Culinary By Lindsey Anderson

Culinary Spotlight on New Orleans

Few places have a more compelling culinary history than New Orleans. The food here draws on centuries of mixing old and new, north and south, international and the hyper-local. Founded in 1718 by trappers from French Canada, New Orleans (and its cuisine) began with a distinctly French character that was influenced by the native people of the area. Add in later Spanish rule and its myriad of spices, an influx of African and Caribbean traditions from slaves, waves of international immigrants and the ingenuity of contemporary chefs, and you have a nearly indefinable but wildly delicious culinary legacy. Here's how to take advantage of The Big Easy's one-of-a-kind dining scene.

culinary new orleans 4
culinary new orleans 5


A legendary destination since 1957, Willie Mae's Scotch House serves what many consider to be the best fried chicken in the country. Although the restaurant's founder and matriarch, Ms. Willie Mae Seaton, has passed on, her legacy continues. Arrive early and expect a line!

Another NOLA institution is Dooky Chase, which first opened as a po-boy shop in 1941. Leah Chase, the original owners' daughter-in-law, transformed it into the best restaurant available to black residents during segregation, and today it's a place Obama visits when he's in town. Chase was known as the Queen of Creole, so this is an ideal spot to order a bowl of gumbo.

Remarkably, there are plenty of other decades-old restaurants to experience. Try Brennan's (for the flaming spectacle that is their Bananas Foster), and the elegant dining room at Galatoire's, open since 1905 and master of the Sazerac.

culinary new orleans 2
culinary new orleans 3


When the chaos inflicted by Hurricane Katrina finally died down, New Orleans experienced not only a revival of its culinary scene, but also a restaurant boom, meaning there are more exciting options than ever to try. For more casual eats, head to Central City BBQ, or pop into the adorable storefront + back patio at Barracuda for tacos and a margarita. Inventive and Instagram-worthy sandwiches can be found at Turkey and the Wolf while their sister restaurant, Molly's Rise and Shine, is a bright and quirky go-to for breakfast.

In the evening (or for brunch when on offer), opt for James Beard award-winning destinations like Coquette; La Petite Grocery for the savory crab beignets; or Bywater American Bistro by lauded Saint Lucian chef Nina Compton. Saint Germain boasts a beautiful courtyard and some of the very best fries in town, while Mosquito Supper Club is an excellent place to sample modern Cajun cuisine. When it comes to atmosphere, the multitude of spaces at The Elysian Bar are difficult to beat; you can even dine under the vaulted ceilings of a former church.

For a stylish cocktail hour, visit Bar Marilou inside the Maison de la Luz, speakeasy-like Jewel of the South or Seaworthy to slurp back some quality oysters.

Full? But we're not yet done! No trip to NOLA would be complete without an order of fresh beignets doused in powdered sugar and enjoyed with a cafe au lait. Cafe du Monde is the undisputed beignet monarch of the city, though Cafe Beignet makes for a worthy competitor and Loretta's Authentic Pralines serve their sought-after version with a praline twist.

The following hotels are wonderful places to both rest your head and to indulge even further in NOLA's unique culinary scene. Plus, you'll enjoy the bonus amenities available through SELECT.

Ask us about other experiences we can provide at these destinations!