Jambalaya’s roots can be linked to paella, a similar rice dish common in Spanish cuisine. Although there are many variations according to taste, the dish is traditionally composed of three parts, pairing meats and vegetable with stock and rice. While gumbo and étouffées are also popular regional rice dishes, jambalaya is different because rice is directly added to the broth to absorb the rich flavors. The New Orleans version of the dish is often referred to as “red jambalaya” or “Creole jambalaya”, due to the addition of tomatoes. The combination of meats, vegetables and spices lend a unique and flavorful dining experience. A popular of this dish includes Coop’s Place’s rabbit and sausage jambalaya. You can also try the one at Mother's Restaurant (they self-reported cooking 90,000 pounds of this dish in a year).
Like other notable foods of the region, gumbo also traces its origins to New Orleans multicultural heritage. The base seasonings, sassafras and bay leaves, were introduced by Native Americans while okra, a popular addition, was brought over by West African slaves. The dish can be described as a flavorful stew poured over rice, but this does not adequately capture the rich flavors and the velvety texture. There are many variations of gumbo, depending on the addition of certain meats such as chicken, sausage, ham or seafood. Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter is a favorite among locals, as well as The Gumbo Shop nearby.
The foundation is simple enough: meat or seafood, usually fried, served on a Louisiana French baguette. However, there are many versions to try. Traditional po’boys are served hot, and are filled with fried shrimp and oysters. Other variations might include soft shell crab, catfish, crawfish, Andouille sausage, roast beef and gravy and French fries. Po’boy sandwiches continue to stand out as a staple of the local New Orleans diet, and are widely sold in convenience stores, deli counters and neighborhood restaurants. Jacques-Imo’s Café’s duck-filled po’boy has received high ratings, as well as the varieties at the popular Acme Oyster House.
Muffulettas originate from the Italian cuisine that large amounts of Sicilian immigrants brought to the city’s culture at the turn of the 20th century. In simple terms, a muffuletta is a massive sandwich filled with cold cuts, but those who have tried one will tell you that this is no ordinary sandwich. The sandwich is generally served on a 10-inch round loaf of Italian bread, and stuffed with Provolone cheese, salami, ham and a freshly-made olive salad. Due to its size, this unique sandwich is best shared between two or more people. The original producer of the muffuletta sandwich, Central Grocery, still stands in its original location in the French Quarter. Other places to try this famed sandwich include Napoleon House Bar & Café on Chartres Street and Royal House on Royal Street.
As the official state doughnut of Louisiana, these square-shaped, powdered sugar-topped treats certainly have a reputation to uphold. the word “beignet” (pronounce ben-YAY) is French for “fried dough”. These unique donuts are particularly delightful when enjoyed with hot coffee. The most well-known place to try beignets remains Café du Monde on the riverside of Jackson Square. For a shop that locals prefer to frequent, try Morning Call Coffee Stand, with two locations in Metarie.