Anyone would easily fall in love with New Orleans. It has this captivating vibe that would make anyone indulge, if not hooked.
The quaint French-inspired mansions in the Garden District. The petite, colourful shotgun houses in Royal Street. Those soulful music of jazz and blues on Frenchmen and Bourbon Streets. The magicians, the musicians and other street performers at the Jackson Square. The historical museums, the lovely parks, and of course – the FOOD that is uniquely Louisiana.
If you are planning to take a trip to New Orleans to experience good food, and maybe a bit of learning about its history and culture in your itinerary, here are a few suggestions of what to do, where to go and what to eat.
While they say that your trip to New Orleans is not complete without getting your Cafe Au Lait and Beignet at Cafe Du Monde, it is not at all bad to try other french cafes in the area and one that stands out to me is La Madeleine at Carrolton Avenue. Love their steaming French Roast paired with one of their specialities, Quiche Florentine . They also have a variety of soups, fresh salads, fruit tarts and pastries. Their location is also more serene perfect for quiet coffee time unlike common coffee joints like Starbucks, PJs or Cafe Du Monde which are often crowded with tourists. Furthermore, the streetcar ride to St. Charles line heading to all the way to La Madeleine is a fun way of discovering centuries-old mansions and buildings in the Garden District.
TIP: Take the streetcar, ready your camera, enjoy the view and take a stop at La Madeleine at the end of ride. You are saving a lot from those pricey guided tours.
Remoulade offers delicious local favourites in a casual setting which makes it much affordable than its fancy counterpart, Arnaud’s. It is a good place to explore classic creole dishes such as Crawfish Etouffée, Turtle Soup, Gumbo or like what I had… Seafood Jambalaya. They also have variety of traditional New Orleans sandwiches such s Po’ Boys, Muffaleta and Cajun Sausage or something familiar like burgers, fries and pizzas for kids. Good to know that there is Remoulade, a family friendly restaurant amidst the adult fun happenings in Bourbon Street.
TIP: Check out the mystical Marie Lava’s House of Voodoo also in Bourbon St. and see some interesting Voodoo souvenirs or try a spiritual reading from their resident psychics.
Seafood in New Orleans is not limited to the usual fish, shells, shrimps or crabs. They are abundant with alligator and so does its meat. Mike Andersen’s has Fried Alligator that is usually served with coleslaw with some red beans and rice. Aside from Fired Alligator, it stands out among other fast-food shop inside The Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk as it offers other local seafood cuisines like Louisiana Crawfish, Catfish Lefete, Shrimp Scampi, Boiled Oysters and a lot more. The service is fast, food is tasty, price is affordable – just what you need for a quick meal when busy shopping inside the mall.
TIP: The Riverwalk offers good factory outlet selections at 50-70% discounts from brands such as NEW BALANCE, COACH, GUESS, etc. Tourists also get 9% tax refund claimable at the tax refund center inside the mall.
The Besh Steakhouse is led by award-winning chef John Besh. This fine dining restaurant inside Harrah’s Casino offers traditional steakhouse menu items infused with local Louisiana ingredients and cooking techniques. The dishes simply goes amazingly well with hand-selected cellar wines and spirits from it’s Las Vegas inspired bar. While critically acclaimed and seriously mouth-watering, be ready to burn a lot of money for a luxurious dining at The Besh.
The historic French Market is home to some of the best artisan food and locally made souvenirs like those naughty Mardi Gras tees, colourful beads and masks, silver jewelries and accessories, among other arts and crafts. In the food section are fresh produce and groceries sold by local farmers. There are also freshly made pralines, fresh oysters, crocodile meat jerky, shrimp tacos, a wide variety Cajun spices and many more.
TIP: There is a FREE walking tour of the French Market District. No registration required, just show up at the scheduled time advertised outside the French Market arched entrance and a local tour guide will show you around.
Curious how to make those Cajun / Creole dishes when you return home? Attend 2-3 hours of cooking demonstration at the popular New Orleans School of Cooking and learn how to prepare authentic New Orleans dishes from experienced chefs. It not just that, these local chefs are also very knowledgable of New Orleans cuisine history which makes the cooking demonstration both entertaining and informative. You can just sit back and watch or get your hands dirty and attend a hands-on class. The lunch classes include snacks and refreshments, plus you get to try the dishes cooked during the demo. I guarantee this is a fun bonding time for couples who love to cook. The cooking school is along St. Louis Street at the French Quarter.
TIP: Look for cut-out coupons on tourist maps and magazines for discounted rates to NOSOC.
If you and your family are a fan of the Science Channel’s How It’s Made, then a tour at the factory of the world-famous pepper sauce is something you would not want to miss. Located in Avery Island in Louisiana, the TABASCO factory is about 2 hours drive from downtown New Orleans. During the tour, you would see how they age the sauce in white oak barrels, a film-showing on the history of the sauce, and a guided tour on bottling and packing of TABASCO sauce. You may also get free recipes, take home souvenirs and taste some samples. Not only that, the island has 170-acre of beautiful jungle gardens and some wildlife wandering free for every guest to see.
I hope this post will be of help in planning your foodie trip to the Big Easy.