I recently visited New Orleans for the first time over Halloween weekend. Drinking cap on, killer costume packed and Voo Doo Musical Festival tickets in hand, I was prepared and off to this sacred land known as NOLA. What I was not prepared for was the absolute love I would come to have for this city and most importantly its food! The amount of scrumptious local seafood and Cajun delicacies I devoured during my stay should not be tracked, for my waistline needs no further reminder of its growing size after that weekend. I have however tracked several notable stops and dishes that being a first timer left me not only unbelievably satisfied but counting down the days until my next visit. Enjoy!
Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Night one in New Orleans found me on an extreme oyster hunt in the heart of the French Quarter. We stumbled upon Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar after walking past a line wrapped down the street to get into Acme Oyster House, ultimately spotting Felix’s packed house but much shorter line. Packed restaurant must always mean awesome food, right? In this case, most definitely! Felix’s delivered some of the best oysters I have ever had, and by growing up at my families Florida beach house in the summers, I have had my fair share. The oysters Rockefeller were delectable, covered with a rich mixture of spinach, butter, seasonings and breadcrumbs. I was able to taste some of the other Louisiana seafood and Cajun dishes Felix’s proudly serves, like the crawfish po-boy sandwich and gumbo which were both divine. If you find yourself on a seafood kick in New Orleans (who doesn’t!) then I would highly recommend this French Quarter staple. I know I will return next go round!
Café Du Monde
When I told anyone I was headed to New Orleans, the first thing out of their mouths other than alcohol references was “you have to go to Café Du Monde”; So to Café Du Monde I went! This French market and coffee stand is one of the most well-known spots in New Orleans and a French Quarter tradition since 1862. The menu is easy with only beignets and coffee as options. Do not be wary of the limited menu however, the taste of both is outrageous and quite frankly addicting. This square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar, is a cross between a hand held funnel cake and a doughnut. Their famous Café Au Lait is half coffee, half warm milk that can be served hot or cold. I chose to have mine over ice and found it to be extremely refreshing, satisfying and the perfect addition to my beignet heaven I was in. My suggestion when visiting this quant coffee stand is to go at an off time or opt for the “To-Go” order line, which moves much faster and is usually much shorter than the sit down line.
Pere Antoine Restaurant
When the morning after in NOLA brings nothing but the smell of stale alcohol in the air and street cleaners galore, all you need is the perfect breakfast cocktail and hearty meal to liven you right back up. Pere Antoine Restaurant offers an open-air atmosphere and boasts a cute French café vibe with large open windows and tables situated close by perfect for people watching. I have but only one word for you in regards to Pere Antoine Restaurant’s breakfast and that is CROISSANT. I opted for the “Big Easy” which is a croissant with egg, cheese and your choice of breakfast meat. A classic breakfast sandwich, right? Wrong! This was quite possibly the best croissant I have ever had and it wasn’t due to the sandwich insides, which were also great, but everything to do with that delectable AM bread that was unbelievably soft, buttery and delicious. I would gladly return to gorge on croissants alone. Once you decide to pull yourself out of bread paradise, Pere Antoine Restaurant’s Bloody Mary’s are just as noteworthy. No frills, not fancy, just classic Bloody Mary style that is not only tasty but a perfect recovery beverage.
Saints & Sinners
I swear I did not know that Channing Tatum (total celeb crush) was part owner of this restaurant by day/club by night, and definitely did not hate that fact once I found out. I came for the crawfish. Just like other seafood items, crawfish have a season and it is apparently not in October. Try March thru June. But alas I was able to find these mud bugs by the pound at Saints & Sinners. Although it is a lot of work for a little reward, with the right amount of spice these little critters were delicious. The setting was not half bad either, with tables set up on a little outdoor porch making it easy to watch the Bourbon Street world go by, as well as a space inside to dine among the ultra-sleek bar and alluring red, gold and velvet décor. Did you know this place used to be a brothel along New Orleans famous Red Light District in 1897? The reviews are hit or miss but I think this is a definite go to for buckets of crawfish and a possible Channing Tatum sighting. Good Luck!
Café Fleur de Lis
Once again on the search for breakfast, we happened upon Café Fleur de Lis. With classic breakfast dishes to Cajun specialties, it looked like just the spot to rejuvenate after a long night spent with thousands of new friends along Bourbon Street. A classic mimosa to start your morning off right is just the trick and Café Fleur de Lis not only has them, but serves them strong and in very large glasses. Want a little something more? What about a bacon bloody mary? A delicious bloody mary concoction with none other than a thick cut strip of bacon to enhance it. For the main act, it was difficult to choose what to have between the seafood cake eggs benedict, creole country breakfast with grilled boudin sausage or the famous shrimp and grits. We opted for the Fleur de Lis omelet complete with bell peppers, onions, provolone cheese, stuffed with loads of crawfish and smothered in a creamy crawfish sauce. We also chose the fried oysters egg benedict; A homemade biscuit topped with crispy friend oysters, poached eggs and creamy hollandaise sauce that is out of this world. You have to eat it to believe it my friends!
Crawfish Bread- A good friend told me before my trip to eat as much crawfish bread as I could while at the VooDoo Music Festival. First stop once being granted access onto this holy festival land was to find food vendors that served this specialty. Would the crawfish be baked inside the bread? Would it be on top? Would it simply be flavored? I am still not entirely sure what I was eating when I devoured my crawfish bread from the Cortozzo’s Bakery stand, but I have to say it left me speechless. The best way I can describe it is an ultra-soft bread loaf stuffed with crawfish meat and a spice and cheese concoction, then smothered with a Cajun hollandaise sauce. It is to die for and a must have when at the festival.
Adult Beverages- Our first stop on Bourbon Street was for a hand grenade. I hear they do not tell you how it’s made and quite frankly I don’t think I want to know . I do know that it is refreshing, a little fruity, not too sweet (opt for the “skinny” version), lime green and strong. After one I was feeling just right so I decided to not see what happened after two. Another drink I was told I must try was a hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s. This famous, sweet cocktail consists of rum, passion fruit syrup, lime juice and garnished with an orange slice and cherry. Traditionally served in a Pat O’s logoed hurricane lamp shaped glass, this drink is one of the most sought after beverages in New Orleans, and after tasting it I can see why.
Harrah’s- That’s right, the casino. Our hotel was situated right next door to Harrah’s New Orleans Casino which proved to be a great location. After a long and tiring day of sightseeing, exploring Bourbon Street, shopping and drinking, we opted for a stop in the casino for a few rounds of roulette and casual buffet dinner. We just so happened to be there on a Saturday which is the night for Surf & Turf at The Buffet. This is no ordinary buffet however, for every single item on the line that could fit on my heaping plate was scrumptious. From seafood to creole, French to American, there is something for all palettes. Enjoy fried chicken, seafood au gratin, a variety of Asian dishes and so much more. Did I mention all you can eat crab legs? You had to practically roll me out of there in a crab induced food coma. Was it worth it? Most definitely.
Comment below with some of your favorite New Orleans restaurants, bars and drinks! I fully intend on making it back to NOLA again soon and featuring all of your recommendations in Eating Around New Orleans Part 2. Bon Appetite!