If you’re even thinking of being in New Orleans, check out the rest of our DestiNATION: New Orleans guide. It’s stacked with expert advice from locals on what to eat, where to drink, and what to do.

N o city in America claims a more distinct cuisine than New Orleans, full stop. The wide mouth of the Mississippi River has served as a home to the Creole and Cajun people; Caribbeans galore; Americans of black, white, and Native persuasions; French explorers and governors; Acadians; and every influence east of the Continental Divide that gravity eventually pulls here.
Together they've virtually perfected eating. "New Orleans food," Mark Twain said after one visit, "is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin." And that was long before so many of the other influences were felt in the Crescent City, including a strong influx of Vietnamese and Thai immigrants who have left their own mark. New Orleans food, ever-changing, must be world-class even to survive in such a well-fed city.

What to eat when you're here? The short answer is, everything. The longer answer is, everything you can’t get somewhere else. Which, come to think of it, is an extraordinary number of the city's favorite foods. New Orleans casts a strange spell, truly: Almost nothing we cook translates to the outside world with the same vividness or richness. If you want to truly experience these mainstays, you've got to get them here.

Domilise's Po-Boys | Martine Boyer/Thrillist

Supposedly this sandwich earned its name from a couple of guys who served sandwiches to streetcar workers on strike -- that's the legend anyway. What's clear is the sandwich has endured in part because of its architecture, built as it is with a French bread this city so prides itself on, that finds the perfect middle between crunchy and pillowy. The sandwich endures as well because of its sheer mass -- traditionally as long as 15 or 20in, piled with meat or seafood, lettuce, tomatoes, and all the dressings.

Parkway

Bayou St. John

Parkway Bakery & Tavern is the legendary stop -- be sure to try its Thanksgiving po-boy if you're there for the holidays.

Parasol's

Irish Channel

Parasol's in the Irish Channel, renowned for its gravy, is a perfect stop for an egalitarian roast beef po-boy and beer.

Verti Marte

French Quarter

In the French Quarter, you have to stop by Verti Marte. It looks like a convenience store inside, but in the back is a group of the finest sandwich craftsmen New Orleans has ever known. Their masterpiece: the shrimp and oyster po-boy.

Killer PoBoys

French Quarter

Killer PoBoys is the newest addition and serves the sandwich with a New Age eye: Expect to taste pork belly, smoked salmon, and sweet potato.

Toups South

Endear yourself to your waitress by mispronouncing this famous pork sausage (or get it right: BOO-dan). Liver and heart meat are mixed with rice, then stuffed into a pork casing to create this savory delicacy. Though it might not sound particularly appetizing, it's more than worth a try. Boudin is served simmered, braised, or, increasingly, fried. There's nothing better than a couple of boudin balls and grainy mustard to purge that last lingering bit of boozy regret.

Toups' Meatery

City Park

If you're aiming to try some boudin, or any other sausage, Toups' Meatery is your port. Run by Isaac Toups, a favorite contestant in the most recent season of Top Chef, the restaurant focuses on the best of the Cajun boucherie. Boudin is well within his wheelhouse. 

Cochon Restaurant

Lower Garden District

Cochon serves up traditional yet upscale Cajun dishes using fresh, locally sourced pork, produce, and seafood, but most importantly: the tried-and-true techniques that chef Donald Link has resurrected from his childhood.

Cochon Butcher

Lower Garden District

Build your ultimate meaty sandwich at this hybrid butcher shop, deli counter, and wine bar. Inspired by Old World meat markets, Cochon Butcher specializes in house-cured meats, terrines, and sausages. The lines can get long at lunch, making the simple pleasure of sitting at the bar with a drink and a bite feel like a luxury.

Andouille Poboy | Toups South

Like every Creole or Cajun food, andouille sounds French but is influenced by various immigrant groups. The French and Acadians had their say, sure, but the Germans of Louisiana’s German Coast brought the strong sausage-making tradition, and the Native Americans, Spaniards, and Africans all brought their own spices and flavors to the local staple. You're looking at butt or shank meat moistened by fat and seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic. Once it's stuffed in its casing, it's smoked over burning sugar cane and pecan wood for seven or eight hours at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Expect to find it in every gumbo you ever order. Toup's and Cochon are perfect places to pick up some andouille while you're munching on boudin, but there are a couple other spots worth checking out (where you can likewise find boudin).

Atchafalaya

East Riverside

Atchafalaya is a creative brunch spot with a well-stocked Bloody Mary bar. Stop in here to find andouille in the gumbo, shrimp and grits, or served on its own, cooked to perfection.

Gourmet Butcher Block

Gretna

If you're willing to drive for some quality sausage, head to Gretna on the other side of the Mississippi River. Gourmet Butcher Block is a classic Cajun butcher shop that serves up sausage with respect to the old meat traditions.

Pho Tau Bay | Flickr/Kevin O'Mara

This broth and rice noodle dish has been a part of New Orleans cuisine for decades -- a fact that may surprise some who come to the city expecting only Cajun and Creole classics. A large Vietnamese community, migrating here after the Vietnam War in search of familiar coastal living -- and, like NOLA, deeply influenced by the historic presence of French colonizers -- has integrated itself in the food culture.

