Just as New Orleans is a party town, Cajun food is party food. The Big Easy’s native cuisine is as boisterous, hot and delicious as the part of the world from which it hails. Hank Williams said it best in his 1952 hit ‘Jambalaya (On the Bayou)’
“Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and filé gumbo
Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou!”
Cajun food is “big fun” food! It ain’t shy, it doesn’t hold back, and it’s never coy. It’s real, robust and super-enjoyable to spend time with. The flavors are intense. You do not have to work hard to enjoy the jambalayas, crawfish pies, and filé gumbos of the bayou.
Cajun cuisine is the Jim Carrey of culinary styles. It’s in your face, honest, and always lovable. And like the ace Hollywood funnyman, it has subtle layers to its art. When you are fed up of Jim’s clowning, watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. When you have had your fill of hot and spicy jambalayas, switch gears with a slice of pecan pie with Chantilly cream. Ah, sweet contrast.
There is nowhere better in the world to sample the best of Cajun cuisine than in Louisiana’s beating heart, New Orleans. This atmospheric city has history, music, a wild and warm atmosphere, and, most importantly, the best concentration of Cajun restaurants in Louisiana and the world.
So here are our recommendations for the 5 best Cajun restaurants in New Orleans. Don’t forget to make note of the eateries that most whet your appetite in your BUCKiTDREAM planner.
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen Is the Much-Loved Restaurant Of Cajun Master Chef Paul Prudhomme Paul Prudhomme did more than anyone to bring Acadian cuisine to the attention of the world. His name will always be synonymous with Cajun food and New Orleans. One of the region’s most popular dishes, blackened redfish, was invented by this culinary mastermind, so it’s no surprise that many believe the best place in the world to eat this awesome dish is in the restaurant that he founded in 1979, K-Paul’s.
Prudhomme died in 2015 but his legacy lives on. Louisiana-native Paul Miller runs the kitchen at K-Paul’s now, and the Cajun-Creole food he turns out is undoubtedly up to the famously high K-Paul standard.
The menu changes daily to reflect the best available local ingredients. They serve intense and robust roux-thickened gumbos, fried crawfish tails, hot Cajun jambalaya, and probably the best-blackened fish in the cosmos! Their deserts of bread pudding and a sweet potato-pecan pie with Chantilly cream are rich, flavorsome, and very French.
The venue also boasts a big list of high-quality wines, Champagnes, and sparkling wines. The decor is simple and effective with bare brick, tasteful art, and wooden floors. K-Paul’s is deservedly a Big Easy institution!
Location: 416 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA
Mulate’s Is the Self-Proclaimed “Original Cajun Restaurant” Mulate’s talks the talk, alright. It is the Conor McGregor of Cajun restaurants, proudly proclaiming its awesomeness and real deal-ness to any and all. “The Original Cajun Restaurant”, “The King of Cajun Dine and Dance Halls” – Mulate’s loves running its mouth off! And like the bearded and half-naked Irishman, this restaurant does indeed pack a seriously impressive left hook.
It lives up to its big-talk by serving some of the most real, rustic and delicious roux-based gumbo, jambalaya, fried gator, and stuffed fish in all of Louisiana. It’s also one hell of a party venue, with live Cajun dance bands rockin’ the joint every night of the week. Mulate’s is a great place to come to watch, and ultimately partake in, the local zydeco style of dancing. Mulate’s definitely puts its money where its mouths are!
Location: 201 Julia Street, New Orleans, LA
Isaac Toups Shares His Ancient Family Recipes at Toups’ Meatery The Toups family have been in Louisiana for over 300 years. In those three centuries, they’ve developed a tight and intuitive bond with the food and the land. Isaac Toups is using his Louisiana heritage, plus over ten years of training in some of New Orleans’ finest kitchens, to carry on the family tradition of making Cajun favorites in a bold and innovative style.
Isaac opened Toups’ Meatery with his wife Amanda in the spring of 2012 in order to share his unique take on Creole eating with the people of New Orleans.
They serve up old-style favorites like boudin (Cajun sausage stuffed with rice, meat, and seasoning) and cracklins’ (fried pork rinds), and an amazing Creole Meatery Board (a selection of house cured meats and accompaniments). Slow cooked lamb neck and confit chicken thighs with chicken liver and cornbread dressing are other Louisiana favorites at which Toups Meatery excels.
The restaurant’s ethos reflects a steadfast commitment to protecting America’s wetlands, with the majority of their produce being locally sourced. Chef Toups has three times been named a James Beard ‘Best Chef of the South’ semi-finalist and finalist. Isaac is a young chef flying the flag for Cajun food and we strongly recommend that you pay a visit to Toups’ Meatery for an unforgettable Cajun dining experience.
Location: 845 North Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, LA
Brigtsen’s Restaurant Serve South Louisiana Cooking in the Centuries-Old Creole-Acadian Tradition Chef Frank Brigtsen trained and worked under Paul Prudhomme for years, and the great master’s influence is easily detectable in the stylish and rustic food on offer at Brigtsen’s Restaurant.
This classy establishment stays true to Acadian tradition. It is set in an old New Orleans townhouse with still-life paintings, murals and quaint lace curtains. Brigtsen and his wife Marna run the place with a calm and welcoming spirit. They are not brash or braggadocious, as the food does the talking here.
The Panéed Rabbit is truly excellent. Butternut shrimp bisque and boned pieces of slow-roasted duck with cornbread dressing and a honey-pecan gravy are also big favorites in The Big Easy.
Frank Brigtsen is a purist (like so many New Orleans chefs) and there’s no doubt that he lives to cook. He is always present when the restaurant is open, and in his spare time, he likes to fish, sometimes even creating dishes for the restaurant with whatever he manages to catch! Soft and tasty bread pudding with homemade ice-cream is a great dessert, and the wine list is petite and perfectly formed.
Location: 723 Dante St., New Orleans, LA
Rumor Has it Bon Ton Café Has the Best Crawfish Bisque in Town Situated in a historical 1840s townhouse, near the banks of the Mississippi, with checkered tablecloths, chandeliers, and soft-brick walls, this elegant restaurant is gloriously outdated, and all the better for it!
The food is Cajun to the core, prepared in strict accordance with original family recipes. The aforementioned crawfish bisque, which comes adorned with stuffed crawfish heads, is dark and delicious, and a genuine must-have.
Bon Ton Café specializes in authentic Gulf of Mexico shrimp and oyster jambalaya, crabmeat au gratin, and crawfish omelet. The famed ‘Rum Ramsey’ cocktail is adapted from a secret recipe handed down from the early 1900s and available only at Bon Ton Café. The wine list packs a real punch, with some great selections from around the world. Oh, and the bread pudding is (arguably) the best in town.
Location: 401 Magazine, New Orleans, LA
So that was our list of the 5 Best Cajun restaurants in New Orleans. Hopefully, it has inspired you to pay a visit to the Big Easy to sample some of this delicious fare for yourself.
And while you are munching the world-famous blackened redfish (in the restaurant in which it was actually invented!), trying not to make eye contact with the stuffed crawfish heads that are staring up at you from your bowl of crawfish bisque in Bon Ton Café, or even just strolling this awesome city’s lively streets whistling the annoyingly catchy song whose lyrics open this very article, why not share your fun New Orleans experiences on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter?