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The Most Popular New Orleans Food to Sample During Your Visit

Homemade Shrimp and Grits

If there’s one thing all New Orleanians have in common, it’s their love for food. From po-boy sandwiches to beignets, the most popular food in New Orleans spans a range of cultures, with Cajun, Creole, French, and Spanish cuisines all represented in the city’s culinary scene. When planning a trip to New Orleans, it can be hard to decide where to begin your culinary adventure – rest assured, a food tour will help you pinpoint the must-try dishes, as well as less common bites to tantalize your taste buds. Whether you’re making a day trip or spending a week in New Orleans, don’t miss the opportunity to try these popular foods.

a cup of coffee


First introduced to New Orleans by French-Creole colonists in the 18th century, beignets are deep-fried doughnuts – without the hole! – sprinkled with generous amounts of powdered sugar. You might think of this decadent treat as a dessert staple, but these melt-in-your-mouth delights can be enjoyed with a café au lait for breakfast, or really any time you want to satisfy your sweet tooth. Find them at most coffee shops and bakeries or sample them on a private culinary tour.

Traditional Creole cajun court bouillon with fish and seafood gumbo chowder stew as top view in a pot with copy space right


One of New Orleans’ most popular dishes, gumbo stands out for its plethora of recipes. In fact, you could spend your whole trip sampling gumbo and never find two of the same. A thick stew served over rice with a variety of ingredients like okra, onions, celery, sausage and seafood, gumbo’s French and West African roots pack plenty of flavor into NOLA’s signature comfort food dish. Try a hearty seafood gumbo on a culinary history and tasting tour.

King cake for Mardi Gras, New Orlean traditional pastry with a plastic baby

King Cake

Coffee cake and cinnamon rolls come together to make a king cake. Iced in purple, yellow, and green frosting, king cakes are eaten during the Mardi Gras season, representing the biblical story of the three kings who brought gifts to baby Jesus. Biting into a king cake, you’ll find sweet cream cheese and fruit fillings, and of course, the plastic king cake baby. Whoever finds the baby has the responsibility of providing the next cake or throwing a party so the Mardi Gras fun can continue. If you find yourself in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, you’ll find king cakes in most bakeries and grocery stores starting in January.


Think paella with a New Orleans twist and you’ve got jambalaya, a Louisiana classic. Every jambalaya is different, but they all feature rice as a base, with ingredients like seafood, sausage, chicken, onions, and peppers tossed in delicious local spices. This flavorful dish is sure to fill you up, but don’t forget to save room for other local favorites.

Closeup of platter of pecan pralines in selective focus against red background


You’d be hard pressed to find a candy shop in New Orleans that doesn’t sell pralines. A staple of the city’s confections, pralines are a creamy, buttery candy filled with pecans. Somewhat similar to fudge, this nutty treat has evolved to come in many colors, shapes, and sizes, and you never know what flavor you might find. Pralines make for a great souvenir of your time in New Orleans – but you’ll want to keep them all to yourself! Taste popular New Orleans desserts on a Garden District Food and History Tour.

Louisiana codfish po boy on a torpedo roll with pickles and fries


The quintessential New Orleans sandwich, po-boys start with two pieces of fresh French bread, stacked high with fillings like fried shrimp, roast beef, oysters, or other seafood. The sandwiches are dressed with lettuce, pickles, tomato, mayo, ketchup and hot sauce. Po-boys vary in style, so you’ll have to try at least a few to find your favorite kind. Or, feel free to ask a local – you probably won’t get the same answer twice. Try the po-boy on a Bywater food tour.

Black beans and kidney beans on top of rice on a plate

Red Beans & Rice

Red beans and rice is a Monday staple in New Orleans. Monday was customarily laundry day in New Orleans, so busy adults needed a meal that was low maintenance and could be left simmering on the stove all day. The dish typically features ham or sausage, but any meat will do. Red beans and rice is a warm and delicious meal that the whole family can share, and you can find it in restaurants throughout the city as well.

Muffalatta Sandwich with Cup of Red Beans in New Orleans Restaurant


The muffaletta is another popular New Orleans sandwich made with cured meats, provolone cheese, and of course, the best sesame-seed roll to hold the whole concoction together. The olive dressing on this tasty Italian sandwich has green and black olives and onions, and the meats are usually ham and salami. The best thing about ordering a muffaletta is that they’re big enough to share!

We bet your mouth is watering after reading about these popular New Orleans foods! To discover even more Louisiana classics, plan to take a food tour during your visit.