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Food & Drink

Eat Like It’s Jazz Fest All Year Long

If you’re craving kettle corn, funnel cakes, and other carnival staples, you came to the wrong place.

Jazz Fest has a de facto “no carnival food” policy, instead encouraging culinary creativity, signature New Orleans flavors, and crave-able dishes that festival goers seek year after year. The meltingly tender pork of a cochon de lait po-boy (see hyperlapse video below) is worth the lengthy line; so, too, is the snowball from Plum Street, a feat of texture and flavor where finely shaved ice meets house-made cane sugar syrup. Crawfish bisque, iced café au lait, cannolis, Yakamein – everybody has their Jazz Fest favorites, and, mercifully, you can find many of these treats year-round.

Who’s ready for seconds?

Jazz Fest Food You Can Eat Year-Round

Beignets and Café Au LaitCafé du Monde serves pillow-y beignets and iced or hot café au lait at Jazz Fest, but you can also find them 24 hours a day 364 days a year (all but Christmas) in the French Market. Just remember it’s cash-only. Other locations, like the one at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, accept credit cards.

beignets cafe au lait
Beignets and an iced cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Crawfish Bisque, Creole File Gumbo, and Trout Baquet – Find these rich and savory dishes at Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe, a family-owned restaurant in the historic neighborhood of Treme. The trout (named after owner Wayne Baquet) is particularly indicative of the Creole soul food you’ll find at Dizzy’s: firm, fresh trout swims in a sauce of butter, garlic, crabmeat, and lemon juice.

Snowballs – Plenty of places offer snowballs in the city, but the Jazz Fest version comes from Plum Street Snoball. Orchid cream vanilla is an exotic choice, or you can keep it simple with fruit flavors like peach, strawberry, and (of course) plum.

Plum Street snowball
A snowball from Plum Street Snoball. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Crispy Wings and Fried Okra – If crunchy is your craving, these two Southern-style dishes will absolutely satisfy. Order them year-round at The Praline Connection, a name that belies the restaurant’s penchant for savory dishes like crowder peas and okra, collard greens, and grilled chicken livers with pepper jelly (also all available at Jazz Fest).

Barbecue Sandwich – Squeal Bar-B-Q serves chicken and brisket varieties of its popular barbecue sandwich not only at Jazz Fest but also at its outpost on Oak Street. The Oak Street location is temptingly close to the Maple Leaf Bar – head there for live music after polishing off your sandwich.

Cochon de Lait Po-Boy – Another barbecue restaurant, Walker’s BBQ, serves up iconic cochon de lait po-boys at its lakefront location in New Orleans East when they’re not feeding hungry festival-goers at the fairgrounds. Two things of note: they’re closed during Jazz Fest to manage the demands of festival season, and they’re cash-only.

Cannolis – Angelo Brocato Gelateria sweetens festival season (and any time of year, really) with treats like strawberry ice, lemon ice, gelato, and Italian desserts like cannolis. Find them at Jazz Fest or within the pastel-pink parlor setting of its Carrolton Avenue location, an institution since 1905.

Yakamein from chef Linda Green. (Photo: Sara Watson)

Yakamein – Linda Green has two other nicknames: call her Ms. Linda or, better yet, simply call her the Yakamein Lady. Find her signature dish – a hearty stew of noodles, beef, boiled egg, and scallions – at Roux Carre, a new food venue opening on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard (and save room for her sinful bread pudding).

Gyro, Falafel, and Hummus – Mona’s Café & Deli, a local BYOB chain with several locations around the city, sates Middle Eastern cravings at Jazz Fest and throughout the year. The Mid-City and Frenchmen Street locations feature international markets worthy of a dedicated journey.

Poulet Fisassee – OK, it’s also known as chicken on a stick, but Bennachin‘s name is decidedly fancier. This restaurant in the French Quarter focuses on West African dishes, particularly those popular in Cameroon and Gambia. While there, order the coconut rice and homemade ginger drink for fragrant additions to your chicken on a stick poulet fisassee.

Roman Chewing Candy – The Roman Candy Company keeps its flavors delightfully simple: chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla are the only taffy varieties you’ll find. A nostalgic delivery method (via mule-drawn wagon along St. Charles Avenue) will have you craving the stuff well beyond Jazz Fest.

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