Signature Cocktails & Good Eats in New Orleans #onetimeinNOLA

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I was promised good eats in New Orleans. Everyone said: it’s all about the food in Louisiana. You will love all those creole and cajun food experiences not to mention all the seafood. There is no doubt about it, we talked about food from the moment we got to New Orleans until the day we left. This Girl’s Getaway was all about taking everything in and finding the fun is three days of power walking, intense people-watching and figuring out where to find the best beignets.

UPDATE: I returned to New Orleans in 2022 and wanted to add to this list of great restaurants and signature cocktails in New Orleans. All of the new reviews will be in blue blocks.

My first recommendation for Good Eats in New Orleans is to take a guided food tour with a knowledgeable guide. We had a tour with Destination Kitchen in the French Quarter and enjoyed a great tour with the added bonus of history and lore to add to the experience. We made quite a few stops in well-known and some touristy restaurants but honestly, we were all pretty impressed with the portions. They were not large but there were many. We stopped off at the French Market, The New Orleans School of Cooking, and New Orleans Creole Cookery.

Our guide Laurent had a charming French accent but knew his food and adopted city well. As a past chef, he had unique insights about our food and its origins in creole and cajun culture. At the end of the 3-hour food tour, he provided additional suggestions for restaurants in the city (see below for video and full listing).

Good Eats in New Orleans for breakfast or brunch

As we drove into New Orleans from the airport, we asked our driver what we had to eat and where we could find the best of the best. On the flight down, the Air Canada in-flight magazine had a story about the food scene in New Orleans. I read the article, took a picture and asked the first person I met about where to eat the perfect beignet. Her answer: The Ritz Carlton in the French Quarter. It’s the three sauces, she said. You have to taste them: white chocolate, milk chocolate and caramel.

Beignets are deep-fried fluffy donuts, rectangular in shape drenched in icing sugar. They are not usually accompanied by dipping sauces but they are very, very popular.

Cafe du Monde beignets and coffee @DownshiftingPRO
Cafe du Monde has the most FAMOUS Beignets in New Orleans

They say you cannot come to New Orleans without going to Café du Monde. Established in 1862 in the French Market, you can now find various locations throughout the city. Be prepared to wait if you want to sit and enjoy a coffee with chicory, cafe au lait or a hot chocolate with your beignets.

Insider Tip: Scoot in from the west and grab an empty table. If you are approaching from Jackson Square, you will likely find yourself standing in line. Service is very quick so don’t despair. We did enjoy our beignets but we were spoiled because our first taste was those at the Ritz Carlton.

The Ritz Carlton

There is NO CONTEST, the beignets with the tree dipping sauces were the best that we had on our whole trip. We did try others but we were spoiled when we tried them for breakfast. On top of that, the waiter was incredibly helpful with suggestions for other places to eat in the city. It is always great to have recommendations from locals.

Bignet at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans 2019
The BEST Beignets, in our opinion, were at the Ritz-Carlton

Back to the beignets at the Ritz. About those dipping sauces, you get three dipping sauces with each order. They are warm with a variety of flavours. Each of us loved either the white chocolate, milk chocolate or caramel. Because they are made fresh to order, the beignets are fluffy and warm. The coffee was bottomless and also so very good. The atmosphere was so very peaceful and civilized. I cannot say enough about how much we loved this experience. All of it by chance, because we asked our driver for recommendations.

Good Eats in New Orleans The best beignets in the city at The Ritz Carlton

Cafe Beignet

When I asked our city guide what her favourite place for beignets was, Lauren suggested Cafe Beignet – the original on Royal Street to be precise. My daughter decided to stop by here as she was put off by the long lineup at Cafe du Monde. She loved the lightness of this particular version of beignets (she tried the unconventional custard stuffed beignet). With four locations in the French Quarter, you may want to try the Decatur or Bourbon Street locations for an evening snack. The Royal and Canal Street locations close by 5 pm.

Court of Two Sisters

Beautiful courtyard at The Court of Two Sisters in the French Quarter
Beautiful courtyard at The Court of Two Sisters in the French Quarter

A courtyard and live jazz music is what you will get when you chose the breakfast buffet at The Court of Two Sisters. This bistro located in the French Quarter was recommended by a few locals as having the best selection of brunch items. It was quiet and the jazz music was wonderful. An added bonus was the sound of the water coming from the water fountain. My recommendation would be an omelette made to order with your favourite toppings.

