17 Best Restaurants In New Orleans For Authentic NOLA Cuisine

New Orleans is, perhaps, the United States' preeminent foodie destination. The city is steeped in culture, and the melting pot of history and heritage that makes up its population shines through in the local cuisine. Food and drink play an integral role for the people of the Big Easy. Locals live for springtime crawfish boils, flock to food festivals like Oak Street Po-Boy Preservation Festival and Tales of the Cocktail, and eat steaming pots of red beans and rice for dinner every Monday. Recipes for gumbo and jambalaya are handed down from generation to generation, and everyone swears theirs is the best.

You'll find restaurants of all types in the Crescent City, from Vietnamese spots to barbeque joints and even a handful of vegan restaurants. That said, New Orleans' greatest claim to culinary fame lies in its rich history of Creole and Cajun food. Many of the city's best eateries have been family-owned for over a century, and recipes have been preserved through generations of owners who revere their ancestors' dedication to quality comfort food. Honestly, you can walk through the door of nearly any New Orleans restaurant and have the best meal of your life — but if you're looking for the absolute best authentic New Orleans food, here are our top spots.


If you want to feel like you're in Europe without leaving the United States, there's no better place than New Orleans' French Quarter. Colorful, old-world buildings line meandering streets; blasts of trumpet, piano, and saxophone music fill the humid air; and locals and tourists alike sip cocktails on open-air iron balconies overlooking the scene. It's here that you'll find Arnaud's, a fine-dining Creole restaurant situated on Rue Bienville. Arnaud's opened its doors in 1918, and its commitment to quality is ensured by fourth-generation owners and operators.

Arnaud's dinner menu offers a whole host of local favorites like Cajun-stuffed mirlitons and turtle soup; but its signature dish is shrimp Arnaud, a rich, creamy dish featuring Gulf shrimp left to marinate in the house Creole remoulade sauce. The special tasting menu highlights specialties like souffle potatoes, Gulf fish Pontchartrain, and veal chantal. Don't miss out on jazz brunch each Sunday: This pre-fixe feast is to be enjoyed with options like Creole cream cheese Evangeline, Arnaud's crab cakes, and classic bananas foster while local musicians keep diners entertained.

Commander's Palace

It's hard to miss Commander's Palace if you're strolling around New Orleans' Garden District. The palatial, turquoise-and-white restaurant has been a NOLA institution since opening its doors in 1893 and has been operated by the Brennan family — local legends in the culinary community — since 1974. A long line of decorated chefs, including Emeril Lagasse, Tory McPhail, and current executive chef Meg Bickford, have contributed to this landmark's reputation for excellence over the years, and the restaurant has won an impressive seven James Beard awards to date.

With Southern dishes like crawfish strudel, turtle soup, and pecan-crusted gulf fish, Commander's is an exemplary spot for anyone looking for a true taste of NOLA. The restaurant adheres to a "dirt to plate within 100 miles" policy and tries to source at least 90% of its ingredients from local farms, fisheries, and other vendors. For an unbeatable deal in an age when cocktails often ring in at upwards of $15 apiece, visit the hot spot for weekday lunch and nab a 25-cent martini with the purchase of an entrée. Keep in mind the restaurant's strict dress code. 

Parkway Bakery & Tavern

Sub sandwiches go by different names depending on where you are in the United States –- subs, heroes, hoagies, grinders, and other monikers are all common variations. In Louisiana, they're called po'boys, and these French bread sandwiches piled high with ingredients like fried shrimp, roast beef, or cochon de lait are a prominent fixture in the Big Easy. New Orleanians are spoiled for choice when it comes to po'boy shops, but ask around, and Parkway Bakery & Tavern is likely to make most locals' top three.

The restaurant is situated on the picturesque Bayou St. John and contains a sprawling outdoor patio with ample seating and plenty of coverage from the frequent rain. On the menu, you'll find traditional sandwiches: barbeque beef, fried catfish, and fried shrimp po'boys; but also some innovative creations like the vegetarian Caprese, alligator smoked sausage, and Beyond burger variations. Don't miss the fried oyster po'boys on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and be sure to stop by the bar for a frozen porch swing vodka lemonade or a local Abita beer.

