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Known for its use of Cajun pepper, tropical fruits and spices, dining out in New Orleans is an exciting sensory experience not to be missed. The melting pot cuisine known as Creole incorporates French, Spanish, Mediterranean, Caribbean and African flavours as well as the hearty and comforting tastes of the American Deep South.
Travellers will find the world-famous French Quarter gears mostly to tourists and this is where just about any and every kind of Creole restaurant can be found, serving jumbalaya, red beans and rice, gumbo and Cajun Crawfish amongst other local dishes. Those with a serious sweet tooth are in for a treat in New Orleans, where the desserts are as sticky as they come with favourites such as Pecan Pie, Pralines and Bananas Foster staples on most restaurant menus. Don't forget an order of deep-fried beignets (pronounced ) with your coffee!
New Orleans has its own special take on the sandwich, which comes in two varieties: po'boys, served on a round French loaf and packed to the rafters with beef, oysters, shrimp, gravy and all the trimmings; and muffalettas, huge Italian loaves stuffed with cold meats and olive salad.
Bourbon Street is where the best of New Orleans' eateries can be found and travellers should pay the legendary Galatoire's a visit to sample some of the city's finest fare. Not to be missed are the city's cocktails, the most famous being the notorious 'Hurricane' and visitors won't have trouble finding a bar to sample this New Orleans specialty - escaping the bustling bars might be their only problem!
American / 813 Bienville Street, French Quarter
One of the grand old classic New Orleans restaurants, Arnaud's offers a taste of history along with its ambitious menu. Named after its founder, Count Arnaud Cazenave (immortalised in a portrait on the wall), Arnaud's glitters with chandeliers, leaded windows and a mosaic floor. The eatery consists of 13 buildings in the French Quarter, including a brasserie, bistro, grill bar and banqueting halls. The formal main restaurant requires a jacket, and offers raved-about fish dishes, as well as traditional favourites like filet mignon. Open daily for dinner and brunch on Sundays.
French / 209 Bourbon Street, French Quarter
An institution on Bourbon Street, Galatoire's has been serving up French-Creole specialities since 1905 and still uses many of the original recipes. Starched white linen and shiny crystal set the tone in this establishment where tradition reigns and locals and visitors return again and again to enjoy the fresh local seafood. Open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner. Galatoire's requires business casual dress for lunch, and jackets for men starting at 5pm. No shorts or t-shirts.
American / 2 Canal Street, Suite 2500
The sounds of jazz music and the beautiful skyline of downtown New Orleans provide a wonderful backdrop for a moonlight dinner cruise on the mighty Mississippi River, aboard the Steamboat Natchez. The cost of the two hour cruise is inclusive of a traditional southern buffet dinner, departing from the Toulouse Street Wharf, opposite Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter, at 7pm.
Cajun / 701 St. Charles Avenue
Along the historic Saint Charles Avenue, Herbsaint respects its location's culinary history. The name gives a clue to the patron seasoning of this French and Louisiana blend of fine dining. An esteemed award winning chef and classic meals betray the restaurants' casual atmosphere with an extensive French wine selection that can class up any of the delicious gumbo dishes. Reservations are advised.
American / 626 South Carrollton Avenue
The Camellia Grill in the Riverbend area off the St Charles Avenue streetcar is a favourite haunt for night owls who congregate in the early hours for breakfast, particularly the huge fluffy omelettes with adventurous fillings. The classy diner features white-jacketed waiters, delicious waffles, the best burgers in town and is famous for its chocolate pecan pie.
Parkway Bakery and Tavern
/ 538 Hagan Avenue
It's not fine dining, it's better. The po'boy is a New Orleans classic fried sandwhich packed with so many ingredients its better to try one than read about it. Parkway is the best and oldest place to grab a po'boy mouthful, and the shrimp and beef options have been voted the top po'boys in New Orleans Parkway also doubles as a fun place to grab a beer.
Seafood / 4330 Magazine St.
The rugged looking restaurant, much like its delicious oysters, betrays just how great this oyster bar is. One of the oldest oyster bars in town, Casamento's serves them every-which-way but still the best is to line up a big serving of raw ones on the counter. Cheap prices and reliably incredible oysters make it a favourite for locals.
Local / 201 Julia Street
Mulate's is the original Cajun restaurant, featuring authentic Cajun cuisine. Be sure to try the Zydeco Gumbo and don't miss the homemade bread pudding. Live Cajun music and dancing each night attracts many New Orleans visitors; even Bob Dylan stopped by when he was in town. This restaurant/bar is open for lunch and till late at night.
Ralph's on the Park
Local / 900 City Park Ave
Ralph's on the Park offers food fresh from the farms and waters of Louisiana, with a side helping of splendid City Park views. Their shrimp rémoulade is a favourite, creamy and not a bit spicy, and the filet mignon brings mutterings of 'buttery, so buttery&' to mind. The chocolate Kahlúa mousse or Creole cream cheese ice cream on peach cobbler wraps things up nicely. Ralph's is open for dinners and Sunday brunch.