We returned in 2022 and enjoyed both the music and the eggs benedict. Know that is a special order to be sure and get that in! My husband loved the huge buffet where we could choose just about anything from eggs to jambalaya and boudin.

Brunch at Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans 2022
Brunch at Court of Two Sisters in the French Quarter

SoBou – Legs & Eggs Burlesque Brunch

One of the most interesting meals we had was a burlesque brunch at Sobou. I’m not sure what was the highlight the bottomless mimosas or the entertainment by Bella Blue. A professional burlesque dancer, she toured around the restaurant joyfully playing with the patron and a very large feather fan. She was entertaining and took the time to give us an overview of the burlesque community in NOLA.

This is a must-do activity if you are on a girl’s getaway or spending a weekend in New Orleans. It will give new meaning to the popular hashtag #onetimeinNOLA.

Insider’s Tip: Make reservations for the Legs & Eggs show either at 11 am or 2 pm on Sunday. It is packed but well worth the price of the meal. Order the bottomless mimosas or bellinis (depending on the season) because they were delicious. I also loved my steak with rice. It was the most tender and flavorful steak that I’ve had in years.

Good Eats in New Orleans in the Afternoon

Napoleon House

Pete Impastato Proprietor of Napoleon House in New Orleans 2022
An Italian immigrant family, the Impastatos, owned The Napoleon House for over 100 years.

If you are looking for history, a great story and a spectacular Muffuletta sandwich, make a stop at Napoleon House in the heart of the French Quarter. You will, however, need to start with a Pimm’s Cup. Executive Chef, Chris Montero, was proud to provide the full and colourful history of this iconic restaurant and told us why a Pimms Cup is Napolean House’s signature cocktail. Established in 1914 by the Impastato family menu has some of the most well-known dishes in New Orleans.  

Their Muffuletta starts with a sesame-encrusted Italian loaf, stacks of home-smoked meats, cheese, and an olive salad (think chunky tapenade). It is a sandwich to die for. Don’t miss the Shrimp Remoulade Stuffed Avocado, classic poh-boy, Jambalaya or for the vegetarian, there are Red Beans & Rice. Save room for dessert and some Classic Bread Pudding. All of these dishes are featured in the first picture of the blog post – see above.

Insider’s Tip: There are no reservations so arrive early for lunch. Seek out a seat at one of the courtyard tables and order your first Pimm’s Cup. For lunch, order a full muffuletta and share. This is a huge sandwich and one was enough for all four of us hungry Canadian travel bloggers. Give the Grilled Aligator Sausage Poh-Boy with Tabasco pepper jelly and creole mustard a try, you won’t go wrong. I loved this place so much I returned with my husband in 2022 and it was JUST AS GOOD EASTS IN NEW ORLEANS!

Good Eats and Signature Drinks in New Orleans @DownshiftingPRO 3
Our feast at Napoleon House –
Muffuletta was the star of the show with a Pimm’s Cup

Central Grocery

No question, good eats in New Orleans don’t always have to be in a sit-down restaurant. If you are more in a hurry but want to taste the original Muffuletta sandwich, stop in at Central Grocery & Deli on Decatur Street. Just steps away from the French Market, you can order at the counter and eat-in this small classic deli-style grocery store. If you want you can take out and walk over to The Moonwalk Riverfront Park and watch the Mississippi River just meander right by.

Central Grocery considered the best place to get a Muffuletta in New Orleans - My choice for Good Eats in New Orleans
Central Grocery on  Decatur St. is the home of the original Muffuletta Sandwich

Insider’s Tip: Planning a Mardi Gras Party, why not order a Central Grocery Muffuletta direct from the source? They ship their world-famous sandwich within the US. As each Muffuletta is made fresh to order, all orders must be placed by Noon CST prior to the ship date. Update: on my visit in 2022, Central Grocery was under renovations. You could still order one of their famous sandwiches in the store right beside them.

Mahony’s Po-Boys

If you get any type of sandwich in New Orleans, it’s going to be a Po-Boy. The most popular will likely be a deep-fried shrimp with a roast beef or deep-fried oyster a close second. Our daughter made a stop at Mahony’s and loved it. Undecided? Get a Peacemaker – it has fried jumbo Gulf shrimp, P & J Oysters, candied bacon, cheddar cheese and is fully dressed. Yum. Yum.

