1st time New Orleans visitor foodie itinerary

Seafood gumbo by Joyce Bracey  DSC_0168.jpg

After a food favorites Instagram post I was asked where I would dine in New Orleans if I only had a weekend to visit as a first timer. It’s easy to rattle off a list of 15 of my favorite places but in thinking about how to narrow it down, the question became a lot more challenging. Message me on Instagram and Facebook and let me know what you tried and what you loved!


Lunch: You land in the afternoon, you’re starving and you know you have a big night ahead of you. Drop your bags at your hotel and head to Meril in the CBD. You can check the box for dining at an Emeril Lagasse restaurant and it’s open all day so you don’t have to worry about rushing. Sip the No. 31 and order the Fried Louisiana Oysters, the Boudin Tamale, and the Louisiana Strawberries Salad. Most would think you only have one meal left for today but because it’s New Orleans and you’re going to be out very late we’re going to sneak in a midnight snack, but first dinner.

Dinner: Cafe Sbisa is a new favorite of mine and it’s the perfect mix of white tablecloth finery and well executed food in a welcoming environment. Try the classics here, start with a gin French 75 and the crabcakes. For your entree order the Trout Eugene and I promise you won’t have room for dessert.

Snack: Now the midnight snack! It’s 1am, you’ve danced on Frenchman and you’re ready to head back to your hotel but you need to put something in your stomach. Pop into St. Lawrence for elevated bar food that you won’t regret eating in the morning. Order the Crispy Confit Wings and the house cut fries with an extra goat cheese ranch dressing.

Now sleep hard so that you can burn calories and be ready for brunch.


Breakfast: Head to the Garden District and dine at the iconic Commander’s Palace for their weekend jazz brunch, featuring a live jazz band. If you want to try Turtle Soup this is your place, but I prefer the gumbo. Everything on the brunch menu is good but make sure you save room for the Creole Bread Pudding Souffle. There is no bar seating at Commander’s and they won’t make this to go (I’ve only asked 50 times), so the only way to get this dessert is after a meal. It is one of the most delicious things you will eat... in life.

Lunch: Since you’re in the Garden District you may as well stay Uptown for a late lunch, and stroll Magazine Street which is packed with local restaurants and shops. Saturday is also the perfect day for people watching on Magazine, and you have two solid options for people watching and po boys. Joey K’s is a neighborhood restaurant that serves standard, delicious fried po boys and other New Orleans fare. Mahoney’s is an award winning po boy shop that also serves standard, delicious fried po boys and other New Orleans fare. Both are delicious, and both have outdoor seating. Try one on this visit and hit up the next one when you’re back in town.

Dinner: You’re back downtown and you want to keep it light for dinner, 9 Roses Cafe won’t disappoint. The large Vietnamese community in New Orleans means that we have access to amazing, authentic Vietnamese food. 9 Roses Cafe serves up fresh Vietnamese favorites like Pho and Spring Rolls which are good choices when you need to eat something but you don’t want to feel stuffed.

Snack: You might be regretting that light dinner now, so head to Cafe du Monde for beignets. Open 24 hours, the best time to visit is late in the evening or early morning depending on how late you stay out. It’s much less crowded, you can get powdered sugar all over yourself since you’re headed back to your room, and they serve milk to wash all of that fried goodness down.


You have a mid afternoon flight which leaves time for just one more meal. You’ve had oysters, boudin, turtle soup, bread pudding, beignets, and pho. So what’s left? It’s Sunday, so you have to start with a mimosa at the revolving Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone.

Then sashay over to Brennan’s for brunch, and BBQ Lobster. Sip on Carpe Rose Cider from local brewery Urban South while enjoying any of the egg dishes that Brennan’s is known for. Then for the last bite you’ll have in New Orleans prepare yourself for the show that is tableside Bananas Fosters.

Your tummy will thank me, your waistline may not but you’re headed back home where you can get back into your exercise routine knowing that you came, you ate, you conquered.

P.S. You may want to stop by Central Grocery and stash a Muffaletta in your carryon. Tell TSA you’re bringing it back for a friend and then eat it as soon as the boarding doors close.  

Amina Dearmon