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New Orleans

crawfish boil new orleans cookingNew Orleans' famous cuisine draws on the city's Creole and Cajun influences. Strictly speaking, "Creole" describes descendants of the early French colonists who were born in the New World. The Creoles of New Orleans considered themselves French, and for a long time refused to learn English or associate with those who did.

Cajuns were also French, but they were country folk who had migrated down from Nova Scotia after being expelled by the British. They lived among the bayous and swamps; kept their own French patois, spirited music and dance; and have long maintained their signature spicy cuisine. Both influences are obvious in the delectable local cuisine, French in style but with an added tang of Cajun spice.

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, the Acme Oyster House offers fabulous oyster po'boys in a casual atmosphere. A po'boy, one of the staples of Louisiana cuisine, is a French baguette filled with meat or seafood. The historic Oyster House has been serving locals and visitors alike since 1910.

The century-old Galatoire's serves classic New Orleans cuisine in a location that's become a Bourbon Street institution. The restaurant has modified its once-strict policy to allow reservations (in past decades, the line to get in would stretch all the way down Bourbon Street). Galatoire's traditional menu has changed little since the restaurant first opened in 1905.

Don't miss a stop at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter for cafe au lait and beignets (fried dough covered with powdered sugar) -- a great snack to break up a long day of sightseeing. Go during odd hours (between lunch and dinner, or very early in the morning), to avoid the incredibly long lines that snake out the entrance to the cafe.

Though Zea is a chain eatery, it's got a lively atmosphere and fantastic menu -- the roast chicken is outstanding. It's a great family place -- and you can take the St. Charles streetcar from downtown.

Sophisticated Court of Two Sisters offers a jazz buffet brunch with a wide array of local favorites -- like jambalaya, turtle soup and crawfish -- enjoyed to the music of a jazz trio. Classic Creole dinners are served in the evenings.

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