Don’t get me wrong: I love to indulge in rich New Orleans classics like jambalaya, étouffée, gumbo, and beignets. But life is a marathon, not a sprint, so I like to mix in some lighter fare (especially when I’m trying to stay cool during New Orleans’ summers). Here’s where I go for some of my favorite light and refreshing foods.
Carmo is a vegan-friendly tropical café and bar located in the Warehouse District, with influences from the Caribbean, South America, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. When the weather is nice, the windows and doors stay open so you can enjoy the breeze. My favorite dish is the Carmo Salad, which is made with rice, pineapple, avocado, almonds and cashews, raisins, cucumber, green pepper, and smoked ham (real or vegan).
With locations Uptown on Maple Street and in the Bywater on Dauphine Street, Satsuma’s self-proclaimed mission is to “make great food with fresh ingredients in a community-based environment.” My favorite menu items are the cold pressed juices and the hummus veggie wrap made with hummus, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage slaw, and toum.
3. 1,000 Figs
1,000 Figs is right by City Park, so I tend to go there after a bike ride or a visit to the New Orleans Museum of Art. It’s a cozy space, nestled right next to Swirl Wine Bar. I usually order the falafel platter, but I also love the grilled shishito peppers.
4. Tito’s Ceviche & Pisco
To me, there’s no food more refreshing than ceviche, and Tito’s has got its recipe perfected. With four types of ceviche and some pisco sours, you’ll be able to enjoy the warm weather all you want. Tito’s is located Uptown and has outdoor seating for those who enjoy their ceviche al fresco.
5. Paloma Café
Paloma Café is a cute little hideaway in the Bywater, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m partial to the breakfast and tend to opt for the shakshuka (eggs in spicy tomato sauce) or yogurt and granola if I’m in the mood for something cooler.
Seed is a Lower Garden District café that serves vegan comfort food in a bright, airy space. I love its special take on pad thai made with spiralized cucumber and carrot noodles, and Seed’s take on gumbo is a healthy twist on the New Orleans classic.
7. Lilly’s Cafe
Also in the Lower Garden District, Lilly’s is one New Orleans’s most-raved-about Vietnamese restaurants. In addition to classics like pork spring rolls, Lilly’s serves lighter fare, such as tofu pho. Pro tip: the “Lilly’s Rolls” are to-die-for and feature shrimp, viet ham, avocado, and fresh strawberries for a bright finish.
What could be lighter and brighter than bubbles? Effervescence makes a point of pairing the perfect small plates with its beverage offerings. The crispy grilled octopus, West Indies crab salad, and raw oysters are perfect. Or you can just get all of it with the Seafood Plateau.
9. Green Goddess
Green Goddess is a healthy oasis in the heart of the French Quarter in Exchange Alley. The salads are my favorite here. I’m partial to the Beet Burrata Kale salad and the Citrus salad, made up of arugula and local mixed greens tossed with orange juice and olive oil.
10. Meals from the Heart Café
If you’re thinking there probably aren’t any light summer bites in the French Market in New Orleans, think again. You hardly have to take a break from sight-seeing to indulge at this little food stand. Lunch is a great time to try the crab cake salad, which Meals from the Heart is known for, but I love grabbing a delicious fruit salad as a snack while shopping.