There’s a saying in New Orleans that you “Soak ya beans on Sunday, soak ya wash on Monday.” Back in the day the custom was simple: bones from the ham served at Sunday supper were saved and then used to flavor red kidney beans as they were slow-cooked in a large pot with the “trinity” (diced bell pepper, onion, and celery), spices, and some diced, smoked ham and/or sausage. While the pot of beans simmered away on the stove for a few hours, women could then tend to the wash.
Though the idea of only washing clothes on Monday (and only women washing them) is antiquated, New Orleans still remains very faithful to the custom of starting the work week with a big plate of red beans and rice. Not only are they a nutritious, freezer-friendly, and economical meal to prepare, red beans are perfect for feeding a crowd. Here are some of our favorites places where you can find this classic New Orleans dish, and not just on Mondays.
Where to Find Red Beans and Rice in New Orleans
Okay, so technically you can get red beans and rice any day at this downtown institution famous for their baked ham, po-boys, and all day breakfast. But for the same price on Mondays in addition to the plate of red beans with choice of meat (ham, roast beef, turkey, or sausage), you also get two sides, such as grits, french fries, or turnip greens for $13. 401 Poydras St.
Leave it up to the soul food kitchen ninjas of New Orleans to give us the choice of red beans and rice with smoked sausage or crunchy, juicy, boneless fried chicken. This is the city where dreams come true: $8 for beans and a salad, $9 for added sausage, $10 for added grilled or fried chicken and $13 for grilled or fried catfish. 1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
If you like good old fashion comfort food in a comfortable setting, come with us. You can’t beat the all you can eat Red Beans & Rice with fried chicken for $10.95, which is what you’ll find at this neighborhood Creole eatery during carnival season on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Check their Facebook page for regular updates.
Their award-winning fried chicken might get the most press, but Willie Mae’s red beans and cornbread muffins are another reason to make the trip to the Treme. Red or white beans are served as a substantial side for just $6.50. 2401 St. Ann St. and 7457 St. Charles Ave.
The Praline Connection
Located on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny, this restaurant actually began as a home delivery service. You’ll fall in love with their pralines, gumbos, and of course, their red beans and rice at an unbeatable $7.95 542 Frenchman St.
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
One of the best lunch buffets in town where you can fill up on red beans and rice with hot sausage Tuesday-Thursday and lima beans with shrimp on Fridays (because Catholicism). Save room for peach cobbler or praline pudding for dessert. 2301 Orleans Ave.
Featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” Joey K’s is the Garden District’s neighborhood eatery known for serving comfort food staples like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, fried catfish on Fridays, and some of the best red beans and rice with smoked sausage you’ll find in the city. Regulars get them with a fried pork chop on the side, and they’re always served up with a basket of French bread and butter for $9.95. 3001 Magazine St.
In the world of drive-thrus, there’s fast food and then there’s Popeyes. Mardi Gras and Saints football parties would be a lot less fun without a big box of Popeye’s fried chicken and a few sides of their red beans with seasoned rice. Much smoother than traditional versions, Popeye’s red beans and rice appeal to just about everyone who has ever lived. Various locations.
A great casual spot in the French Quarter where you can always find red beans on the menu. Theirs comes with grilled andouille sausage, collard greens, and cornbread for $14. Wash it all down with one of their signature Pimm’s Cup or Peach Bellini frozen daiquiris. 219 N. Peters St.
Lagniappe: Ya mama’s house
If you ask a local who has the best red beans and rice in the city, chances are they’ll tell you that either they, their mama, daddy, grandma, auntie, husband, or wife’s version reigns supreme. There’s something so special about homemade red beans, served steaming hot straight from the pot and eaten amongst family and friends. So if someone invites you over for red beans, quickly accept. They won’t cost you anything, but always offer to do the dishes. Or you can even try your hand at making this NOLA dish at home!