Restaurants in New Orleans
Blending a range of cultures, New Orleans’ food features the signature flavors and key ingredients from Creole, Cajun, Spanish and French cuisines. Sweets like beignets and king cake as well as savory dishes like gumbo and jambalaya are Louisiana staples, with quite a few creative concoctions thrown into the mix.
Recognized for being one of the most distinct regional cuisines in the U.S., the New Orleans culinary scene includes a lot of seafood. Everything from prawns to catfish is on the menu thanks to the city’s location at the confluence of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River.
Two of the strongest influences on New Orleans food are the Creole and Cajun cultures. Creole’s fusion of West African, Native American, Spanish and French cuisines makes use of okra, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions in rich, hearty sauces. Creole meals are often more complex to prepare, but the mouthwatering results are well worth it. Cajun food also has French influences, but it’s known for being easier to prepare and more rustic. Cajun food can be spicy thanks to the addition of seasonings like garlic and hot peppers.
Home to award-winning chefs and secret family recipes, the New Orleans food scene has evolved over the years as different groups of people contributed to the cultural melting pot. One of the most delicious cuisines in the world, the food in New Orleans is characterized by decadent sweets, spicy andouille (smoked sausage), and crawfish smothered in Cajun spices, as well as hearty meat dishes that stick to your ribs.
From fancy bistros in the French Quarter to finger-lickin’ street bites in the Tremé neighborhood, there is something delicious to eat no matter where you are. Don’t forget to try the city’s popular cocktails as well!
Check out our breakdown by neighborhood to find the best New Orleans restaurants anywhere in the city!
Beignets, Pralines & French Fare in the French Quarter
New Orleans’ French Quarter is famous for old-fashioned decadence, pastel buildings, and lush gardens and parks. Tucked-away courtyards and patios make the neighborhood an ideal choice for dining al fresco in a romantic setting. From the bars of Bourbon Street to the Decatur Street candy stores, the French Quarter has a little bit of everything for the adventurous foodie.
Po-boys, elaborate seafood dishes, and sweets like beignets and pralines are popular French Quarter dining options. Browse French markets for fresh-out-of-the-oven pastries or start your evening with oysters and a cocktail at the famous Antoine’s Restaurant. Save room for tomorrow morning’s brunch!
The splendor and charm of this white tablecloth establishment will propel you back in time with its intimate atmosphere and decadent menu. Opened in 1840 – and still owned by 5th-generation relatives of the original founder – Antoine’s is a New Orleans institution.
From oysters Rockefeller to chicken rochambeau, you just can’t go wrong with this menu. Save room for dessert! The baked Alaska and bread pudding will melt in your mouth.
One of the French Quarter restaurants boasting a James Beard award, Galatoire’s is located in the heart of the city on Bourbon Street. This high-end restaurant serves French-Creole dishes like andouille gumbo and shrimp remoulade. Galatoire’s opened its doors in 1905, offering a warm place to gather for locals and tourists.
Make sure you dress the part for a meal at Galatoire’s – jackets are required. Feeling adventurous? Order the turtle soup or escargot.
This seafood restaurant is known for its creative menu and friendly atmosphere. Chefs finalize the menu around 4 p.m. each day, depending on what seafood the staff brought in that same morning. Seasonal ingredients bring out the delicious flavors of fresh-caught fish.
Although you’re in for a surprise, some recurring menu items include lobster dumplings and seafood soup. Located in a stylish, updated warehouse, the restaurant is a pleasant place to share a bite with friends and family.
Local Flavors & International Eats in Uptown/Garden District
Uptown’s manicured streets are home to stately houses, leafy vegetation, and restaurants galore. As you stroll along the river or ride the St. Charles Streetcar, take in the sights and sounds of this vibrant neighborhood. Walking through parks and gardens is sure to work up an appetite. You’ll have your pick of dining options in the Uptown/Garden District neighborhood.
