Long regarded as the land of fried and fattening foods, the Big Easy has started taking steps toward better dietary habits in recent years. As the vegan and vegetarian movements grow more popular, New Orleanians are beginning to look for healthier eating options. These 11 restaurants are at the forefront of a cultural revolution—fighting for inclusivity and wholesome meals—in a renowned foodie city.
A cozy Mid-City joint with quirky touches, 1000 Figs is located at 3141 Ponce de Leon St. #1. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. First started as a food truck, the Mediterranean restaurant was successfully established two years ago. The house specialty of falafel is served several creative ways—as a sandwich, on a small plate, or as part of a platter. The restaurant’s Middle Eastern influence resonates down to its sauce selections of tahini (sesame), zhoug (cilantro-chile), and toum (garlic). Depending upon the season, the restaurant offers different rotating specials, but the quick and friendly service is provided year-round. Not only determined to serve quality food, 1000 Figs also has a mission to plant 1000 fruit trees in New Orleans, and, so far, almost 300 are in the ground.
Established seven years ago at 4113 Magazine St., the Superfood Bar touts the title of “Louisiana’s first vegan restaurant.” For $10 and under, customers can purchase shots of vitamin C, ginger, and maca, or stock up on vegan chocolate pudding, pecan maple cookies, and raw brownies. Every day of the week, the simplistic restaurant sells not only powders and vitamins, but also personalized wellness packages. The Superfood Bar concentrates on avoiding petrochemical absorption in its organic juices by abstaining from plastic use during production. The “Shhh Smoothie” blends together banana, pineapple, date, coconut, coconut oil acerola, and Coconut Secret enzymes.
City Greens, with locations at 909 Poydras St. in New Orleans and 5161 Citrus Blvd. in Elmwood, is the perfect place for customers in need of a quick, healthy bite. From 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., patrons can check out the seasonal menus of vegetarian, vegan, and paleo options for $10 and under. City Greens has a strict policy of avoiding pesticides and fertilizers, so the establishment makes it simple by growing its own vegetables at a hydroponic farm. The “Beet Street” salad features roasted beets, carrots, goat cheese, honey-roasted walnuts, mixed greens, romaine, and citrus vinaigrette. City Greens’s impressive dressing list includes spicy Thai peanut sauce, pineapple BBQ sauce, Dijon aioli, and lemon-basil vinaigrette.
Functioning inside of Swan River Yoga at 2940 Canal St., the Good Karma Café emits its positive vibrations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Sunday. Selling “plant-based cuisine and coffee,” the colorful restaurant within the former Canal Branch Public Library serves breakfast, entrees, salads, sandwiches, and wraps, along with juices, smoothies, coffee, and tea—all 100 percent vegan. During its three years in business, the café has strived to keep its food organic, local, and fair-trade, investing in Orleans Coffee and buying from city bakeries. The team at Good Karma Café produces its almond milk and chai in-house. The Malaysian Curry Bowl follows the owner’s mother’s traditional recipe and consists of seasonal vegetables, soy protein, basmati or brown rice, peanuts, and a lemongrass and ginger coconut sauce.
For almost five years, the Sneaky Pickle has nestled itself into the Lower Ninth Ward within a renovated house at 4017 St. Claude Ave. Every day from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., its loyal clientele either sit inside or in the courtyard and munch on vegan, vegetarian, and non-vegetarian food, which rotate onto the menu according to the season. Owner Ben Tabor doubles as the chef. He is an adamant supporter of investing in local, fresh ingredients. When he decides to buy meat, Tabor will butcher the livestock himself, avoiding waste by utilizing every part of the animal's body. Every item offered at the Sneaky Pickle is priced at $10 or less, including the acclaimed vegan chocolate chip cookies. The sushi bowl entrée includes the day’s raw vegetables, furikake, fried legumes, fried garlic, pickled ginger, and sriracha aioli.
Located at 1000 Girod St., The Daily Beet is a Downtown juice bar focused on human connectivity through healthy living and healthy eating. For almost a year, the establishment has aimed to cater to the needs of its clientele through its breakfast options, bowls, salads, and smoothies. The economical menu keeps items priced at $12 and under. Crowd favorites include the Skinny Green smoothie—a kale, spinach, pineapple, mango, and banana blend—and the PB&J smoothie, which combines blueberries, strawberries, banana, peanut butter, and raw agave.
Offering vegan, vegetarian, and non-vegetarian variations, Carmo Tropical Café and Bar maintains a busy atmosphere at its 527 Julia St. location, open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Influenced by countries from Puerto Rico and Cuba to Sri Lanka and Singapore, the establishment aspires to expose its guests to the different flavors of the world, valuing, above all else, authenticity and education through food. Since Carmo’s founding seven years ago, it has been heavily rooted in the Slow Food and Slow Fish movements. With the city’s largest selection of artisanal cachaças, the restaurant has not only traditional cocktails, but also a wide variety of fruit juices, like cacao, passionfruit, and graviola. The Tiradito Avocado appetizer features thinly sliced avocado, topped with yellow chili peppers, yuzu sauce, and cancha.
Every day except Sunday, the Green Fork caters to the local community as a hole-in-the-wall juice bar on “Conscious Corner”—a pet name by owner Stephanie Kern for the 1400 Prytania St. location. Voted by Condé Nast Traveler magazine as the #8 juice bar in the country, the establishment of eight years had its humble beginnings in Kern’s house as a catering project. Today, the shop sells $9 juices and smoothies, along with custom cleanses, tonics, elixirs, and detoxes. The Green Fork fridge is also stocked with fresh salads, lentil burgers, yogurts, and puddings. The Patience smoothie includes a special “Love” juice, with spinach, spirulina, bee pollen, hemp protein, and a choice of fruit.
Functioning according to its motto of “Garden-Based + NOLA Taste,” Seed at 1330 Prytania St. is a quiet and comfortable eatery, dedicated to the vegan and organic lifestyles. The restaurant’s vision is one of “healthy nourishment.” From 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., customers can expect cocktails, sweets, starters, soups, salads, entrees, and even brunch on weekends. Seed guarantees to quench the thirst from the New Orleans heat with its fair-trade coffee and tea, along with its organic juices and Oogave colas. Owner Edgar Cooper was a rookie in the restaurant industry when he first opened Seed’s doors in 2014. However, with his passionate staff, vegan chef, and a carefully crafted menu, reflective of both his travels and the city’s culture, Cooper has succeeded over the past four years in turning his dream into a foodie reality. The raw vegetable spaghetti is a dish served cold, consisting of spiralized vegetable noodles, coconut, shredded spinach, and puttanesca sauce.
Inconspicuously tucked into a French Quarter alleyway for almost 10 years, the Green Goddess at 307 Exchange Pl. operates as an alternative to typical New Orleans restaurants. Serving lunch, dinner, and cocktails, the artsy restaurant imports cheeses from around the world, specializing in raclette. The enthusiastic staff works Wednesdays through Sundays to provide a warm and comfortable environment with unique cuisine, squeezing juices in-house and cooking meals in a shared space. The local lemongrass tofu po-boy has grilled tofu, sesame carrot and mirliton slaw, fresh greens, napa slaw, and sweet soy sauce.
An up-and-comer in the plant-based food scene, Max Well New Orleans opened in December 2017 at 6101 Magazine St. Maintaining a cheery ambiance, the vibrant and open space has attracted a neighborhood crowd of vegans and non-vegans alike. The restaurant is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and owner Maxwell Eaton and his staff are currently experimenting with the brand-new menu. Customers can sip fresh-pressed juices or munch on five-seed crackers while admiring the eatery’s details, like its floppy disk coasters and pink Himalayan salt shakers. So far, the “Po’Bowl” has stolen the show at Max Well New Orleans; it consists of the chef’s choice of proteins and greens.
For those enthusiastic about the developing vegan scene in New Orleans, keep an eye out for the Church Lady Café at the Church of Yoga on 1480 North Rocheblave St. Owner Dana Trixie Flynn is excited to bring her “fun, fresh, healthy grub” to the 7th Ward, envisioning open mic nights with local musical acts. Patrons will be able to enjoy “cosmic bagels” and baked sweet potato fries in a community space where diversity is not only welcomed, but encouraged.