Dooky Chase's

We can't discuss NOLA food without mentioning the "Queen of Creole Cuisine": the inimitable Leah Chase. Chase was a titan of industry in the New Orleans culinary community, but her legacy extends far beyond the Crescent City. Throughout her career, she earned multiple awards, authored "The Dooky Chase Cookbook," and inspired the character of Princess Tiana in Disney's "The Princess and the Frog." Chase opened the doors of Dooky Chase's in 1941, and the restaurant remains stellar today even after 80+ years of operation.

Since the 1940s, Dooky Chase's has had the pleasure of serving notable politicians, famous musicians, well-known authors, and other celebrities. The menu is an absolute goldmine: Whether you're popping in for the lunch buffet or making reservations for an anniversary dinner on Saturday night, you'll find treasures like Creole gumbo, fried chicken, Louisiana redfish, and chicken Creole lovingly prepared with the original recipes that put Leah Chase and her restaurant on the map.


Unlike many of the drab, unremarkable developments of today, New Orleans is bursting with houses painted in lavender, orange, green, and every other color of the rainbow. Mandina's Restaurant, a Canal Street staple since 1932, is housed in a Pepto-pink building that both blends in and stands out from its neighbors. While Italian food might not be the first thing to come to mind when one thinks of classic New Orleans food, the city has a large population of Italian immigrants, and Italian ingredients and cooking techniques have permeated the culture for decades.

At Mandina's, you'll find a wide variety of offerings. While many are Creole-leaning (shrimp remoulade, fried oyster salad, and Gulf fish meuniere, for starters), Mandina's also plays tribute to its founder's Italian roots. The veal parmesan and spaghetti are legendary, as is the eggplant parmesan, but you'll also find po'boys, gumbo, and a darn good classic muffuletta. The humble menu belies the fact that there's something truly special underneath — Mandina's is a tried-and-true spot for those who want to experience superior Creole food at an affordable price tag.


Perhaps the most exclusive restaurant in New Orleans, Galatoire's is also one of the most traditional. Owned and operated by the fifth generation descendants of its founder, the Bourbon Street establishment has served the upper echelons of NOLA society and its visitors for well over a century. To this day, the restaurant maintains unmatched service, outstanding food, and a fairly strict dress code; and hopeful diners must make reservations far in advance in order to guarantee a coveted spot.

Unlike the majority of Bourbon Street haunts, Galatoire's maintains a quiet façade. It's a frequent destination for theatergoers given that the historic Saenger Theater is only half a mile away, and even serves a special three-course pre-theater menu with classics like turtle soup, shrimp Creole, and banana praline bread pudding. The standard menu features French-Creole fare such as shrimp étouffée, fresh local fish, and oysters Rockefeller as well as impeccably prepared cuts of steak. Be sure to whet your appetite with a classic cocktail, such as a French 75 or Galatoire's brandy milk punch.

Liuzza's By The Track

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of the city's most widely attended gatherings. While there are plenty of food and drink options available at the fest, many attendees choose to pop into a nearby restaurant and bar to save some cash before braving the crowds. For NOLA natives, that often means dropping by Liuzza's — in fact, the restaurant bills itself as "the unofficial pre-Jazz Fest headquarters." This mid-city gem has been around since the 1930s and its location makes it a hotspot for anyone visiting the fairgrounds –- but it's also a well-loved location for New Orleanians looking for a great meal that won't break the bank.

Liuzza's offers down-home, delicious New Orleans food with recipes that have been handed down for years. Appetizers include mouthwatering fried eggplant and duck tenders, and you'll have a difficult time choosing between entrees like the garlic oyster po'boy and a catfish plate. Pro tip: Make sure to order a local craft beer in one of Liuzza's signature big, frosted mugs.


Ample access to the Gulf of Mexico makes New Orleans a haven for seafood lovers. While fine dining restaurants offer the most contemporary takes on seafood at a hefty price, it's often the hole-in-the-wall joints that hide the city's tastiest Protean treasures. Enter Clesi's. Seafood shops may be a dime a dozen in NOLA, but if you're in the city during crawfish season, Clesi's is the place to be.

