Don’t think for a second that you can’t live it up like the locals in The Big Easy. We asked GF cookbook author and NOLA native Jilly Lagasse (who has celiac disease) to show how easy it is to sidestep the po’boys, beignets, and étouffée and still get an authentic taste of one of America’s most colorful cities—including at her Food Network—star dad’s restaurant, Emeril’s. All you need now is an airline ticket and some beads.
While none of the following restaurants is 100 percent gluten-free, they are well-versed in accommodating GF and other special diets.
Proof that New Orleans has one of the nation’s biggest Vietnamese expat communities and some of the best Vietnamese cuisine, this restaurant, located ten minutes outside of town in the Westbank city of Gretna, is nothing fancy, but the food is outstanding. Must-tries: Spring rolls and egg rolls (fried in a separate fryer!), pho, and their insane, addicting fried lemongrass and chile tofu bun bowl. No website; 1705 Lafayette Street, Gretna.
Located on the edge of the up-and-coming South Market District near the Superdome, chef Brian Landry’s coastal Louisiana restaurant features some of the best gluten-free choices in the city. Expect inspired GF desserts, too, thanks to chef Kelly Fields. Must-tries: GF fried chicken or grilled peaches with arugula, pumpkin-seed pesto, and whipped Mahón cheese. borgnerestaurant.com
Its almost creepy entrance down a small, secret alleyway makes this French Quarter spot one of those “if you don’t know about it, you don’t know about it” places. With historic environs, a courtyard, a menu of American classics, and a bar that feels like a European time warp, Sylvain embodies everything I love about New Orleans. Must-tries: Shaved brussels sprouts salad or braised beef cheeks with potato puree, sweet onions, field peas, and jus. sylvainnola.com
Bacchanal Another favorite if-you-know-you-know destination, this Bywater oasis is a “Mediterranean minimalist” wine bar with spectacular GF-friendly snacks thanks to chef Joaquin Rodas. You can buy wine from the wine store downstairs and enjoy it outside with live music every night. What more could you want? Must-tries: Staff-selected bottle of wine and nibbles like bacon-wrapped dates, marinated olives, grilled halloumi, the shishito peppers, or the cheese plate (sans bread). bacchanalwine.com
My family’s first restaurant and truly the place I was raised, our flagship Warehouse District dining room treats everyone like family, and the energy is always as vibrant as its contemporary New Orleans cuisine. Our staff is also very knowledgeable about catering to food allergies. Must-try: Peanut butter pie. emerilsrestaurants.com
This ever-buzzing restaurant in downtown’s Roosevelt hotel is where James Beard Award—winning chef Alon Shaya honed his craft under famed local restaurateur John Besh. Now that he’s opened Pizza Domenica and Shaya, also with Besh, it’s hard to choose just one of his places to recommend, but Domenica is always one of my first stops. Must-tries: Octopus carpaccio, wood-fire-roasted cauliflower with whipped feta cheese mousse. domenicarestaurant.com
Very GF-friendly with one of the prettiest bars in the city, exquisite locally sourced New American food by chef Michael Stoltzfus, and some of the best desserts I have ever had, this upscale Uptown gem is the place to go for a special dining experience. Must-tries: Five-course blind tasting and wine pairing or cornmeal fried oysters, charred okra, or red snapper with roasted garlic. coquettenola.com
No, the po’boys aren’t gluten-free, but the red beans and rice and jambalaya are at this culinary landmark. Expect counter service, old-school environs, and a line to get in. Must-tries: Red beans and rice or the jambalaya platter—minus the French bread they will otherwise pile on top. johnnyspoboys.com
For a real cheap-eats treat, my friends and I absolutely love going to this little, off-the-beaten-track, by-the-road taco shack ten minutes outside of the city. It looks gritty, but the food is legit, totally GF, and incredible! Must-tries: Pork (pastor) tacos and the pupusas. No website; 46 Westbank Expressway, Gretna.