As an avid foodie, I have enough trouble deciding where to eat on a typical weekend in New Orleans. In one of the culinary capitals of the U.S., there are options beyond belief. But when I am lucky enough to have visitors, the decision becomes even more difficult. I want to show my guests the best of New Orleans, but I often have to narrow my list. I could provide several recommendations, but below is a list of a few places I believe encapsulate the New Orleans food experience that I am lucky to know. Based on a few factors, these are personal favorites and where I would take my visitors for a weekend.
My favorite breakfast spot is a New Orleans staple: The Camellia Grill. Camellia has served as a classic diner in Uptown since 1946. Camellia is open for all meals of the day, but my favorite thing to do is start my day off there with friends. When customers arrive, there is seating at the bar, or, for large groups, the party can be taken outside.
Camellia’s menu has numerous options: omelets, poboys, pancakes, waffles, sandwiches, and more. My usual order consists of a cheeseburger, a side of hash browns, and a “freeze.” If we feel crazy, my friends and I finish our meal off with a piece of the Chocolate Pecan Pie with vanilla ice cream. Although there is a usual order when I visit, I always try at least one new item on the menu.
You can always count on Bearcat for a 10/10 meal. Although there are two locations, I am a usual at the Uptown site. A wait is almost always guaranteed when visiting, but I promise it is worth it. Typically while waiting to be seated, I will explore one of their dozens of drink options, normally leaning towards lattes, fresh juices, and coffee. My personal favorite is the Butterfly Matcha Latte, a peaberry matcha latte combination that is bright blue and to die for.
The food is even better than the drink options. The menu is divided into two parts: “Good Cat” and “Bad Cat.” The “Good Cat” portion of the menu focuses on healthier, vegan options. I prefer the “Bad Cat” half of the menu. This side includes a variety of biscuits with fried chicken, crawfish, and more. My go-to is the “Hot Rob,” a dish with hot chicken, topped with creamed spinach and a fried egg, all on a biscuit. If you prefer a sweeter breakfast, get the chai pancakes. And to top it all off, the potatoes are unreal and a must.
If you are looking for something that is classic New Orleans but a bit more upscale, Brennan’s is it. Located in the French Quarter, Brennan’s is a perfect brunch location to go to with the family. The restaurant itself is beautiful, painted with stunning murals on the walls inside and a gorgeous courtyard where you can sit, as well. Make sure to make a reservation when planning to go because it fills up FAST!
Although Brennan’s serves all meals, their Brunch is the most famous. The menu offers a broad spectrum of classic NOLA dishes. Ranging from their turtle soup to their french toast, a high-quality meal is guaranteed. In addition to their 10/10 food, the cocktails contribute well to the scene and are perfect for starting the day.
If you haven’t been to Turkey and the Wolf, you have almost certainly seen the hype in several food publications or even on television. And to be honest, the hype is real. About 15 minutes off Tulane’s campus, the restaurant is a nice drive down St. Charles and towards Central City. The restaurant is almost always busy, but the line moves quickly, and ample seating is available inside and outside.
Turkey and the Wolf is one of a kind. The items on the menu are exclusive to the restaurant and I can ensure that they are not found anywhere else. The team often offers unique specials to die for, but most items on the menu remain the same. Perhaps the most famous sandwich is the Fried Bologna sandwich which consists of fried bologna, hot mustard, potato chips, lettuce, tomato, and American cheese on white bread- and it tastes even better than it sounds.
One of the best parts of Turkey and the Wolf is their vegetarian and vegan options. My second favorite item is the Collard Green Melt. While I was initially hesitant about the sandwich, it is a close runner-up to the Fried Bologna. In addition to the melt, there are numerous other sandwiches and salads on the menu to accommodate different diets.
You cannot have visitors and not take them to get a po-boy. Coming to Tulane, I heard so many opinions about the best po-boy in the city. After exploring, I strongly feel that Parkway is the place to go. Po-boys were added to the Parkway menu in 1929 and have been a hit ever since.
Parkway is located in Mid-City and worth the trip from Tulane. The restaurant offers various po-boys options, including fried shrimp, fried oyster, catfish, roast beef, and more. Poboys come “dressed” with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise. In addition to their amazing po-boys, fries and fried pickles are essential sides. My po-boy order is a mixed shrimp and oyster- but there truly is no going wrong.
In 1906, Salvatore Lupo immigrated to New Orleans from Sicily. It was in this year he created the muffuletta and founded Central Grocery. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Central Grocery is a small, walk-in shop and is the best place to get a muffuletta. If you have not had or heard of a muffuletta or Central Grocery, it is time to try.
