Close your eyes and picture New Orleans: colorful and dazzling yet with undertones of spooky swampland. There are the lively sounds of jazz bands and the glint of Mardi Gras beads, but also the stateliness of historic cemeteries. If one city can be all this, you can be sure its culinary scene is equally vibrant and diverse.
Though you might be used to paying a pretty penny for an unforgettable dining experience, cheap eats in New Orleans are as plentiful as Spanish moss. What food is New Orleans known for? Follow our guide to find out!
1. Gumbo Shop
It wouldn’t be a visit to New Orleans without a bowl (or two, or three) of the city’s signature dish. Gumbo represents New Orleans in more ways than one, from its many-layered flavors and textures to the blend of cultural cooking styles that contributed to its creation. No two gumbos are exactly alike, and at Gumbo Shop, you’ll find three kinds of gumbo on the menu.
2. Coop’s Place
Gumbo’s cousin is jambalaya, a savory rice dish full of flavor. At Coop’s Place, you can get a cup of the good stuff for under $7 and a bowl for under $10. After all, Coop’s Place claims to be “the place to go for a true taste of New Orleans at down home prices,” so eat your fill of the food New Orleans is famous for.
3. Killer PoBoys
You don’t have to become a po’ boy on your quest for the best local grub—the po’ boy sandwich is one of the best eats in New Orleans. At Killer PoBoys, you can try a classic Gulf Shrimp sandwich, or sample something unique like the BBQ Chicken Confit. With nothing over $15 on the menu, Killer PoBoys is a great stop for cheap food in New Orleans.
4. Central Grocery & Deli
There’s more than one sandwich putting New Orleans on the map. Central Grocery is well-known as the birthplace of the muffuletta sandwich, stuffed with rich and tangy ingredients including sliced cheese, olive salad, salami, and mortadella. You can still get a muffuletta seven days a week at Central Grocery, and these sandwiches make for a perfect on-the-go lunch.
5. Meals From the Heart Café
Though the cuisine of “Nawlins” can be heavy on seafood and flour-based roux, those with special diets can partake in delicious meals at Meals From the Heart. This café offers many vegan and/or gluten-free options, including alternative versions of the po’ boy sandwich, gumbo, and crab cakes.
6. Café du Monde
Sometimes it’s nice to find a lesser-known eatery far away from the well-traveled tourist path. But you simply can’t top the foodie classics. If you need a midday pick-me-up, head to Café du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets (crispy, rectangular doughnuts coated in powdered sugar). Café du Monde is world-famous for good reason: Their menu is simple, they’re open 24 hours, and they’ve been in the French Quarter since the 1860s. Who knew that some of the best cheap eats in New Orleans were so legendary?
7. Mother’s Restaurant
When you’re in the South, do as the Southerners do and dig into a plate of fried chicken. Mother’s serves mouthwatering fried chicken plates in both quarter-chicken and half-chicken sizes.
8. Stanley Restaurant
Bananas Foster is a classic New Orleans dessert, so why not eat dessert for breakfast with the Bananas Foster French Toast at Stanley’s?
9. Evans Creole Candy Company
A salty-sweet pecan praline is the perfect after-dinner snack, and Evans Creole Candy Company is the perfect place to pick one up. The best cheap food in New Orleans may just be the sweetest.
10. Fry and Pie
Pecan pie is an unbeatable dessert, and the “Lush Nut” pecan pie at Fry and Pie is an unbeatable choice—both for its flavor and its price.
While you might be tempted to spend your whole visit at the dining table, don’t miss all the fun things to do in New Orleans. Grab your chicory coffee and check out these fun, affordable activities:
- Hop a sternwheel and paddle up the Mississippi on a Steamboat Natchez Daytime Jazz Cruise.
- Delve deep into the spooky history of New Orleans on the New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo, and Vampire Tour.
- Take the Cajun Bayou & Swamp Tour – New Orleans to get out on the bayou and maybe even meet an alligator.
The food of New Orleans is as magical and unforgettable as the city itself. The best New Orleans eateries are world famous, and there are so many ways to discover the best foods of the Big Easy. By finding the top cheap eats in the city and traveling to New Orleans on a budget, there’s always more cash for second helpings.
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