New Orleans is the place to forget about your diet and enjoy the rich trifecta of butter, cream and oil. While traditional southern flavors abound here, New Orleans is most famous for its unique Creole and Cajun cuisines, which feature a combination of French, Spanish, Italian and African cooking elements. Restaurants featuring traditional New Orleans dishes, such as red beans and rice and po'boys – a sub usually filled with meat or fried seafood – can be found throughout the city. Both Cajun and Creole jambalaya (a rice dish made with meat, vegetables and Creole spices) and gumbo (a hearty stew consisting of meat or seafood and vegetables) are also staple entrees on many New Orleans menus. When you're craving something sweet, you'll find that the Big Easy has you covered there, too. Beignets – square pieces of fried dough smothered in powdered sugar – can be found at the one of the city's most famous coffee shops (and a tourist attraction in its own right), Cafe du Monde.
Many famous chefs – including Emeril Lagasse, Leah Chase and Susan Spicer – own and operate restaurants in the city. The French Quarter is home to numerous Creole restaurants, as well as several authentic (but somewhat pricey) French restaurants. According to recent travelers, Commander's Palace, Bayona, Galatoire's and August are all eateries worth splurging on. Other popular eateries are clustered in the Central Business and Warehouse districts. If you want to mingle with New Orleans residents, dine at the budget-friendly restaurants in Mid-city or Uptown. For a comprehensive sampling of all of the city's mouth-watering cuisine, consider visiting during one of the Big Easy's food festivals, like the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, the Louisiana Seafood Festival or COOLinary New Orleans.