Since Jazz Fest is right around the corner, thought I'd bring back an old post that will help you eat your way through your time in New Orleans if you're lucky enough to be heading down for some fun! I had an amazing time last year and I have to say the fried chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House and oysters and gumbo at the bar at Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House were spot on, so I strongly recommend both of those from last year's full itinerary below. I also strongly recommend the pork rinds at Jazz Fest itself...seriously the best pork rinds of my life. Some also swear by the fried chicken at the festival but I thought Willie Mae's was even better. If you want to see the post-New Orleans blog post with pictures of all of the food from last year you can check it out here for some inspiration to get you hungry. Happy Eating...oh yeah, and enjoy the great music too!!
Originally Posted on April 17, 2013:
New Orleans has a very special place in my heart...the first and only time I've ever been there was 11 years ago on my cross-country road trip to move from my hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts to San Diego, California. Since we were tight on cash and camping our way across the country, New Orleans was the only big city on our 2-week trip and I totally fell in love!
I'm finally heading back for a work conference and Jazz Fest, so while my time will be tight I'm going to make the best of it! Luckily I know a few locals so my 11 year gap shouldn't slow me down at all. Between all of the conference meals and Jazz Fest food I will only have a few meals to explore on my own, but in typical SavoryGirl style I'm going in prepared and sharing my full itinerary for all of the places I would want to check out if I had the time.
So next time you're heading to New Orleans go ahead and use this foodie itinerary as a starting point to plan all of your great culinary adventures in the Big Easy and then let me know what you think. The drinking and nightlife version will be coming next week, so stay tuned. If you like what you see, feel free to check out my past foodie travel posts here.
- EAT - fried green tomato breakfast, pulled pork cakes and BYOB...need I say more? Seriously, this is first on my list for brunch when I'm in town.
- Surrey's - Bananas Foster French Toast will make this the first stop on Christian's breakfast list...maybe we'll have to divide and conquer!
- For a lively jazz brunch I would head to either Mr. B's Bistro (great BBQ shrimp), Atchafalaya who is known for their shrimp and grits, or Muriel's which is a bit fancier but supposed to be great.
- Brennan's - in the mood for a 3-course prix fixe breakfast? Then this is your place...honestly, a dessert course with breakfast. They do also offer breakfast a la carte, but those options don't look nearly as intriguing. Reservations needed
- Central Grocery - do not, I repeat, do not leave New Orleans without getting a proper muffuletta sandwich (unless you hate olives)! This is one of the best ones in town, but be forewarned they're huge. Grab one to go, walk a block to Jackson Square, crack open a beer and soak in the scene. Napoleon House and Cochon Butcher are a couple of other good spots for a muffuletta.
- Another must for lunch is a po'boy...give Johnny's or Domilise's a try, but this is also one of those dishes that you should ask for recommendations from locals since everyone has their favorite spot. Where others call it a sub, grinder, hero or hoagie here they call it a po'boy. The fried oyster po'boy is my favorite but I've also heard good things about the Cochon de Lait po'boy although I think they might be seasonal and a bit harder to find.
- Willie Mae's Scotch House - I'm going to try my best to get over to the Treme neighborhood to check this place out for amazing fried chicken that's been made by the same family (now being made by Willie Mae's great-granddaughter who gave up law school to keep the tradition alive!) and recipe. Watch this video starting at about minute 1 and I know you'll be heading here too.
- Dooky Chase - this is another legendary staple in New Orleans. Classic creole home cooking by Leah Chase, who is known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine and also holds a special place in New Orlean's history.
- Dickie Brennan's Bourboun House - to quote my friend and NOLA native from grad school, "sit at the oyster bar and get a dozen on the half shell. Raw oysters with a bowl of gumbo and a cold beer is as good as it gets. The only place I'll recommend on Bourboun Street."
- Jacques-Imo's - this is the self-proclaimed place to go for "real Nawlin' food"...but it's also endorsed by Anthony Bourdain which is good enough for me. It's a real locals place, so nothing fancy here but the menu looks amazing.
- Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse - consistently named as one of the top steakhouses in the country, a staple in New Orleans for over 60 years. Another top contender for the best steak in the Crescent City though, is Mr. John's Steakhouse
- Tommy's Cuisine - If you love Italian but still want that Creole flair, this is the place for you. Reservations likely needed, but skip dessert and head across the street to Emeril's for his Banana Cream Pie that is so famous.
- Speaking of that famous New Orlean's Chef...you can't go wrong with dinner (or lunch) at either one of the two spots he's connected to, Emeril's , which he owns or Commander's Palace where he worked early in his career. If I had to choose, I would likely choose the latter which is known for their Turtle Soup, Bread Pudding Souffle and a Foie Gras du Monde. Yum!
- Antoine's Restaurant - this is supposedly the oldest operating restaurant in the U.S. and the inventor of Oysters Rockefeller.
- GW Fins - I've heard from an insider that this is probably the best seafood in the city. My insider also warns to not fall into the New Orleans seafood trap of all-fried-all-the-time. New Orleans chefs really know their way around fresh seafood, no deep fryer needed!
- If you want to go fancy beyond those last few listed above, try celebrity chef John Besh's Restaurant August...contemporary French with southern roots.
Sweets & Treats:
- Cafe Beignet - this is my favorite spot for beignets and chicory coffee. Café du Monde is another popular, if slightly more touristy, spot for beignets.
- Roman Candy Cart - fresh made, Italian style taffy. I sent a friend here a while back when she asked for New Orleans recommendations and she's still talking about it! Only 3 flavors...chocolate, vanilla and strawberry...but they're long ropes pulled while warm so order all 3 and swirl them together for a unique "Neapolitan" treat.
- Emeril's - I've lost count of how many people have raved about the Banana Cream Pie here...I know I'm definitely going to try to get myself a slice even if I am short on time!
- Brennan's - I know I already mentioned this for a fancy breakfast, but since they are apparently the inventor of Bananas Fosters I think it's worth a stop, even if it's just for dessert.
Don't you worry, I haven't forgotten about the cocktails, live music and night scene. I would never! I have so many good tips that there will be an entire blog post focused on that topic alone next week. So stay tuned...but in the meanwhile start planning your delicious, food-filled journey in the Big Easy.
Of course, please share any new good finds (or misses from my list) with us as well...happy eating!