30 Jun 10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Restaurants to Visit in New Orleans
New Orleans is a city of hearty dishes and spicy flavors, thanks to its mix of Creole and Cajun cuisines, soul food, and seafood. In 1718, the French founded the city where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico, and Spain colonized it for decades. Enslaved Africans arrived in 1719, where they raised crops, cleared forests, and built the city’s infrastructure. Their descendants, called Creoles, created a unique fusion of French, Spanish, West African, and Native American influences. Cajun cuisine’s rustic foods also have roots in French fare but stem more from the Acadians, French-Canadian colonists arriving in rural southern Louisiana around the 1760s.
Expect lots of seasoning in New Orleans good eats, from bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, and okra to garlic, shellfish, pork, and filé (made from sassafras leaves). Some of the best eats in New Orleans include andouille smoked sausage, blackened redfish, dirty rice (cooked with chicken liver or giblets and spices), étouffée (a crawfish dish), gumbo (meat or shellfish stew), jambalaya (a mix of rice, chicken, shrimp, and andouille), Oysters Rockefeller (topped with herbs, butter, and bread crumbs), Bananas Foster (featuring a sauce with brown sugar, banana liqueur, and rum), pralines (pecan candy), and beignets (deep-fried pastry).
The Crescent City has long been a hub for Black-owned restaurants serving a rich variety of flavors that give NOLA its culture and personality. These establishments proudly offer a delicious way to Laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll)!
Best Beignets: Loretta’s Authentic Pralines
Founded by entrepreneur and chef Loretta Harrison, “The Praline Queen,” Loretta’s Authentic Pralines dishes up some divine beignets, too. Now, you can find beignets anywhere in New Orleans, since they’re the state’s official doughnut, but Loretta’s concoctions go beyond just delicate, flaky dough generously topped with powdered sugar. Think breakfast beignets to start the day, stuffed with egg, cheese, and bacon or sausage. For lunch, nosh on savory crabmeat beignets, stuffed with meat sautéed with butter and mushrooms, or burger beignets, a NOLA twist on a slider dressed with lettuce and tomato. Still craving something sweet? Try the praline beignets filled with pecans and drizzled with praline icing at Loretta’s stall in the French Market or café at 2101 North Rampart.
Best Chargrilled Oysters: Neyow’s Creole Café
Brick-lined walls, cozy booths, and photos of visitors decorate this relaxed restaurant on Bienville Street that says it serves amazing food “from the Big Easy to H-Town.” Appetizers include fried or sauteed crab claws, fried crawfish tails wrapped in crabmeat, and smokin’ chicken wings in a spicy Buffalo sauce with a few secret spices. Besides the chargrilled oysters, check out the red beans served over white rice with a choice of hot sausage, grilled pork chops, or fried chicken.
Best Cocktail Bar in New Orleans: NOLA Art Bar
Pull up a chair and prepare to stay awhile at NOLA Art Bar, a bookstore, wine bar, and lounge established to highlight the city’s rich arts scene. Its core focus, the owners say, is “stimulating the mind through literature, libations, and food.” Less than a block from Elysian Fields Avenue, this is definitely among the city’s fun places to eat. It indulges the senses with artwork, bookshelves featuring new titles on sale, a full bar with craft cocktails and wines by the glass, and a menu of tapas-style eats such as shrimp or veggie tacos, chicken wings with mango chutney, and brussel toast.
The historic Faubourg Marigny neighborhood is home to this trendy hotspot that says it’s “where great food and dope vibes collide!” Mother and son chefs craft both classic New Orleans fare and authentic Korean cuisine. Enjoy soulful ’90s R&B music, handcrafted specialty drinks, and dishes such as Redfish Yeah (grilled redfish on a bed of mashed potatoes topped with BBQ shrimp sauce), Gumbo Ramen (a brunch favorite), and Lenora’s Hawaiian Bread Pudding. We’re also tempted by Just Watch, a “golden fried collage” that feeds two to three people featuring oysters, catfish, shrimp, and soft-shell crab served atop French bread and house-cut fries.
Best Brunch in New Orleans: Café Sbisa
Established in 1899, Café Sbisa is the third-oldest fine-dining restaurant in the French Quarter. It’s known for its hand-carved mahogany bar with a triptych by artist George Dureau, romantic ambiance, and Decatur Street balcony as much as its fresh local seafood. For brunch, try the crawfish beignets, turtle soup enriched with sherry and lemon, catfish almondine, or Bananas Foster Pain Perdu, a type of French toast served with bananas, traditional Foster sauce, and toasted pecans.
Best Seafood: Peewee’s Crabcakes on the Go
This casual Creole Cajun bistro specializes in crabcakes and seafood, plus Creole-inspired pastas, specialty stuffed potatoes, and unique po’boys. Its signature crabcake meal includes a choice of sides, including seafood rice, jambalaya rice, Cajun seasoned fries, Who Dat Alfredo, asparagus, or broccoli. The on-the-go location is takeout only at 2908 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and serves up boxes of boiled shrimp or Dungeness crab for parties. For a full-service dine-in experience, visit Peewee’s 4500 Old Gentilly Road, which features Sunday brunch, including an open-face seafood omelet and Hennessy Bourbon Chicken & Waffles.
Best To-Go Spot in New Orleans: Heard Dat Kitchen
Based in the heart of Central City, just five minutes from the Caesars Superdome, Heard Dat Kitchen has a father-daughter duo at the helm serving Southern-style favorites with plenty of flavors — and double-sided outdoor benches if you can’t wait to dig in. Check out the Gumbo Combo served with grilled cheese and potato salad; the Benson Boogie, featuring blackened fish over grits with Crawdat cream sauce, fried shrimp, and green onions; and the Superdome, blackened fish topped with mashed potatoes, lobster cream sauce, crispy onion rings, and corn.
Best for Coffee Café: La Vie En Rose Cafe
Inspired by Louis Armstrong and the owners’ 300 years of New Orleans ancestry, this “dreamy Creole coffee shop” in the Lower Garden District is a love letter to the city, offering recipes passed down through generations — along with locally sourced coffee. Look for crab-stuffed beignets, Rose Creole Cream Cheese Crumble Cake, and the Rose Queen Cake, a decadent pastry infused with Rose Cane Syrup. Not to be outdone, the Don Creole Crawfish King Cake comes stuffed with local crawfish, cheese, herbs, and seasonings.
Best African Restaurant: Addis Ethiopian Kitchen
Addis NOLA takes its name from Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, and translates to “new flower,” the owners say. This intimate setting invites sharing food to deepen the connection to Ethiopia and each other. Expect to eat with your hands from the same serving plates and tear off injera bread for edible utensils. Some chef favorites include Doro Wot, white breast-meat chicken simmered with caramelized onions in robust spices; an all-vegan veggie combo featuring red lentils, collard greens, and yellow split peas; rib-eye tips in Ethiopian herbal butter with tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños; and hot tea infused with cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon.
Best Caribbean: Queen Trini Lisa
Roughly two blocks from Jesuit High School, chef Lisa Nelson, a.k.a. Queen Trini Lisa, creates Trinbagonian island soul food based on her heritage. The menu blends African, East Indian, and Asian cultures using natural ingredients and spices in dishes such as Curry Chicken with plantains; BBQ Jerk Chicken; Island Stir-Fry Cabbage; a coco bread fish sandwich dressed with tomatoes, cucumbers, pineapple, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomatoes; and Doubles, a vegan Trinidadian street food made of curry chickpeas between turmeric flatbread with chutney. “More doubles, less troubles,” Nelson often says.