Pho here is known as a hearty, inexpensive meal, great for hangovers and light lunches. Restaurants here fuse flavors, some offering pork belly, duck confit, or oxtail pho -- traditional proteins in Southern barbecue and French cuisine. Traditionally, it's beef-based soup, served with a choice of thinly sliced steak, beef flank, brisket, or even tripe and Vietnamese meatballs. You can get chicken and vegetarian pho, but most Vietnamese will tell you to judge good pho by the quality of its beef broth.

This full-bodied, gingery, and aromatic soup is interactive, too; it's up to you to add Thai basil, bean sprouts, sliced jalapeños, hoisin, chili paste, and as much lime as you can squeeze. While there are many Vietnamese restaurants in New Orleans, if you want good pho, the trick is to look for a place that doesn't purport to specialize in any other dish. 

Pho TĂ u Bay

Central Business District

Pho TĂ u Bay, family-owned and a local favorite, recently reopened its doors in the Central Business District. Sometimes it has caramelized flan for dessert, the perfect counterbalance to a satisfyingly salty broth.

Pho Bang

Village de l'Est

Pho Bang has several locations, two on the West Bank alone and another in New Orleans East. It also offers great bún bò huế, its bright-orange beef broth the spicy cousin to pho.

Magasin

Central Business District

Magasin's appeal is in its pho, as well as its location and modern aesthetic that feels so far from hole-in-the-wall haunts.

Duong Phuong | Martine Boyer/Thrillist

Vietnamese New Orleanians charmingly market the bánh mì as the "Vietnamese po-boy," maybe a nod to their shared dependence on a flaky, warm baguette -- a souvenir of French colonialism in Southeast Asia. While the hallmark of a great bánh mì sandwich is the quality of its bread, if any of its other necessary parts are missing, it won’t hit the right note. Bánh mì is an options-based meal.

The classic bánh mì dac biet contains a variety of cold cuts, jellied pork, and pâté. Other varieties include lemongrass chicken bánh mì, roasted pork bánh mì, or charbroiled pork bánh mì. While bánh mì is usually made with pork or chicken, New Orleans' proximity to the coast allows for lots of local and fresh seafood. You may find Cajun-seasoned gulf shrimp or blackened fish at certain Vietnamese restaurants in the city interested in capitalizing on the city's local produce. The sandwiches are then stuffed with cold cucumbers, Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, jalapeño peppers, and mayonnaise. Certain establishments will make the sandwich their own in the details, with alterations like garlic aioli, homemade chili paste, or specialty pickles. It’s the local bread, though, that makes this mainstay such a point of pride.

Dong Phuong Bakery

Village de l'Est

Dong Phuong Bakery is worth the trip to New Orleans East for bánh mì. It supplies its trademark French loaves to many other Vietnamese restaurants throughout the city, and bakes everything fresh daily. A lot of times where good pho is found, a well-made Vietnamese sandwich accompanies.

Pho Hoa

Harvey

Another fine example of soup and sandwich happily married: Pho Hoa, a pho restaurant on the West Bank, also makes a fast and delicious bánh mì. 

Hong Kong Supermarket

Terrytown

Some of the best bánh mì can be found in an unassuming strip mall at Hong Kong Supermarket, an Asian grocery with a deli and barbecue. Every day, the market whips up crispy roasted duck and pig in-house, the makings for great bánh mì.

Ralph's on the Park

This spicy beef-based soup is in the midst of a resurgence since Katrina shuttered many of the stores that once served this cheap street food in humble foam cups. Yet it remains under-regarded among characteristic New Orleans dishes. Perhaps that owes to its humble, opaque roots: its recipes orally passed within families, its sale traditionally occurring in corner stores and mom-and-pop shops.

The soup -- found, too, in chicken, seafood, and veggie variations -- may have come over with Chinese immigrants and was co-opted by African-American neighbors in the 19th century. This fusion is evident in the mix of soy sauce, Creole spices, and the holy trinity of green bell pepper, onion, and celery. Spaghetti noodles are the most common, but variations of ya-ka-mein have ramen or udon. Most consistently, your bowl will have a hard-boiled egg and plenty of chopped green onion. Locally, it's also been dubbed Old Sober for its prized reputation for curing hangovers. Ms. Linda Green, known as the "Ya-Ka-Mein Lady," can be found during festivals. You might also try her famous family recipe on Thursday evenings at the Ogden.

Manchu Food Store and Chinese Kitchen

Seventh Ward

The best place to find this street food is really at neighborhood corner joints like Manchu Food Store and Chinese Kitchen, a small bright-purple cinderblock building under the bridge on Claiborne. 

Eat-Well Food Mart

Mid-City

Eat-Well Food Mart, another small convenience store that serves hot lunch, also offers this warming noodle soup.

Ralph's on the Park

Mid-City

Unsurprisingly, ya-ka-mein has been appropriated by fine-dining restaurateurs. Ralph's on the Park, for one, dresses up this comfort food while keeping its soul intact. 

Galatoire's

You can get soft-shell crab a lot of places, but none of them are as good as in New Orleans. Plus, like with everything, the city's chefs tend to put their own spins on it. There's the basic fried version enveloped in the dressing and crunchy French bread of a po-boy. The advanced version is a preparation called meuniere -- doused in fine-slivered almonds or toasted pecans. Regardless, in upscale joints in the French Quarter, this is a defining New Orleans dish.

