Eat All the Most Iconic Foods in New Orleans in One Delicious Weekend

updated Dec 17, 2019
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(Image credit: Tara Donne)

New Orleans is a food-lover’s paradise. From Creole and Cajun staples (like gumbo, jambalaya, etouffée) and po’ boys and muffulettas to powdered-sugar-coated beignets and toothache-inducing pralines (pronounced PRAW-leen, if you please), it’d be easy to spend an entire week, if not longer, eating your way through this tasty town.

But if you only have a weekend, what’s the best way to get your fill of all of New Orleans’ most famous foods? We have a few ideas.

Plan for one big, spendy meal a day.

Our best advice: Plan for one big, spendy meal a day, whether it’s breakfast at Brennan’s (order the eggs Benedict), lunch at Galatoire’s (which will likely turn into dinner), or dinner at Antoine’s (birthplace of oysters Rockefeller). This will be your anchor for the day — the meal around which you plan your other meals as well as, perhaps, some walking (or napping) in between.

Become a sandwich connoisseur.

Don’t worry, though, we won’t let you go hungry. Fuel yourself with New Orleans’ other claim to fame: the po’ boy. Every local has her go-to po’ boy shop. For some, it’s the oyster loaf at Acme Oyster House; others swear by the debris po’ boy at Parkway Tavern. My favorite is Domilise’s, an unassuming shack where locals queue for po’ boys that can be ordered “half and half” (i.e., half oyster, half shrimp). Try as many as you can and come away with an opinion of your own.

Of course, a muffuletta with a side of Zapp’s potato chips from Central Grocery is de rigueur (although I’m personally partial to the one at Napoleon House, where you can wash your sandwich down with a refreshing Pimm’s Cup).

Slurp some bivalves.

Trust me when I tell you that the combination of shrimp remoulade, blackened redfish, and bananas foster plus a substantial sammy will have you feeling fairly satisfied. A muffuletta from Central Grocery alone could feed you for an entire day, but perhaps you’re still feeling peckish?

The answer is oysters. In the French Quarter, the Royal House Oyster Bar is the place to slurp some bivalves. If you’re looking for something a bit swankier, Peche is another favorite. But the very best place to get your oyster fix is Casamento’s, a Garden District institution where you can have a beer and watch burly men shuck oysters while you wait for your table.

Develop a beignet habit.

One cannot go to New Orleans and not go to Cafe du Monde, the 24-hour coffeehouse known for its chicory coffee and beignets. An order comes with three beignets — and don’t even think about sharing.

Satisfy your sweet tooth.

Sugar, nuts, sometimes cream or butter — what’s not to love about pralines? They also make a nice gift (paired with some chicory coffee, perhaps?) and Pralines by Jean is the place to get them. Looking for something to cool you down? Try a sno-ball from Hansen’s Sno-Bliz.

Where to Stay in New Orleans

If you want something classy and classic, you can’t go wrong with Windsor Court, The Roosevelt, or The Ritz-Carlton. Newcomers like the Ace Hotel and The Troubadour have more of a hip factor. My go-to is Soniat House, a trio of townhouses that have been converted into a charming boutique hotel, where each room is unique and breakfast of cafe au lait, warm biscuits, and strawberry preserves is delivered daily.

(Image credit: Rotem Raffe)