New Orleans has long been celebrated for its Cajun cuisine, which originated along Louisiana’s bayou. The local fare starts with three key ingredients — green peppers, onions and celery — and combines French and Southern flavors to create original dishes such as gumbo and boudin, a spicy Cajun sausage. While the food attracts visitors to local restaurants, the jazz makes a nice pairing that entices them to stay. Most of the area’s Cajun restaurants offer live jazz almost every day of the week. Add a glass of bourbon to the mix and visitors will soon realize why the city’s motto "Laissez les bons temps rouler" or "Let the good times roll" isn’t just a saying. Here are five Cajun restaurants worth celebrating.
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Arnaud’s combines two area favorites: jazz and Creole cuisine. Ever since originally opening in 1918, the restaurant has served up classic New Orleans dishes such as alligator sausage or the signature shrimp Arnaud dish, made with Gulf shrimp, marinated in a tangy, Creole remoulade sauce. The Jazz Bistro features live New Orleans jazz, while the French 75 bar features a custom-built bar that dates back to the late 1800s. Note: The main dining room honors a classic New Orleans, as gentleman are asked to wear jackets, and flip-flops are not permitted.
Since 1946, locals have been coming to Brennan’s Restaurant for its famous breakfast dish, the Eggs Hussarde, which consists of poached eggs served over Holland rusks and Canadian bacon, topped off with Marchand de Vin sauce. The restaurant is also ideal for a candlelit dinner, with local seafood and veal as well as wine available from a 35,000-bottle wine cellar available as just a few menu options from which to choose. As the birthplace of the local favorite Banana’s Foster dish, guests will want to finish off any meal with this flambéed dessert.
Palace Café, housed in the historic Werlein’s music building, has its own take on Cajun cuisine. Take the crabmeat cheesecake, for instance. The restaurant’s signature dish features crabmeat baked in a pecan crust with a wild mushroom sauté and Creole meuniere. Locals come for the happy hour, which offers $5 small plates and specialty cocktails. Eat outside on the restaurant patio for some excellent people watching along Canal Street.
Named after sisters Emma and Bertha Camors, The Court of Two Sisters is another standout brunch spot. The jazz brunch offered daily features a jazz trio that walks around diners that fill up their plates with egg dishes as well as boiled shrimp or crawfish, Cajun pasta and grits. The must-have turtle soup and Creole jambalaya are offered in the afternoon. While the food and music are an obvious draw, the dining room’s French doors open up onto a quintessential French Quarter courtyard shaded by big trees decorated with lights.
Cochon restaurant is named after the French word for pig, and its menu proves why. The chef uses locally sourced pork to create dishes such as smoked pork ribs, onion braised pork cheeks, grilled pork shoulder and smoked ham hock. Of course, other Cajun goodies such as fried alligator, catfish courtbouillon and shrimp and deviled egg gumbo are just as noteworthy. The restaurant even has an in-house butcher shop to guarantee customers get the best cuts of meat.