Galatoire's

French Quarter

At the Old World establishment Galatoire's, crab is king. If you're lucky enough to go on a night when soft-shell crab is on the menu, it'll be one of the best damn pieces of food you'll ever put in your mouth.

Clancy's

Audubon

Clancy's offers its famous cold-smoked soft-shell crab. Topped with meuniere and even more crabmeat, this is one of the city's most legendary seafood dishes.

Commander's Palace | Martine Boyer/Thrillist

Turtle soup is a perfect example of the importance of New Orleans cuisine -- the city serves as a culinary time capsule. (Likewise you see it in preserved drinks like the Sazerac and gin fizz, which otherwise succumbed in the havoc that was Tom Cruise in Cocktail.) This sumptuous dish -- a silky-smooth potage with plenty of onion, garlic, green peppers, celery, and a heap of spices that is set off with a blast of sherry -- survives thanks to restaurants like Commander's Palace sticking to their traditional menus even as American tastes have shifted in the 80 years or so since turtle soup was a cherished staple nationwide.

Commander's Palace

Garden District

The restaurants on the pricier side are worth visiting for this one-of-a-kind appetizer. And, to reiterate: Commander's Palace's turtle soup is legendary. Go for lunch, order a series of 25-cent martinis (you read that right), and slurp from your glass and a bowl. 

Annunciation

Warehouse District

You'll distinguish Annunciation's Old World version of turtle soup for its redder tone. It's definitely worth downing a bowl or two.

Hansen's Sno-Bliz

New Orleans gets hot, so it's worthwhile to mark a few sno-ball locations on your map. After all, there's nothing more refreshing than some ice, cane sugar syrup, and -- if you're into it -- condensed milk. Every place has a deliriously confusing number of flavors to choose from, and you can mix and match from the self-explanatory (cotton candy, raspberry) or the ambiguously named (nectar, silver fox). Be sure to add soft serve, Marshmallow Fluff, and any other toppings the location might carry that day.

Hansen's

Uptown

Hansen's is the legend in these realms. Open since 1939, this location still uses the same ice-shaving machine its owner invented in 1934. Expect the lines to be long, even on those oppressively hot days.

Pandora's Snowballs

City Park

The sno-balls here come in flavors that stretch for what feels like miles on the menu, ranging from sour watermelon and pink lemonade to orchid vanilla and cream soda. Bring cash and expect a line.

Williams Plum Street Snoballs

Uptown

The shaved ice here is beloved for its smooth, soft texture (not an ice chunk in sight), and comes in a miles-long list of flavors, including options like plum (of course), strawberry, piña colada, mocha, and passionfruit. Remember to bring some bills, as this spot is cash-only. And put your phone away when you approach the counter (or else).

Willie Mae’s Scotch House | Flickr/T.Tseng

Yes, everywhere technically has fried chicken. Yet nowhere outside New Orleans will take a staple like this and change your life with it. Two legends rule here: Willie Mae's Scotch House and Dooky Chase's, both run by Creole women who have shaped the modern understanding of New Orleans cuisine.

Dooky Chase's

Treme

The legendary Leah Chase, who recently turned 93, runs Dooky Chase's. A recent winner of a lifetime achievement award from the James Beard Association, Chase has been churning out some of the best fried chicken in the South, as well as a number of Creole dishes that are not to be missed. Stop by for lunch and explore the menu via buffet. 

Willie Mae's Scotch House

Treme

Willie Mae's, meanwhile, has also earned a James Beard and serves some of the best damn chicken you'll ever find. It's juicy, tender, and spiced to perfection. Both are within blocks of each other and definitely worth a stop.

Galatorie's

Of Louisiana's signature dishes, gumbo may be the most emblematic. The word comes from the Bantu word for "okra," and it represents the region's diverse cultural influences, from the Choctaw addition of ground sassafras (filé), to the use of roux from French Creoles. Most locals will brag that their mother, grandpa, or mawmaw has the best gumbo recipe, which speaks to the dish's large variance in ingredients and flavors. The most common gumbos are chicken and andouille, or seafood (itself a vague identifier which could mean crab, shrimp, oyster, or crawfish). Naturally, chefs all over the city have taken this classic and altered it to suite seasonal produce or public desire.

Galatoire's

French Quarter

You can scarcely miss the stuff; every Southern cuisine restaurant will have gumbo. However, Galatoire's Restaurant in the heart of the French Quarter offers seafood okra gumbo as well as duck and andouille gumbo, plus a truly iconic New Orleans restaurant experience.

Commander's Palace

Garden District

Commander's Palace offers trademark New Orleans dining in the Garden District. Go for lunch or dinner in the famous teal Victorian turreted mansion -- an anomaly in a neighborhood teeming with Greek Revival architecture.

Dooky Chase's

Treme

Add a bowl of gumbo to complement Dooky Chase's lunch buffet in Treme.

Coop's Place | Martin Boyer/Thrillist

Jambalaya is likely what happened when Spanish settlers tried to recreate paella with local Louisiana ingredients. But it also brings a French influence, specifically from the Provençal area, and while traditionally a Creole dish, it has morphed and adapted across cultural lines. The beauty of jambalaya, like gumbo, is that it is flexible -- you'll easily find a dozen slight variations in your travels here. It's popularly made in a large cast-iron pot for family or group gatherings, church functions or weddings, crawfish boils, or Easter. The basic flavors include the holy trinity of green bell pepper, celery, and onion sautéed with tomato, garlic, and other vegetables, meats, and spices.

