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. Head Chef Nina Compton was a named a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in 2023. Hidden gem La Petite Grocery, located on popular Magazine Street, acts as a coffee and tea depot, grocery store, butcher shop, florist’s studio and, since 2004, a restaurant. Owner and head chef Justin Devillier, who was named the James Beard winner for Best Chef: South in 2016, serves made-from-scratch Creole Louisiana faire. The restaurant has even earned a spot on Eater’s list of 38 Best Restaurants in America. Stop into La Petite Grocery, or its sister restaurant Justine, and enjoy delicious, authentic New Orleans dishes.
A sophisticated shrimp dish at a modern New Orleans restaurant
Food and Drink Festivals
New Orleans knows how to throw a party, especially when there’s food involved. The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience brings together the city’s top chefs, along with 1,000 wines, into one huge festival. 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 culinary haven at the annual Beignet Fest. Sample sweet and savory takes on the deep-fried pastry while listening to live music and sipping a local brew.
Fresh beignets dusted with powdered sugar, 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.
Enjoying patio dining and a glass of wine on a tasting tour of New Orleans
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.