Last week was the third time in the last year I’ve gone to New Orleans for work. It is extremely hard to find anything gluten free in the Big Easy, and there are very few resources/reviews out there, so I thought I’d share some tips that I picked up from my travels.
1. Fried seafood is your worst enemy
I love all varieties of seafood, so you would think the New Orleans, being a port city and all, would be a great eating destination. Wrong. I’d guess about 95% of all of the seafood here is fried, or on a bun. Would I like to sink my teeth into a shrimp Po Boy? Sure, of course I would. But I can’t. Would I like some seafood gumbo? You betcha I would! But, virtually all of it starts with a roux base, and any time I’ve asked if that was the case the waiters look at me very strangely, so I’ve started just avoiding all of the soups/gumbos/jambalayas.
But – there is one restaurant I found in New Orleans that saves me everytime I’ve gone there. The Original French Market Restaurant on Decatur. The first time I went I was with a college friend – but once I had these barbeque shrimp I was hooked! The next time I went I had it THREE TIMES. Sadly, I didn’t make it down there this time, but I regret it every day that passes.
I know the quality of this image stinks, but I promise they are amazing! If you can get over the whole ripping-their-heads and shells off-thing, then you are in for a treat! The barbeque sauce is gluten free (I asked a lot of questions), and once you get down to the shrimp they are so fresh and moist and succulent you can’t stop eating. It’s super messy, but worth the effort. It comes with a side of potatoes and vegetables, but I had a suspicion that they were cooked in some sort of sausage/meat grease so I passed on those.
2. If you have the money, spend it! (But not at Emeril’s restaurant)
On this trip, I was so busy that I didn’t get back from work until about 8pm (9pm my time). I was crabby, tired, and hungry from a day of eating protein bars and fruit. Luckily I have a group of work chums who are almost always in the mood for going out and trying new places. So, Tuesday night we went to GW Fins on Bienville in the French Quarter. At first I was a bit apprehensive to suggest this restaurant because it’s a bit pricier than the average spot around the quarter – but I knew that I could eat here, so I went ahead and suggested it to the group. They obliged, and it was a meal to remember!
I was out with the co-founder of our organization, so I decided to leave the camera at home. Apologies, apologies. (There are some good food pics on the Yelp site, however).
The menu here changes daily, so I can’t promise what they’ll have when you go. I got the butterfish with sweet potato hash and fresh corn. It was AMAZING. I didn’t know what butterfish was, but I figured butter + fish can’t be bad. To me it tasted like a creamy halibut steak. I liked the dish so much that I attempted to recreate it at home (semi-successful, and I did manage to take some pictures for an upcoming post).
808 Bienville Street
Why not to go to Emeril’s restaurant NOLA: there’s literally nothing that I could eat except for a caesar salad (no croutons) and soup. Plus you’ll want to shoot yourself when you see the biscuits that your dining partners get (although the people I went with didn’t seem all that impressed either).
Another place not to go if you’re hungry and want actual food = Acme Oyster House. The only thing I could eat there were the oysters, and while I’m sure they were delicious, I didn’t feel like having oysters and a vodka drink on an empty stomach was the smartest thing to do. I did get a delicious sweet tea and vodka drink
3. Pralines are gluten free!
Southern Candymakers is the BEST spot for pralines in New Orleans, as far as I’m concerned. They have a ton of flavors, and they’re always making them fresh. My favorites are peanut butter and creamy (but I’ve also tried the coconut, rum, original, and chocolate varieties, and all are great …don’t judge). So, if you can’t find anything to eat, you can always grab some pralines and let the sugar carry you through the day!
So, I hope this run down was helpful. I’d still advise you to bring some Kind bars and fruit with you at all times so you don’t faint. Next time, I’m going to the Columns Hotel for sure. I drove by it about six times, and would like to spend some time on the porch, drinking sweet tea with mint: