Lauren Layne & Anthony LeDonne
Lauren Layne is the New York Times best-selling author of romantic fiction. Her books have sold millions of copies and were featured in Oprah Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Glamour, The Wall Street Journal and Inside Edition. Lauren’s high school sweetheart, Anthony LeDonne, is an NYC-based comedian, writer, actor, chef and award-winning photographer. He also hosts the POAT Podcast every week, where he discusses topics like why restaurants push the window seat, how not to get divorced when both spouses work from home, and why people quit social media. Together, they have a black and orange Pomeranian, Bailey, who is about 3x “too big” for her breed at 15 lbs. and refuses to acknowledge she’s technically elderly. Her hobbies include chicken treats, barking at her kibble for not being chicken treats and nervous toots when it rains.
New Orleans has long been one of our all-time favorite vacation spots, and when people ask why we love it so much, we’re not shy about answering: the food.
It’s all about the food.
Hi, we’re Lauren & Anthony, professional creatives from NYC, where there’s no shortage of excellent restaurants.
Now, with all due respect to our beloved New York City (lowers voice to a confidential whisper), the New Orleans food scene has the edge.
Below you’ll find out where to eat and drink in New Orleans — aka all the food stops we never miss on our annual trips to the city.
Plus, we’re sharing a new adventure for us: cooking up some of that delicious New Orleans-inspired cuisine from the comfort of our villa at New Orleans Resort!
You’ll get a few downloadable recipes that you can make during your trip or bring home for whenever you want a taste of the Big Easy.
Where to Eat & Drink in New Orleans
First off, here are some of the must-visit places to find delicious NOLA dishes and cocktails.
Domenica Happy Hour
Let’s be real, most of us are at happy hour for the price, which is why we were so pleasantly surprised the first time we found ourselves at Domenica’s happy hour.
Suggested by a New Orleans local, Domenica had some of the best pizza we’ve ever eaten, plus an extensive Italian wine list.
Don’t be afraid to branch out beyond a pepperoni pizza and Pinot Grigio! Its clam pizza is amazing with a glass of Gavi, Arneis or Vermentino.
The Clam Pizza from Domenica
As agonizing as it is for us to pick a single favorite restaurant in New Orleans, if we could only go to one place, it would be the incredible Maypop.
Think Southern cuisine meets Southeast Asian, with flavors that will blow your mind.
If you go for lunch, don’t miss the buckwheat noodles with crab and strawberries. And we never skip an order of their spicy take on fried chicken.
Our best advice for the cocktail list? Close your eyes and pick one. They’re that good.
The Chilled Buckwheat Noodle Salad with Blue Crab from Maypop
Vegetables at Luke’s
Yes, we’re directing you to a touristy restaurant, attached to a hotel. And yes, we’re telling you to order vegetables … in New Orleans.
But seriously, Luke’s brussels sprouts and broccolini were a couple of the most memorable dishes we ate!
They’re perfect for a mid-afternoon stop after sightseeing when you don’t want to get too full before dinner.
Luke’s Seafood Gumbo à La Creole, Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Charred Broccolini from Luke’s
Looking to explore the city beyond the French Quarter?
Grab an Uber up to the Bywater to the Honduran restaurant Alma. Here, it’s a toss-up on which is more delightful — the friendly staff or the amazing food.
We’re torn between encouraging you to share a bunch of dishes and warning you that you’ll want every bite for yourself.
Our party of four managed to scrape every plate completely clean at brunch, paired with incredible margaritas!
Margaritas and tacos from Alma
Got a special occasion to celebrate or feeling a little fancy? Herbsaint is a classic place to eat in New Orleans, and we never miss out on it.
Everything from the salads to the steak is flavorful perfection. And we’re still thinking about the brown butter and banana tart we had for dessert.
Banana Brown Butter Tart from Herbsaint
More Travel Tips for Your New Orleans Trip:
- How to Do New Orleans Like a Local: Things to Do & Places to Eat
- Is New Orleans Kid-Friendly?
- How to Make Beignets: THE Sweet Treat of New Orleans
Classic New Orleans Recipes to Make at Home
Now, with as many incredible restaurants as the city has, you might be thinking we’d be nuts not to try as many as possible.
But we have a little confession to make: Sometimes, there’s no greater luxury than hanging out in the room and just relaxing.
Which is why we were so thrilled that during our most recent trip, we stayed at New Orleans Resort, where our villa was equipped with an incredible full kitchen!
Since Anthony is pretty handy with cocktails and cooking, we decided to try to recreate some NOLA-inspired food and drink from “home.”
