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French colonists founded New Orleans in 1718. By 1840, this city along the mighty Mississippi River was the third most populous in America. Both its food and its culture reflect its rich history. Gastronomic delights include classic Cajun and Creole creations as well as fresh new flavors.
Why is New Orleans Such a Great Vacation Destination?
Why is “The Big Easy” such a great place to vacation? In a word, food! This is the land of beignets, gumbo, etouffee, and much, much more. Muffuletta sandwiches, Oysters Rockefeller and po’ boys all trace their origins to New Orleans. Cajun and Creole dishes get much of the attention. However, New Orleans’ creative chefs do cast a wide net across the gastronomic landscape.
Sightseeing is another popular pastime in Crescent City. From Jackson Square to St. Louis Cathedral, and from Preservation Hall to Bourbon Street, there’s plenty to see and do around New Orleans.
Top 15 Restaurants in New Orleans
Many visitors make it a point to dine at one or more of the best restaurants in New Orleans. Here’s a sampling of the best of the best. Among them are famous New Orleans restaurants like Commander’s Palace, Arnaud’s, and GW Fins. There are also relative newcomers to NOLA’s culinary scene, like Luvi, Luke, and Shaya.
813 Bienville Street
Arnaud’s is a French Quarter mainstay. Treat your taste buds to the oysters Ohan with eggplant and andouille. Cocktails are also an art form here. Esquire Magazine describes French 75 as one of the top five bars in the country.
2. GW Fins
808 Bienville Street
A few doors away from Arnaud’s is GW Fins. Chef Michael Nelson creates new entrees that benefit from fresh, seasonal ingredients. Freshly caught sea bass and other seafood also grace the menu.
3. Old Nola Cookery
205 Bourbon Street
If you’re looking forward to jambalaya, gumbo, or crawfish etouffee, give serious consideration to Old Nola Cookery. This highly rated New Orleans restaurant serves a host of Cajun and Creole dishes. Reviews consistently praise the servers.
214 Royal Street
Criollo is in the Hotel Monteleone, one block from Bourbon Street. Consider the beignets bathed in homemade praline sauce. Delicious seafood entrees include crawfish pasta, seafood gumbo, and shrimp crab avocado stack.
411 Bourbon Street
Mambo’s is the home of the only rooftop bar on Bourbon Street. It is also a great place for authentic New Orleans cuisine. Try the signature crab cakes caressed by a tangy crawfish and mushroom cream sauce.
4213 Magazine Street
At Shaya, guests enjoy dishes influenced by culinary traditions from North Africa to Israel, and from Turkey to Greece. A wood-fired oven delivers pita with a distinctive taste and texture.
7. Compère Lapin
535 Tchoupitoulas Street
Compère Lapin is in the vibrant Arts District. Diners enjoy the Creole, French and Caribbean cuisine New Orleans is famous for. The popular eatery is a James Beard Award winner.
8. Nola Caye
898 Baronne Street
Nola Caye is also in the Arts District. It features a menu packed with diverse Caribbean, Cuban, and Latin American dishes. Experience entrees like Braised Oxtail, Tuna Ceviche, or Grilled Mahi with Black Bean-Mango Salsa.
930 Tchoupitoulas Street
Cochon is not only in the Arts and Warehouse District, it is in a renovated warehouse. Chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski specialize in traditional Cajun cuisine. Locally sourced pork, fresh seafood, and produce enhance the menu.
10. La Petite Grocery
4238 Magazine Street
La Petite Grocery is a newer Uptown restaurant that’s already an institution. Come here for a new, creative take on well-known New Orleans treats. The blue crab beignets bathed in malt vinegar dressing are but one example.
5236 Tchoupitoulas Street
Luvi is another Uptown restaurant of more recent vintage. Select from a variety of Chinese and Japanese dishes. Savor fresh fish combined with cucumber, yuzu vinegar, and pink dragon fruit. Or select favorites like bam bam chicken and dan dan noodles.
12. Commander’s Palace
1403 Washington Avenue
Since 1893, Commander’s Palace has been serving leading-edge Haute Creole under its chandeliers 1893. It is also known for its elegant jazz brunch. World-class chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme have been a part of its growth.
13. Piece of Meat
3301 Bienville Street
The name may be less than poetic, but the branding is effective. Piece of Meat is both a butcher shop and a restaurant serving house-smoked ribs, sandwiches, and more. Here you’ll find a welcome combination of traditional butchering and sustainably raised meat.
333 St. Charles Avenue
Select from unabashedly Old-World entrees at this elegant brasserie. Slow, traditional cooking techniques enhance a variety of German and French entrees. Luke offers beer lovers three exclusive brews.
2441 Orleans Avenue
The Treme neighborhood is home to Gabrielle, a family-run affair specializing in Cajun cuisine. Treat your palette to BBQ shrimp pie or duck topped off with fried duck skin.
Best New Orleans Hotels
NOLA offers a truly diverse selection of both historic and modern accommodations.
Holiday Inn - Chateau Lemoyne
301 Rue Dauphine
This 171-room Holiday Inn - Chateau Lemoyne is in the French Quarter. Guests dine at popular Bourbon Street eateries like Old Nola Cookery and Mambo’s.
214 Royal Street
Guests at the Hotel Monteleone need never leave the building to enjoy a fine dining experience at Criollo. It is a short walk from the hotel to the Audubon Insectarium.
The Higgins Hotel
1000 Magazine Street
Guests at The Higgins Hotel are steps away from the National WWII Museum and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The hotel is in the heart of the Arts District, near restaurants like Cochon and Nola Caye.
2031 St. Charles Avenue
The 106-room Pontchartrain Hotel is in the Garden District. Head to the rooftop bar to drink in the city views. Take the St. Charles Avenue streetcar to the French Quarter just two miles away.
Royal Sonesta New Orleans
300 Bourbon Street
Royal Sonesta New Orleans offers live jazz on-site, an outdoor pool, and a fitness center. Enjoy a meal at Arnaud’s or GW Fins nearby. A five-minute stroll takes you to the iconic St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square.
The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery
535 Tchoupitoulas Street
The Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery repurposes three 19th century warehouses into modern, convenient accommodations. It is home to Compère Lapin, a favorite dining destination for locals and visitors alike. Guests enjoy easy access to Harrah’s Casino and St. Patrick’s Church.
Omni Royal Crescent Hotel
535 Gravier Street
The 97-room, 4-star Omni Royal Crescent Hotel offers a full complement of amenities. It is near the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Harrah’s Casino. Dine at nearby restaurants like Compere Lapin, Cochon, and Mambo’s.
Hyatt Centric French Quarter
800 Iberville Street
The Hyatt Centric French Quarter offers guests both outdoor and indoor pools. The 254-room hotel is steps away from restaurants like Arnaud’s and GW Fins. The Saenger Theatre, Preservation Hall, and Jackson Square are only a few blocks away.
Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter
541 Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street excitement is right outside the door when you stay at Sheraton’s Four Points by Sheraton. It is just a couple of blocks from Arnaud’s and GW Fins.
Ritz Carlton New Orleans
921 Canal Street
The 527-room Ritz Carlton New Orleans is a 4.5-star hotel, pampering guests with upscale amenities. They dine at nearby restaurants like GW Fins and Olde Nola Cookery.
Plan Your New Orleans Vacation Today
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