New Orleans has no shortage of culinary traditions: French, Creole, and Cajun food, of course, plus newer arrivals like Italian, Honduran, Vietnamese, and Greek cuisines. But sometimes, the city’s transplants and tourists from around the United States want a little taste of home.
Here’s where to find some local dishes with origins from around the country without having to buy a plane ticket.
New York Pizza
Some New Yorkers swear it’s impossible to find good pizza outside of the New York metropolitan area—that the water, or the air, or just the necessary expertise doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country. But Pizza Delicious (617 Piety St.) has helped prove many of them wrong. The Bywater slice-and-pie shop delivers a variety of toppings, from classics like mushrooms and anchovies to new innovations like vegan cheese and sriracha pineapple, as well as a range of other Italian food items. Beer by the pint, can, or pitcher—including Brooklyn Lager—is also available for dining in at very reasonable prices, to the delight of local residents as well as tourists staying in the neighborhood’s many Airbnb rentals.
New York isn’t the only city in America with its own pizza tradition. Chicago’s famed deep-dish pizzas are beloved by visitors to the Windy City and are a nostalgic comfort food for people who’ve spent time there. They’re also available in New Orleans, thanks to Midway Pizza (4725 Freret St.). The restaurant offers pies with New Orleans toppings like Gulf shrimp and Chisesi brand ham, or with standards like pepperoni and sausage. Midway is a hit with families visiting for lunch or dinner, and with revelers on their way to enjoy Freret Street’s nightlife.
Experts say it’s unclear whether these toasted ham-and-pork sandwiches actually originated in Cuba or Florida. But either way, they’ve became a staple in Miami and other Sunshine State cities that can be hard to find elsewhere in the country. In the French Quarter, they can be had at El Libre (508 Dumaine St.), a somewhat kitschy cafe that also serves other sandwiches and Cuban-inspired entrees underneath portraits of Ernest Hemingway. Classic rum and coffee drinks are also available, as are avocado-and-Swiss variations on the classic Cuban sandwich.
These pastries filled with meats or sweets are best known in Texas, where they trace their heritage to Czech immigrants, but they can be few and far between even in neighboring states. They are, however, available at The Station (4400 Bienville St.). The Mid-City coffee shop serves kolaches with a rotating variety of fillings, along with sweet pastries and pressed sandwiches. A one-time gas station, the cafe offers indoor and outdoor seating, and is handy for business meetings, work, or study.
Until recently, visitors to New Orleans were sometimes confused why a city firmly in the American South didn’t have more of a barbecue presence. And while, traditionally, other food items have taken center stage, a number of Southern-style barbecue spots have sprouted up in recent years. Perhaps one of the most quintessential is Frey Smoked Meat Co. (4141 Bienville St.). Like many of the region’s finest barbecue restaurants, it’s just a bit difficult to find, nestled behind Winn-Dixie and Office Depot, but its pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and ribs are hard to beat. Burgers and other sandwiches are also available, plus a good assortment of beer, whiskey, and cocktails.
Fry and Pie (2239 St. Claude Ave.), located in the rear of Hi-Ho Lounge, has a menu that varies from day to day, and some purists may argue that not all of their offerings meet the technical definition of poutine. But at least some of the French fry-based dishes include the signature cheese curds and gravy of the Canadian dish, also popular in the frigid Midwestern states in the U.S. In addition to savory fry and protein platters, the restaurant also offers a rotating assortment of sweet, personal-sized pies. The food is available in an outdoor seating area behind the bar and venue, or from a to-go window facing Marigny Street.
Philly Cheese Steaks
Do Philadelphians away from home actually long for cheese steaks? Perhaps no more than anyone else—some say the sandwiches are really more for tourists and visiting politicians. But anyone in the mood for one in New Orleans can satisfy their craving at Liberty Cheesesteaks (5041 Freret St). The restaurant’s logo features both the cracked Liberty Bell and a fleur-de-lis, so it’s no surprise that they offer a chicken steak sandwich with Cajun seasonings. But the traditional beef-and-cheese-sauce sandwich is there, too, for cheese steak purists.
American Chinese Food
New Orleans has its own Asian-influenced culinary traditions, from pho to ya-ka-mein, but plenty of visitors and residents still sometimes get a craving for the Americanized Chinese food that is especially prevalent up and down the East Coast. There are a few places serving it in the city, but among the best is Hunan Wok (2201 St. Bernard Ave.). The Seventh Ward storefront offers take-out and dine-in versions of shrimp fried rice, sweet-and-sour pork, sesame chicken, and the other staples of the cuisine to a crowd that matches the eclectic mix of people who spend time in the neighborhood. Fortune cookies are, of course, included.