Mahonys po boy in New Orleans LPI
The Peacemaker at Mahony’s

Joey K’s

This was our first stop in New Orleans and it was lucky we had a table set aside because there was a wait. Our large party of 11 picked just about one of everything on the menu. Never having tasted soft-shell crab, I opted for this daily special with garlic mash potatoes and broccoli. I won’t lie, the crab was great sides left a lot to be desired – ask of a side salad instead! My hubby ordered the fried shrimp plate – they

The French Market

Good Eats in New Orleans - The French Market

From king cakes at Lorrettas to alligator jerky at Cajun Jerky & Meats, Chicory coffee from Cafe du Monde Coffee to freshly shucked oysters at P& J’s you will find something delectable at The French Market (and Farmer’s Market) steps from the shores of the Mississippi River. Originally a trading post for the native Louisiana Choctaw, the site of the French Market boasts nearly 300 years of operation, making it the oldest open-air market in the United States.

Insider’s Tip: It’s nearly Mardi Gras so you need to stop by Loretta’s for a delicious King Cake is filled with a rich blend of cream cheese and ground AUTHENTIC PRALINES. Decorated with sprinkles in the traditional Mardi Gras colours of purple, green, and gold, you’ll find a surprise inside!

Lafitte Blacksmith Shop Piano Bar & Lounge

Outdoor patio at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Piano Bar and Lounge in New Orleans
The best Hurricanes in the City of New Orleans in
one of the oldest bars in the United States

As we took a tour around a City Segway Tour, we cruised by arguably the city’s most historic bar, Lafitte’s, which dates to 1772.  There are piano players and singers who lead sing-alongs. The lighting is very dim, but it just added to the ambiance. Stop by during the day and have Hurricane (some say the best in the city) on the patio. Slightly off the beaten path, you’ll want to take in the history of being one of the oldest bars in the United States.

Good Eats in New Orleans in the Evening


Merils photo credit Merils
Merils – Photo credit

There is no question our visit to Merils knocked it out of the park. Located in the Warehouse District, Meril is Chef Emeril Lagasse’s latest concept and fourth restaurant in New Orleans. Named after his daughter, the restaurant showcases some of Lagasse’s favorite dishes that he loves to eat, featuring everything from Wood Fired Flatbreads to Korean Chicken Wings.

Appetizers at Merils in New Orleans 2022 jpg

We went big and then we all went home… the table ordered just about every appetizer on the menu with highlights being Fried Turkey Necks, Pineapple Upside-down Cornbread, and Korean Chicken Wings. I also loved the Gulf Yellowfin Tuna Bundles and the Homemade Meatballs.

For the main course, we had a selection of Ribeye Steaks and Fries, delicious Korean Beef Short Ribs with Crispy Cauliflower, and Crispy Brussel Sprouts were wonderful sides (I highly recommend them)! Others ordered Hand Rolled Gnudi, Half Chicken, and Catch of the day!

The Bombay Club

The Bombay Club is set back from the entrance of the Prince Conti Hotel. It has a wonderful selection of specialty cocktails and provides a perfect hideaway to relax and enjoy a bit of music and a lovely meal. There was a singer and piano player tucked way in the corner, the restaurant is moody and has a very ‘great place to have dinner and drinks with my lover’ vibe to it. One of those ‘what happens in NOLA stays in NOLA’ places.

Definitely, start with the Ploughman’s Board and end with the Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse. The entrees were experiments in fusion cuisine. One favourite was the Southern Fried Chicken Korma but I stuck with the Pan Seared Gulf Fish.

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse at The Bombay Club in New Orleans

Our meals

Desire Oyster Bar

Fresh and Charbroiled Oysters in New Orleans
The best Charbroiled Oysters were at Desire Oyster Bar on Bourbon St.
We also had a plate of fresh oysters that were delicious!

Although I have been a fan of fresh oysters since I was a teenager, I have never been a fan of cooked oysters until I tasted the Charbroiled Oyster Platter at Desire Oyster Bar. Located adjacent to the Royal Sonesta Hotel and steps from The Jazz Playhouse (see below), Desire’s decor is reminiscent of a French bistro. It is busy and has a large menu but the best part is its location on Bourbon Street. There is no better place to check out Good Eats in New Orleans!

