You can travel to most major cities in the United States and know that there is at least one dish you must try before the end of your visit. In New Orleans, that list is a bit longer. Here are five New Orleans classic eats and recommendations on where to enjoy them.
For the uninitiated, gumbo may be thought of as simply a soup or stew with seafood or other meat, such as chicken and sausage, but this traditional dish is much more. All gumbos start with a roux — a browned mixture of flour and fat that is used as the base — but it is from there that each cook creates his own version. A deep, dark and rich variety can be found at Mr. B’s Bistro, the hearty Gumbo Ya Ya. How do you know it is one of the best in the city? Mr. B’s plates nearly 30,000 servings of its chicken and Creole country andouille sausage gumbo each year.
Arnaud’s, founded in 1918, is known as one of the city’s historic grande dame restaurants. Some of the most iconic regional dishes are served here, but don’t miss the shrimp Arnaud, the classic shrimp remoulade with a kick. What sets it apart is the signature remoulade sauce. The secret recipe provides a pleasant heat, thanks to the spicy Creole mustard base. While Arnaud’s won’t spill on its other ingredients, you can replicate the dish at home by purchasing the sauce at the restaurant, in grocery stores and online.
Subs, hoagies and wraps: A sandwich by any other name is still a sandwich. When you travel to New Orleans, however, ask for a po’ boy. Hot sausage, roast beef and soft-shell crab are only a few fillings piled high atop locally-made French bread and dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo. A personal favorite is the fried shrimp po’ boy from Parkway Bakery & Tavern. A mountain of crispy, golden Louisiana shrimp and a local brew such as a Turbodog from Abita Brewing Company or Hopitoulas from NOLA Brewing under the covered patio is the perfect way to enjoy the afternoon or evening.
This is yet another sandwich New Orleans is known for, but you would be hard-pressed to find one done better than at Central Grocery, which created the hero-like snack in 1906. The muffuletta is sliced salami, capacolla, mortadella and provolone layered on a round Italian bread and topped with the aromatic mixture of olive salad — the key ingredient. It is not uncommon to see departing tourists at the airport sinking their teeth into one last butcher-paper-wrapped sandwich before flying off.
Here’s a perfect example of how New Orleans tends to do things its own way: What one may call a sno cone is referred to as a snoball here. The best ones are made from the softest shaved ice, allowing the flavored syrup to be saturated more evenly than its coarse counterparts. The softest ice and the most refreshing flavors can be found at Hansen’s Sno-Bliz. Locals spend upwards of 45 minutes in line, knowing that it is well worth the wait to cool off with a signature Sno-Bliz or Satsuma snoball. All syrups are made in house from special recipes, just as the founders, Ernest and Mary Hansen, did in 1939. And now, their granddaughter, Ashley Hansen, runs the business and carries on the tradition with unusual flavors like cardamom and cream of almond. That is the definition of an icon.
Photo Courtesy of Mr. B’s Bistro, Parkway Bakery and Tavern and iStock