New Orleans is known for its epic food, but when it comes to vegan and vegetarian options, navigating any city’s food options get a little trickier. Finding great vegetarian food in New Orleans takes a little bit of digging. When my brother moved to New Orleans nearly four years ago, I learned that much of the city’s rich history centers on meat-based options. Like many metros, you have to dig to find these options, but New Orleans does have a lot of great vegetarian and vegan food, and I’m here to save you some time. Plus I’m going to tell you about the one place I will never go back to. I’ve been to New Orleans several times, and there is only place I can literally say I wouldn’t even give a second shot … it was that bad.
Some of these places I’ve only had once:
And some I’ve enjoyed so much I’ve already been to them more than once or I’d go back to in a heartbeat:
I’m combining them all for you here, to give you as many ideas and options as possible. Also, be sure to check out these tips from Veggtravel on traveling to New Orleans solo for Mardi Gras.
Before I do, here’s my best tip for finding great vegan and vegetarian food in New Orleans: get out of downtown. There are a few exceptions, but most food I’ve had in the French Quarter I’ve found overpriced and underwhelming. So here we go ….
Vegetarian Food in New Orleans: Restaurants to Hit Up
I didn’t actually eat here yet, but I plan too. They have vegan sausages and the buns are vegan! One day we were walking up and down Magazine Street (lots of great restaurants and independently owned shops), and I’m a huge fan of Mai Tais and Zombies and those kinda drinks. WELL, New Orleans is open container which means you can stroll down the street with a drink in your hand (if you’re curious, technically the law is no glass and some things you’re supposed to carry in a paper bag, but it’s mostly anything goes.) Dat Dog actually had an amazing Zombie, so yeah, stop by there.
Rum House has a bunch of stuff, but the main draw for me is different types of tacos and rice, plus some awesome sides. It’s pretty simple here; if you offer craft tacos and there is MORE THAN ONE non-meat option, I’m pretty happy. It was really good. And again … more magical rum dreams (it’s a weakness). And Caribbean, like honestly, how often is that a thing you get to say, “oh, I’ll just go to the Caribbean restaurant”? That’s the beautiful thing about New Orleans, you can find almost any kind of food almost any time, which is great.
Classic New Orleans
(Cajun and Po’Boys)
We talked about going here several times, and we finally checked it out on my last trip. My brother thought it was Greek, but it literally had everything you could possibly think of, including vegetarian options. They had vegetarian po’boys that were amazing. It’s this dive little cafe that looks so old-school. My chocolate milk was literally just Hershey’s syrup mixed into the milk and there was pie in the cooler.
The funny thing about that was, we were trying to go to this place across the street, The Avenue Pub, because they had these cool vegan options and craft beers and stuff, but we walk in, it was seat yourself, everybody was super snotty and nobody offered to help us. Nobody told us what was going on, or even offered us menus or anything, so we decided to walk out, walked across the street, went to Please-U. They were so friendly and so amazing; it was a great atmosphere, so down-to-earth. I highly, highly recommend it. Who knew one of the best places for vegetarian food in New Orleans would be a quaint, old school diner?
French Quarter Fest
French Quarter Fest is the whole reason that I went down to New Orleans when I did this time. It’s a regional festival with Louisiana musicians from all over the state, and local legends. It’s funny, you hear the music, and you didn’t know you even knew those artists, and it’s a really cool and really fun, huge festival.
As far as the food, they do have vegetarian options and they mark them on all the signs that list the food vendors, and they also have an app that you can download on your phone that tells you where all the vegetarian options at the festival are. I appreciated this so much, ’cause living in the Midwest, living in Omaha, you go to a festival, and essentially, you’re screwed. There’s not really vegetarian food. I mean, fries, nachos without the meat. It’s just not a cool thing. So I really, really appreciated that, like way to go, festival organizers.
This is an epic, old-school, like in a neighborhood, po’ boy shop, and these po’ boys are gigantic! I messed up my order, so here’s a tip, if you order the grilled cheese po’ boy, you have to order it on French bread. Otherwise you just get a regular grilled cheese, and I was all sad. I was like, “What is that? “I thought I was getting a po’ boy!” But you can get one; just order it on the French bread.
