This week, Travel + Leisure magazine announced America's best cities for foodies and gave New Orleans the top spot. While we are not surprised by this designation, we are honored and appreciate being recognized for our one-of-a-kind cuisine.
When I am in New Orleans it is always a struggle to decide where to eat, as the options for great food are endless. Should I grab a burger at Camellia Grill or Port of Call? Oysters at Drago’s Seafood? Muffuletta from Central Grocery? Roast beef po-boy at Radosta’s or Tracey’s? Brunch or an old-school chocolate malt from Stanley in historic Jackson Square? Fried chicken from Dooky Chase’s or Willie Mae’s Scotch House? Or should I go to a classic New Orleans restaurant like Commander’s Palace or Galatoire’s? This is only the beginning of the list of choices I go over in my head. It seems like every week another quality restaurant opens in this thriving food town, and the chefs and their menus rarely disappoint.
What may surprise you is that New Orleans is not where good food ends in the Pelican State.You can find unique and tasty food throughout the state. Food that tastes completely different from what you find in New Orleans. Drive two hours west to Acadiana and you will find traditional fare that is only available in Cajun Country.
My mom and grandmother are from Acadiana, and rich Cajun food is what I ate at home growing up. Gumbo, boudin, tasso, jambalaya, alligator sauce piquante, crawfish étoufée and many other rich Cajun comfort foods graced our kitchen table daily. Famed chef and food writer Anthony Bourdain recently visited Acadiana to film an episode of his show, No Reservations. The hourlong production embodies everything there is to love about Cajun Country, a feeling of community and celebration and tons of great food that each person at the party has a hand in preparing. While most of the episode was filmed at a boucherie, an outdoor whole-hog roast, you can get the same traditional Cajun delicacies in restaurants and markets throughout Acadiana.
I would be remiss to not mention that great food also exists in north Louisiana. Visit Natchitoches for its specialty, meat pies, or visit north Louisiana for fantastic, down-home country cooking including fried catfish and other freshwater fish.
While Travel + Leisure magazine recognizes New Orleans as America’s best city for foodies, I recognize Louisiana as America’s best state for foodies.Come down and try the world-class cuisine throughout our state.