Jacques-Imo's Cafe

Carrollton

If you don't have access to a backyard barbecue, Jacques-Imo's Uptown has a lively atmosphere and offers classic Creole jambalaya. It's nestled on Oak St, a short walk to after-dinner drinks or live music.

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen

French Quarter

K-Paul's Restaurant in the Quarter is the trademark establishment of the late chef Paul Prudhomme, whose Cajun jambalaya (culturally different from French Creole) has tasso sausage, chicken, and a jalapeño kick.

Coop's Place

French Quarter

Coop's Place has a rabbit and sausage jambalaya; make it "supreme" by requesting shrimp and tasso.

Cafe du Monde Beignets | Flickr/chuckyeager

Variants of New Orleans' dishes the world over owe to the city's long history as a major port, where food, flavors, and people from all over came into contact. In the case of beignets, we can thank French colonists arriving in the 18th century.

The mark of a good beignet is its proximity to freshness: Immediate to serving, its yeasty dough should be deep-fried to form a warm brown crust on the outside, and be perfectly fluffy on the inside. While this treat covered in confectioner's sugar is often eaten for breakfast (it loves coffee and vice versa), it's a perfect late-night dessert after an evening of revelry.

Café du Monde

French Quarter

The city’s most famous spot for beignets is, of course, CafĂ© du Monde. Its doors are open 24/7, so you can feasibly get a sobering plate of beignets and cup of coffee after the Quarter bars shut down, right before the sun rises. During the morning rush, brace yourself for long lines of tourists. 

Morning Call Coffee Stand

City Park

It's cash-only, open 24 hours, and has been a New Orleans institution since 1870. Enough said.

Cafe Beignet

French Quarter

Cafe Beignet’s Royal St location is exactly what you'd want in an intimate, European-style sidewalk bistro.

Parran's Po-Boys

Now a veritable national treasure, muffalettas owe their start in New Orleans to Italian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. The massive sandwich took as its name the type of Sicilian sesame seed bread, similar to focaccia, that's traditionally used to gird a combination of ham, salami, mortadella, mozzarella, and, most distinctively, an olive salad spread. The spread is generally composed of diced and seasoned olives mixed with the carrots, celery, and cauliflower found in giardiniera, and adds a salty, rich flavor that cuts through the fattiness of the meats and cheese. Varieties may include fried shrimp, oysters, and even sometimes crab in the mix. Steel yourself accordingly. -- Andrew Paul, Thrillist contributor

Central Grocery

French Quarter

The general consensus is that the muffaletta sandwich began at Central Grocery on Decatur St back in 1906, so folks looking for its purest form should start there.

Parran's

Metairie

A more experimental variety can be found in the suburb Metairie, at Parran's, which stuffs its sandwich with fried catfish, oysters and shrimp. 

Stein's

Lower Garden District

The middle-ground muffaletta is over at Stein's on Magazine St, which inversely keeps the sandwich's traditional innards while swapping the bread for a French roll used in po-boys.

Leah's Pralines

The savory sweet known as a praline has a murky history. Supposedly it originated in 17th-century France, and originally included almonds or hazelnuts coated in caramelized sugar. Numerous variations evolved since; New Orleans lays claim to probably the best spin on the candy, which now generally involves pecans and cream and/or buttermilk to thicken the binding element. This results in a richer take on the treat, and has become ubiquitous not just in New Orleans but across the American South. The praline in this form is one of the city's sweetest and most variegated staples. -- Andrew Paul, Thrillist contributor

Leah's Pralines

French Quarter

Leah's Pralines, a shop that dates to 1944, is one of the classics. Its pralines are among the best, and also include varieties like chocolate and "traditional," a creamier take.

Southern Candymakers

French Quarter

Southern Candymakers specializes in a praline with a less gritty feel (a common peril, given just how much sugar is packed into the candy) and a sweet potato variation that's just killer. 

Elizabeth's

Bywater

The truly decadent approach is at Elizabeth's, a great restaurant for any occasion that features a praline-coated bacon on its brunch menu that will make you question reality.

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Phil McCausland is a digital news reporter for NBCNews.com. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Mother Jones, The A.V. Club ,and Oxford American. Follow him @PhilMcCausland_.

E. M. Tran is a Vietnamese American writer from New Orleans. She currently splits her time between Athens, Ohio and Oxford, Mississippi. Visit ElizabethMTran.com or her Twitter @etran3.

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1. Parasol's 2533 Constance St, New Orleans, LA 70130

A longstanding Irish Channel dive, Parasol's makes loyal fans out of locals and tourists alike thanks to its practically sinful po-boys, gumbo, and other comforting Southern specialities. The move is to order either the roast beef or shrimp po-boy, both of which come served on a soft roll that soaks up all the juices from the melt-in-your-mouth meat. You'll also want to throw in a local craft beer and an Irish Sundae: a well-seasoned potato salad covered in house gravy and roast beef shreds.

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2. Verti Marte 1201 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

Twenty-four-hour deli Verti Marte is housed in the back of a small, unassuming grocery store on a quiet French Quarter street. It's earned a devoted following among night owls, especially for its interpretation of that all-important Louisiana staple, the po-boy, made with crispy fried shrimp and oysters on a soft, seeded roll. That's not to say the po-boy is all Verti Marte has in store: its calorie-packing sandwich roster includes All That Jazz, a ham and turkey sandwich layered with sautéed shrimp and mushrooms, and Swiss and American cheeses. They deliver, but you may want to budget in some walking time to pick up one of these monolithic sandwiches yourself.

