Who holds the title as the US foodie capital? I’m sure there’s plenty of cities in the running but New Orleans is certainly up near the top! We went to Louisiana in August with the goal of eating us much amazing food as possible. The city certainly didn’t let us down. I was surprised to learn so much about the history of this – much of which I never learned in school. Perhaps the biggest contributor to the food culture in the city is that much like New York and San Francisco, New Orleans was/is a port city. Many immigrants from a variety of cultures called it home, brought their traditions, and made new traditions bringing everything together. The result? Amazing food!
Our first night we checked into the Hotel Modern and asked the very helpful concierge if there was anywhere she would recommend we eat for dinner. We specifically said we wanted to go somewhere she would go and that was within walking distance. She suggested seafood which we agreed was perfect. Her first choice was a restaurant called Deanie’s and we saw right away that it was a mixture of tourists and locals. It was packed! We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table and were quickly waited on and served. A half seafood platter came with a stuffed crab, fried shrimp, crawfish and catfish. If that wasn’t enough we also ordered crab and corn soup as well as crab nachos which were the day’s special. So. Much. Food. It was all exceptional and the bill just came to around $50. It ended up being our most expensive meal but we saw seafood was insanely affordable (and a great quality) in New Orleans.
The next morning we had to stop at Cafe du Monde – it was high on my list of things to do. We used the New Orleans Hop On, Hop Off bus to get from our hotel around the city. It quickly became clear that this was going to be a super easy and interesting way to get to the major highlights and save some walking time. We did a partial loop and ended up in the French Quarter to go here. Honestly, so many things like this let me down. People hype them and then I try it and it’s “meh.” This was not meh. These really are worth all the hype. They are absolutely delicious. I also had a frozen coffee with chicory that was equally tasty and perfect for this humid August day. My advice? Go in the mid-afternoon, get your beignets and coffee and eat them right away. If it’s not crowded sit down to order and enjoy. If it’s too full get it to go and sit on the steps at nearby Jackson Square. But you must eat them hot! One order has 3 beignets and that’s more than plenty for a single person.
We explored the French Quarter some then went back on the bus and headed towards Magazine Street. There are loads of shops and restaurants in this neighborhood and we had a hard time picking somewhere to eat. Unfortunately many had few gluten-free options. We finally settled on The Rum House which (in spite of it’s name) proved to be an excellent choice for us. Best of all there was ice cold air conditioning inside to cool down. The menu was clearly marked with allergens and when we told our waiter our limitations he quickly pointed out what was good and would be safe to order. MarocBaba got 4 tacos, each one with a different filling; shredded duck breast, chicken, beef, and a vegetarian option with rice on the side. Every one was excellent but we liked the duck and chicken the best. I ordered the Trinidad Chicken Roti which was jerk chicken, with fries, and curry sauce wrapped up into a roti. Honestly both of our meals were so good. If we lived here, this would become our go to restaurant.
The next day we spent the morning on the bayou looking for gators and then booked a food tour with New Orleans Culinary History Tours. This was a bit of a last minute call on my part and I wasn’t sure if they would be able to accommodate us (no gluten, no pork, no alcohol). But they did with absolutely no problem. Whenever we do food tours we know there will likely be things we can’t eat. We go in with this expectation and when we can eat more than anticipated we’re over the moon. We try to create this same experience for our food tour guests.
I’m not going to give away what and where we ate but feel free to guess by the pictures. Our guide, Naif, was exactly the kind of guy I would hire. He was personable, had insider knowledge, grew up in New Orleans and it was clear enjoyed his join. The tour began at 2pm and continued for about 3 hours visiting 7-8 restaurants (food coma sorry can’t remember how many!). We were able to eat a little bit in all places, learn about them or some aspect of the dish and then move on. The walking wasn’t hard but the temperatures didn’t help. I loved learning about the history of the foods we ate but think too much time was spent talking about the history of each place we ate. The group was also a bit larger than I like (it was either 10 or 12). People didn’t really seem to gel so we weren’t able to get to know anyone on the tour, which is unfortunate. If you want to book this tour it is $48 per person and starts from the first restaurant in the French Quarter.
We really liked this tour and got to eat many foods that were on my “must try” list. It really was a tasting tour however and we ate quite small amounts in each place we went. While going from place to plane we emptied our stomachs but also energy. New Orleans in August is no joke. Overall? It was good and I would do it again. In fact, we did go back to one of the places to have dinner that night!
Can you eat well in New Orleans even if you have a diet that doesn’t allow you certain things? Absolutely. It may take a bit more time/work to find what you’re looking for in it’s “safe” state but it’s there. So, when do we go back?!??
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