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Top 5: Dishes to Try in New Orleans

by Megan Hill

Nov 3, 2014

French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana © Spondylolothesis | iStock

North America

New Orleans is a culinary geek’s dream destination. The cultural melting pot of Spanish, French, Italian, Caribbean, Creole and Cajun influences engendered a slew of dishes you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world. (And if you do, they’re likely to be much less authentic than if you’d eaten them in the place they were first created.) While you’re in town, try:

 

Jambalaya

This Creole rice-based dish originated in the Caribbean. It’s spicy and is usually loaded with chicken and sausage, though if it’s served to you by a Cajun, it may contain alligator or seafood. It’s a staple at restaurants across the city. Try it at Mother’s Restaurant, if you don’t mind standing in line.

 

Étouffée

Pronounced ay-too-fay, this Cajun-Creole dish consists of shellfish served over rice. The best version — with a healthy dose of local flavor — includes crawfish. Try it at the Bon Ton Café.

 

Gumbo

Slow-cooked chicken, sausage, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and okra are served over rice (if you’re seeing a pattern, don’t worry; I promise these dishes are all very different). Gumbo is complex and earthy, and famously served at New Orleans institution Dooky Chase’s Restaurant.

 

Beignets

Fluffy squares of dough are deep-fried, but maintain their pillowy interior. They’re topped with a heap of powdered sugar, so don’t inhale when you go to take a bite. And don’t wear black pants. Head to another institution, Café Du Monde for the best anywhere.

 

Po-Boys

These over-stuffed sandwiches are served on delicate French bread and crammed with various ingredients, including fried seafood, roast beef, meatballs, you name it. Order it “dressed,” with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. Among many excellent places to scarf a po-boy, Parkway Bakery is among the most famous.

 

Bonus: Unhinge your jaw for a muffuletta at Central Grocery, which is packed with salami, ham, mozzarella and a heap of salty olive salad with pickled vegetables.

 

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