New Orleans is a sparkling beacon for food lovers, with possibly more spice and flavor than any other spot on the Gulf of Mexico. There are of course new chefs around, but in such a historic city, a first-time visitor should check out some of the old stalwarts. Here are three delicious and historic spots to help get you started:
Café Du Monde has been in the French Market since 1862, making it one of the older establishments in town, perched on the Mississippi River. It’s only more impressive when you find out they’re open 24/7 serving two NOLA classics: beignets (squares of dough fried in cottonseed oil, topped generously with powdered sugar) and coffee blended with chicory (the root of the endive plant). You can make that a milky café au lait, but since this is a traditional coffee shop, that’s more or less the end of the menu. Both beignets and chicory were introduced into New Orleans by the French Acadians of Nova Scotia, Canada.
Mother’s opened in 1938 near the waterfront. Their fame was built on their po’ boys: submarine sandwiches with catfish, shrimp, baked ham, debris (those tasty bits of roast beef that fall off in the oven), or what have you, topped with cabbage, pickle, mayo, and Creole mustard on French bread. But you’d be crazy not to try their jambalaya, thick with andouille sausage, chicken, rice, tomato, celery, onions, and other vehicles for that addictive fiery favor. Mother’s enjoys its popularity, but it’s totally unpretentious and the interior hasn’t changed much over the years.
K-Paul’s was founded by renowned chef and native Louisianan Paul Prudhomme in 1979. This is a great spot for an upscale dinner—its’ balcony overlooking the French Quarter is awfully picturesque—or alternately you can go for a deli-style lunch at a lower price. Either way, you might be in for a wait, but it’s worth it. Try the juicy pan-fried rabbit tenderloin and some fried green tomatoes.
What’s your favorite culinary institution in New Orleans?