Louisiana’s history is reflected in its Creole cuisine. It’s a mixture of wonderful flavors that have been influenced by Spanish colonists, French settlers, and Italian and Irish immigrants. Typical Creole dishes include oysters, crawfish étouffée, gumbo and jambalaya, and there are great spots to sample it all over the state, especially in New Orleans. Here is a list of the ten best places to sample Creole fare.
On Upperline Street in New Orleans in a townhouse dating from 1877, the Upperline Restaurant has received excellent reviews from publications like Southern Living, the New York Times, the Dallas Morning News and Frommer’s Guide to New Orleans. The number three ranked restaurant in the whole city, according to TripAdvisor, serves up classic Creole dishes in an interior adorned with the art collection of owner JoAnn Clevenger. You can sample the Taste of New Orleans menu that gives you three courses of gumbo, turtle soup, duck étouffée, spicy shrimp and roasted duckling. Or try the main menu with tempting dishes like Foie Gras Bonaparte, oysters, fried green tomatoes, lamb rack, filet mignon or Gulf fish meunière.
Commander’s Palace is a New Orleans institution located in the Garden District and built in 1880 by Emile Commander as a future wedding present to his daughter. Chef Tory McPhail provides a menu of Haute Creole dishes that has won him the James Beard Best Chef: South award. And the awards won by Commander’s Palace are extensive too – have a look on their website here for the full list that includes Best Restaurant in New Orleans in 2015 from The Gambit, and Best Creole Food in New Orleans Magazine for 2015. On the dinner menu, you’ll find dishes including entrée courses of potato or pecan-crusted Gulf fish, Breaux Bridge crawfish risotto, and braised veal osso buco.
Johnson’s Boucaniere in Lafayette is a little different to the grander New Orleans restaurants. It serves up a more earthy form of Creole cuisine with big flavors like smoked garlic sausage and beef jerky, barbecued briskets, and their specialty of boudin, which is prepared to a classic recipe dating back to 1937. So good is the fare served at Johnson’s that they’ve been profiled by newspapers and magazines from far and wide – the Vancouver Sun, USA Today, Southern Living and Bon Appétit amongst others. On the menu are breakfasts of stuffed grilled cheese biscuits with sausage and boudin, daytime sandwiches of pulled pork and chicken, and good old-fashioned chicken and sausage gumbo.
This is the oldest of all the French-Creole restaurants in New Orleans and one of the best, too. Founded by Antoine Alciatore way back in 1840, the restaurant is still run by the same family, five generations on. There are 14 dining rooms at Antoine’s, which sits on St Louis Street in the French Quarter. Presidents have dined here, and even Pope John Paul II popped in for a feed. It’s the birthplace of many dishes including Oysters Rockefeller and Pompano en Papillote. Have a look at their website here for all of the profiles in the national media prompted by the 175th birthday of Antoine’s in 2015. On the dinner menu are Oysters Rockefeller, Thermidor, Bienville and a la Foch. Or there are escargots a la bourguignonne or bordelaise and entrées of Chateaubriand steaks or chicken with Rochambeau sauce.
Another great New Orleans spot for Creole cuisine, Mr B’s is located at the intersection of Royal Street and Iberville and is run by Cindy Brennan, a member of the legendary Brennan dynasty of New Orleans restaurateurs. Mr B’s Bistro opened its doors in 1979 and has enjoyed so much success that they’ve put out their own cookbook. Executive Chef Michelle McRaney spent time working under the modern master of Creole cuisine Emeril Lagasse and offers a menu with appetizers of duck spring rolls, oysters on the half-shell, and braised pork belly to get you started. Then there are entrées of bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits, filet mignon with truffle butter, and BBQ shrimp served with pepper sauce and French bread.
Louisiana Lagniappe started out in Destin, Florida in 1984 before coming to Baton Rouge in Louisiana in 1998. In Baton Rouge, it can claim the status of being one of the top-rated restaurants on TripAdvisor out of nearly 900, with a Certificate of Excellence for the consistently good feedback from customers. The menu is focused on Creole classics cooked to perfection. So expect appetizers of crab cakes, Oysters Lagniappe, blackened shrimp, and homemade boudin served with remoulade. Then there are specialties like chicken Acadiana, fish en papillote or Louisianne, or shrimp and andouille pasta, or a steak made tournedos style with garlic butter and topped off with sautéed shrimp and crabmeat.
At Restaurant August, you’ll find a contemporary take on Creole classics. Based in the central business area of New Orleans in a magnificent 19th-century building that retains its mahogany paneling and antique mirrors, Restaurant August is part of the empire of leading TV chef John Besh. It’s been featured in plenty of newspaper columns and online magazines – great write-ups have come in The New Orleans Advertiser and The Infatuation’s run-down of The Essential New Orleans Restaurants. On the menu are dishes like shrimp étouffée with ginger and fermented pepper, pan-seared scallops with tête de cochin, and roasted duckling with charred cabbage and foie gras jus.
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