Where To Eat In New Orleans During The ESSENCE Festival Of Culture

Courtesy of Morrows

It’s time for the 30th annual ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans, celebrating Black heritage, culture, and history. While partaking in the party with a purpose, take some time to actually check out the iconic city. And while it’s known for a number of things, near the top of the list of things that put NOLA on the map is its food.

One thing you won’t be in New Orleans is hungry. There are tons of great places to choose from all across the city. There is a self-guided Black-Owned Food and Drink Tour that highlights some of the best and oldest cultural staples. On the tour, you can have a shrimp po-boy from Neyow’s Creole Cafe, a praline smoothie from Backatown Coffee Parlour, or a cocktail from Chapter IV. No matter where you go in the city, whether you’re ordering gumbo, a beignet, a po-boy, crawfish etouffee or bananas Foster, you won’t be disappointed with the fare. If you go to the right spots though, you will be blown away. These are some of the hot spots for food in The Big Easy that are worth visiting during your time in the city.

Dooky Chase

In my opinion, you can’t step foot into New Orleans without going to Dooky Chase. It’s legendary and a staple on numerous levels. The late Leah Chase (Queen of Creole Cuisine) owned the restaurant and was the inspiration behind Disney’s The Princess and The Frog. When it opened in 1941, it was one of the first fine dining establishments in the country. Pretty cool, right? They were also pivotal in the Civil Rights movement as local and national leaders ate and met at the restaurant to strategize and plan events. It’s a remarkable piece of history that few people (outside of natives) know about. The gumbo is one of the best I have ever tasted.


The other joint I love is Morrows, opened in April 2018 by chef Lenora Chong and event curator Larry Morrow, a mother-son duo. Morrows is one of the best places in town, so reserve a table; otherwise, it’s first-come, first-served. And let me be the first to tell you that I’ve never been able to be seated as a walk-in. There isn’t a thing on the menu that will leave you disappointed. And the cocktail menu is just as decadent.

Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar

My favorite joint for oyster lovers is Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar. There are multiple locations, but I go to the Bienville Street restaurant. Do yourself a favor and order the crawfish Rockefeller and the alligator bites to start. Back in 2021, I took a friend there, and she had never tried oysters before. We went back multiple times during our four-day visit.

Lil Dizzy’s Cafe

One of the best places to feast on a delicious bowl of gumbo is Lil Dizzy’s Cafe. Truth be told, though, from the macaroni and cheese and collard greens to the golden brown fried chicken, anything from there is a chef’s kiss. The meals remind me of the plates Southern grandmas and aunties made for the church’s quarterly meeting fellowship. The restaurant has been a cornerstone in the community for decades and is operated by the next generation of the Baquet family.

Monday Restaurant + Bar

Whether you want a fun twist on the classic beignet (order the sweet potato kind), some New Orleans staples like crawfish, po’boys, and boudin, or to just catch a weekend brunch vibe sipping on a mimosa flight, slide through Monday Restaurant + Bar. Depending on when you go, it might be a bit crowded, so try to get in via reservations.

Buttermilk Drop Bakery

Buttermilk Drop Bakery is one of the city’s gems. You want to tell everyone about it but simultaneously keep it to yourself. Of course, their deliciousness is no secret because they have award-winning king cakes. And the donuts can rival any other. The bakery is just one aspect of what they offer. They also serve regular breakfast items like grits, eggs, and biscuits. I am a massive fan of the breakfast rice, a delectable spin on traditional fried rice.

The ESSENCE Festival of Culture™ presented by Coca-Cola® will take place July 4-7. For more information and updates on the festival, visit our website and follow us on social media @ESSENCEFest on X, Facebook, and Instagram.

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