Whether you go down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, French Quarter Fest, or just a vacation with family or friends, here are the things that you must eat.

I love food. (That’s why I started a food blog.) But more importantly, I love GOOD food. New Orleans is home to some of the best food in the country! When we go to visit my in-laws, we always go back to our favorite spots – but we also love to check out the fun new spots that keep popping up.

A collage of images of food from New Orleans with overlay text.
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#1. Seafood Gumbo

A man with dark hair and glasses eating friend seafood and gumbo and looking very excited about it.
A white bowl filled with seafood gumbo and a slice of french bread.
A white bowl filled with seafood gumbo.

Seafood Gumbo: Gumbo is a big bowl of heaven. A heavenly roux, mixed with fresh shrimp and crab meat. It is a must. (I have a great seafood gumbo recipe here – in case you want to try making it yourself!)

If you are allergic to seafood, try a bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo – you won’t regret it. (We hardly ever get Chicken and Sausage Gumbo at a restaurant anymore because I make it at home all the time!) Our favorite place to get gumbo is Mandina’s. Mandina’s is an Italian restaurant, but you can’t beat their gumbo and fried seafood platters.

#2. A Dressed Fried Shrimp Po-Boy

A man in a blue sweater, wearing glasses and making a funny face while eating a fried shrimp po-boy.
A fully dressed fried shrimp po boy from mandeville seafood.
A fully dressed fried shrimp po-boy in a white styrofoam box.
A fully dressed shrimp po-boy from the Parkway Diner in New Orleans, Louisiana.

A Dressed Fried Shrimp Po-Boy: A Po-Boy is a sandwich unlike any you have ever had before. A crunchy piece of French bread, a layer of mayonnaise, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and overflowing with little crispy shrimp. Our favorite place to get a Po-Boy is the classic, Parkway Tavern and Bakery. Parkway has been around FOREVER, and the line will be out the door. It is so worth the wait. We usually get one small shrimp po-boy and one small roast beef po-boy and share them. A side of sweet potato fries or fried pickles will complete your meal.

A roast beef po-boy from the Parkway Diner in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Honorable mentions go to fried oyster po-boys and roast duck po-boys, also pictured here.

A barbecue fried oyster with blue cheese sauce from the Red Fish Grill at French Quarter Fest.
A man eating a slow roasted duck po boy at French Quarter Fest.

#3. Chargrilled Oysters

A plate of chargrilled oysters on a bar top in a dark room.

Chargrilled Oysters: Chargrilled oysters are one of my favorite foods now. There are so many different variations, but the classic oyster with some salt, spices, butter, and baked on cheese is the way to go. I love the chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House (there will be a long line so plan ahead and get there early!) Another really great place to get chargrilled oysters is Drago’s.

#4. Beignets

Beignets: Although a really hard word to spell, a beignet is a must on EVERY trip to New Orleans. Beignets are light and fluffy – crispy on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside. Coat them in powdered sugar and eat while warm – they are amazing. You can eat beignets at any time of the day, breakfast (with a Chicory Cafe au Lait), an afternoon snack, or a late-night treat. Cafe du Monde is “the place” to get them, but Cafe Beignet is also really good!

A man and woman both with brown hair and sunglasses eating beignets on a bench at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans.
New Orleans is one of our favorite places to visit. We always make sure to eat beignets at Cafe du Monde when we visit.

#5. Doberge Cake

Doberge Cake: This one is a little different and isn’t on most “must-try” lists, but it is one of my favorite New Orleans treats. A doberge cake is a layered cake with so many thin layers, alternating with frosting. My favorites are the chocolate frosted with vanilla cake and the lemon with lemon. It is a unique cake, but oh so good. Our favorite place to get them is “across the lake” in Mandeville, at the Mandeville Bake Shop.

My pictures of a doberge cake are not the best quality, which is crazy because I love it so much. Here’s a link to Southern Living’s recipe so you can get a better idea.

#6. Barbecue Shrimp

A brown haired man and a brown haired woman at a table in Mr. B's Bistro in New Orleans. The woman is wearing a bib to eat barbecue shrimp.

