by Jessica Teran
Envie, a Cajun term, means a hunger, a longing to eat something, a desire that is nearly impossible to resist while in New Orleans. This trip started off as a birthday present for my boyfriend who had never been, so naturally, I booked us food tours to help us pick the best spots so that he could get the full experience. I spent four days in NOLA, and I sure did eat my way through town while documenting some of my favorite spots.
We started the first day off exploring the French Quarter. The French Quarter is the oldest part of the city, dating all the way back to 1718. It’s the perfect combination of Creole, Cajun and soul food. Again, you cannot go wrong here. The first stop — and our top favorites — of the food tour was Tujagues [Two-jacks], the third oldest restaurant in the U.S. that opened in 1865. Tujagues is famous for their Beef Brisket Po-Boy, dressed with a horseradish marmalade made from horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, creole mustard and ketchup. Don’t knock it till you try it! This delicacy is offered only for their lunch menu, so don’t sleep on this sandwich. Also, for extra enjoyment pair with a Grasshopper Cocktail (a minty yet sweet light green drink that taste like a Girl Scout Thin Mint)!
Red’s Fish Grill
Oysters, oysters, oysters! I had never had oysters until I got here, certainly not raw ones either, and I was actually really impressed. Red’s Fish Grill is located off of Bourbon Street, and it’s at slightly higher price point but definitely worth the stop! The atmosphere and the service go above and beyond which only add to the amazing food. Their Gulf Oysters here are large in size, so you get your money’s worth!
They offer raw oysters as they are, or flash fried, doused in a Crystal BBQ sauce and housemade blue cheese dressing. Personally, I like mine doused in Louisiana Hot Sauce paired with fresh lemon. For anyone needing a refreshing cocktail with their oysters, they have a Strawberry Starburst Cocktail or a Hurricane with Bacardi Rum 151 that’ll put this meal over the top.
SoBou, another fine dining space, is owned by the three women in the Brennan Family, an Irish family that is become the epitome of fine dining in the French Quarter. Here you can munch on some Pork Crackin (fried pig skins) for $1 while you drink.
You can treat yourself to some Crawfish Baked Beignets. Crawfish…Baked… Beignets… YES. Maybe not flavors you can imagine? Well, you’ve gotta dream bigger. This dish was probably one of my favorite desserts here, they’re lightly fried dough mixed with crawfish pieces, topped with powdered sugar and topped off with cilantro and drizzled with a honey, sweet dijon sauce. How can you go wrong?
Tableau is home to my favorite childhood food: Seafood Gumbo, which originates from Acadian culture. In fact, the African word for okra is gumbo, and that’s the most essential ingredient in this dish. Okra creates the thickness to the broth that we taste as it cooks and releases liquid. Tableau’s gumbo is the perfect amount of oysters, shrimp, and crab.
Maybe I’m biased but this gumbo is the closest to my mom’s growing up (obvi, her’s is still number one), but this comes close with the balance in the richness and boldness of all the flavors. Pair this gumbo with some hot sauce and an Orange Spritzer Cocktail during happy hour, and you will not be disappointed!
Jimmy J’s Cafe
THE REAL HIDDEN GEM! My Tex-Mex roots are strong if I do dare say so. Finding Jimmy J’s Cafe after the first night’s shenanigans on Bourbon Street was the biggest delight to my hangover. Not only does this place have everything you need to taste authentic NOLA food, it has an Eggs Ranchero dish that will heal whatever ails you. Topped with black beans, a spicy avocado crema sauce, and a spicy tomato salsa, this meal is so comforting since it reminds me of flavors from back home in San Antonio. To top it off, Jimmy J’s offers five different original french toast flavors — we decided to split Cinnamon Spiced French Toast, and we were right as rain, if not better, afterward.
New Orleans Creole Cookery
Time for the sweet spots, quite literally.
New Orleans Creole Cookery is home to New Orleans Bread Pudding that will have you coming back for more. Their bread pudding is created from stale french bread — the bread used to create po-boys — and it’s mixed with eggs, milk, cream sugar, and raisins marinated with bourbon. The texture of this bread pudding is somewhere between tres leches and pudding but the flavors are out of this world.
Cafe Du Monde
Cafe Du Monde is also very near and dear to my heart since I frequently visited when I was younger for family reunions. Originally built in 1862 as a coffee shop, they’ve grown to become the home to some of the most traditional, and arguably, the best beignets you can find!
The beignets here are square French-styled doughnuts, sprinkled with powdered sugar. You can get three for a little over $3 bucks, and they’re conveniently open 24 hours for any late night cravings while you’re nearby on Bourbon or bar hopping in the French Quarter.
Lastly, you can’t come to New Orleans and not have pralines. It’s a simple treat made from water, brown sugar, almonds, pecans or walnuts, butter, and vanilla. Softer than brittle but dense like fudge, Leah’s Pralines will satisfy any sweet spot!
Lastly, I just want to say, I don’t think you can really go wrong anywhere here. The culture is so rich and bold, the food is the perfect reflection of the city itself. I know people say that love is a universal language, but I disagree — food is the real universal language, and you can learn a lot here. •
Jessica Teran is a Textile and Apparel Design major from San Antonio, Texas. Her interest in public relations and social media have unearthed her desire to write and expand on her creative writing. When she isn’t in the lab designing or writing, she likes to indulge in holistic fitness and cooking.