Beignets: Fried sugary deliciousness that’s light like a pillow and not like a donut. Get them at Café du Monde with a café au lait. This is not up for discussion.
Gumbo: Seafood gumbo is the best. The best. Think: spicy peppers and rice and hot sauce and shellfish. It warms your insides but doesn’t coat them (unless you eat too much and want it to). A Creole favorite, this dish is best eaten spicy. If you don’t do spicy food then you might as well skip this because there’s no point in having mild gumbo. That’s just silly.
Muffuletta: Salami, pepperoni, ham, and capocollo stuffed between sesame bread discs with marinated olives, pickled veggies, and thick slices of cheese. These just sound heavy. I don’t eat red meat so I can’t verify it firsthand, but it’s rumored to be one of the best sandwiches so it’s worth a try. Get the original muffuletta at Central Grocery.
Shrimp Po’Boy: Fried shrimp (made to order is necessary) stuffed in a crusty New Orleans-style French roll and piled high with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, and ketchup. The shrimp’s good but it’s the bread that makes it.
Jambalaya: Sausage, shrimp, chicken, & ham. What could go wrong in this dish? Like Gumbo, this is a Creole staple and is served spicy.
Charbroiled Oysters: I am an oyster-lover and while I still think the best oysters I’ve eaten were in Biloxi, MS, you should try the charbroiled ones here. The coals give the oyster meat a rounder flavor. They’re usually cheaper and easier to locate, so find a place with a line for shucked oysters and get in it.
Turtle Soup: Turtle meat is a thing here. There’s also turtle Bolognese, though that’s heavier. Personally, I wouldn’t get either of them in the summer because it’s just too warm for something that’s like a comfort food.
Crawfish: Boiled and spiced, simple. Don’t forget to suck the juice out of the heads once you peel off the tails. This is important.
– M. Ray Hall