When it comes to food, New Orleans knows how to deliver. This is an area that is rich in cajun history.
Cajun roots actually originated in France beginning as soulful Acadians, and we all know how the French love to cook.
This cajun history means that soul food has been perfected over time. While most of us think of cajun as the only food to try in New Orleans, other restaurants might make the cut. We sought to find the very best New Orleans spots that we would recommend to our readers.
Sure, you might expect all our top 5 best restaurants to be exclusively Cajun-style cuisine. But, there is an overall southern style of cooking here that is rich with seafood since it is a coastal city. Hey, “when in Rome” as the saying goes. This is why we follow the locals around when it comes to finding the best of the best for foodies.
This city is known for its hustle and bustle of Mardi Gras, so New Orleans needs a good game face when it comes to satisfying the foodies who flock in from around the country. This city doesn’t disappoint.
However, Mardi Gras aside, it is rich in culture, history, and food year-round. When visiting, you need to try some of the things this city is known for, such as bananas foster, chicory coffee, beignets, turtle soup, oysters, muffulettas, crawfish, étouffée, po’boys, gumbo, and more.
These are some unique dishes down in these parts. It would be a cryin’ shame if you went home without trying some. Where do I begin, you may wonder.
Since most of these dishes are not found in the rest of the U.S., you’ll want to pace yourself. Be sure to look up the ones that you haven’t heard of and see if it’s something you might take a gander at. In the meantime, let’s take a look at our 5 top restaurants in New Orleans.
Chef Frank Brigtsen began his career in 1973. This gives him plenty of time to get the dishes to perfection. A few of his accolades include being named one of the Top Ten New Chefs in America by FOOD&WINE magazine (1988) and America’s Best Chef, Southeast by the James Beard Foundation Awards (1998).
He has also been named Chef of the Year by New Orleans magazine and Restaurateur of the Year by the Louisiana Restaurant Association. The list is endless for this culinary master and you can read more here.
Here you will find amazing Creole/Acadian cuisine that is to die for. This one has won the hearts of the locals, so that’s half the battle if not most of it. All of this amazing food is served in a beautiful setting that offers a Victorian cottage-like feel.
It is located on the Mississippi levee and Maples Street inside an old house that fully encompasses all that New Orleans charm. Not only do we recommend Brigtsens restaurant for the food, but the atmosphere is a wonderful example of the spirit that lies in New Orleans.
It has highly reviewed seafood and gumbo dishes worth writing lengthy reviews for. Some specialties include broiled Gulf fish with crab crust & lemon crab sauce and then there’s Trout Meuniere.
This place knows the locals by name and will welcome you with open arms. However, don’t fill up on the main dishes as the pecan pie is one that nobody should miss.
Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
First, let us say you don’t grow to over 400 employees without having some secret up your sleeve when it comes to cajun-style seafood.
Probably helps if your name is Drago if you want to add a little intrigue to the mix, but Drago claims his secret sauce is the love he puts in each dish.
Drago’s Metairie is known for its charbroiled oysters that melt in your mouth. Of course, you will find their signature gumbo something to write home about as well, as it wouldn’t be a New Orleans restaurant without a signature gumbo.
Again, you will find all kinds of signature seafood dishes that are amazing. A peek at the menu tells the tale, big on lobster, shrimp, and of course oysters. Be adventurous and try the fried gator bites or gator tacos made with alligator tail meat. Better than the gator taking a bite out of your tail, right? Let’s remain at the top of the food chain.
Drago’s always offers amazing meals and is constantly impressing those visiting and the locals. In fact, he’s been known to walk up to your table and thank you for eating there. He might even say “How’s ya mama an’ them?” Now that’s southern hospitality!
Mosca’s offers family-style cuisine that warms the soul. This restaurant is located in a white clapboard building and had ties to the original mafia. In fact, the crime boss of New Orleans was once the landlord. Needless to say, if the food wasn’t spectacular, there probably wouldn’t be a Mosca’s.
While you enjoy the low lighting and amazing smells coming from the kitchen, you will notice this place has a bit of a garlic smell. Back when they opened their roadside diner in 1946, it was the smell of garlic that lured travelers off the road and into the frying pan.
Garlic is thought to ward off bad spirits (or mobsters), and you cannot go wrong doing this in New Orleans, since its roots are deep-seated in voodoo and witchcraft.
Enjoy garlic-rich dishes such as Chicken a la Grande, Spaghetti Bordelaise, and Oyster Mosca, which are oysters breaded with breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning.
While the last few restaurants were more cajun style, Mosca’s offers a New Orleans version of Italian cuisine. You can even make some of their signature dishes at home. However, it never seems to taste the same when you do it. Recipes are available on their website.
Liuzza’s by the Track
Let’s talk gumbo. All our top New Orleans restaurants have fantastic gumbo, but Liuzza’s by the Track offers some of the very best gumbo in the city.
This gumbo is a thin broth with loads of smoked sausage, chicken, sauteed oysters, and ship okra and arrives in a bowl filled to the rim.
This casual creole tavern is also known for its BBQ Shrimp po’boys and slowly simmers corned beef that brings people in from miles around.
If you are looking for that New Orleans charm and feel, this small place is certainly worth checking out. It is one that the locals visit often, and they offer great lunch specials too.
The place may look a little rough around the edges, but that’s authenticity and at Liuzza’s, you know you’re getting the real deal in cajun cuisine.
Sammy’s is another wonderful restaurant that the locals adore. Here you will often find a line out the door for their famous po’boy. If Sammy’s rings a bell, then you might have caught Guy Fieri’s act on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” featuring this restaurant. We agree, this is a foodies paradise.
Being a former butcher shop, no surprise they pack on the goods on their signature sandwiches. Po’boy originated to feed the streetcar conductors but has since become a classic staple found all over the New Orleans area.
Sammy’s is known for its amazing and unique sandwich options that will surely be a bit of a mess at times to manage.
They offer seafood platters and have a list of side dishes to go with everything. Sammy’s might not look like a lot from the parking lot, but don’t let the external appearance steer you wrong. This local favorite is a very popular spot, even with its modest look.
When in New Orleans, we say, eat like a local. Find the best restaurants in the local area and be bold, trying new things. Gator tail meat anyone?
While many travelers like to stick to what they know, the more adventurous need to get out and experience some of the local food in this area, as you won’t find many of these dishes anywhere else.
New Orleans is a combination of unique pasts and history that makes it unique to its own. These pasts are what have formed some of the amazing dishes we have today.