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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.

 

Bon Appetit! 

1

Gumbo Shop

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.

2

Jacques-Imos Cafe

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.

3

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.

4

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!

5

Creole Creamery
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....


Best Jazz Clubs In New Orleans

1

Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro
626 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans

 

30 years worth of soul soothing jazz and regional cuisine combine to create the coolest atmosphere in New Orleans. Snug is tucked into a renovated 1800's building just outside of the famed French Quarter. The venue makes for the perfect triple threat. The Dining Room packs you in early to browse a Creole heavy menu of steak, seafood and sandwiches, while the dark wood and brick designed Bar Room serves as mingling segue to the grand finale two floored Music Room where the smooth sounds of sax, piano, bass, and percussion lull you into sweet submission and sets the tone of intimacy amongst the close quartered crowd within. Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, although fairly spacious as an establishment, feels as snug as can be and whispers sensually into your ear "Welcome to New Orleans baby..."

2

Spotted Cat Music Club
623 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans

 

Across the way from Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro is the Spotted Cat Music Club, another staple in real New Orleans Jazz & Blues music. Where Snug is dark, slick and sexy, Spotted Cat is lively, hip and one cool feline of a jazz club with live music echoing through it's walls from open to close. You'll find all kinds inside of the Spotted Cat with a crowd that can span 3 generations on any given night without anyone looking out of place at anytime. Everyone is all grooves and smiles and they all share one thing in common - a love for great music.

3

Fritzel's European Jazz Club
733 Bourbon St, New Orleans

 

Fritzel’s is found in the heart of the French Quarter along Bourbon Street and has been home to traditional New Orleans Jazz since 1969. The early 1800’s building packs in an older crowd but anyone can walk on in and see them swinging with the best of them as top notch musicians from around the world of jazz inject energy into this storied establishment. Be sure to request your favorite song from the house band and you’ll hear it played like you never have before to the tune of banjo and trumpet. The main floor is small but cozy and a great place to share elbow room with a new found friend. You may want to be prepared as Fritzel’s is one of the last remaining places to allow smoking, although we admit it adds to the atmosphere when you see a piano player with his top shirt buttons undone and a loosened tie, a glass of whiskey sitting atop his instrument and a half smoked cigar hanging loose from his lips. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that.

4

Preservation Hall
726 Saint Peter Street, New Orleans

 

Preservation Hall was built as a private residence in 1750 and it doesn’t look like it’s been touched or renovated since and that’s exactly as it should remain. The well worn and weathered front doors alone tell tales of a multitude of decades passed, before and after it opened as a jazz hall in 1961. When the rusted black metal gates are opened after 8pm patrons passing through the water stained walls hung with art and photos depicting the legends that have played within know they are in for a treat for all of their senses. The hall packs to capacity almost every night but there always seems to be room for one more and once the band kicks in, all eyes and ears are focused on the musicians, some who have been playing since the establishment opened it’s doors over 50 years ago. Preservation Hall, for all of its wear and tear, is a beautiful place and aptly named as the truest form of old school jazz that you can find in New Orleans if not the world.

5

Sweet Lorraine's Jazz Club
1931 Saint Claude Avenue, New Orleans

 

Sweet Lorraine’s has been in business for over 30 years and has a deep rooted history within the New Orleans Jazz scene but still manages to feel modern and without question exudes more cool than the comforting air conditioning within on a hot summer New Orleans day. Located on the edge of French Quarter, Sweet Lorraine’s remains a pillar in the community and packs in crowds, and musicians, from all over the globe. The club seats over 200 people without losing the tiniest element of sound with a state of the art system unrivaled in a venue of its type in the city. The soothing music and atmosphere lure you in while the dinner, martini, and wine lists keep you longer than you planned, or is it vice versa? No matter, Sweet Lorraine’s is a mainstay in the New Orleans jazz scene and will continue to be so for many years ahead.