This family-run mid-city gem is owned by a trio of siblings and welcomes its patrons with quintessential Southern hospitality. Clesi's offers boiled seafood by the pound as well as many other specials: traditional jambalaya, boudin bites, and a crawfish mac & cheese burger, to name a few. Seafood boils, however, are where the restaurant really shines. Whether you're looking for a business to cater your Mardi Gras crawfish boil or just want to go to a restaurant where boiled shrimp is hot and ready, Clesi's is a neighborhood-friendly favorite that's sure to hit the spot.

Katie's Restaurant and Bar

Like many other spots on this list, Katie's Restaurant is family-owned and operated, and has been since it opened as a corner store in the 1980s. Although the restaurant was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, hard work and dedication allowed the owners of Katie's to repair the damage, renovate the building, and reopen its doors in 2010. The restaurant's renaissance perfectly illustrates the Big Easy's spirit of resilience, and the new-and-improved business has received tremendous support from the community in the last decade-plus.

At Katie's, you'll find quirky, modern takes on traditional Creole and Cajun food. The restaurant offers home-spun comfort dishes like catfish meuniere and chicken and andouille sausage gumbo but they also serve more innovative plates such as blackberry and jalapeno ribs and crawfish beignets, which happen to be some of the best beignets in New Orleans. A Brooklyn-style stone pizza oven churns out funky pies like the Hula Girl (Katie's take on a Hawaiian pizza) and a shrimp and artichoke 'za. Overall, it's a chill Mid-City hang and offers enough menu options to placate even the pickiest of eaters.

Toups Meatery

Chef Isaac Toups of "Top Chef" fame comes from a long line of Cajuns who've called Louisiana home for over 300 years. He grew up eating fish and game snared during hunting and fishing trips. It was this background, combined with years of training under Emeril Lagasse, that inspired Chef Toups and his wife to open Toups Meatery right off the famous Mid-City streetcar line in 2012.

The menu at Toups' is fairly small, but it's evident that the restaurant's focus is on quality over quantity. For brunch, enjoy small plates like foie gras torchon or a boudin breakfast burrito. Lunch is the perfect time to experience the "meatery board" (a selection of both fresh and house-cured meats served with homemade condiments), or order an LA jumbo lump crab salad if you're feeling peckish. On the dinner menu, crispy turkey necks with pepper jelly and boiled peanuts are not to be missed, while a mustard-crusted rack of elk with horseradish cream and mint jelly is sure to hit the spot if you've worked up an appetite.


Jacques-Imo's has been slinging Cajun and Creole delicacies like fried green tomatoes, barbecued shrimp, and fried chicken since 1996. The Oak Street haunt's claim of being "one of the hottest tickets in New Orleans for anyone looking for 'real Nawlins' food'" is no joke — it's common for hopeful patrons to spend up to two hours waiting in line for a table, and reservations frequently fill up weeks in advance.

Part of Jacque-Imo's appeal is its laid-back approach — in fact, its website advertises warm beer, lousy food, and poor service. Anyone who's had the pleasure of dining at this Big Easy institution, however, knows that these lighthearted, self-deprecating jokes are far from the truth. Appetizers like boudin balls arancini, entrees like blackened redfish, and specials like panéed rabbit are all prepared with the care and expertise you'd expect at a fine dining establishment. Chef Leonardi simply knows that you don't need a dinner jacket and white tablecloths to enjoy a five-star meal.


Donald Link and business partner Stephen Stryjewski make a formidable team. The two James Beard award-winning chefs banded together to form Link Restaurant Group in 2009, and as of today, the group operates seven impressive restaurants. One of their best, Cochon, is situated in a renovated warehouse on the Mississippi-adjacent Tchoupitoulas Street. Though it isn't exactly the setting you'd expect to find at a fine dining establishment, the restaurant has a surprisingly upscale ambiance and serves up some of the best Cajun food New Orleans has to offer.

"Cochon" is the French word for pig, but in New Orleans, it often refers to cochon de lait, or a suckling pig that's been slow-roasted and thinly sliced. The restaurant offers excellent appetizers, such as crawfish pies, fried alligator, and fried bBussels sprouts; but entrees are where the restaurant really shines. A wood-burning oven churns out mouthwatering dishes like rabbit and dumplings, catfish courtbouillon, and of course, Louisiana cochon with dirty rice, collard greens, and onion gravy. Those who want to prepare similar dishes at home are sure to love Cochon Butcher, an artisan butcher and charcuterie shop that doubles as a casual dining venue located right next door to the restaurant.

