Long a destination for history lovers and party goers, New Orleans also has one of the most legendary culinary scenes in the USA.
In notable restaurants throughout the city, fresh trends are emerging that incorporate new takes on old-world dishes, while culinary festivals and hands-on food experiences bring the city’s best flavors to the people. Here’s a breakdown of what’s going on in this food-loving city and, more importantly, where to try the latest flavors.
Authentic Fare with Contemporary Flair
Creole cuisine blends the flavors of Louisiana’s French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian influences. At Compère Lapin (French for “brother rabbit,” a reference to old Creole folktales), look for a mix of Caribbean and New Orleans classics: crispy dirty rice, curried goat with sweet potatoes, and popular conch croquettes. It was named Restaurant of the Year by the local Times-Picayune newspaper and chef Nina Compton was a James Beard Award finalist. The hidden gem of Carrollton Market, located in the historic Riverbend neighborhood, serves updated Southern favorites, inventive cocktails and a popular brunch menu (named one of the best in the USA by Time Out Magazine). Stop by for happy hour and be sure to order the oysters.
A fresh seafood dish paired with white wine at a modern New Orleans restaurant
Food and Drink Festivals
New Orleans knows how to throw a party, especially when there’s food involved. In May, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience brings together the city’s top chefs, along with 1,000 wines, into one huge festival. July’s Tales of the Cocktail is a must-attend event for anyone who loves a good mixed drink. The event focuses on the latest drink trends and tastings, as well as seminars for industry professionals and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Celebrate Louisiana’s renown as a seafood haven at the annual Louisiana Seafood Festival in October. Sample locally caught seafood and see celebrity cooking demonstrations while listening to live music and sipping a daiquiri.
A crispy crab cake and shrimp po boy, one of many local specialties celebrated during food festivals
Hands-on Foodie Experiences
Take a culinary tour to learn about the fascinating history of New Orleans through some of its most beloved dishes and restaurants. Both Tastebud Tours and New Orleans Culinary History Tours introduce you to all of the iconic drinks and dishes of the French Quarter and beyond. Even better – learn to cook the Louisiana way for yourself. New Orleans School of Cooking offers live chef demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes dedicated to the classic preparation of authentic Cajun and Creole dishes. You can even purchase essential ingredients and cookbooks at the general store to take home with you.
Traditional Louisiana-style shrimp boil at the New Orleans School of Cooking
Fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) from several international destinations and many U.S. connections. Rental cars, shuttles and buses are available at the airport. Walking or using public transportation is recommended for getting around the heart of New Orleans.