Foodies with a keen ear to the ground will have heard about the latest American culinary capital to rival New York. A well stirred pot of culture, New Orleans is officially the place to be if your taste buds lead the way where choosing a holiday is concerned. Sampling a local dish here involves also sampling the rich heritage of Louisiana’s largest city. It’s not just the annual Mardi Gras festival that has put this bustling Port City on the map. Over 300 years of history lends itself to a food culture that is now attracting foreign foodies in their hoards.
Creole dining has become quite the attraction for visitors over the US and further afield. Mixing good old traditional Southern American comfort food (the ubiquitous fried chicken is done best here) with French, West African, Amerindian, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian cuisine, Creole is an indulgent blend of hearty ingredients like beans and rice, given a kick with hot peppers and okra. Think filling and warming. From fried chicken platters served up with kidney beans and buttery rice to thick gombo, a seafood stew seasoned with peppers and thickened with okra.
The city now rivals New York in its culinary offering because of the top restaurateurs abilities to blend flavours and fuse influences to create something completely unique to this part of the world. Rest assured though, New Orleans is also big on Vietnamese cuisine, Cajun and Italian. A week here means a culinary journey between the continents. You’ll be just as happy tucking into a cheese-smothered pizza at a down-town Italian as dining on the fanciest Creole fare. Taking the best from all its culinary influencers, New Orleans food now says as much about the city as its welcoming people do.
Look no further than one of the oldest restaurants in the states, Antoine’s, for Creole cuisine that has been perfected since the place was established way back in 1840. Giving hearty American cuisine a European finesse and a West-African kick, Antoine’s has been serving up the best gumbo in Louisiana for generations. Here, it’s not unusual for a son to take ov ome on a trip to New Orleans er the role of his father, be it as chef behind the scenes or as a smartly spruced Maître D.
Being on the coast, New Orleans boasts an impressive list of seafood dishes, from oysters, to shrimp stews and hearty jambalaya. Look to Peche Grill on Magazine Street for a well-composed, minimalist menu that shows the best of New Orleans’ seafood offering. Stand-out dishes include the rich seafood gumbo and the Louisiana shrimp roll.
For traditional Southern American
Head to Jacque’s Imo’s for the best fried chicken you will taste in America. Crispy fried chicken platters draw in the crowds here and the atmosphere is one of a lively and friendly local boozer. Owner Jacques Leonardi loves to chat to guests and party until the wee hours, so locals come here for the social element as well as the award-winning dishes. The fried chicken is a sure winner here but the country fried venison and blackened redfish also deserve a mention.
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