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Favorite Foods and Traditional Dishes of New Orleans

Gumbo, King Cake, Beignet, Po-Boy, Jambalaya, Etoufee, Snowballs and More


Here's a list of some of the favorite traditional food of the people of New Orleans eaten at home and at in restaurants. It's what us locals really eat and what visitors should try. What's missing?

King Cake

Find out all about King Cake, its parties, traditions, the baby or bean, the choices and the Mardi Gras season of eating King Cake. Plus lists of where to buy great King Cakes, whether at New Orleans bakeries, grocery stores, cafes or coffeehouses.


This is a favorite, if not especially healthy, breakfast in New Orleans and a great snack. The delicious, air-pocketed fried square doughnuts with powdered sugar are more available than ever and can even be found in local malls. You can also try to make them yourself at home with a Beignet mix.


Sometimes it's Crawfish Etouffee, sometimes Shrimp Etouffee, and sometimes it's new creative etoufee cuisine. Sometimes it's a clear buttery sauce and sometimes it's more red or tomato. The best are rich, spicy, velvety seafood perfectly soaked in etoufee sauce over rice.


Gumbo is found in both Creole and Cajun cuisine - it bridges city and country Louisiana cooking. It's a long-time staple of New Orleanians at home and out to eat. And it's the official Louisiana State "cuisine" or dish. First you "male a rue", add the traditional veggies and spices - and then practically anything you want. Iconic gumbos are seafood (often with crab claws reaching out from the broth), chicken, sausage or okra. But styles and ingredients can vary greatly nowadays. It's traditionally served over rice with French Bread.


Po-Boys are the kind of sandwiches. (The submarine, the hero and other sandwich version from elsewhere don't even come close.) To be a real Po-Boy (or Poor Boy), they must be on New Orleans style French Bread. Popular Po-Boys are fried shrimp, debris (the beef pieces and drippings at the bottom of the pan), soft shell crab, and the amazing french fries and gravy. They are usually ordered "dressed" with lettuce tomato and mayo. Po-boys finally have their own New Orleans festival held in the Carrollton neighborhood with the most creative versions anywhere created by restaurants from all over New Orleans


Jambalaya is available in New Orleans restaurants, but it's really a Cajun dish. Rice with seafood, sausage, chicken or whatever you like - with those hot and spicy Cajun spices. This isn't a soup like Gumbo. It's popular at big weddings.

Red Beans and Rice

The dark thick Red Beans and Rice of New Orleans are a traditional meal on Mondays and so are often the Monday daily special at restaurants all around town.


Another sandwich born in New Orleans -The Muffoletta or Muffalotta or however you want to spell it - was created by Italian immigrants, reportedly at Central Grocery on Decatur Street in the French Quarter, which is still open and serving this huge round sandwich. It's not the only place to find the Muffoletta. It's filled with multiple meats, cheese and a kind of olive salad. Don't order a whole Muffalotta just for yourself - it's way too much. Mini Muffolettas - Muffoletta Sliders? - are very popular catering items for weddings and parties.


New Orleans Snowballs are not the typical Snow Cone of elsewhere. It's the ice and the syrup, which come in mind-boggling flavors with or without cream and added toppings. Nectar is the traditional New Orleans snow ball flavor.

Boiled Seafood

A big pile of boiled seafood makes a party in New Orleans and Louisiana. Hot and spicy boiled crawfish, crabs and/or shrimp are best when things like potatoes, corn on the cob, garlic and onions are boiled along with them and soak up the peppery seasoning. Boil your own, get invited to a "boil", pick up some to go or go out to eat. Some local restaurants will have special boiled seafood all you can eat options.

New Orleans Coffee

What does New Orleans Coffee mean? It used to mean a deep dark-roasted thick coffee, unlike the thin see-through coffees in most of America before Starbuck and such took off. And it meant Coffee and Chicory, which gave it a slightly bitter stronger kick. That's still around at New Orleans coffeeshops, cafes and some restaurants. It can also mean the iconic Cafe Au Lait which has been sold in the French Quarter since the olden days. Cafe Au Lait means simply Coffee and Milk - make that strong Chicory and Coffee with hot real milk. It's still popular, especially at Cafe Du Monde and Morning Call, two long-time venues for Cafe Au Lait and Beignets. There's a newer coffee twist - Local coffeeshop chains have New Orleans theme coffee with special flavors like King Cake.
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