Happy Thanksgiving! Of all the things we’re grateful for this year, one of them is incredible, award-winning cuisine at our fingertips. On a holiday dedicated in part to food, we felt today was a great one to recognize one of our biggest big city assets: dining.
This year alone, New Orleans restaurants and bars have earned incredible awards like James Beard awards for chef Alon Shaya, who won Best Chef: South (he also received Esquire Magazine’s distinction for the Best New Restaurant in America). As New Orleans residents, we cherish our reputation as a foodie mecca, and we love heading to restaurants all over the city. Currently, the city boasts more than 1,400 restaurants, which is nearly double the restaurant count pre-Katrina. Without the flow of tourists, we likely would not have access to so many amazing eateries.
Beyond just enjoying the food, we also benefit from restaurant-related jobs. Chefs, waiters, managers, and restaurateurs, and the not-so-obvious linen providers, cleaners and local farmers, create a unique economic system within New Orleans born of our craving for great food and a great dining experience.
The history of New Orleans cuisine is as diverse as the city itself. International flavors from Portugal, Spain, Italy, and the Canary Islands reflect our status as a port city, rich French cuisine highlights our start as a city with Francophile roots, and Vietnamese flavors lend an exotic taste to the city’s dining scene.
Of course, New Orleans-specific dishes please the palates of locals and tourists alike. Any meal of the day can be eaten New Orleans style if you know where to look: start with beignets and a chicory root iced coffee for breakfast; choose from yakamein, turtle soup, red beans and rice, or gumbo for lunch. Dinner time gives you your pick of seafood-centric dishes like Oysters Bienville (named for the city’s founder, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville) or crawfish etouffee paired with a side of macque choux. Dessert? Yeah, you right. Dig into a king cake, bananas foster, or even a beignet.