You can go local or set your sights on international flavors in and around the Garden District. Whether you’ve got a hankering for Viatnamese pho or a spicy Indian dish, there’s no shortage of great restaurants in this part of town.
Contemporary Creole cuisine served in a cozy, cottage-like setting – what could be better? The menu items at Brigtsen’s taste like a home-cooked meal, perfect if you’re in the mood for some Louisiana comfort food.
Dine on hearty dishes like panéed rabbit and roast duck. Other favorites are crawfish cornbread and grilled redfish. When you’ve finished your meal, walk over to the riverfront to burn some calories and enjoy the view.
This sophisticated Indian restaurant has reinvented its culinary style with Louisiana ingredients. The flavors of India and New Orleans come together in dishes like curried seafood gumbo and crabmeat pudha, lentil pancakes with Louisiana crab and two types of chutney. The restaurant interior envelops the senses in warmth – velvet chairs, dark wood, and soft lighting elevate the dining experience.
Saffron’s Indian-Louisiana fusion isn’t limited to the food. Try the Indo-French Tea Party, a cocktail made with chai, cognac, lemon, fennel, and champagne.
Typically as crowded as can be during lunch hours, Lilly’s is a small Viatnamese restaurant painted in a vibrant shade of purple. The authentic Vietnamese fare includes banh mi, pho, flank steak, vermicelli bowls, and other favorites that are sure to fill you up.
Lilly’s Cafe has a nice, casual atmosphere with some family-style seating. This popular lunch spot is a key player in New Orleans’ international culinary scene and a must-visit if you’re craving Vietnamese food.
Contemporary & American Cuisine in the Downtown/Business District
Downtown New Orleans and the Business District go hand in hand, with great places to eat and fun things to do like visit theaters and go shopping. There are award-winning restaurants serving contemporary cuisine and creative takes on Southern classics. This neighborhood always has something going on, so it’s a fun place to take in the action and do some people-watching on a full stomach.
Dine in a 19th century French Creole building with historic architectural details like columns and hardwood floors with vintage mirrors. Beautiful both inside and out, the building exudes luxury and southern charm. Menu items are on the pricier side with choices like grilled duck breast, roasted rack of lamb, and Louisiana crawfish tart. Save room for a dessert of creme fraiche cheesecake or whipped chocolate ganache.
You’ll want to spend your whole day at Willa Jean with a cup of coffee, a melt-in-your-mouth pastry and a good book. This contemporary bakery serves baked goods, Southern contemporary eats, and signature cocktails in a bright, brick-walled space with a wide-open seating plan. Buttered banana bread and chicken pot pie are two of our favorites.
This Creole-inspired brasserie is known for its French and German fare with an impressive brunch menu. Louisiana-style crepes and a fresh raw bar are on offer, as well as specialty cocktails and locally crafted brews. Located on the famous St. Charles Avenue, this is a great spot to grab brunch before continuing your exploration of the city.
Upscale Spaces and Trendy Dining in the Arts & Warehouse District
Once the epicenter of New Orleans’ industrial revolution, today the Warehouse District has transformed into a space for gathering and celebrating the arts. Everything from galleries to clubs and restaurants have taken over the huge warehouse spaces, creating one-of-a-kind businesses and eateries with plenty of room to spread out. The neighborhood is colorful and welcoming with gorgeous street art, parks, and unique bars and restaurants.
Housed in a renovated pharmacy warehouse, Emeril’s has been open since 1990 and was one of the pioneer restaurants in the contemporary New Orleans Warehouse District food scene. Owned by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, this unpretentious eatery serves classic New Orleans dishes with an upscale twist. Don’t miss the scallop pan roast, barbecue shrimp, or lobster fettuccine.