Bourbon Street sign on the sidewalk in New Orleans

Speakeasies and Jazz Bars

You will never be far from a Jazz bar or any type of drinking establishment when you are in the French Quarter. Other than good eats in New Orleans, the cocktail culture was invented in New Orleans. You will find many fine signature cocktails from Hurricanes to Herbsaint-frappe to a Sazerac Cocktail. Many can be savoured in the speakeasies peppered throughout New Orleans. We came across a few on our travels through the Gulf Coast but we were so very impressed with the first one we visited – Bar Marilou.

Monday nigt on Frenchman Street in New Orleans 2022 1
Frenchman Street

Frenchman Street

We made our way to Frenchman Street on the last night of our trip and I oh-so-regret that we did not do this sooner. We walked along on a Monday night and most places were still playing live music. From traditional jazz to rhythm and blues, we had our choice of very cool jazz bars to choose from.

The Maison

We were drawn in The Maison by Single Malt Please. Playing classic Duke Ellington to whimsical east European composers. It was glorious. To get a table, you must order food so we went for the Holy Trinity Sampler of Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Red Beans (with a side order of white rice), it hit the spot. Nobody in this state makes bad gumbo or jambalaya!

We also loved The Maison because it hosts a variety of entertainment. On Friday and Saturday nights you can watch a drag show or a burlesque show on Sundays! This is the beauty of coming to the big easy, you can see all sorts of entertainers throughout the week.

Maison on Frenchman Street New Orleans
Sazerac, Souther Peach and Prosecco

Bar Marilou

Good Eats in New Orleans

You will absolutely love the atmosphere in a speakeasy. It is dim and mysterious but also full of comfy sofas and mood lighting. Our first taste of a speakeasy was the newly opened Bar Marilou. Located in what used to be the library of the City Hall annex, it is adjacent to the very, very exclusive Maison de la Luz hotel. With cocktail names like Sans Souci (without care), What We do in the Shadows, and Modern Muse, you know you will have a good time.

Insider Tip: Be sure and peek behind the bookcase and step into the hidden speakeasy. Small and intimate it is the perfect place for a clandestine Rendez-Vous. Be sure to go through the glass doors to the lobby of the luxury hotel – Maison de la Luz. It is so beautifully decorated.

Good Eats in New Orleans
The lobby of the exclusive Maison de la Luz luxury hotel
adjacent to Bar Marilou you can access it through the speakeasy

The Jazz Playhouse

Also attached to the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street and accessible to anyone is The Jazz Playhouse. Be sure and make VIP reservations and don’t be late! Steps away from great charbroiled oysters at Desiree, simply walk across the way to live Jazz and nightcaps.

The Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans @DownshiftingPRO
The Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans @DownshiftingPRO

Insider Tip: Reserve a table right at the front for maximum view of the stage. The jazz is hot and the drinks are cold. My favourite drink was JELLY-ROLL MORTON (Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Passionfruit, Grapefruit, Honey, Mint).

May Baily’s Place

A bit hidden away, off the inner courtyard of the Dauphine Orleans Hotel – New Orleans, May Baily’s Place was once one of the first and most notorious bordellos of New Orleans’ Storyville red-light district. There is live jazz played on Friday and Saturday nights.

Insider’s Tip: You can be seated outside or in the spacious bar. Recently re-vamped, there still remains a familiar face in the mirror. Ghost hunters who visit New Orleans have surmised that one of the working girls of May’s brothel still haunts to this day.

Signature Cocktails and Good Eats in New Orleans DownshiftingPRO

Unique Food and Beverage Experiences

Sazerac House

Focusing on a beverage that is synonymous with New Orleans, make your way to Sazerac House for a distillery tour and savour the signature cocktail, The Sazerac. This three-story museum focusing on Sazerac Whiskey has a multimedia tour which is very entertaining. It also has a small distillery on the first floor along with a great little gift shop.

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The distillery at Sazerac House

Tours are free of charge but call ahead or make reservations online. You will learn about how bitters are made, and the history of cocktails in New Orleans and then be able to sample a few different cocktails along the way. This whole presentation is done very well so do try and drop by!

Other Culinary Delights: Festivals & Cooking School

As I began this post, I knew it would be hard to cover every aspect of the food culture in New Orleans. This wonderful city is very focused on its unofficial motto: “laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll). Dining is an art form here. It is intricately. You shouldn’t rush it or take it for granted.

Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival

What could possibly be a better combination? In the city of poh boys and jambalaya, it’s a nice change to try some BBQ. At just about any festival, it is worth a walk around the food stands. Voleo’s Seafood had some pretty interesting offerings: Smothered Rabbit BBQ Po-Boy – Smothered rabbit, w/hint of BBQ seasoning served w/Cajun Slaw on French Bread or House Made Crabmeat Boudin Balls – Smothered down with Holy Trinity, served w/Creole Mustard Sauce.

Congo Square Rhythm Festival & Gumbo Festival

Carni food at Armstrong Park in New Orleans 2019
Congo Square Rhythms Festival food offerings

Fete des Fromage – Cheese Festival

With food being such a focus, Good Eats in New Orleans has a variety of Food Festivals. On the November weekend, we visited for our Girls Getaway, we were able to take in the Gumbo Festival and the Fete des Fromage (The Cheese Festival). We absolutely LOVED the Cheese festival. There was music, entertainment and even a cheese

Fete des Fromage @MerryAboutTown
Fresh Fettuccine Alfredo at the Fete des Fromages

New Orleans School of Cooking

Apron from the New Orleans School of Cooking @DownshiftingPRO Margarita Ibbott

If you enjoy cooking and want to learn how to make Louisiana delicacies like Duck and Andouille Gumbo, Shrimp and Tasso maque choux, traditional bread pudding and pralines. We spent the evening at the New Orleans School of Cooking and learned about cajun and creole cuisine. How to make the perfect roux and how to season a gumbo properly. I love this experience so much that I wrote a whole blog post about it. It’s great to create your own Good Eats in New Orleans.

Laurent’s Recommendations

Laurent from Destination Kitchen Tours Giving his recommendations for good eats in New Orleans

BONUS: Laurent was our Destination Kitchen Tour guide. At the end of the food tour, he made various recommendations for restaurants, dive bars, jazz clubs, and bistros. CLICK ON THE IMAGE to see the full video (and hear his marvellous accent).

They included: Paladar 511, Bywater American Bistro or BABs + Compere Lapin (owned and run by James Beard Award-winning chef, Nina Compton), Bacchanal (wine bar with charcuterie boards and live jazz. For the more authentic Coop’s Place serves cajun food with the rabbit jambalaya as his favourite recommendation. Right beside is Cane and Table. Look for craft drinks and cracklins from a Cuban-inspired menu from Chef Alfredo “Fredo” Nogueira.

Wonder away from the French Quarter to Oak Street in East Carrolltown and find Jacques-Imos try the savoury smoked alligator and shrimp cheesecake with crawfish cream sauce, New Orleans Shrimp & Grits and BBQ rabbit penne. Next door is Maple Leaf Bar for live Jazz. Adam Street Grocery has one of the best Poboys in town according to Laurent! For oysters head over to Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar on St. Charles. Hit them up at happy hour (3-6 pm) for $0.75 raw oysters & $1.25 char-grilled oysters – a bargain! Once you are all done finish up at The Vintage for beignets, bubbles, and bites.

Disclosure: I would like to thank the New Orleans & Company, for the FAM trip for our Girl’s Getaway tour of the Gulf Coast. We were guests of some of these restaurants and happily frequented others. My reviews are honest and I only recommend what I really liked.

Post-TBEX Lafayette, I was a guest of New Orleans & Company on another FAM trip. We were hosted and shown more amazing eateries in New Orleans. No other compensation was received. Good Eats in New Orleans.

Good Eats in New Orleans
Good Eats in New Orleans – Pin it for Later

Good Eats in New Orleans Good Eats in New Orleans

Girl’s Getaway on the Gulf Coast

We had a marvelous trip starting in New Orleans crossing Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to Louisiana North Shore, admiring the sandy beaches of Coastal Mississippi, partying in Mobile, and recovering/relaxing in the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama.

Here are more posts about our epic Girl’s Getaway on the Gulf Coast

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for and other online media outlets.

2 thoughts on “Signature Cocktails & Good Eats in New Orleans #onetimeinNOLA”

  1. New Orleans is definitely one of the best food cities in North America! You mentioned a few of my favorites, plus some new suggestions. And that’s the best part of New Orleans! There’s always something new to enjoy (and eat!).

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