When it comes to New Orleans, you've likely heard all about the city's second line parades around the French Quarter and the day-to-night-to-day celebrations that go on during Mardi Gras. However, the true charm of this Southern destination lies not its frenetic party energy but rather in its booming food scene that boasts a cross section of Cajun and Creole bites and down-home Southern cookin'. In fact, it's this strong foodie culture (along with the region's subtropical climate and lush palm trees) that make New Orleans an ideal place to visit regardless of the season.
Feeling inspired to check it out for yourself? To help you navigate the never-ending supply of delicious food and drink spots, we toured the Crescent City with
New Orleans Tourism to create a next-level itinerary you can follow on your trip. From under-the-radar haunts like St. Roch Market and The Country Club to worth-the-wait favorites such as Willie Mae's and Bacchanal, the restaurants ahead are must-visits whether you're traveling solo or with your squad. Best of all, this food map will take you far beyond Bourbon Street, so you can discover the heart of the city in neighborhoods like the Lower Garden District, Bywater, and Tremé. Ready for a taste of the town? Your own "One time in New Orleans" story awaits...
Photos courtesy of Ace Hotel; illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Ace Hotel New Orleans The recently opened Ace New Orleans (as of 2016) is home to several Instagram-bait food and drink venues that are all worth a stop. Highlights include Seaworthy, a cozy oyster and cocktail bar that sets the bar high for happy hour; Josephine Estelle, an osteria that serves Italian fare with a Southern spin; and Alto, a rooftop bar where you can sip tiki-inspired cocktails poolside with seasonal light bites. Come for the view, but stay for the refreshing frozen drinks. Ace Hotel New Orleans, 600 Carondelet Street, New Orleans, LA; 504-900-1180.
Photographed by Alison Ives; illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Bacchanal Wine Don't be fooled by its unassuming entrance — Bacchanal Wine is a true gem of the Bywater 'hood. Start by selecting your favorite cheeses from the storefront for a surprisingly filling custom cheese plate, then head to the backyard where you'll be greeted by a live jazz band and spacious patio seating. Still hungry? The dinner menu boasts hearty entrees like braised pork shoulder and pumpkin gnochetti. Bacchanal Wine, 600 Poland Avenue, New Orleans, LA; 504-948-9111.
Photos courtesy of Brennan's; illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Brennan's In town with family? Beeline to Brennan's for a treat-yourself meal in the French Quarter. You'll recognize it immediately by its millennial-pink exterior and fall in love with its equally colorful interior. Expect traditional Creole dishes such as seafood gumbo and gulf fish amandine to sate your appetite. If you're short on time, stop by for an aesthetically pleasing cocktail — the selection won't disappoint. Brennan's, 417 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA; 504-525-9711.
Photos courtesy of The Caribbean Room and Alison Ives; Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
The Caribbean Room For a more upscale dining experience, ride the St. Charles streetcar to The Caribbean Room (inside the Lower Garden District's Pontchartrain Hotel). Once there, you'll see that plush pink booths and banana-leaf carpets make the restaurant a visual treat as well as a palatable one. Delight in a three-course meal that ends with the Mile High Ice Cream Pie. Just note the elevated dress code before arriving, which will make your experience feel all the more special. The Caribbean Room, 2031 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA; 504-323-1500.
The Country Club New Orleans is home to plenty of great brunch spots, but The Country Club brings something entirely unique to the table. On Saturdays, the restaurant offers a DIY Bloody Mary bar or bottomless mimosa special, and it hosts an interactive drag show that's truly unforgettable. Can't make it for brunch? Take advantage of the backyard pool, and relax with a cocktail in hand at this off-the-grid locale. The Country Club, 634 Louisa Street, New Orleans, LA; 504-945-0742.
Photos courtesy of Dat Dog and Alison Ives; Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Dat Dog Traveling with a huge crew? Check out Dat Dog for low-key eats and brews that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters. The mini-chain specializes in gourmet hot dogs that are customizable down to the toppings and sausage style. Our favorite is the classic DatBurger Dog — a beef patty shaped like a hot dog piled high with cheese, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, and a pickle spear. Stop by the Magazine Street location to explore the adjoining weekend art market of local vendors while you dine. Dat Dog, 3336 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA; 504-324-2226.
Photographed by Alison Ives and Alan Wenderoff; Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
District Donuts We see your powdered beignets and raise you these frosted doughnuts. Before a day of exploring the Garden District, make a breakfast pitstop here for a buttery egg and biscuit sammy and a cup o' joe. Consider squirreling away a doughnut for later when your sweet tooth craving will inevitably kick in. District Donuts, 2209 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA; 504-570-6945.
Photographed by Alison Ives; Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Loretta's One of the most iconic treats to come out of New Orleans is the sugary-sweet praline. Pop into Loretta's — which has been a mainstay in the Marigny neighborhood for decades — to try the creamy pecan confection at its best. Be sure to pick up a few extra pieces to share as a tasty souvenir. Loretta's, 2101 N. Rampart Street, New Orleans, LA; 504-944-7068.
Photos courtesy of Parkway Tavern; Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Parkway Tavern We'd be remiss to leave out one of the culinary wonders of New Orleans: the po' boy. Venture over to Parkway for a fried shrimp sandwich that will leave you in a blissful food coma. Luckily, the restaurant is located near City Park — which features both expansive botanical and sculpture gardens perfect for some post-po'-boy strolling (or a nap). Parkway Bakery And Tavern, 538 Hagan Avenue, New Orleans, LA; 504-482-3047.
Photographed by Hunter Holder; Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Revelator Coffee If you're looking for a place to caffeinate in the Warehouse District, grab a pick-me-up at the quaint Revelator Coffee. Its proximity to tourist attractions like the National World War II Museum and the Ogden Museum Of Southern Art make it a convenient destination to refuel for the rest of the day. Revelator Coffee, 637 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA.
Photos courtesy of St. Roch Market and Alison Ives; Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
St. Roch Market This luxe food hall offers something for everyone with a lineup of 12 diverse vendors serving everything from fresh smoothies to Mexican classics, with plenty of Southern dishes in between. The charming venue has high ceilings, a pristine white interior, and both indoor and outdoor seating to accommodate whatever vibe you're going for. St. Roch Market, 2381 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA; 504-609-3813.
Photographed by Alison Ives; Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Surrey's Visit Surrey's on a weekday to avoid the bustling weekend crowd, and you'll be rewarded with a no-wait brunch that may become your new fave. Menu standouts include the shrimp and grits served with a New Orleans BBQ sauce, the heavenly Bananas Foster French Toast, and a crab-meat omelette topped with avocado and melted Brie. Add a fresh-squeezed juice combo like orange-pineapple-mango to give the illusion that you're eating healthy. Surrey's 1418 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA; 504-524-3828.
Photographed by Alan Wenderoff; Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Willie Mae's Scotch House No trip to New Orleans is complete without a stop at Willie Mae's, the famed fried-chicken joint housed inside an old beauty parlor that's been honored with a James Beard award and numerous other accolades. Roll up your sleeves, and feast upon some of the best Southern fried chicken you'll ever taste, plus all the greasy fixin's you can select as your sides. Good luck saving room for dessert, which is a decadent rum-based bread pudding. Pro tip: The restaurant closes at 5 p.m., so plan your visit accordingly. Willie Mae's Scotch House, 2401 St. Ann Street, New Orleans, LA; 504-822-9503.