I wish I could eat 10 meals a day while in New Orleans.
Everyone always says the food from New Orleans is amazing, but dang… I was not prepared for just how out of this world eating in New Orleans is. It’s almost like a sport (and one that you 100% need stretchy pants to wear while doing so!!)
The grits, the gumbo, the fresh oysters, the fried food that’s perfectly fried so it’s not too greasy…. don’t mind me low-key drooling over here just thinking about all the best food of New Orleans…We spent much of our time in NOLA hunting down the top must eat New Orleans restaurants so we could share them with you! Keep reading for my ultimate guide on what to eat in New Orleans!
>> Got a question about New Orleans eats that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul and I’ll be happy to help!
Where Should A First Time Visitor Eat In New Orleans
My husband and I went to New Orleans for the first time a couple of years ago and when we left the city, it almost felt like we had to roll ourselves out of there. As travel bloggers, when traveling work we always hustle to find the best of the best for our readers.
In New Orleans, that meant eating a LOT. There are so many fantastic new Orleans eats. Normally while traveling we don’t go all out for 3 large meals a day (plus snacks) but I was set on visiting the famous best places to eat in New Orleans, along with trying out hidden gems.
We also had to settle the debate for ourselves on who does beignets better: Cafe DuMonde or Cafe Beignet (a rivalry that tore apart my Instagram Story polls since people are very passionate about who they think served the better beignet!!)
While I think the hub of restaurants is in the French Quarter, you can find out of this world food all over the city (from the Garden District to the Ninth Ward.) I put on a comfy dress and set out with Robin to track down the best food in New Orleans. Let’s get this New Orleans eating guide started!!
Looking for ideas on what to do in New Orleans? Check out my New Orleans travel guide featuring fun things to do in The Big Easy, the best hotels, what to pack and more travel tips.
16 Must Eat New Orleans Restaurants For First Time Visitors
The grits, the gumbo, the fresh oysters, the fried food that's perfectly fried so it's not too greasy.... don't mind me low-key drooling over here just thinking about all the best food of New Orleans...We spent much of our time in NOLA hunting down the top must eat New Orleans restaurants so we could share them with you!
Royal House has a beautiful second-level wrap around porch that offers fantastic French Quarter people-watching. Plus, they’re oysters are fresh and I LOVED their cheesy shrimp n grits! Soft shell crab and oysters are what to eat when visiting New Orleans (at least for one meal!) and Royal House was the perfect place for dinner on our first night. The perfect introduction to must eats in New Orleans...
I'm SO team Cafe Beignet!! I enjoyed them SO much more than Cafe Du Monde. Cafe Beignet was far less crowded, had way better decor and the beignets were all evenly shaped and equally tasty. There are a few Cafe Beignet locations, I recommend the one on Royal Street. It’s very empty in the evening and perfect for photos! I think they take the rank for the best place to eat in New Orleans for beignets in my opinion.
Cafe Du Monde is the other beignet place and considered one of the best places to eat in New Orleans. BUT I found it was extremely crowded, we were ignored by servers for over 20 minutes (even asking one if he could take our order) and I wasn’t a fan of how the beignets weren’t consistently shaped. We tried to sit down but ended up being forced to order the beignets to go because we couldn't get served, and we took them to the park across the seat to eat on a bench. That was a nice experience to eat while looking at Louis Catherdal, but the rest of it... not so much. Everyone in New Orleans comes here and they just aren't equipped to handle that much foot traffic.
Tucked in the 9th Ward is The Country Club. Its front porch and yellow paint is charming, sure, but what you could never guess is tucked behind it is a beautiful restaurant and – wait for it – a pool! We grabbed lunch there one day and then took a dip in the pool afterward. Pool passes are $15 for the day. Head here on a hot day for a different take on New Orleans where you’ll mingle with locals. I insist that you order the Crab Beignets – it was one of my favorite dishes of everything we ate in New Orleans!
You may accidentally walk right by this restaurant, but you’d be missing out on all the wonderful history inside and probably the best dang lunch you’ll find in the French Quarter. Napoleon House earned it’s namesake because it was rumored that the original owner was building out the extensive upstairs living quarters to house Napoleon himself.. and then Napoleon died, so that never happened. But the restaurant downstairs is still thriving and has all the original flair you may have found in an 1800’s restaurant, including the original bar! Order the muffaletta (OMG SO GOOD!) and a Pimm’s Cup for a refreshing and refreshingly affordable lunch. Pro tip – they offer seasonal Pimm’s Cup flavors, so try an original and seasonal one!
A cute little coffee shop in the heart of the French Quarter. The coffee is totally San Francisco priced, bu DANG, their $6 Las Tres Flores latte is probably one of the best latte's I've ever had. Seriously. Don't skip this spot if you're on the hunt for the best coffee in New Orleans.
Gourmet sausages in a colorful restaurant that overlooks Frenchmen Street = our kind of place. We arrived around 7pm, right as the Big Jazz Band on the corner below the restaurants was starting. We lucked out and were able to grab killer seats on the balcony overlooking the jazz band! I tried the alligator dog, which was perfect. We originally planned to stay for just dinner and go fine jazz in a club, but we ended up staying all night!! It was the highlight of my trip and one of the best unique eats in New Orleans.
The Carousel Bar is located in the lobby of Hotel Monteleone. While we stayed a few nights in that hotel, we never were able to grab a seat at the bar because it's so popular! It did look like a lot of fun to grab a drink at. The bar actually moves in a circle, like a real carousel!
A contemporary restaurant that has slight New Orlean's flair. We took a peek inside and the decor is trendy and chic. I'm told the charcuterie board is great, along with the fish tacos. Happy hour is daily from 2pm-7pm.
This spot is one of the most famous classic brunch restaurants in New Orleans (you probably recognize the blue exterior, or have heard about their 25 cent martinis.) It's in the heart of the Garden District right across the street from Lafayette Cemetery. Visit the cemetery, then come for their 3-course Jazz Brunch.
A traditional bar in front with a great back patio space. Their happy hour is a good one for drinks, you can snap up a beer for just a few bucks. We tried frogs legs here. I didn't like them, but Robin loved them. I also grabbed the crawfish grits which has appeared on the Food Network once. I thought the prices were a little high for the food, but the location is great and hey, if you've never tried frog legs now is your chance!
Brennans New Orleans is a CLASSIC. It's probably on all your best " what to eat in New Orleans French Quarter " lists. Located in a pink building on Royal Street, the place was constantly hopping. I recommend reservations, as tables fill quickly. We didn’t get a chance to eat there (because we didn't make reservations!) but it came highly recommended by many people!
We walked by this spot a few times and I loved how romantic it looked. The restaurant is in a 150 year+ courtyard filled with flowers and string lights. They serve traditional Lousiana fare and would make a great date night spot!
Want to find the best rose in New Orleans? Head here! They have a fantastic happy hour menu where most items are 50% off. We loved this place so much we went twice – the brunch menu is equally as delicious! Plus, the decor in here is hipster-chic. Try the fried chicken sandwich or the hangover bowl!
Remember those slushy machines in gas stations? Picture that, but with 15 different daiquiri flavors all lined up on a wall. Pop in, choose a flavor, pay the man $10 and stroll along Bourbon Street with your cold daiquiri to go!
Ok, so this isn't a place to eat but rather a drink to order. It's cocktail with a top-secret recipe and only 5 spots in New Orleans are allowed to serve it (mostly on Bourbon Street.) I can't think of a polite way to say this, so I'll be blunt: it fucks you up. Robin and I shared one just to see what it's like and I felt DRUNK after just half. We think it's a mix of pineapple juice and an array of 3-5 alcohols. If you're trying to party, this drink will help you do that on a budget because all you need is one!
I hope this helps you find the best food to eat in New Orleans!! Robin and I had a blast running around this historic city eating our hearts out but we did leave the city wishing we stayed longer than 3 days… literally just so we could eat more! Ha!
Next time we visit, we’ll be staying a few days longer so we can find even more fun places to eat in New Orleans (and visit some of our favorites from this list!) Each time we visit New Orleans in the future, we’ll be updating this list! So check back.
We tried our best to test out everyone’s recommendations from Instagram, but again – there is only so much food one can eat each day! When planning your trip, add on an extra day or two just to eat more. I’m serious.
If your favorite restaurant isn’t mentioned on here, please leave a comment below so everyone can see. If you have any questions about eating New Orleans, or general travel advice, please leave a comment or DM me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul and I’ll be happy to help!
Sorry if you see this twice… lost the page temporarily, so a smaller summary the second time.
Linda and I are both surprised that Coop’s Place isn’t on your list! It’s in the French Quarter, close to the river on Decatur Street. We’ve been there at least 4 times during our visits. Great Canjun. Jambalaya, excellent Fried Chicken and lots of seafood dishes.
Depending on the time of day, there will likely be a long line out the door to get in. It’s not fancy by any stretch of the imagination, which some people may have issues with, but we love the atmosphere! Nice little bar too.
On Decatur Street, it’s close to the area east where you’ll see more locals and different live music options than on the main drag.
I have never heard of Coop’s, but thanks for adding to the list, Dad!! We’ll have to visit next time for sure!!!
Drago’s for chargrilled oysters and Morrow’s for chicken and waffles and the redfish!!
Adolfo’s on Frenchmen Street is one of my favorites. Very small, cash only. Is only open 3 nights per week Thurs-Sat. Creole Italian
Killer po boys, district donuts, palm court cafe for live jazz with dinner, and the court of two sisters for jazz brunch (which allows for trying a huge array of Nola style food) were all favorites of ours!!! The spotted cat and frietzel’s were also great for unique drinks and live jazz!
You don’t get served at the table at Cafe Du Monde, you stand in line at the front. The staff are just cleaning the tables, not taking orders. I’ve been going there since I was 3 in 1984, and that’s how it’s always been.