatoes are a Southern classic and a staple in New Orleans. These tangy slices of fresh green tomatoes are breaded and fried until golden and crispy, then served next to a remoulade sauce that perfectly complements it. The result? A delightful combination of textures and flavours.

Fried Green Tomatoesninjapoodles on Wikimedia Commons

16. Oyster Rockefeller

What a fun name! Oysters Rockefeller, invented in New Orleans, is a luxurious appetizer featuring oysters on the half-shell topped with a rich sauce of butter, herbs, and bread crumbs, then baked or broiled. This dish is a decadent example of the city's ability to elevate simple ingredients into something spectacular. 

Oysters RockefellerPachango on Wikimedia Commons


17. Alligator Sausage

Now alligator sausage is definitely one of the city's more exotic offerings. Reflecting the adventurous culinary spirit of New Orleans, alligator sausage is made by mixing alligator meat with pork and seasoning it with Creole spices. The end result has a bit of a unique, slightly gamey flavour that's a must-try for anyone who loves exploring new foods.

1024Px-Alligator Sausage Po-Boy (30116857893)pelican from Tokyo, Japan on Wikimedia Commons

18. Seafood Gumbo

A different take from the traditional Gumbo, Seafood Gumbo focuses primarily on the bounty of the Gulf. Laden with shrimp, crab, and often oysters, this version is lighter yet equally flavorful, highlighting the freshness and variety of local seafood. If you're a seafood lover, this will definitely become your go-to.

1024Px-Breaux Bridge- Frenchified Seafood Gumbo At Chez JacquelineSouthern Foodways on Wikimedia Commons Alliance

19. Pecan Pie

You can't have a complete New Orleans meal without finishing it off with a mouthwatering slice of pecan pie! A Southern dessert staple, this pie holds a special place in New Orleans' heart. Made with pecans, corn syrup, sugar, and butter all wrapped in a flaky pie crust, it has the perfect balance of rich and nutty sweetness that is sure to delight.

Keighla-Exum-Wnn9Guvxiz4-Unsplash (2)Photo by Keighla Exum on Unsplash

20. Chicken Pontalba

Chicken Pontalba is a dish named after a prominent New Orleans family, featuring diced, fried potatoes, ham, green onions, mushrooms, and garlic, topped with a piece of grilled or broiled chicken and Bearnaise sauce. It’s a hearty and luxurious dish that embodies the city’s love for rich, layered flavors.

Jessica-Demaree-Wvdleok4Lkm-UnsplashPhoto by Jessica Demaree on Unsplash