Acme Oyster House

Acme Oyster House has survived dozens of catastrophic events over the years, from Hurricane Katrina to the BP oil spill to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, they've persevered; and today, the seafood house operates six locations across Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, and Florida.

The name "Acme Oyster House" is somewhat deceiving. While you'll find raw and chargrilled oysters at Acme, they also serve up a pretty wide selection of New Orleans favorites: Crab cake with corn macque choux, red beans and rice with smoked sausage, and po'boys are all worth noting. Still, oysters are the star of the show here. Whether you're eating them raw, chargrilled, in a remoulade, or fried and piled high on a po'boy, you really can't go wrong. For a special experience, order an oyster shooter from the bar –- not for the faint of heart, this drink features a single fresh-shucked oyster served in a shot glass with vodka and cocktail sauce.

Domilise's Po'Boy and Bar

Situated in a modest, mellow yellow house, Domilise's humble exterior belies a legacy that may seem unbelievable to an outsider. Since 1918,  the sandwich icon has provided some of New Orleans' best-loved po'boys to everyone, from local passers-by to hungry tourists to notable politicians and celebrities. The restaurant cultivates a family-friendly environment and reflects such values itself: Many of its staff members have worked at Domilise's for decades, and while the years have flown by, the recipes behind the simple menu remain largely unchanged.

Unlike other po'boy shops, Domilise's focus is strictly on po'boys – aside from the bar, that's all they do, and they do it well. It's a great spot if you're looking for an affordable and filling lunch.

La Petite Grocery

Located in NOLA's uptown neighborhood, the building that houses La Petite Grocery is over a century old. Over the years, it's played the part of coffee shop, grocery store, florist, and more; but since 2004, it's served as a beloved restaurant. It took owners Justin and Mia Devillier almost five years to rebuild and renovate after Hurricane Katrina, but the restaurant has flourished, earning numerous awards and accolades including a James Beard in 2016.  

At La Petite, there's something for everyone, from the famed blue crab beignet app to the shellfish stew, which contains an unbeatable trio of blue crab, gulf shrimp, and littleneck clams stewed with banana peppers and black-eyed peas. It's an idyllic place to grab lunch or dinner while people-watching on the posh Magazine Street.


Many of New Orleans' restaurants pride themselves on being family-run for decades, and such is the case with Magazine Street's Casamento's. The restaurant was established in 1919 by Joe Casamento, an Italian immigrant, and is still operated by his descendants over a century later. Aside from a handful of dishes like the fried chicken tenders, spaghetti and meatballs (an homage to Casamento's Italian founder), a grilled cheese, and a handful of other dishes, you won't find a lot besides seafood here – what you will find is local seafood prepared using fresh ingredients and recipes handed down for generations.

Casamento's is known for serving up some of the best oysters in the US, served raw, charbroiled, or in the famous oyster loaf. The restaurant's seafood gumbo is well-loved, and it's also a hotspot for soft-shell crab. It's easy to underestimate Casamento's from the outside, but the longstanding restaurant is easily one of the greatest hidden gems the city has to offer.

Compère Lapin

Born in St. Lucia and trained in French cooking techniques at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Compton rose to fame on "Top Chef" and fell in love with the Big Easy, returning to open Compère Lapin in the Old 77 hotel in 2015. Compere Lapin effortlessly marries the timeless dishes and ingredients of New Orleans with Compton's Caribbean upbringing to great effect: The restaurant has received widespread acclaim, and Compton took home the James Beard award for "Best Chef: South" in 2018.

Compère Lapin's menu, while upscale, maintains an accessible, folksy appeal. Among the highlights are snack-sized portions of blackened pig ears and smoked fish dip, a fiery jerk pineapple-spiked hamachi tartare, and Compton's famed curried goat. And it wouldn't be a 'Nawlins meal without bread pudding, and Compton elevates the humble dessert with cashew crumble, rum caramel, and brûléed banana. Whichever path you choose, expect an unbeatable show of technique, texture, and flavor. This may not be every diner's definition of true New Orleans cuisine, but considering all of the city's tangled culinary roots, what exactly is?  

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.