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3. Killer Poboys 811 Conti St, New Orleans, LA 70112 (French Quarter)

The French Quarter's popular Killer Poboys serves exactly that: top-notch po-boys, cooked up in the tiny kitchen at the back of Irish pub Erin Rose on Conti Street. The po-boys here are crafted with a new-age eye, some even incorporating untraditional ingredients like pork belly, smoked salmon, and sweet potato. The cash-only counter also serves up standout sandwiches like BBQ chicken confit, Black Bear beef debris, and chorizo & egg.

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4. Toups' Meatery 845 N. Carrollton, New Orleans, LA 70119 (Mid City)

Helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Isaac Toups, this Mid-City spot serves a carnivore-centric menu with bold Cajun flavor. Large entrees like the grilled Georgia quail with farm-fresh seasonal vegetables and saba satiate and surprise; light bites range from addictive cracklins and deviled eggs with smoked trout roe. Minimalist metal chairs and refurbished wood surfaces give Toups a cabin-like feel that enhances the relaxed, convivial vibe.

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5. Cochon Restaurant 930 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (Warehouse District)

Cochon is French for "oinker," meaning you should pig out on all things pork at this rustic-chic warehouse, such as an oyster bacon sandwich and fried boudin with pickled peppers. Situated on the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Andrew Higgins, Cochon has James Beard Award-winner Donald Link at the helm, who serves up traditional Cajun dishes from his childhood with an upscale twist using fresh local pork, produce, and seafood. Though pig is the name of the game here, some plates do stray from the pork-centricity, like rabbit livers with pepper jelly.

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6. Cochon Butcher 930 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (Central Business District)

Cochon's generalist meat offshoot, Cochon Butcher, is a hybrid butcher shop, deli counter, and wine bar in the same warehouse building as its pork-centric sibling. There are house-cured meats, sausages, and terrines to take home, but you're really here for the sandwiches, precisely the Muffuletta, stacked with nearly an inch of pink-hued, salty meats (pastrami, mortadella, Genoa salami), creamy provolone, and olive salad. You can order it to-go, but if you're staying, make sure to pair with a side of pancetta mac & cheese.

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7. Atchafalaya Restaurant 901 Louisiana Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more exceptional brunch Atchafalaya, a hidden Irish Channel gem serving up contemporary Louisiana cuisine and craft cocktails inside a homey, art-filled space. With dishes like the namesake Eggs Atchafalaya (poached eggs, fried green tomatoes, jumbo lump crab, hollandaise), duck hash, and chicken & andouille gumbo, it seems impossible to imagine a better brunch lineup -- that is, until you discover the fully stocked Bloody Mary bar. Dinner is more than worth your time as well, when plates like pan-seared gulf swordfish, shrimp & grits, and truffled fried chicken breast are prepared with precision.

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8. Gourmet Butcher Block 2144 Belle Chasse Hwy, Terrytown, LA 70056

Stop into this takeout-only counter-serve for all the de-boned and pre-stuffed chicken, sausage, seafood, and other specialty meats you need to cook up your own hearty Cajun meal at home. For a truly authentic Cajun dinner -- typically a three pot affair with a main entree, a seafood dish, and seasonal vegetables -- bring home Gourmet Butcher Shop’s de-boned stuffed chicken with crawfish dressing, seafood gumbo, and stuffed mushrooms with pepper jack chicken sausage. Considering this spot touts itself as "Home of the Turducken," you might want to pick up that succulent hybrid of turkey, duck, and chicken (offered year-round, not just at Thanksgiving), especially if you're having trouble deciding which meat to order.

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9. Pho Bang 932 Westbank Expy, Gretna, LA 70053

Like all the best Vietnamese restaurants, Pho Bang is tiny, unassuming, and nestled into an easily overlooked strip mall. True pho lovers know, though, that the area's best bowls are hiding here, particularly the Pho Chin Nam with tender flank steak and the Pho Dac Biet with brisket. They go best with fresh summer rolls and a Vietnamese iced coffee on the side, otherwise known as iced Cafe Du Monde coffee with condensed milk.

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10. Pho Tau Bay 1565 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA

Phở Tàu Bay, a family-owned favorite in the Central Business District, stands out for both its contemporary, exposed-brick interior -- a far cry from the typical hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese joints around town -- and its exceptional pho and banh mi. Go for the Pho Thai with tender, medium-rare beef or the Banh Mi Pate Thit: homemade rolled ham with the chef’s special chicken liver sausage, mayonnaise, julienne carrots, onions, cucumbers, and (very) hot peppers on freshly baked French bread. The caramelized flan is a must for dessert, offering a sweet counterbalance to the pho's satisfyingly salty broth.

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11. Magasin Vietnamese Cafe 4201 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

Though the best Vietnamese food is usually hiding in shabby hole-in-the-walls, Magasin is an exception to the rule. The sleek space on Magazine Street prepares exceptional banh mi, buns, and spring rolls, but you're here mainly for the pho. The full-bodied broth is rich in beef and ginger notes, and can be complemented with unconventional toppings like oxtail and meatballs.

