The best part about traveling to a new part of the country is when you immerse yourself in their culture. The only downside is you usually only have a limited time to get it all in. New Orleans is the perfect place to get wrapped up in the culture. With a Hurricane threatening to arrive into the city at any minute, I had to work fast. This was my husband’s first visit, and I wanted to show him what NOLA is all about. I know he’s not much of a partier, so I focused on his taste buds! We were going to check out all the foods to try in New Orleans.
Foods to Try in New Orleans a Culinary Tour
Beignets are a staple of any New Orleans Experience. You can find them in most restaurants on the waterfront. But if you go to Café Du Monde, you’ll get the original experience. I’ve had been to NOLA twice before but had been detoured by the long lines at Café Du Monde. From the rumors I heard, you had to get there early if you wanted a table. We stopped in for breakfast at around 7:30 am, and they were just getting set up.
We ordered another of beignets and coffee to share and eagerly awaited breakfast. They arrived fresh from the fryers smelling of sweet deslicousnous. Three giant donuts covered the plate pile with more powdered sugar than I ever could imagine. They were so hot; we had to wait a few minutes before we could dig in. But once we did, they just melted in your mouth. They had a light, fluffy doughnut with a chewier exterior, all covered in powdered sugar. It’s a must eat culinary experience!
The Beignets were so good; we went back later in the day. The to-go line looked long, but it moves fast. We probably only spend 5 minutes waiting in line. All of Café Dumont is CASH only. Don’t worry; they don’t break the bank.
After exploring the city on foot, lunchtime was creeping up on us, and we needed something to eat. Then we noticed some fun jazz music playing at an outdoors at the Market Café. Sitting down at a few chairs, we had the warm sun on our face, and a warm breeze was coming in off the Mississippi River. It was perfect.
I decided to order a Muffaletta. It’s an Italian sandwich, filled with sliced ham, salami, mozzarella, provolone and Swiss cheese, topped with olive salad. The sandwich is held together on sesame seed bun and baked in the oven. The Market Café’s full-size sandwich on a sandwich round as big as the plate! I ordered a half sandwich, and it was still very shareable.
Craw Fish Po boy
New Orleans originated the Po Boy’s. You can find them on every street corner. The Po Boy has a very familiar look to them, making them a favorite to people like myself that may not normally be an adventures eater. A Po Boy is similar to a submarine sandwich but with a slightly different bread. I’m sure New Orleans’s people are probably eeking at my comparison. But it’s the best I got. It has a crisper and chewier crust. The sandwich has lettuce, mayo, pickles and other fixings.
My husband didn’t want to be safe on this trip, so he ordered the Craw Fish Po Boy. The Crawfish was fried and put in the classic Po Boy sandwich. All and all this was the safest thing we ate on the trip. It reminded me of Midwest comfort food, just with a different meat.
Deanies is known for some of the most amazing seafood in the French Quarter. Their seafood platters are reasonably priced and come piled high on the plate; you’ll be packing up the leftovers. When I found out the wedding reception I was going to would be here, I got so excited. I got to try out my first Jambalaya.
Jambalaya is a Cajun style of rice with chicken and andouille sausage. It’s a popular dish for big gatherings, making it the perfect choice for this occasion. The rice was delicious. But my Midwestern taste buds found a little went a long way. It wasn’t long before my mouth was on fire and I had to stop. My husband, on the other hand, loved it. I’m a total lightweight when it comes to spice. I probably would have eaten more if I had something on the side to tone down the spice.
I’ve tried crab cakes before, but I was excited to try out the Ravioli at Deanies. From my experience, ravioli tend to be pretty safe and mellow. I was in for a big surprise. It had shredded crab meat in a Parmesan encrusted Ravioli. This dish is only available on their catering menu, and it packed a punch. It was way too spicy for me but had a lot of potential. The exterior of the ravioli had a nice crunch on the ravioli. Deanies has non-spicy foods as well. I had a wonderful Cesar salad and other things too. Next time, I’m trying crab directly from the shell.
As the Category One Hurricane was supposed to make landfall in NOLA, the entire city was going on a curfew starting a 6 pm. The thought of being stuck in a hotel in this amazing city was going to be torture. Don’t get me wrong, the Four Points hotel we stayed at was great. But I don’t go on vacation to stay in my room. We wanted to make sure we got a good meal before curfew hit. This was our chance to try one last crazy food. We stumbled into Oceana Grill. We were looking for a good dessert. Then we saw Oysters on the menu. We figured why not!
We placed our order for the Oceana’s Oysters. They were char-grilled over an open flame, covered in a garlic and creamy herb sauce, and topped with Parmesan and Romano cheeses. The thought of eating an oyster was terrifying. We figured, cooked was the way to start. After we placed our order, I quickly did a google search on my phone to see the proper way to eat it. They wanted you to use a fork or spoon to loosen up the meat from the shell and then pick up the shell and slurp it down. That’s where they lost me. I do not slurp food from a shell. I don’t know where that shell’s been!
It ended up being one of my favorite things to eat. They do have a different texture, but the flavor was amazing. I didn’t have the courage to slurp it directly from the shell, but I didn’t care!
NOLA Style French Toast
With our time in NOLA coming to a close, we went out for some more breakfast before our flight out of town. We arrived at Café Beignet and saw that they sold ‘Southern Style’ French toast. I immediately wanted to know what makes it ‘Southern Style’? It turns out it’s the style of bread. They used a Po Boy French bread and cut it on into strips, similar to the way bruschetta looks. It had a chewier consistency and wasn’t as egg heavy as the ‘Northern Style’ French toast. They still topped it with powdered sugar though. It was spot on delicious. I’d defiantly go back again!
I had been wondering about grits ever since I heard Vinny Gambini proclaim, “Sure, I’ve heard of grits. I just never actually ‘seen’ a grit”. The southern love and pride of Gritts in My Cousin Vinney became the ongoing joke in the classic film. When they appeared on my husband’s breakfast plate at Café Beignet, I had to sneak a taste.
Grits is ground corn kernels boiled with milk or water, cooked, season and served. It reminds me of oatmeal, but creamier, grittier and filled with a whole lot of butter. While I think it’s a great vessel for flavor, I wanted more than just butter. I could see mixing in some other seasoning with it and maybe it would pop. For now, I’m going to stick with my morning oatmeal.
My culinary adventure was a lot of fun. There were a lot of foods to try in New Orleans. I went out of my comfort zone a lot. In the 26 hours we were there, I found lots of things I loved. I know I missed a few things, but a girl can only eat so much over the course of a day. I think I did pretty well! Is there anything you think I missed or need to try the next time I’m in NOLA?
More Info: New Orleans Restaurants
Directions: Directions to the French Quarter
Recommended Guide: Lonely Plant New Orleans
Other Recommend Reading: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories