Best Cajun/Creole Food In New Orleans
Creole is a cuisine originating from the state of Louisiana that combines the influences of French, Spanish, Asian Indian, Native American, and West African flavor culture. People often confuse Cajun with Creole in that they are very similar in nature with the more European Creole being a little more aristocratic and Cajun coming from rustic roots. Creole can be identified with a heavy influx of peppers, citrus marinades, rice & beans, and tomatoes and pastas to name but a few ingredients, all with the additional flare of the aforementioned Creole originating regions. Cajun cuisine is considered to be a frugal “three pot” process where a main meat or seafood dish is combined with steamed rice and a grain offering commonly in the form of cornbread from the skillet, and finally a vegetable of choice, often indicative of whats available in the kitchen at the time. To make a long story short (too late for that?), both Creole and Cajun cuisines have found their way into the hearts and kitchens of New Orleans citizens and thus the city has become synonymous with both dishes.
YAHglobal.Com has put together a quick list of local and visitor favorites in New Orleans. This “menu” does not read like a fine dining directory because we all know the best places to get regional food fall within the walls of eclectic establishments praised more for their food than for silk tablecloths and pretentious wine lists.
630 St.Peter Street, New Orleans
The award winning Gumbo Shop is consistently found at the top of everyone’s list for having some of the best Creole food in New Orleans. It can be said without quarrel that they definitely own the title for best gumbo in the city. In an effort to label what Gumbo is for the general public, it can be described as a stew or soup type of concoction that uses a strong stock, thickener, meat or shellfish and a combination of vegetables and spices that stir into the pot solely at the discretion of the cook and whatever they manage to find in the cupboard. The cook at the Gumbo Shop is the most creative around and their cupboards are plentiful.
Let’s get right to the goods. For an appetizer, we suggest the Blackened Fish Nuggets ($8.99) or the Alligator Sauce Piquant ($6.99). For dinner, we absolutely stand by our pick of the Chicken Andouille Gumbo ($7.99 Boneless chicken, Andouille - a Cajun Sausage - and seasoning simmered in chicken stock) and for dessert you can’t go wrong with everyone’s favorite Praline Sundae ($4.99). Set “Complete Creole Dinner” menus are also available to ensure you get the full experience for $23.99 with plenty to choose from to accommodate your tastes.
8324 Oak St., New Orleans
Jacques Imos Cafe is located in the uptown district of New Orleans and often noticed by passerbyers for its old rustic charmed exterior and mingling crowd outside, indicating a good time within. Owner/chef Jacques “Jack” Leonardi has put together a funky styled venue and Creole/Cajun mixed menu that one could only find in New Orleans. Eclectic, eccentric and “without description” are the adjectives to explain the vibe within Jacques Imos. Whether its the proprietors attire that combines a chef's jacket with shorts and clogs, or a décor that includes a mounted marlin, a stuffed boar's head, and Christmas lights that stay up all year long, you will never witness a dull moment at Jacques. Aside from all the exciting hoopla, the most important part of the experience, the food, does not falter and only serves to further sing the praises of this reputable eatery.
For an appetizer, how could we not recommend something called Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake ($7.50)? Our entree selection includes the Grilled Duck Breast ($17.95 with Orange Soy Glaze, Shiitake Mushrooms and Pecans) with a side of Mashed Sweet Potatoes. In true Jacques Imos fashion, the specials are ever changing and can be quite dramatic in nature so don't be married to any one menu option before hand because the chef just may have prepared an updated menu that will have you reeling with lip smacking anticipation. Jacques Imos Cafe welcomes you to experience real “Nawlins” dining at its best.
Cafe 615 Home of Da Wabbitt
615 Kepler Street, Gretna, LA
Cafe 615: Home of Da-Wabbit is a no nonsense eatery with a logo that may or may not get them in hot water with trademark law and a certain Looney Tunes character. We'll side with Da Wabbit on this one due to the fact that they make some of the best Creole/Cajun food in the area, with lunch and many dinner items that come in under the ten dollar range.
Appetizers are not needed at Da Wabbit and thus we suggest hopping right into the main event with the ½ Smoked Chicken order ($9.95 smoked outback w/cherry & pecan woods) or for the less health conscious jump fork first into the Pork Chop Platter ($10.50 fried or grilled). If you're really hungry and vegan averse, then the House Specialty Da Wabbit Hamburger Steak ($11.00 11oz ground chuck smothered in herbs, spices, mushrooms and onions) will satisfy your hearty appetite. If you have room for dessert, the Bread Pudding w/Whiskey Sauce ($3.50) is the perfect segue into your evening of socializing and drinks across the Pontchartrain Expressway from Gretna towards the French Quarter.
Adam's Street Grocery
1309 Adams St, New Orleans, LA
While we have seen some better neighborhoods and even better store fronts in New Orleans to get your authentic fix of regional food, we have yet to find a better place to grab a Po'Boy in the area. Po'Boys, for those that aren't familiar with the title, are basically Louisiana's version of the submarine sandwich that is often wonderfully sloppy in nature and jam packed with fried meat or seafood, or both. As with most “hand food”, the best establishments to score rarely come in the form of four (or even one) star restaurants and instead, are found in some obscure neighborhood in a shop that appears to be out of business until you work up the nerve to poke your head through the door only to be delighted by the mouth watering scent emanating from within. Adam's Street Grocery ain't pretty, and neither are their Po'Boys, but hot damn they sure are good!
4924 Prytania St, New Orleans
Creole Creamery is exactly what is sounds like. Wait a minute, we're not even sure what it sounds like. Nevermind. Instead, let us tell you about the only place in New Orleans we recommend you head to for dessert after getting your fill of Creole or Cajun cuisine on a warm spring/summer evening. Its only fair to pay homage to apres meal (or any time of day) delicacies with a regional flare, in this instance we are referring to the almighty ice cream cone (or bowl).
While the menu can change frequently to accommodate the massive variety of flavors found in the history books of Creole Creamery, there will always be something kept in the bed refrigerators that emphasizes the New Orleans home of this local ice cream icon. If your lucky, you'll be there around the time they have one of the following available for prompt consumption: Banana & Brown Sugar Cheesecake, Butterscotch-Bourbon, Candied Bacon & Cinnamon, Chocolate Praline Orleans, Coffee & Sambuca Cheesecake, Creole Cream Cheese w/ Wild Blueberry – Pecan Cornbread, Gorgonzola & Toasted Walnut, Smoked Gouda, Sweet Potato Sassafras Praline, and Vanilla-Bourbon w/ Brown Sugar, you know, just to name a few. And yes, those were all ice flavors. Oh my....