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12. Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery 14207 Chef Menteur Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70129

This eastern New Orleans Vietnamese standby might not amount to much from the outside -- with a mixed brick exterior and fading eggshell awning greeting diners -- but the signature bahn-mis here have drawn accolades from the country over. In addition to functioning as a casual full-service restaurant, the venue comes with a bakery that turns over equally excellent pastries like coconut rolls, egg tarts, and strawberry shortcake.

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13. Pho Hoa 1308 Manhattan Blvd, Harvey, LA 70058

The Harvey outpost of a casual chain of Vietnamese restaurants, Pho Hoa on the Westbank serves up affordable, authentic pho and -- perhaps even outshining the comforting namesake bowl -- a piquant, DIY banh mi sandwich that steals the show. Go for the latter and the server will bring you a bowl of carrot beef stew served alongside a plate of lime, green peppers, and cilantro, and a hearty loaf of fresh French bread. Put it all together and you've got yourself a spicy and scrumptious banh mi sandwich. In terms of pho, we'd suggest getting the most out of your bowl with the Pho Tai: a noodle soup loaded with steak, flank, tendon, tripe, and fatty flank. You'll want to cut the broth's saltiness with a tapioca-infused mango smoothie.

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14. Hong Kong Supermarket 925 Behrman Hwy, Gretna, LA 70056

Stock up on baked goods, to-go po-boys, and a huge selection of Asian groceries at this unassuming supermarket by the Crescent City Connection. It's an ideal spot to grab all the makings for your next home-cooked meal, but the hot food selections are well-worth your time, too, including authentic banh mi sandwiches with either crispy roasted duck or pork that are prepared in-house -- and that fans swear are some of the best in the city.

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15. Manchu Food Store 1413 N Claiborne Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116

If you're on the hunt for cheap Chinese street food, make your way to Manchu Food Store & Chinese Kitchen, a small, bright-purple cinderblock building under the bridge on Claiborne. It's serving up addictive chicken wings, scrumptious egg rolls, and the fan-favorite Ya-Ka-Mein (or, as it's known locally, "Old Sober" -- a nod to the dish's hangover-curing abilities), a beef noodle soup with a mix of hardboiled egg, soy sauce, creole spices, green bell pepper, onion, and celery. You'll only find this NOLA delicacy, which highlights both Chinese and African-American influences, at mom-and-pop shops like Manchu.

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16. Eat-Well Food Mart 2700 Canal St Ste A, New Orleans, LA 70119

If you've been breezing by Eat-Well Food Mart on Canal in the past, stop that. Don't miss out on the authentic Vietnamese food hidden in the back of this unsuspecting convenience store, including freshly prepared banh mi, comforting bowls of ya-ka-mein, and a little thing called a phoritto, which is exactly what it sounds like: a pho burrito. Run, don't walk, to this stunning hybrid, which comes with all the makings of pho -- from brisket and noodles to bean sprouts and basil -- wrapped inside a tortilla. Beyond sandwiches like the phoritto and grilled pork banh mi, there are even po-boys here (go for the shrimp), solidifying Eat-Well as a go-to for a killer lunch.

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17. Ralph's On The Park 900 City Park Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119 (Mid City)

Situated in a historic 1860s building among Mid-City's oaks and clapboard houses, Ralph's on the Park offers an elegant setting with classic Louisiana charm (in both service and decor), where you can nosh on a menu of comforting New Orleans delicacies with a refined twist. Treat yourself to ya-ka-mein (a Chinese- and NOLA-inspired beef noodle soup), a foie gras PB&J sandwich, a Louisiana seafood crepe with fried shrimp curls, or turtle soup finished with sherry. On Sundays, opt for a table on the sunny porch at brunch, and order some gulf shrimp & grits or crabmeat Benedict.

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18. Galatoire's 209 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (French Quarter)

Established in 1905, Galatoire’s has remained a Bourbon Street bulwark of French Creole cuisine. The restaurant blends tradition with curiosity as it juxtaposes gumbo, shrimp remoulade, and oysters Rockefeller with deep-fried zucchini sticks, (which you’re meant to plunge into a mix of Tabasco sauce and powdered sugar) and duck crepes with homemade Boursin cheese, Port-cherry reduction, and pistachios. Galatoire’s keeps things elegant with its forest green walls, lace curtains, and mirrored walls, a glimpse into a past worthy of a Faulkner novel.

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19. Clancy's 6100 Annunciation St, New Orleans, LA 70118

This former po-boy joint plays host to a classed up crowd eager to dine on cajun favorites like gumbo, crab salad, and turtle soup, in a white tablecloth setting. The crowd can veer toward the ritzy, but rest assured that sticky favorites like lemon icebox pie and peppermint ice cream -- served year round -- will make a child out of everyone.

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20. Commander's Palace 1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

This notable New Orleans spot offers refined Creole fare in a historic setting. The Garden District landmark has been around since 1893 and has since won six James Beard Foundation awards, in part due to its seamless execution of its "dirt to plate within 100 miles" policy, which strives for 90% of ingredients to come from within 100 miles of the back door. Come in for inspired (and environmentally-friendly!) offerings like cypress smoked Muscovy duck and shrimp and pork belly carbonara.