So anyway, then my brother went up and ordered me a second sandwich, which was a caprese po’ boy. Holy Mother of God, this thing was a-maze-balls! Now, granted, they’re supposed to have world-famous fries, and I didn’t think the fries were that great, but the sandwiches were so cool, the atmosphere was so chill, and it was just really, really good. I would definitely go there if you get the chance.
This one is probably the only one you’re gonna hear me talk about in the French Quarter. It was so good … the bread was so fresh, and they literally have a vegetarian special of the day. This was quite a while ago, and I wasn’t really watching out for my vegan friends at the time, but I had a beans and rice dish, so I bet they could make it vegan. I was so impressed. Their spices were so good that I actually got spices to bring home, and I use them all the time. I would definitely go back again.
World Famous N’awlins Cafe & Spice Emporium
Okay, so here’s the big one I promised you. The worst, worst, worst, worst meal I’ve ever had in New Orleans. I mean, I didn’t eat it, and I’m pretty obnoxious about food waste. I hate wasting food; I usually finish something even if I don’t think it’s that great. This was nasty. So this place is in the French Quarter. To be more specific, it’s in the French Market, so a little bit outside the French Quarter, and we had always walked by there and I had always been intrigued because they had a sign that said vegetarian vegetarian options, and it has a list of different veg options. It’s counter service and it’s always been slammed every time we’ve gone by there, so we’ve never ended up eating there.
So finally (this was my fifth or sixth trip to Nola) we ended being around at a time when it actually wasn’t busy. I ordered the vegetarian jambalaya and my brother ordered a gator burger … yes, a gator burger. And it was the most disgusting … oh my God, literally, it was rice with frozen vegetables and Cajun seasoning. There was no sauce, no nothing, it was so gross! I couldn’t even, it was so awful. So try it if you want, but I will never eat there again. And that is a rare thing to come out of my mouth, so I would not go there if I was you.
One place my brother always takes me is the Organic Banana. It’s ice cream drinks and smoothies with alcohol (non-alcoholic also available). It’s so good. These aren’t something I drink at home .. I normally stick to wine rum because I’m very conscious about calories and diet on a day-to-day basis. But on vacation it’s like, ice cream drinks! Okay, I only had one this time. I don’t go that crazy. But they’re so good, I just can’t even tell you. Organic Banana for the win.
This is an Indian place we went to in Metairie and it was delicious. Sometimes it’s the little things, and I was really excited about several types of naan. And of course, Indian food is great for vegan and vegetarian options. I believe my brother had goat … he has this dumb thing, where he decides he’s gonna try every kind of animal when we’re together. ‘Cause I’m a vegetarian. Yeah, but anyway, this, oh man, this Indian place was so good.
Reginelli’s had great vegetarian options. I’m not usually a fan of your typical veggie pizza with mushrooms and olives (yes, I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like mushrooms or olives … sue me). They had all these awesome options, for example, I got a pizza with burrata on it. My brother was mad when he realized he could’ve ordered a half and half to try two different kinds, which is what I did. They also have a cauliflower crust pizza for the carb-conscious peeps. They have multiple locations. The vegan options are mostly salads and there’s a hummus sandwich, but according to my brother, if you’re looking for vegan pizza, try Theo’s.
Juan’s Flying Burrito
How would I even describe Juan’s? It’s like Chipotle knocked up four notches. They have tofu options, and they have so many unique options of burritos, so as a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll do just fine there. It’s kind of become a go-to for us. We’ve eaten at one location and ordered take out from another. You can find it almost anywhere in the city, no matter where you’re staying.
The Velvet Cactus is a Mexican restaurant, but it’s also like a funky art joint. Awesome music, amazing food .. . I’ve been there a couple times with my brother and my very favorite thing there is the chipotle cheddar grits. Holy lord, like I could just eat them every day. I mean I’d be 600 pounds, but they are so good! I definitely recommend checking out The Velvet Cactus.
