When it comes to comforting, wholesome, flavour-packed grub, no other US city does it quite like the Big Easy.
A jumbled-up take on paella, reinvented for the South
An attempt to make the famous Spanish seafood platter, this distinctly Southern combination is spiced up with bundles of Creole flavouring. Chicken, seafood and andouille sausages are sautéed with the city’s beloved combination of celery, onions and pepper. Generous chunks of tomato and spices add a vibrant hue to this rice-based dish.
The original New Orleans melting pot
This favourite of Cajun-Creole stews blends flavours from the Americas, Europe and Africa. Dished up in joints all over, you’ll be served a steaming bowl filled with a spicy roux that can be light, or rich and thick, along with a scoop of rice to soak it all up. A jumble of spices is combined with ingredients ranging from filé (ground sassafras leaves), to seafood, chicken or sausage.
Local tip: Once an economical way of feeding large families, gumbo has made its way onto the menus of some upmarket city restaurants.
Cajun sausage with German origins
With a smoky aroma, this pork mix is spiced up with paprika, cumin and red pepper. The sausage meat is roasted over pecan wood and sugar cane, to give it a sweet, fragrant edge. Slices of this Cajun treat can be savoured by themselves or found in dishes like gumbo and jambalaya.
Keep an eye out for an Andouille sausage hot dog, or jazz up a regular “dog” with some Andouille sauce.
Seafood simmered and smothered in a rich sauce
A generous stew, succulent chunks of crawfish, sliced onions, tomato, okra, peppers and celery, are concealed under a light, golden-hued roux. A helping of rice sits in the middle of the plate which is usually accompanied by some crisp green beans and a generous portion of crusty French bread.
Local tip: Out of season – in spring and early summer – crawfish is replaced by shrimp.
The best bits of Creole and Cajun cuisine
Three quintessential Southern treats in one — this fusion of spicy étouffée, flavour-packed jambalaya and the richness of gumbo harks back to the city’s Cajun roots. The addition of the tomato base gives it a tasty Creole spin.
A lip-smacking sandwich rich in flavour
Some say fried seafood — usually shrimp or crawfish — is the best starting point, while others maintain that shredded roast beef doused in tasty gravy, is the best filler to this beloved sub sandwich. Crisp lettuce, juicy tomato slices and tangy, mustard-tinged Creole mayonnaise make this a timeless snack.
Local tip: Adventurous takes on fillings for this classic sandwich include glazed pork belly, fried green tomato, sashimi and oysters.
A fruit dessert bubbling with sweetness
Slices of banana are left to slowly sizzle in a lip-smacking brew of cinnamon, brown sugar, spices and banana liqueur. Doused in a generous helping of rum, this scrumptious sweet is flambéed and transformed into a delectable, sticky, golden-brown concoction that’s served up with vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of orange zest.
Local tip: Try out one of the French Quarter’s brunch spots to munch on this as a midday treat.
A jam-packed Southern-style stew
Red beans and rice
A helping of classic comfort food, kidney beans are mixed with what’s known as the Cajun Trinity — sautéed peppers, onions and celery — and seasoned with thyme, bay leaves and a dash of tabasco sauce. Portions of andouille sausage come next, but it’s debatable as to whether more pork delicacies, like ham hock or bacon, should be added before the pot’s left to simmer.
Local tip: Red beans and rice were traditionally served on Mondays but you won’t struggle to find this platter at eateries throughout the week.
Feast on Louisiana’s official state doughnut
With soft, doughy centres, these bite-sized, square-shaped fritters are generously dusted with icing sugar. You’ll usually be served a trio of these doughnut-like morsels at once — a perfect portion to enjoy with some café au lait, or the city’s famous chicory coffee.
Local tip: Café du Monde is the place to sample these treats. Head here for breakfast to enjoy them fresh and hot from the kitchen.
The most original of cocktails
Absinthe, or Pernod, laces the base of an Old Fashioned glass to give a herbal or anise-flavoured note to this popular and most historic of poisons. A sugar cube is then mixed with American rye whiskey, angostura bitters and a couple of dashes of sweet Peychaud’s bitters before lemon peel is added to serve.
Local tip: Legend has it the Sazerac was the world’s first-ever branded cocktail, concocted at the bar of the same name.
A stormy concoction of a cocktail
Served in a tall glass resembling a hurricane lamp, this vibrant red brew is made from a swirling blend of dark and white rum. Thrown into the mix are sharp passion fruit, orange and lime juice and a helping of grenadine for good measure. Cool and refreshing, the mix is poured onto crushed ice and topped with orange and cherry.
Local tip: Pat O’Brien’s is the birthplace of this celebrated drink. Join revellers at the bar in the heart of the French Quarter.
Break off a piece of this crumbly, nutty delight
Sweet and just the right amount of crunchy, praline is a staple treat. Sometimes made with almonds, a more traditionally New Orleans style take will instead include toasted pecans, which can be found in abundance around the city. These are added to a warm sugar and cream mix, swirling with melted butter, before cooling into chunks of nutty goodness.
Local tip: You’ll find praline stalls on many street corners and in markets.