The Muffuletta sandwich is served with salami, ham, mortadella, olive salad, Swiss cheese, and provolone cheese, all on a Sicilian sesame roll. The sandwiches are massive, so I encourage sharing or getting the quarter size!
Unfortunately, Central Grocery is temporarily closed due to Hurricane Ida damages. However, I recommend looking for updates and keeping this restaurant on your list. It is a NOLA staple and will be open again soon!
HAPPY HOUR/SEAFOOD SNACKS:
One of my favorite parts of New Orleans is the seafood, especially the oysters. Happy hour oysters are not hard to come by in NOLA, but my favorite place is Luke. Located Downtown in the Hilton Hotel, Luke is a quaint, creole eatery with a positive, local vibe. Every day from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM, the restaurant offers happy hour oysters and drink specials, all in addition to their regular menu. When my family visits, Luke is a sure stop before dinner to ensure they get the NOLA oysters in while they are here.
There is nothing better than crawfish season in New Orleans. Starting in January, crawfish can be found throughout the city. One of my favorite places to enjoy, though, is Frankie and Johnny’s. Frankie and Johnny’s is a local bistro that serves an abundance of NOLA favorites: po-boys, shrimp, and red beans and rice. During crawfish season, the restaurant offers platters. Customers can purchase the shellfish by the pound to share and enjoy them with the comfort of their friends and family.
Two of the best parts of New Orleans are the music and the weather, and Bacchanal is a perfect combination of these features. Located in the Bywater, Bacchanal has an outdoor patio featuring live music. When visitors arrive, they walk through a cellar-like building where they can order an abundance of cheese, meats, and wine. After ordering, customers can go outside and take a seat on the beautiful patio surrounded by trees, music, and good vibes. Bacchanal is the best place to socialize, eat, and enjoy, all at once.
Cochon is located on Tchoupitoulas St. and is the place to go for Cajun, Southern dishes with a twist. The restaurant serves an abundance of traditional dishes, all of which are prepared with locally sourced meats, fish, and produce. Because Cochon works hand-in-hand with local farmers, their menu is constantly changing- but you can always rely on it to be good.
My favorite thing to do is start the meal off with fried boudin. It is consistently delicious and pairs perfectly with Cochon’s spicy mustard. In addition to the fried boudin, the oyster and bacon sandwich is to die for, the mac n’ cheese is fire, and fried catfish is insane. Cochon is wonderful, unique, and is the perfect New Orleans, Cajun, and Southern fusion.
Founded by Chef Donald Link, Herbsaint is the chef’s flagship restaurant located on St. Charles. Herbsaint is the perfect upscale restaurant to take family and friends. The restaurant offers incredible French-inspired Creole food. Because it is so delicious, a reservation is necessary.
Everything on the menu at Herbsaint is out of this world. Based on my experiences, my favorites included the homemade spaghetti, the grilled tuna sandwich, and the dirty rice. As I said, though, anything on the menu will be amazing. Herbsaint is a consistent option where the food never waivers- you cannot go wrong.
It is not your classic “NOLA” meal, but it is GOOD. Shaya is a Mediterranean restaurant located on Magazine Street, not too far from Tulane. The restaurant is incredible with a cute outdoor courtyard and beautiful indoor seating, but the food is even better.
Before going to Shaya, I never knew hummus could be this good. The restaurant is known for its unique offerings, including fried chicken hummus, cauliflower hummus, and lamb ragu hummus. The hummus, in combination with unlimited pita, is unbeatable. The meal is elevated with a few salatim. A few of my personal favorites include labneh, baba ganoush, and the mousaka. To continue the meal, I recommend the Israeli salad and the lamb koefte. In terms of entrees, they often change, but any dish will satisfy.
Shaya can be pricey, but my favorite discovery is their happy hour that includes half-off hummus and wine. It takes place every weekday!
It may be touristy, but Café Du Monde is essential to New Orleans. There are a million places to get beignets, but it is basically a right of passage to go. The line will be long, but there will be music, other customers, and good vibes in line no matter the time of day. And don’t worry, it moves quickly. The menu is straightforward, so the best way to do it is to order a couple of beignets, maybe even coffee, and enjoy!
If you have time, snowballs are a New Orlean’s favorite. Especially when it is warm out, they are a perfect treat to help you cool down. There are stands all across the city, but Hansen’s has been around since 1939. The shop is famous for its abundance of homemade syrups. With nearly every flavor you could imagine, this is an easy and cheap way to get a taste of New Orleans.
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All photos via Olivia Ripps
Olivia Ripps is a NOLA 360 writer. She is a Senior majoring in International Relations and minoring in Management. Olivia is passionate about traveling, politics, fitness, and fashion. She is also an avid foodie; you can find her blog on Instagram @livingthrufood!