Barbecue Shrimp: While I do have numbers on this list, there really is no reason why barbecue shrimp should not be at the top of your list. It is messy, buttery, and delicious. You might even get a bib to wear while eating! This is at Mr. B’s Bistro, and everything there was amazing.

#7. A Muffuletta

A muffaletta with meats and olive spread in a basket and a pickle from Stein's Deli in New Orleans.
A shelf of packaged foods available for purchase at Stein's Deli in New Orleans.
A cheese and prosciutto sandwich on a roll turned on the side in a basket with a pickle from Stein's Deli in New Orleans.
A mortadella and mustard sandwich in a basket with a pickle from Stein's Deli in New Orleans.

A Muffuletta: Ok, so I am going to be honest here and say that I personally don’t like muffulettas, but I don’t like olives much. If you like olives, you must get a muffuletta! What is in a muffuletta? A muffuletta is a big, crunchy roll that is stuffed with salami, ham, swiss cheese, provolone, mortadella, and the famous olive salad. We got these at Stein’s Deli on Magazine Street. They also have a ton of other sandwiches for my fellow olive haters 😉

#8. A Sno-Ball

A brown haired man in a red shirt sipping a yellow snoball through a straw.

A Sno-ball: A sno-ball is a cone or cup of shaved ice – distinguishing it from a snow CONE, which is crushed ice. A sno-ball has the texture of soft, fluffy snow and is drizzled with a flavored cane syrup of your choosing.

Michael loves a creamy sno-ball, topped with flavored a syrup mixed with evaporated milk. You can find a good snoball at Hansen’s Sno Bliz.

#9. A Plate of Fried Seafood

A Plate of Fried Seafood: The best fried seafood plate is a plate of catfish, oysters, and shrimp. Just do yourself a favor and share a plate of seafood with a friend.

We usually get a plate of fried seafood to share and a cup (or bowl) of seafood gumbo. Mandina’s has awesome fried seafood, but so do most places around town.

#10. A Crawfish Boil

A table covered in newspaper with a pile of crawfish.

Get yourself to a Crawfish Boil: This one would be higher on the list, but it is a seasonal thing so I can’t insist that you go to one 😉 Boiled crawfish is an experience; a little bit of spice and a whole lot of fun. That’s what New Orleans is all about! (Crawfish season can last anywhere from November to July, but the time of year to find the very best crawfish is in the spring and early summer, from late February through May. Typically crawfish season will start around the same time as Mardi Gras.)

Some honorable mentions are:

– Shrimp and Tasso Henican, Bread Pudding Souffle, or Bananas Foster at Commander’s Palace.
– A hand grenade from anywhere on Bourbon Street, a hurricane from Pat O’Briens.
– Tasso Fried Rice from the Redfish Grill.
– Fried Chicken at Raising Cane’s. If you can’t get to Raising Cane’s, I have a great recipe for homemade Raising Cane’s dipping sauce.

If you don’t like to cook or don’t have a book of family recipes to cook from, I would also try:

So, kick back, throw on some stretchy pants, grab a beer, and eat your heart out in one of the greatest cities in the world!

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Hi, I'm Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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  1. Muffalettas are great at Central Grocery. Central grocery is where the first one was ever made. For Po Boys, try Johnny’s Po-Boys. This is where the NOLA folks go when they have a hankering for one. Every kind you can think of, nut long waits.

    1. Jacqueline – IT IS AMAZING! I swear we come home ten pounds heavier but it is so worth it. I hope you get the chance to go! 🙂

  2. I should not have looked at all these pictures while hungry, haha. Everything looks delicious! Now I want to visit New Orleans and go on an amazing food adventure. That shrimp po-boy looks right up my alley. I mean, all of the food loos great but that one stands out to me the most.

  3. I spent the night in New Orleans on a road trip, but definitely want to return! This was a great list of regional foods to try (:

  4. All of this food looks amazing!! And your pictures! Your partner’s faces made my day. If I was eating that food, I’d be making some super-enthused faces too. Hopefully someday we can visit New Orleans because it would be a shame to miss out on all this food! I’m especially dreaming about that Po Boy sandwich.

    1. His faces are the best! I hardly ever get normal pictures of him 😉 If you get a chance to go I’m sure you will love it! The food is SO good!