I knew I would like New Orleans, but it exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to go back.
The music, architecture, history, balmy fall weather, the FOOD. Of course, it’s not a city known for healthy-ish options. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any! Someone in our group had Celiac Disease, so we sought out allergen friendly restaurants and compiled a good lineup.
Below you’ll find some of my favorite New Orleans restaurants, shops and activities. I’ve also added recommendations that people sent via Instagram.
I hope this helps you plan your visit. Have you been to NOLA? Let me know in the comments what else I can add to the list!
FOOD & DRINK
Pêche $$$ - Seafood with influences from South America, Spain, and the Gulf Coast. The chefs work with local fishermen and farmers to offer sustainably caught fish (yes!) and were recently honored with two James Beard awards. The staff was so accommodating in pointing out allergen friendly dishes or substitutions. The menu changes often, but I loved the gluten free (GF) + dairy free (DF) dome fish with a coconut ginger broth.
Cochon $$ - Another favorite from chef Donald Link! Don’t miss this restaurant for seriously delicious cajun food using locally sourced pork, produce, and seafood from over 30 farms. As their name suggests there are a lot of pork dishes, but be sure to order a bunch of small plates. We loved the ribs with watermelon pickle, wood-fired oysters, and fried livers with pepper jelly. Our server was super helpful in pointing out GF options.
Bacchanal Wine $$ - Friends and locals raved about this wine shop/music venue, and for good reason. You enter through the wine shop, select your bottle(s), cheese, and cured meats. Leave your picks with the staff (we went for goat and sheep cheeses). They add your selections to a board with bread, pickled things, jam, and olives (my enemy) while you find a table outside. There’s good live music every night AND you can order small plates in the courtyard. Confit. Chicken. Leg. So good!
Gallier’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar $ - Casual place with a fantastic happy hour ($9 for a dozen of our FAVORITE fresh, sweet oysters) and good gumbo. The bartenders were a riot and made some of the best cocktails we had during our trip. Sit at the bar!
Willa Jean $ - Come here for southern food with fresh ingredients. This bakery/restaurant serves a mean breakfast (they also do lunch and dinner) with amazing pastries and coffee or tea. You can definitely find allergen friendly dishes, but if you want a treat go for the Biscuit Station or their incredible chocolate chip cookies - they’re made with Valrhona chocolate chunks and topped with sea salt. Perfect.
Merchant $$ - A beautiful creperie perfect for a quick breakfast or lunch. They offer GF buckwheat crepes, veggie heavy bowls and salads. The coffee + tea menu was extensive and a bunch of alternative milks (try: macadamia milk matcha latte).
The Crepe Cart $ - We were surprised to find this gem in the middle of French Market! They make sweet and savory crepes with vegan and GF options (that are cooked on a separate griddle). We highly recommend the chicken, goat cheese, pesto. Sauces are available vegan as well.
Luke $$ - This Creole-inspired brasserie has a great happy hour! Stop in for their raw bar after wandering the French Quarter. We split jumbo shrimp and their Salad Luke - packed with fresh vegetables and topped with a horseradish vinaigrette.
Josephine Estelle $$ - Italian food isn’t top of mind in NOLA, but this restaurant located in the ACE Hotel is worth a stop for GF pasta and desserts. Afterward wander through the lobby to the photo booth and finish at Stumptown for the best coffee. (I know there are locations on the West Coast, too. We always grab a bag of beans and savor it).
Cavan $$ - A charming restaurant inside an old mansion. We tried a couple of drinks and duck dishes on the happy hour menu, and stayed for dinner. The steak with spiced apple jam and beet + goat cheese gratin was so good!
Toast $ - A friendly French neighborhood breakfast spot featuring omelettes, ratatouille, crepes, and more. The staff and regulars make for a pleasant morning.
Domenica $$ - Another Italian restaurant slid into the mix. But hold on - their house made gluten free pasta was amazing! Try the rabbit tagliatelle and check out the desserts (there were several dairy free and/or GF options).
Basin Seafood & Spirits $$ - Another spot with a good happy hour! $5 house wine and $5 food options. The oysters were some of the biggest we’ve had.Venture off the happy hour menu to try the tuna sandwich and (not healthy) crab and crawfish beignets.
Lilly’s Cafe $ - Stop in after wandering Magazine Street for some delicious Vietnamese food.
After you’re done exploring the French Quarter and Jackson Square consider these for your itinerary:
Longue Vue House - A stunning estate turned public museum with beautiful gardens. Guided tours of the home are offered at the top of the hour.
Two Chicks Walking Tours - No shame in indulging in some touristy activities. Skip the larger, expensive tours for this group that presents everything from a walk through the dreamy Garden District, famous cemeteries, to ghost tours.
Mother in Law Lounge - Jazz legend Kermit Ruffins’ neighborhood bar off the beaten path. There’s incredible music all over NOLA, but this was a major highlight - try to catch Kermit when he plays on Monday. Get there early for the food!
New Orleans Museum of Art - Perfect for a rainy day! Their permanent collection contains over 40,000 pieces, with an emphasis on French and American art, photography, and sculptures.
Frenchmen Street - Skip Bourbon Street and wander here instead!
Sunday Shop - You’ll want to move into this gorgeous store. Pop in to swoon over the home accessories and artwork and wander to the back of the shop to find Byredo fragrances and Aesop products. Staying awhile? Grab fresh flowers by the stem or bundle.
Paint’d - Make an appointment online and step up to their bar for a glass of wine while you pick out a manicure design from their lookbook! The staff is so friendly and Mariah Carey radio was on during my appointment. Win.
Saint Claude Social Club - Inspired by women’s groups throughout history they carry unique art, vintage clothes, and jewelry from artists all over the world. I went back for a pair of silver claw earrings I couldn’t get out of my head.
Defend New Orleans - For men's apparel, souvenirs and local art that aren’t cheesy.
We didn't get to most of these places + activities, but perhaps they'll make your itinerary:
Amanda at The Curious Coconut had amazing recommendations:
- Jacques Imo’s Cafe is one of the few gluten free friendly creole restaurants and it is sooooooo good”
- Carmo: Very gluten free friendly. (Our friends loved it!)
- Red Gravy Cafe
- “Bearcat Cafe is an awesome Paleo friendly restaurant”
- “Make it over to Audubon Park - the trees are just breathtaking! There is one that is so huge called The Tree of Life.”
- “Rebirth Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins are worth seeking out if they are playing while you’re there.”
@christianverwys had the best seafood al fresco suggestion: “If you’re looking for a different vibe than dining out, call up Big Fisherman Seafood and order up their crawfish, potatoes, and corn. Grab some newspaper and whatever you’re drinking and head to The Fly near Tulane University. Spread out the paper, dump the foods, and enjoy the sun.”
@anndanger recommended to “...go to Commander’s Palace!! So beautiful and historic - they have jazz brunch on Sundays. It’s also across the street from the historic graveyard.” (Guys, don’t forget your jacket!)