After suffering high temperatures and suffocating humidity, New Orleans still left me wanting more. Music filled the thick night air and morning haze raising spirits with rousing beats while restaurant and bakery kitchens wafted alluring aromas into the streets even without a hint of a breeze.
Most impressive is the fact that dining out three to four (even five) times a day didn’t make a dent in the extensive list of places to eat! One of my favorite aspects of travel is experiencing local cuisine, landmark restaurants and regional specialties.
The best approach is to find places to eat in an assortment of categories: formal, informal, celebrity, suburban, farmer’s markets, downtown, walk-up, dine in, bar, coffee shop, bakery and everything in between. This can keep a person busy all day long and into the night!
So if you are heading toward New Orleans make dining high on your list of things to do. You won’t regret a bite of it!
Everywhere you go, there are signs pointing you toward food and drink. My comments below relate to just a few of the places we enjoyed. To discuss each one, well, would take days. So here are some highlights.
At Café du Monde you can sit and watch the people while enjoying a hot beignet and coffee. The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. Be prepared, however, to leave looking like you’ve just eaten one of these sugar-coated delicacies!
Southern pecans are some of the sweetest to be found, especially when cooking into candy.
Cochon Restaurant will serve you memorable garlicky cochon (roasted suckling pig) with cracklins, amazing pork rillette, ribs with watermelon pickle, and tasty oyster-and-bacon sandwich. If you are short on time, run next door to Cochon Butcher and grab a sandwich or some sausage to slice and snack on.
Take a short drive (about an hour) across Lake Pontchartrain, the second largest saltwater lake in the United States, and continue on to a pleasant tour and tasting at the Abita Brewing Company’s Brewery. Founded in 1986, they brew over 90,000 barrels of beer and 5,000 barrels of root beer using their own artesian spring water from Abita Springs.
Mandina’s Restaurant began as a modest grocery store in 1898 under the management of Sebastian Mandina. Later his two sons took the store from groceries to a pool hall that sold sandwiches and eventually, in 1932, they established Mandina’s Restaurant catering proudly to the “needs and desires” of the neighborhood.
The menu is full of Cajun and Creole dishes and seafood and I highly recommend a cup of the Homemade Turtle Soup au Sherry. If you can also get your mouth around one of their po’ boys you’ll feel proud!
Commanders Palace is known as much as a century old landmark as it is as a fine dining establishment. This is Creole cooking at its best. Here is a place where the chef insists his ingredients are “dirt to plate within 100 miles” and grows over 1400 herbs on the roof! Because of the chef’s policy regarding local food, I hesitate to recommend any dishes because they can change with the local produce daily.
The amazing variety of New Orleans!
Camellia Grill, established in 1946, is known for its breakfasts, specifically its omelets which are fluffy and heavy and an outstanding pecan waffle, and its sloppy burgers and chocolate freezes. There is usually a wait but it’s well worth it and just watching the staff work is entertaining too!
Muriel’s, in Jackson Square, is uniquely decorated restaurant gussied up like a Gothic parlor. Whether you dine in The Bistro, The Balcony or at the 100-year-old Courtyard Bar, the staff and atmosphere will delight you. The menu makes choosing a dilemma due to an appealing array of contemporary Creole cuisine. The General Manager and Chef, as you can see, are quite proud of this place.
Aside from the food, Muriel’s also boasts about its resident ghost. The upper area, which used to be a bordello, is his haunt and you are free to visit his rooms.
There’s nothing to fear. The restaurant states, “We firmly believe that our resident ghosts here at Muriel’s are harmless, and can sometimes be very entertaining. Those who have seen or felt a presence have never felt threatened and instead we’ve welcomed an old kindred spirit to dine, by always keeping a table reserved for Mr. Jourdan set with bread and wine.”
New Orleans is enchanting with a long history involving food, spirits, music, and metaphysics and as a refuge for lost souls. Its expression lives in the music, cuisine and literature making it a destination filled with entertainments of all sorts.