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21. Annunciation 1016 Annunciation St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Housed inside a restored turn-of-the-century warehouse sporting exposed brick, white table cloths, and plenty of candlelight, upscale-bistro Annunciation serves up top-notch Cajun and Creole seafood dishes in a setting that's ideal for date night or a special occasion. The menu's refined yet comforting plates are served with a generous helping of French flair, and include fried oysters with melted brie & sautéed spinach, pan-roasted chicken bonne femme, and shrimp remoulade. There are refreshing cocktails, too, including a blueberry Sazerac and the Death From A Buzz, mixed with Death's Door Gin, cucumber water, ginger beer, and local honey.

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22. Hansen's Sno-Bliz 4801 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

It wouldn't be summer in NOLA without a high chance of snow, and you -- and maybe your parents and grandparents -- have been finding it in one particular NOLA spot for the last 77 years. There might be plenty of places in the city to enjoy a sno-ball, that quintessential Crescent City shaved ice treat, but Hansen's is a classic for a reason: this place not only preserves the traditions of decades past -- including using the same patented ice-shaving device that sweet-toothed NOLA machinist Enerst Hansen developed in the 1930's -- it also caters to new millennium palates with high-quality, handmade syrups.

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23. Pandora's Snowballs 901 N Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119

It's a hot day in NOLA -- do you get ice cream or shaved ice? Head to Pandora's Snowballs, where the answer is both: you can get a sno-ball topped with creamy soft-serve or condensed milk for the ultimate sweet and refreshing treat. Served out of a window on N Carrollton, the sno-balls here come in flavors that stretch for what feels like miles on the menu, ranging from sour watermelon and pink lemonade to orchid vanilla and cream soda. A couple of tips: bring cash, and expect a line.

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24. Plum Street Snoballs 1300 Burdette St, New Orleans, LA 70118 (Uptown)

This small, colorful stand nestled into a neighborhood street in Uptown scoops velvety sno-balls for long lines of customers. Always refreshing, the shaved ice at Plum Street is beloved for its smooth, soft texture (not an ice chunk in sight), and comes in a miles-long list of flavors, including options like plum (of course), strawberry, piña colada, mocha, and passion fruit. Remember to bring some bills, as this spot is cash-only, and put your phone away when you approach the counter (or else).

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25. Willie Mae's Scotch House 2401 Saint Ann St, New Orleans, LA 70119 (Mid City)

The fried chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House is the best in the United States. No joke: it was dubbed such by the Travel Channel and Food Network, and also won the James Beard Award for “America’s Classic Restaurant for the Southern Region.” Tucked away the Treme neighborhood, the cozy spot features all the accoutrements of a beloved local haunt -- memorabilia mounted throughout, news clippings chronicling the success of the family-owned business (which has been open since 1957), homey environs -- and it’s worth noting that there’s always a line out the door, regardless of weather. It’s a walk-ins only spot, so be prepared to wait -- but the soul food here is so satisfying, and it’s entirely worth it.

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26. Dooky Chase's Restaurant 2301 Orleans Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119-5025

The history of this cozy Treme spot is just as interesting as the authentic Creole flavors it serves up: perfectly crispy fried chicken, shrimp Clemenceau, and hearty, zesty seafood gumbo. Helmed by Chef Leah Chase -- known to locals and notable folk like President Obama and Beyoncé as the “Queen of Creole” -- the spot’s storied past covers its tenure as a po-boy and lottery shop in turned, as of 1941, beloved restaurant and community outpost for live music, local artwork, and civil rights. It’s the perfect option for a relaxed yet refined lunch during the week, and we suggest making a reservation -- it’s no secret that Dooky Chase’s is a Big Easy institution, and seating fills up fast.

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27. Jacques-Imo's Cafe 8324 Oak St, New Orleans, LA 70118 (Uptown)

Jacques-Imo's Cafe in Uptown is home to authentic NOLA cooking, offering a menu loaded with Louisiana favorites like Creole jambalaya, shrimp & alligator sausage cheesecake, blackened redfish with crab-chili hollandaise, and its famous Godzilla Meets Fried Green Tomatoes (fried soft shell crab over fried green tomatoes with remoulade and a side of slaw). You can either grab a table inside the mural-lined space, on the sidewalk, or even on the bed of Jacques-Imo's colorfully painted truck parked at the curb. All three options are steeped in the friendly, community feel that defines this neighborhood spot.

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28. K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen 416 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (French Quarter)

Located in the French Quarter, K-Paul's is a legendary establishment from the late renowned chef Paul Prudhomme, and is considered the birthplace of the NOLA delicacy blackened redfish, which is served alongside a host of other traditional, elevated Cajun dishes. Prudhomme's Cajun jambalaya (culturally different from French Creole) features tasso sausage, chicken, and a jalapeño kick, and is a must-try when dining at this iconic restaurant with exposed brick and white tablecloths.

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29. Coop's Place 1109 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

Considering Coop's is located in the Quarter, it's impressive that this neighborhood watering hole isn't overrun with tourists, attracting a largely local crowd. The clientele give the divey, exposed-brick space a warm and welcoming feel that complements the comforting Southern menu. On it you'll find NOLA delicacies like seafood gumbo, Cajun fried chicken, shrimp creole, and the standout rabbit & sausage jambalaya, which you can (and should) make “supreme” by adding shrimp and tasso. Just stopping in for drinks? There's a couple of local craft beers on offer (plus a limited lineup of domestic and imported brews) and your standard well cocktails.