DOWNLOAD ALL RECIPES
The two-bedroom Signature Collection villa at New Orleans Resort
Yes, yes, it’s not Southern. But it is French, and New Orleans has a huge French influence!
If you’ve never had a Croque Monsieur, think of it as a fancy grilled cheese with ham.
Makes 2 sandwiches
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 cups milk
- Nutmeg, to taste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 slices brioche
- 4 ounces Swiss cheese
- 4 ounces ham
- To start the “béchamel sauce,” melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour. Stir for 1 minute to combine. Add milk and stir until smooth. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 2–3 minutes, until it’s thickened up. Remove from heat and add nutmeg and salt.
- Melt remaining butter in a large frying pan over medium, medium-low heat, adjusting heat as necessary to prevent the bread from burning. Place two slices of bread in the pan. Lay cheese and ham on each piece of bread. Top each with another slice of bread.
- Cook until the bottom slice of bread is toasted, then flip to toast the other side. Cook until toasted.
- If the cheese isn’t fully melted, transfer to the oven at 350˚F for 2–3 minutes, then transfer sandwiches to plates. Slather generously with béchamel sauce. Serve.
To complement the Croque Monsieur, we stuck with the French inspiration and made one of our favorite cocktails after enjoying one at the classic Sazerac Bar (just around the corner from the resort).
The French 75 is bubbly, refreshing and best of all — easy to make!
Makes 2 cocktails
- 2 oz gin
- 3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup (recipe follows)
- Sparkling wine, such as Champagne, Cava or Prosecco
- Add gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to a shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 60 seconds.
- Divide evenly between two Champagne flutes. Add 2–3 ounces of chilled sparkling wine, such as Champagne, Cava or Prosecco.
Simple Syrup Ingredients
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
Simple Syrup Directions
- Add to a microwave-safe container and heat on high until boiling. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover and let cool to room temperature.
SAVE FRENCH 75 RECIPE
And voila! We present to you the French 75 cocktail.
Spicy Shrimp “Pockets”
One thing you’ll see all over the city’s menus is some version of a spicy shrimp dish.
We decided to try our luck and make our own, keeping preparation and clean-up super easy by tossing everything into a little foil packet, and popping it in the oven.
Don’t forget some bread to mop up the amazing sauce!
Makes 2 pockets
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire’s sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
- 1 lb. uncooked, unpeeled U12–16 shrimp
- Assorted seasonings, such as dried thyme, fresh rosemary, black pepper, cayenne and Tabasco, to taste
- Heat the oven to 425˚F. Fold 2 large, rectangular sheets of foil in half. Then fold each side twice, except the side opposite the fold. This will create a pocket.
- Evenly divide each of the ingredients between each packet. Fold the opening twice to seal each packet.
- Place the packets on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Cook for 12–15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Place each packet in a bowl and tear it open. Serve with bread.
Our one-bedroom villa overlooked the famous Bourbon Street, which we’ll confess, made us think of … bourbon.
While the Sazerac is the classic New Orleans whisky cocktail, we’re partial to Manhattans.
A nice whisky punch with just a little bit of sweetness, it was the perfect way to relax after a long day of exploring. (Ok, fine, a long day of eating!)
Makes 2 cocktails
- 4 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
- 1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth, such as Noilly Prat
- 7 dashes aromatic bitters, such as Angostura bitters
- Add all ingredients to a mixing tin or glass full of ice. Stir for 60 seconds. Don’t shake this drink. (Every time you shake a Manhattan, a bartender in the French Quarter cries.)
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an Amarena or maraschino cherry. (Luxardo makes a fantastic maraschino cherry.)
Hungry for Even More?
Watch us walk you through each recipe (and our pro tips!) in our villa’s full kitchen at New Orleans Resort. Here’s a little recap of what we’re making:
- French 75 cocktails
- Croque Monsieur
- Manhattan cocktails
- Spicy Shrimp Pockets
Thanks so much for letting us relive our food adventures with you!
If you’re planning your own New Orleans vacation, we do have one tiny bit of insider advice before you go…
While we did stick to the classics for our night in, when you’re deciding on where to eat and drink in New Orleans, don’t limit yourself to the traditional cuisine!
By all means, get your fix of beignets, gumbo and po’boys, but the Big Easy also has some of the best Italian, Mexican, Asian, French, Honduran and Mediterranean foods (and so much more) that we’ve ever had.
We may have gained a couple pounds on our trip. We regret nothing.
Our guest bloggers are compensated for their writing contributions and honest opinions.
All information is subject to change. This article is a curated guide and is neither sponsored nor considered an official endorsement. Please be sure to check information directly with any/all tours, guides or companies for the most up-to-date and direct details.
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