New Orleans’ first mezcal bar opened in 2018, modeled after a Mexico City mezcaleria. Dine on ceviche, tacos, tortas and other authentic Mexican specialties. Don’t miss happy hour and the delicious mezcal mule or Oaxacan take on New Orleans’ famous Sazerac cocktail. The agave spirits list features over 100 different spirits from all over Mexico! You’re sure to love the welcoming atmosphere and feel right at home in this trendy warehouse space.
This sophisticated eatery is a James Beard Foundation award winner with delicious menu items inspired by traditional Caribbean folk tales and the rich culinary heritage and ingredients of New Orleans and St. Lucia. Sample crawfish hushpuppies, West African peanut soup, and curried goat with sweet potato gnocchi. The exposed brick and warm lighting give the restaurant a warm, upscale feel that will make you want to come back for more.
Homey Eateries and Park Views in Mid-City
Home to City Park and lush oak tree-lined streets, Mid-City is a tranquil place to spend time when you need a break from the busier parts of town. Stroll past beautiful homes, visit neighborly small businesses and cafes, and take a walk through City Park. There, you can visit the New Orleans Museum of Art, wander through a sculpture garden or sit in the shade of a massive oak tree. The best part about hanging out in Mid-City are all the great restaurants that are walking distance from the park.
In case you couldn’t guess from the name alone, this restaurant is a carnivore’s paradise with delicious options like charcuterie boards, confit chicken thighs, and venison. There’s even the Meatery Board, featuring house-made fresh and cured meats. The Toups family has lived in Louisiana for 300 years, so they know Cajun cooking. Come visit this rustic space with a great outdoor patio.
Overlooking the tall oaks of City Park, Ralph’s on the Park is known for its farm-to-table meals served in a beautiful 1860s house. It’s got the welcoming, family-friendly feel of a neighborhood restaurant with the presentation and cuisine of a more upscale eatery. The outdoor seating, brunch menu, and wine list make it a must-visit spot during your time in the city, especially if you’re spending the day at City Park.
Often referred to as the most romantic restaurant in New Orleans, Cafe Degas is an intimate French bistro near City Park, known for an impressive outdoor space and a tree growing through the dining room that adds to the ambiance. This cute and cozy bistro has a wonderful menu with French delicacies like a cheese and fruit plate, savory crab and Andouille cheesecake, and pan-seared gulf fish.
Soul Food and Fried Chicken in Tremé
The historic Tremé neighborhood is the country’s oldest African-American neighborhood, home to must-visit cultural points of interest like the Backstreet Cultural Museum, Armstrong Park and various jazz clubs. Tremé was the first neighborhood where free African-Americans could own property during the period of slavery in America.
The food in Tremé is all Southern cooking with Cajun, Creole and Caribbean influences. The resulting flavors and authentic eateries are some of the best in the city. If you’re looking for a break from the bustling French Quarter, come enjoy a quieter meal in Tremé, and don’t be afraid to try something new!
This family-owned spot put Tremé on the map of best places in the country to eat fried chicken. Famous for its soul food and finger-licking chicken sandwich, this casual spot is a great place to fill up before walking around the city. If you’re not sure what to order, you can’t go wrong with the Willie Mae chicken sandwich, topped with house-made pickles, slaw sauce, honey, and organic purple cabbage on a brioche bun.
Known for being a local hang, this dive bar has great live music and a variety of beers and mixed drinks. It was even featured on HBO’s Treme. The atmosphere and staff are incredibly welcoming, and locals in the know will certainly point you toward Bullet’s if you need a recommendation on where to grab a drink. The bar doesn’t serve food, but there’s often a food truck or two parked outside, so you won’t go hungry.
A twist on the classic New Orleans bakery, Buttermilk Drop Bakery is known for its signature pastry, the buttermilk drop. Think donut hole, but new and improved. The buttermilk drop is fried and crispy on the outside and melts in your mouth when you bite into it. The bakery also sells donuts, king cakes, and soul food for breakfast and lunch. It’s a casual, no-frills establishment with food choices that will leave you feeling full for the rest of the day.