7 Essential Eats In New Orleans
New Orleans is a mystical place, where the heady sounds of voodoo, debauchery and jazz fill the air seven nights a week. While partying and bead-throwing may be the most-loved pastime in this town, the local food scene is arguably the best in the US.
So before you head to NOLA, star these old icons and new favourites in your Google Maps and ensure you’re never without a full belly in The Big Easy.
#1 For Brunch: Compere Lapin
There’s no shortage of chic brunch spots in New Orleans, but the one to be seen at right now is Compere Lapin. The in-house restaurant of trendy arts district hotel The Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery, it’s helmed by chef Nina Compton and dishes up Caribbean-Creole fusion.
Though good at any time of day, visit during brunch for the biscuits and gravy and wash them down with a Bloody Mary or two.
Where: 535 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans
#2 For Po Boys: Mother’s Restaurant
For the uninitiated, Mother’s is the Katz’s Deli of New Orleans; it’s an institution. Opened in 1938, it was a family-run business up until the mid-’80s and, despite the change in ownership, remains pretty much the same as it’s always been (just bigger, and with a slightly more extensive menu).
Yes, you’ll have to wait in line. No, they don’t take reservations. But you will experience the magic of a Po Boy – a crusty baguette filled with roast beef or fried seafood, and just the right amount of salad and sauce.
Where: 401 Poydras Street, New Orleans
#3 For A Hangover Cure: Cochon Butcher
Another of NOLA’s iconic eats is the humble muffaleta; a dense bread roll filled with provolone, mortadella, salami, ham and olive salad. It was invented by an Italian immigrant and is now considered as important a sandwich in these parts as the Po Boy.
Plenty of locals will tell you that the best one comes from “The Butcher”, the laid-back sister venue to next door’s date-night worthy Cochon. It’s a wine bar, sandwich counter and butcher shop, and though the menu is home to many decadent lunch options, the muffaletta is the one that’ll revive a sore head.
Where: 930 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans
#4 For Oysters: Antoine’s
It goes without saying that even people who hate seafood should at least try a little something when visiting this part of the world – they’ve found so many ways to fancy-up their fresh catches that you’re almost guaranteed to find the thing that’ll change your opinion. At Antoine’s, it’s oysters.
This upscale, French-Creole restaurant invented Oysters Rockefeller, which involves smothering said oysters in butter, breadcrumbs and green herbs and baking them. The official recipe is still top-secret, but nailing the flavour at home is far more complex than it seems, so save yourself the trouble and order a dozen here instead.
Where: 713 St Louis Street, New Orleans
#5 For Cheese And Wine: Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits
Venture out to the Bywater and arrive at a totally unassuming address, where you’ll enter a small, dimly-lit room with cheese-stocked fridges and bottles of wine lining the walls. At Bacchanal Fine Wine and Spirits, grab some charcuterie, cheese and a bottle (the staff know their stuff, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, let them steer you in the right direction) and pay at the counter. Then, head out to the enchanting outdoor courtyard for live music and sunshine.
The Bacchanal team will make you up a cheeseboard of whatever you bought in the store, plus a few tasty extras, and bring it out to you. It’s genius, delicious, and one-of-a-kind.
Where: 600 Poland Avenue, New Orleans
#6 For Cocktails: Cane & Table
Cane & Table, an Old Havana-inspired rum bar in the French Quarter, offers welcome respite from the chaos of touristy areas like Bourbon Street.
If you want to the most over-the-top, made-for-Instagram, even slightly embarrassing cocktail, ask the bartender for one of their Prototiki blends, which often come served in a coconut or pineapple, sometimes flanked by flaming limes. Yes, really.
Head there between 3pm and 6pm, Monday to Friday and you’ll score Happy Hour specials too.
Where: 1113 Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans
#7 For Late-Night Snacks: Cafe Du Monde
Celebrities love Cafe du Monde, from Patrick Stewart to Reese Witherspoon and, of course, Kim Kardashian, who swung by for a bag of beignets on the way home from Serena Williams’ New Orleans wedding in November. But regular people love Cafe du Monde, too; it’s why you’ll find the place bustling at literally all hours of the day. And honestly, there’s nothing not to like and no time that isn’t the right time for a fried lump of dough smothered in powdered sugar, and perhaps a chicory coffee, too.
But if you want to avoid a long wait and enjoy the curious mix of visitors that go to a cafe at 2am, make it your late-night port of call.
Where: Several locations in New Orleans
(Lead image: Cochon Butcher / Facebook)