Louisiana is known for its culture, and the rich blend of past inhabitants makes the state culturally diverse. Like many other states of the country, Louisiana is home to Africans, Spanish, Native and Latin Americans, Irish, French, Italians, Asians, Yugoslavians, and even people from the Caribbean.
Such diversity brings with it diverse food cultures offering an exotic eating experience. A visit to Louisiana, especially New Orleans, is incomplete without trying out the local dishes. These local dishes are embedded into the culture due to the legacy left by the residents of the state.
When we focus on New Orleans, we see that it has a rich history of French explorers settling in since 1704. These French settlers established themselves along the fertile riverbanks of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. Eventually, the cuisine of the port city evolved, and New Orleans became a culinary metropolis.
Today, the city offers the same local dishes not found anywhere else in the world. We have rounded up 9 local dishes, without which a trip to Louisiana is incomplete.
Soon as January ends, the same question can be heard till May: are they big? Are they nice? The crawfish season is more like a festival in the state with the juiciest and biggest crawfish in the Cajun country: Lafayette.
You can enjoy Crawfish Boil at Cajun Claws and Hank’s Crawfish. But we believe that the best ones can be found in the backyard of a local who throws a crawfish boil. The only way to eat crawfish is to pick it right off the table where they are dumped and slurp down the juicy heads. A koozie beer is all you need at a crawfish boil afternoon.
This traditional New Orleans sandwich is a must-try on your visit! It is made on a loaf of long French bread served hot or cold with variations of meat. You can choose your meat preference from fried shrimp, fried chicken, roast beef, soft-shell crab, or even oysters.
Each meat variation has its style of being served and preference for hot or cold. While some Po Boy’s are served “dressed,” others come simply with a tartar sauce. You can eat the best Po Boy’s at Erin Rose, Freret Street Poboys and Donuts, Guy’s Po-Boys, and Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar.
Paul Prudhomme introduced this local dish. Prudhomme is the most iconic chef in Louisiana who trained several celebrated chefs. He is the man responsible for bringing Cajun cuisine to national attention. While he was at it, he introduced the blackened fish, which quickly gained popularity across the country.
The blackened fish is redfish cooked to an almost-burnt crust in a unique blend of spices. This made the redfish so famous that its population from the Gulf was nearly wiped out of existence in the 1980s. Today, you can find this local dish of Louisiana at K-Pauls’ Louisiana Kitchen and Jacques-Imo’s.
Gumbo has its roots dating back to the 18th century in Southern Louisiana. It is a stew consisting of strong flavors of Cajun, onions, bell peppers, and celery. Some versions of stew include meat, savory stock, and shellfish.
Gumbo has origins in the Western Europeans, Native Americans, Caribbean, and African cultures, making this a historical local dish. You can find other variations of Gumbo in chicken with andouille, crab meat, and seafood with oysters and shrimp.
The best place to enjoy Gumbo is at the Royal House Oyster Bar, Galatoire’s, Gumbo Shop, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, and Cochon Butcher.
The French and Spanish settlers inspired this local dish in New Orleans. Jambalaya is a classic version of the Creole dish of Louisiana, which was an attempt to create the iconic Spanish Paella. The only difference came with or without the availability of tomatoes.
Jambalaya has vegetables and sausages mixed with stock rice and is served with seafood or meat. At some places, you can enjoy Jambalaya with both options! You can try amazing versions of Jambalaya at Le Bayou, Mother’s, and Coop’s Place.
Consider this savory dish to be Louisiana’s official doughnut! Originally introduced to the state back in the 17th century by the Acadians, a beignet has a unique taste. This square shape dough is fried in vegetable oil, and caster sugar is dusted on top of it.
Due to its large size, it is usually served on a large plate fit for three people to eat. You can try the best versions of beignets at Café Beignet, Café du Monde, and New Orleans Famous Beignets.
The muffuletta is a testimony of how much Italians love sandwiches! This local dish entered Louisiana back in 1903 with Italian immigrants and has stayed till date. The muffuletta is a loaf of bread that is split in half and filled with delicious fillings.
Usually, a muffuletta sandwich includes ham, mozzarella, marinated mortadella, olive salad, and salami. The rich sandwich pays homage to Italian settlers in New Orleans. You can find this sandwich throughout the city and with other filler variations. Try the best muffuletta at Central Grocery, Cochon Butcher, and Napoleon House.
Red Beans and Rice
This New Orleans dish is a local Monday meal and traditionally was served at the start of every week. However, you can try this dish any time of the week now as long as you are in Louisiana. The red beans and rice are usually served with a delicious side like fried chicken, pork chops, or sausages.
This local dish is a true representation of New Orleans’ tradition. You can try this dish at The Praline Connection, Fury’s, Joey K’s, and Mother’s.
This is another stew that is home to Louisiana. Etouffee has French roots, which mean smothered. As the name suggests, the making of this stew uses a smothering technique that results in a thick gravy texture in the dish.
The Etouffee does not have a definitive recipe that locals use. It is simply a technique of creating a thick stew that is usually taken with bread. Locals use whatever they have available to cook etouffee, depending on the season. You can try the best versions with shrimps and crawfish at Bon Ton Café in New Orleans.
An essential part of traveling is food. When it comes to visiting places with a rich history and culture, it is a given that the food would be outstanding! This is true for Louisiana. The best thing about traveling to this state is that the local dishes are unique to the place and cannot be found anywhere else in the country. Make sure you try these local dishes next time you are in New Orleans, Louisiana.