New Orleans is a city drenched in its cuisine, rooted in the culture of setting a pot of gumbo on the front porch and inviting over the masses or throwing a street-wide crawfish boil on a muggy spring day. Its seasons are centered, not around the calendar, but around food, which is arguably easy to do when your seasons have more 90+ degree days than below 70, but it’s even easier when January 6th kicks off Mardi Gras/king cake season, Christmas means epic Reveillon feasts, fall ensures a few alligator sausages in the Superdome, summer brings the first taste of sno-balls and the annual closing of Casamento’s, and spring starts with the first crawfish boil. Its food pride extends inexpressibly beyond those signature dishes that everyone knows: its crispy, golden-fried oyster po’boys, award-winning fried chicken platters, and piping-hot beignets. Oh, also their spicy, blackened redfish, rich gumbo, and even richer crawfish étouffée. And don’t forget those buttery pralines or the smoky jambalaya or the Monday night-staple of red beans & rice.
This might be the point when you’re wondering if there are good restaurants in the city, not just a rabid fanbase of hungry locals. Well, hate-reading New Yorker, the answer is yes. Five of the oldest restaurants in the country are here and still serving, and they aren’t just boring standbys that should’ve closed their doors long ago: Commander’s Palace is helmed by a James Beard-winning chef, while Antoine’s is still awing with its never-been-revealed recipe for oysters Rockefeller, which they invented (yep, you’ve only eaten fakes elsewhere). And new(er) guys like Donald Link’s fish-to-tail Peche, John Besh and Alon Shaya’s pizza-haven Domenica, and Philip Lopez’s incredibly inventive Square Root, one of the best restaurants in America, keep things inventive. It would be an unmitigated task to start naming all of the tiny Creole, Cajun, Vietnamese, and Italian spots that fill in the huge gap between the new all-stars and the grand dames, but that’s why New Orleans visitors have created quite the cliche when they return from a visit: you could eat all day, all week in New Orleans and never get a bad meal or fully grasp the cuisine melting pot that fills the city.
Come stay at the Staybridge Suites Downtown New Orleans and dine at some of these amazing spots