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30. Café Du Monde 800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

Originally established in 1862, Café Du Monde is the place to go for a quintessential New Orleans pick-me-up in the form of a beignet and cafe au lait. The patio, marked by a striped green-and-white awning, is a landmark in itself and the perfect place for people-watching in the French Quarter. The café gets busy during peak lunch and dinner hours, but its 24-seven schedule allows for plenty of opportunities to stop by, whether it's for a late-night sugar fix or an early-morning breakfast. Take-out orders can be placed through a quick-serve window, just be sure to take extra napkins -- those sugar-coated beignets are messy.

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31. Morning Call 56 Dreyfous Dr, New Orleans, LA 70124

As NOLA's self-dubbed "most famous coffee drinking place," Morning Call has been brewing its prized French drip coffee since 1870, which has a rich chicory taste that goes all too well with the cafe's sugar-dusted beignets. Morning Call tends to be cheaper and less tourist-packed than some of the city's other coffee shops (ahem, Cafe du Monde), which means you don't have to wait as long to get your hands on the signature pastries. A short line-up of local cuisine (jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish bread) is worth a taste, too.

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32. Cafe Beignet 334 Royal St Ste B, New Orleans, LA 70130 (French Quarter)

If you're trying to get your beignet fix in the French Quarter and want to avoid the frantic crowds at Café Du Monde, head to less-hectic Cafe Beignet, runner-up for the city's most beloved puff pastries, and creator of exceptional Cajun plates. This European-style sidewalk bistro will set you up with a rich cup of coffee and an order of three beignets that are thicker and doughier than the airy versions at Café Du Monde, but just as fresh and coated heavily with powdered sugar. Looking for a full meal? We'd suggest grabbing a seat on the twinkle-lit outdoor courtyard, where you can enjoy live jazz and NOLA specialties like a crawfish omelette, a roast beef po-boy, jambalaya, and gumbo.

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33. Central Grocery 923 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

There’s no disputing that this small Italian grocery with a deli counter, which dates back to 1906, invented the muffaletta, and still has its flag firmly planted in that fertile territory. Truth be told, the CG muff, served cold and not always overstuffed with meats and cheeses, has been surpassed in recent years by other eateries. But if you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and wait in line for the original, if only for the experience. Also, don’t forget that Central Grocery is also a grocery, with tons of canned, fresh, and dried Italian goodies for your sweet nonna.

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34. Parran's 3939 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, LA 70002

This Metairie strip mall spot has been serving up po' boys, burgers, and club sandos since 1975. If you thought Italian Cajun fusion wasn't a thing, think again! Parran's is actually the originator of po'boy bread, and they're serving it right alongside classic spaghetti and meatballs. While their muffaletta is served on the classic round, seeded Italian loaf, on the inside, it’s all fried seafood po-boy, spilling over with fried shrimp, oysters, and catfish, and dressed in the typical fashion with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayo. No matter your NOLA sandwich style, you're covered at Parran's.

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35. Stein's Market and Deli 2207 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (Garden District)

This Jewish-Italian deli in the Garden District offers the best of both cuisines in the form of exceptional sandwiches, like the fan-favorite Mumbler with prosciutto, arugala, Balsamic vinegar, and Talleggio cheese on toasted ciabatta. The other must-try item on the extensive menu at this divey, bare-bones icon is the muffaletta, a now-national treasure that originated in NOLA, which keeps the sandwich's traditional innards (a combination of ham, salami, mortadella, mozzarella, and, most distinctive, an olive salad spread) while swapping the usual Sicilian sesame seed bread for a French roll typically used for po-boys. You'll find other miscellaneous items sold here, too, like local craft beer, wine, candy, and T-shirts.

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36. Leah's Pralines 714 Saint Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (French Quarter)

Opened in 1944, Leah's in the French Quarter is a NOLA classic when it comes to the praline. This old-fashioned shop churns out several varieties daily, using a family recipe that's been passed down through three generations. Stop in for favorites like rich chocolate pralines made with Swiss dark chocolate, creamy traditional pralines studded with local pecans, or the salty-sweet bacon pecan brittle (no, you're not dreaming). There are all kinds of heavenly chocolates, too, including peanut butter cups, pecan turtles, and (if you're hunting for a fun souvenir) chocolate alligators. Is your sweet tooth tingling yet?

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37. Southern Candymakers 334 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (French Quarter)

Nestled into Decatur with a bright-yellow facade, the family-owned Southern Candymakers specializes in handmade pralines that don't have the gritty texture that many fall victim to (thanks to their overwhelming amount of sugar). The silky-smooth pralines here have consistently been dubbed the nation's best by fans and publications alike. Be sure to try the sweet potato version for a perfect combination of sweet and savory.

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38. Elizabeth's 601 Gallier St, New Orleans, LA 70117-6217 (Bywater)

Elizabeth’s in Bywater is a quintessential New Orleans breakfast spot, mostly because it cooks up some magical praline bacon (you really, really don’t want to miss this), but also because of the always-friendly servers who present said praline bacon inside the colorful, local art-filled space. The breakfast po-boys are noteworthy, too, and place bacon, egg, and cheese on fresh French bread. At dinnertime, you can expect Southern specialties like fried chicken, catfish, and a grilled seafood mix with scallops, Gulf fish, and BBQ shrimp.

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