Where to Find the Best Seafood in New Orleans
Consider this your go-to list of New Orleans seafood dishes—and where to eat them—for your next trip.
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NOTNew Orleans knows its seafood. In many ways, it’s the lifeblood of the city and region.
Fried, boiled, baked, grilled: New Orleans residents cook their fish and shellfish in endless ways. Still, though, the flavors are great. So do the legendary gulf coast shrimp and especially the oversized oysters.
This collection of must-try New Orleans seafood dishes is just a taste of the open-water cornucopia available in Crescent City. And given that New Orleans is a majority black city in a country where darkness has had an unlimited impact on the culture, many of the dishes featured are served in black-owned restaurants. Now it’s time to start eating.
Catfish Jourdain at Lil Dizzy
Fridays are fish day in New Orleans, especially during Lent. To Lil Dizzy’s in the seventh quarter, the end of the week means Catfish Jourdain is the dish of the day. And, oh boy, is it ever special.
To start, a fillet of catfish is fried. Then it is garnished with the two prawns and crab in a silky lemon butter sauce and a few green onions. If the special ended there, you would be very satisfied. But no, you can also select two sides to accompany your fish. Dirty rice, green cabbage, macaroni and cheese, candied yams: choose your weapons. There is no wrong answer.
Fried catfish at Barrow’s Catfish
There is an almost endless supply of fried catfish in the Deep South. This is largely due to the region’s proximity to water. It’s how locals love seafood. It’s how people love, love, love a well-fried piece of protein.
So, in New Orleans, there are loads of good fried catfish. something about from Barrow hit just right. Yes, there’s nostalgia: the original opened in 1943 and both family locations were wiped out in Hurricane Katrina. So when the Barrow family ultimately opened Barrow’s again, this time in a new location, in July 2018 the town breathed a sigh of relief. A black-owned business with some of the best and easiest breaded fish and potato salad around? Yeah. Barrow is a legend.
AYCE (all you can eat) either crawfish or crab at Seafood Sally’s
Every Wednesday feels more like a Hands-On Day than a Hump Day at this Riverbend restaurant. This is when the AYCE (all you can eat) boiled seafood special takes place at Sally’s Seafood.
During crawfish season, which runs from January to July, endless rows of mudbugs are served with the restaurant’s signature chili butter. You keep ordering round after round until your fingers tingle and your stomach can’t, well, take another platter. Then when the crayfish season ends, the blue crab season takes over. Your methodology remains the same: keep eating until you are (beyond) full.
Grilled oysters at Morrow’s
There’s nowhere in New Orleans quite like tomorrow. It exists at an uncommon crossroads: classic New Orleans dishes like red beans and rice and fried seafood platters sit alongside bibimbap and Korean lettuce wraps.
Grilled oysters are a staple in restaurants in Crescent City and at Morrow’s you have a choice of two variations. Go for the classic to see what the Prototype Garlic Butter Grilled Oyster should look like at its best. Or try Morrow Oysters, in which the oysters are also topped with crabmeat before grilling. Heck, this is the city care forgot, so order both.
Wood-grilled whole fish with peach
Much of this seafood-focused restaurant’s menu goes through the massive wood-fired oven. And one of the best dishes—a Sin signature-is the whole fish.
This head-to-tail fish is often redfish, a staple of Gulf of Mexico waters. The smoke from the wood infuses the supple flesh and the intense heat of the grill browns the skin. It’s finished with a spunky salsa verde load. Here, that means a fairly smooth paste of parsley, mint, anchovies, lemon, vinegar, and black and red pepper. Bring friends: you will need mouths.
Shrimps and oatmeal at La Petite Épicerie
First of all, shrimp and grits is a Lowcountry dish, not a New Orleans dish. Nonetheless, shrimp and grits have become something of a synecdoche for southern cuisine, especially southern seafood dishes.
The version at The Little Grocery knows its place, offering a nod to South Louisiana with the use of Cajun tasso rather than smoked bacon, and specialty additions like shiitake mushrooms and charred corn. The grains are creamy and lush, as you’d hope, and the huge shrimp on top are just as big on the Gulf flavor.
Shrimp Creole in Rosedale
“Hidden Gem” is the kind of phrasing that gets tossed around like a salad in a take-out shell. Susan Spicer’s Oasis set in a sequestered corner of Mid-City is a classic example of the genre. It’s a roadhouse with great food and a free-wheeling drink menu.
You are here for many dishes, if you are wise. But the creole with shrimps is a must. As with many South Louisiana dishes, it doesn’t look like much: a ribbon of shrimp in a dark, cloudy red-brown sauce, flanked by a round slice of fried eggplant and a mound of white rice grown in Louisiana. Oh, the flavor though. The sweet brine of local prawns alongside the bass of this deep sauce. The interior giving eggplant slice. The subtle complement to rice. This is New Orleans dining at its finest and best.
Oyster bread at Casamento
You could eat that fried oyster sandwich like it’s a po’boy. That would mean you order it “dressed”, which loads the sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Fair warning: waiters can (quietly) judge you, as can many locals who grew up eating at At Casamento. We even saw a native mocking her also native husband for ordering his dressed oyster bread.
The drama of ordering aside, enjoying oyster bread with the least ornamentation at this more than 100-year-old Uptown restaurant is indeed an optimal approach. That way, there’s not much between you and bivalve bliss, but two planks of buttered white bread and some great batter. A shot of hot sauce is all you might need, and maybe some lemon. Remember: Casamento’s, being family run, only accepts cash and is closed during the summer.
Blue Crab Hummus at Saba
Hummus is an essential order at this Israeli-New Orleans Spot. This, after all, is a restaurant that rightly prides itself on puffy, yeasty pita bread that is always served warm. You will be doing a lot of dipping and sweeping.
The mashed chickpeas are smooth like a newborn’s cheek and loaded with just the right amount of tahini. The blue crab iteration is still on the menu but its appearance changes with the seasons. Sometimes it is served with snow peas, sometimes with lemon and tarragon. No matter the version, the dish tastes, in a way, of being born here. And you could say it was.
Oyster Bread at Nice Guys Bar and Grill
Seafood bread is a staple in New Orleans. It is available at festivals and in a variety of restaurants. It’s rich and cheesy and absurdly delicious.
Seafood bread makers usually focus on one piece of seafood, such as crawfish, and top it with cheese and bake it until golden brown. To nice people, the recipe goes hard. His version hails fried oysters, bivalves embedded in a mixture of creamed spinach, bacon, and a mixture of provolone, parmesan, and mozzarella, all baked in French bread boats.
>> Next: The AFAR Guide to New Orleans