Vegan and/or Vegetarian Dining in New Orleans

Okay, so here's something I want to make clear from the start: despite all that talk about New Orleans being kind of its own thing--what with Cajun influences, a unique local accent, and a very devoted culture--it's still the South. Yes, there's a few more sauces and some crazy shit going on with seafood. Yes, there's a rich local history, including culinary scenes like Antoine's, but--I cannot emphasize this enough--it's the South.

This means, in a nutshell, it is not a great place to be vegetarian. It is probably a lousy place to be a vegan.

The French Quarter in particular--if you're looking forward to trying some local cuisine, hit up the Cafe du Monde 50 billion times. I didn't want to spend my whole trip there on Magazine Street, so I went with my usual coward policy.

I asked no questions.

We went one night to the Pierre Masperoux Cafe (I think I'm remembering this right, I probably have a photo somewhere). The only thing on the menu that was a) within my fairly cheap budget plan (the food is shockingly pricey, for the record, and there's a pretty high tax on things, too) and b) vegetarian-looking was a French onion soup. Which came with a spectacular crust of cheeeeeeeese on it, so you know definitely not vegan. Also, I did not ask about the use of chicken stock. (Please understand, it was 8.30 pm, the restaurant we had meant to go to had kept us waiting for a whole half hour without any kind of service. Also I wanted to try some goddamn Cajun food, which as it happens is salty and not all that creative about spices.)

Anyway, the gist of the story is that, unless you find this fabulous breakfast-food place somewhere around Chartres and Iberville, and you happen to eat eggs, the French Quarter is kind of disappointing. Veggie options are bland.

It is possible you'll find better dining options down Decatur St, heading towards Frenchmen St (and Esplanade, which is a gorgeous walk for at least a mile but continues all the way to the city park, which I highly recommend). That's where we saw them jobless filthy hippies, not to mention a wider range of cafes that reminded me of the hippietastic Belmont neighborhood, so go ahead and try those.


My first day there, we went to this place called Surrey's Cafe where I had the most incredible vegan sandwich ever. We're talking plantains, sunflower seeds, homemade rosemary foccaccia bread, pineapple-coconut spread, and a number of more mundane but also tasty ingredients. That night we also tried this burrito place, and while I got mine with dairy, they actually had the dairy-free option up on their menu.

So, anyway. If you're looking for good food--not necessarily Cajun--try Magazine Street. It's got a good section that's more hippieish (like, small but not high-end restaurants...jeez, just come to Boystown Chicago--that's North Halsted St.--and you'll get what I mean).

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