As a resident of Louisiana and formerly from New Orleans, it is always an honor writing about the culinary delights of New Orleans; however, it is never a simple undertaking.
To take a true foodie’s tour of New Orleans, we’ll head out to some of the well-known, upscale establishments where locals, as well as tourists go. In addition, we will pay a visit to some not-so-upscale places where the locals like to dine, and I’ll wager that you will as well.
Let’s commence with the morning coffee and work our way around town to a midnight snack for a day of down home Cajun eating.
“Laissez les bons temps rouler! ” (Let the Good Times Roll!)
Morning Chicory Coffee & Beignets at Cafe Du Monde
Our first stop will be early morning (at least 9:00 a.m. in New Orleans) for chicory coffee at the world renowned “Café Du Monde.” It’s very strong, hot, and mixed with chicory, the root of the endive plant, which takes the edge off the bitterness. Café Du Monde typically serves it Au Lait, mixed half-and-half with steaming milk; however, many courageous individuals prefer it straight up. This stop would not be complete without an order of beignets, which are square pieces of fried dough, drenched with powdered sugar. No matter how hard you try, you’ll be covered with powdered sugar when you leave.
Breakfast at the Stanley Restaurant
Next, let’s head over to the “Stanley Restaurant,” the only answer to where to eat for breakfast in New Orleans. Chef Scott Boswell, the owner and executive chef, has made his restaurant famous by serving comfort food with a twist. Nothing beats the Eggs Stanley for an exceptional combination of delectable New Orleans flavors. Poached eggs sit on a toasted English muffin topped with Creole Hollandaise sauce. It is served with cornmeal crusted oysters and Canadian bacon. It’s a bit pricey, but oh-so-good.
Brunch and Jazz at the Court of Two Sisters
If you had a late night on Bourbon Street and missed breakfast, never fear, that occurs quite frequently in New Orleans. Therefore, it’s simple to find a New Orleans champagne brunch close-by. My choice is “The Court of Two Sisters” due to their hot and cold brunch menu and their three-piece jazz ensemble.
One of my preferred brunches is off the cold buffet. This normally consists of boiled shrimp and crawfish (when in season), fresh fruit, cheese and pâtés, pasta and seafood salads, and rémoulade and cocktail sauces. Some of the hot food selections are duck à l’ orange (pictured), BBQ pork ribs, shrimp étoufee, jambalaya, and crawfish Louise. Wrap it up with bread pudding generously topped with whiskey sauce. Of course, a mimosa (champagne and orange juice) is a must have with a Big Easy brunch.
Lunch with the Locals at The Grocery
I love to eat lunch at “The Grocery” in the heart of the Garden District, a preference of many locals. Everything on the menu is excellent, but my favorite is, The Works Grilled Cheese Sandwich. This isn’t your conventional grilled cheese. Added to the usual cheese and bread is bacon, onion, and marinated tomato. I like to pair it with a small bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo. Top it off with a triple chocolate pecan brownie (best brownie I ever ate) and an old-time bottle of Coca Cola. Incidentally, the prices here are terrific.
It is typically thought that Cajun food is hot and spicy. While it is definitely spicy with ingredients such as onions, bell peppers, garlic, and parsley, it is not necessarily hot. Most dishes begin with a roux made from oil and flour. It’s slowly cooked in a black iron skillet and stirred constantly until it reaches a rich brown color. Black iron skillets are handed down through the generations. It is a privilege for a woman to inherit her mother’s skillets.
Fine Dining at Muriel’s for Dinner
If you ask a New Orleans native about their favorite place to eat dinner, they will most assuredly say Momma’s house. You will be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t think his or her Momma makes the best gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée in the world. No disagreement here, so let’s talk about other dinner options at one of the city’s celebrated upscale restaurants.
I bet you’ve heard of “Muriel’s.” Whether you have or haven’t, you’re in for a culinary treat. I suggest the Table d’Hote Menu, which is a three course meal consisting of your selection of an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. The price for this meal is surprisingly reasonable. Allow me to recommend some dishes that you have almost certainly never eaten, especially if you’ve never been to New Orleans. Don’t be afraid and live a little. It’s all good.
For an appetizer, let’s choose the turtle soup au sherry. Yes, it’s really made with turtle (it tastes just like chicken). For the entrée, we’ll go with the pecan crusted puppy drum. Don’t panic, this is fresh drum (fish) served with a relish made of roasted pecans and lump crabmeat, topped with a lemon butter sauce. We’ll conclude with my favorite part of the meal, the dessert. My choice is pain perdu bread pudding with candied pecans and creamy rum sauce. Wine, cocktail, or liqueur recommendations are included on the menu for all dishes. The menu items can change depending on what is in season at the time, so don’t hesitate to ask your server for recommendations.
Late Night at the Capdeville Restaurant
You will undoubtedly work up an appetite after a night on Bourbon Street. The Capdeville Restaurant stays open late for just that purpose. It doesn’t close until 11:00 p.m. during the week and midnight on weekends, unless of course, they need to stay open even later. Everything on the menu looks and sounds so good and it is, but my preference is the Robert Paulson Burger. I don’t know about you, but we like meatloaf sandwiches in Louisiana. Capdeville makes them in a very special style. It’s made with a generous slice of turkey meatloaf on a bun topped with caramelized onions, a fried egg, spinach, tomato, and Russian dressing. After eating the Paulson Burger, meatloaf sandwiches will be a staple around your house thereafter.
I don’t recall ever eating a bad meal in New Orleans, so choosing these restaurants was no easy feat. I endeavored to give you a variety of casual, upscale, reasonably-priced, and not-so-reasonably priced choices. However, when you are in New Orleans and looking for a good place to eat, all you really have to do is just open your eyes and look around.