New Orleans has rightfully earned its spot as one of the culinary epicenters of the southeastern USA.
There are as many restaurants as there are rich stories and legendary music venues in this city. It’s almost impossible not to discover your new favorite meal in its many neighborhoods. Traditional dishes keep getting better while new international influences push flavors to new heights. Dynamic chefs, creative mixologists and trailblazing innovators – there’s a story and a character behind every dish in New Orleans.
The Original Charbroiled Oyster
By the time the lunch crowd starts to gather, the open-air kitchen at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant is already in full-swing. Drago’s famous charbroiled oysters are cooking on the open flame as the bivalves are doused with a concoction of butter, garlic, pepper, oregano, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and flat-leaf parsley. Patrons making their way to their seats stop by for a peek. Sometimes they even catch Tommy Cvitanovich, general manager, behind the grill. Equal parts showman and kitchen whiz, Cvitanovich is happy to discuss the merits of the original charbroiled oyster in town, which happens to be his very own creation. Freshly shucked oysters expertly broiled with the perfect topping are a must-eat, but there are other fun dishes on the menu worth adding to your order: Seafood lovers should try the delectable barbecue shrimp, while the more adventurous might crave the tasty blackened alligator tacos.
Cooking the legendary charbroiled oysters over an open flame at Drago’s
Craft Cocktails, from Classic to Cool
Grabbing a drink before or after dinner makes perfect sense in New Orleans, birthplace of the cocktail. Head to Freret Street, an up-and-coming thoroughfare in the Uptown neighborhood. It’s lined with coffee shops, indie stores and plenty of stylish, offbeat eateries and bars, including Cure, winner of the 2018 James Beard Award for Outstanding Cocktail Program. Naturally, it’s a popular happy hour spot. There’s a champagne punch on offer during happy hour that is delightfully boozy and bubbly – but the craft cocktails are the main highlight inside this renovated fire station turned trendy bar. Ceiling high bar shelves are lined with bottles of spirits waiting to be transformed. Behind the bar, mixologists whip up their own takes on Sazeracs, Brambles, Martinis, Old Fashioneds and more with expert precision. There’s also a selection of bar snacks and tapas that serve as the perfect accompaniment to your drinks of choice. It will be hard to decide what you like best: the chic vibe or the extraordinary cocktails. Of course, after one slow satisfying sip, you’ll know the answer.
A handmade cocktail ready for sipping at Cure
Southeast Asia Meets Louisiana
Many New Orleans dining destinations celebrate Southeast Asian cuisine. Under the direction of acclaimed local Chef Michael Gulotta, sister restaurants Mopho and Maypop combine Louisiana influences with Southeast Asian flavors. Maypop is located in the Arts/Warehouse District. Its décor pairs modern industrial with a dose of Southern warmth. The dining space is sectioned by an enormous two-sided wood mural, giving you a hint at the restaurant’s concept: One side depicts the Mississippi River Delta while the other showcases Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The menu is infused with classic New Orleans and Vietnamese flavors, combining noodles and entrees using local ingredients like oysters, Gulf shrimp, fish and andouille in dishes with flavors like Coconut Cucumber Ranch, Bourbon Barrel Soy Aïoli, Steen's Chili Vinaigrette, Fermented Garlic Glaze and Nouc Mam Caramel. Maypop’s dishes transport you from the Louisiana bayou to Southeast Asia in one bite.
Dining at Maypop with the mural representing both Louisiana and Vietnam in the background
Fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) from your choice of international hubs and U.S. connections. Take a rental car, shuttle or bus from the airport to the heart of New Orleans. Walking or using public transportation is recommended for getting around the city.
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