Polish and Russian
This one is the result of a game my brother and I like to play called Let’s Find it in New Orleans. So, we’ll pick a random food, any type of food, and see if we can find it. This time it was Polish food (we are Polish) and we found Siberia, and it was the coolest. It was on St. Claude, and like I said, stay out of the French Quarter; the coolest stuff is in other parts of the city. I actually talked to a coworker about this recently, and she said, “if you rent the bicycles, you can get almost anywhere.” Personally, that’s not really my jam. I’m lucky enough to have my brother driving me around, but if that weren’t the case, I’d probably Uber. It’s so easy now to go explore other areas besides just the French Quarter and Bourbon Street.
But back to Siberia. So, Siberia is a punk bar with a window out of the back that serves Russian and Polish food, and I LOVE pierogies, man do I love them. The food was so good and pretty cheap. Also, the bartender was really cool; he taught my brother how to make a Sazerac, a genuine New Orleans Sazerac. Definitely highly recommend Siberia.
We went to Sukho Thai in uptown, but I know they have other locations in New Orleans. Amazing Thai food, and it was a little bit pricey but it was so worth it, not anything more than you would pay if you were in one of those expensive places downtown. Also, in addition to vegetarian options, they had great vegan options that were clearly marked as vegan on he menu, so that was awesome.
Outside New Orleans (Road Trip)
Cate Street Seafood Station, Hammond, LA
If you’re looking to travel a little bit outside of New Orleans, here’s a day trip for you. I was going on a work assignment in Hammond (about an hour away), and we stopped at a restaurant called Cate Street on the way back. My brother decided “This is the Cheesecake Factory of the South.” They have the type of menu that just has everything, from sushi to pasta to Cajun food and cool martinis and just anything you could possibly want. I had a really good vegetarian pasta there. It’s a great place if you’re looking for variety.
Abita Brewery, Covington, LA
If you’re a beer fan, the Abita Brewery is out there is not too far from Hammond. We went to the Tap Room, which is very cool. There is also a full restaurant, the Brew Pub, but it’s closed on Mondays, so be sure to check ahead on hours. At both locations, you can try lots of varieties of beer you might not be able to find otherwise.
A Little Bit of Everything
My brother and I have this horrible thing where a lot of times we end up not choosing where we wanna eat, and then it’s too late and we’re kinda screwed, or we don’t wanna anywhere or whatever, so we had food delivered a few times, and this one was Monaghan 13. I was shocked. They had two different kinds of tofu sandwiches, multiple vegetarian options that you could veganize; it’s a really good option for those who don’t wanna eat meat. So I have not been to the restaurant itself, but based on delivery, the food was really good. They had some really good tots, so I would definitely check it out, especially if you’re looking for late night food in New Orleans.
One place we went a couple of times was Port Orleans, because my brother plays trivia there, and they actually had great beer flights, but they also had this shishito pepper dish and they had a couple of vegetarian things that you could get. I mean, I wouldn’t go there for a meal, but it’s a good option for appetizers or snacking.
Now this one’s kinda shocking. So the Harrah’s Buffet. We had talked about going to the casino buffet in New Orleans many times when I’d been down there. We ended up gambling a little too much this trip, which we don’t normally do, but my brother’s not drinking right now, so we were like, “Hmm!”, you know? Anyway, and we were like, “Well, we’re here. “Let’s just go to the buffet.”
I was skeptical as all get-out, but they had several vegetarian options; they had a vegetarian soup and they had tofu on the buffet. Pare of why I was honestly shocked is because at the buffets here in the Midwest, you don’t get options like that. You especially don’t find vegetarian options that also fit with being conscious about what you’re eating and trying to lose weight. This buffet was pricey, but it’s gonna be pricey, it’s a casino buffet. It was worth it, though, because they had great vegetarian options.
This one is a little random. It’s basically like a counter service, deli-type corner market. It’s great late night food and they tons of stuff that you can choose from there if you’re vegetarian. They’re open real late (not sure if 24 hours or not) but make sure you have cash on you for this one 🙂