New Orleans Cheap Eats: Where the Budget Conscious Traveler Dines
By Kristopher Neild
Palm Beach / West Palm Beach Local Expert
Whether you come to New Orleans with dollars, euros, yuan or bahts, you want to get the best value for every purchase you make. Since you could potentially make 3-5 food purchases per day during your Big Easy stay, overspending on meals can really put a dent in your vacation funds.
The city has a vast number of restaurants to choose from. The list below will help you find places that give the best bang for your buck. A place like Port of Call will give you a steak and loaded baked potato that your body could feed off of for a week. Felipe's Taqueria isn't joking about the "super" in their super burritos.
Just because these places are considered "value" doesn't mean they skimp on ingredients, service or quality. You will find many of the places below in other New Orleans "10 Best" lists on this site. At the establishments below, the portions are bigger, the meals heartier, and the receipts don't need to be saved for expense reports.
When wandering around Bourbon Street and feeling hungry, don't feel the pressure to spend $15 just to calm the ol' belly down. Have a plan and an idea of where around town you can grab a bite that won't have you running to the ATMs.
Mother's has been a New Orleans tradition since the 1940's and it is still creating happy customers today. If you are looking for a hearty breakfast or a "meat and three" for supper and don't mind standing in line, this cafeteria-style eatery is sure to please. And do not miss the po' boys -- natives claim Mother's sells the definitive version of the popular sandwich. Also a winner: the New Orleans style, chicory-flavored coffee. Mother's is located on Poydras in the Central Business District, and is known for attracting heaping amounts of visitors during weekends. Try sneaking your Mother's trip in mid-week to avoid a potential fiasco. (504-523-9656)
9 Liuzza's by the Track
Liuzza's by The Track is a local gem; this has a lot to do with the gumbo. Everyone has differing opinions on how they like their roux, but no one is complaining about the thinner, spicier variety that Liuzza's uses as a base. Their Creole Gumbo is the dish du jour, every day, using a native Louisiana recipe complete with freshly cooked seafood, local sausage, 13 spices and a few secret ingredients. On a hot bayou day, nothing beats pulling up a chair to the counter and slurping down a bowl of gumbo and a cold drink at this hole in the wall joint. ((504) 218-7888)
8 Lebanon's Cafe
Try the stuffed grape leaves or the kabobs at Lebanon's Cafe and you will be transported to the Middle East! The falafel and hummus are also not to be missed. Visit Lebanon's on a nice day and you might be rewarded with a street-side table, where you can watch the pedestrians running to catch the street car. If you are a hearty soul, indulge in the Turkish coffee after your meal. All Lebanon's meals are well portioned, and many lunch options can be had for around $5-$7. Be sure to take advantage of their gratuitous BYOB option to really get after that power lunch. (504-862-6200)
7 Central Grocery
If the muffuletta was the official sandwich of New Orleans, Central Grocery officially makes the best sandwiches in the city! For the uninitiated, a muffuletta is a loaf of bread layered with Italian meats and cheeses and crowned with a chopped olive mixture. Be warned that Central Grocery's sandwiches are huge -- you might need to share with a friend. And if you want to sit down, get your sandwich to go -- there is only a standing-room counter at the Grocery. Central Grocery is on Decatur Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It's a place that tourists tend to flock, so be prepared for a bit of a line if you come at peak times. (504-523-1620)
6 Reginelli's Pizzeria
Reginelli's is a pizza joint with a few spots around town (one in the CBD and the other in Uptown). They offer more than just pies though, with specialty salads, pastas, sandwiches and calzones gracing the menu. They've been a staple college favorite for years and are now fully recognized by the city as having outstanding food at great prices. They always have a great selection of beer on tap, including locally brewed Abita. Midweek pitcher specials can have you and your pals drinking on sofa change. Their locations are super casual, and if you don't feel like eating out, grab to go or have them deliver. (504-895-7272)
5 The Camellia Grill
The Camellia Grill on South Carrollton in Uptown New Orleans is the perfect place for a late night snack to cure the cravings natural or imbibing induced. One of the secrets of this grill/diner is their amazing milk shakes. Camellia fills cups up to the brim with rich shakes in a variety of flavors using real ice cream. Sit up at the counter and enjoy one of these or any of their other scrumptious dessert options, many of which are homemade. Besides sweets, Camellia Grill has excellent omelettes and burgers at affordable prices. The friendly staff adds the perfect touch to complete the experience. ((504) 309-2679)
4 The Milk Bar
The Milk Bar has two great locations in the Uptown and Riverbend areas (one on Pyrtania and the other on S. Carrollton). The counter ordering joint features great sandwiches, salads and shakes, for which they are most known for. Portion-wise, The Milk Bar gives you crazy bang for your buck, especially in terms of the sandwiches. Depending on if you are in a regular or zany mood, you can sample anything from a Roast Beef Po-Boy to a Caddle Fodder sandwich (a creative vegetable infused sandwich). Pair your main course with a delicious bag of local favorite Zapp's chips, and then have the "Moo Krewe" blend you up a shake. The Milk Bar has plenty of indoor seating and does a decent amount of take out business as well. Every order includes a complimentary Chupa Chups creamy lollipop! ((504) 891-9361)
3 Felipe's Taqueria
Felipe's Taqueria has multiple locations, one being in the heart of the French Quarter, and the other close to Tulane. The staple meal of this go-to Mexican food locale is the burrito, which turns into a Super Burrito when cheese is added. Watch the staff slice and dice your meat selection (carnitas, chicken, fish, steak, shrimp and more) onto a freshly made tortilla, then lather it up with guacamole, sour cream, pico and a variety of other ethnic flavors. Chips and queso make a great starter, and can be enjoyed at the bar with a freshly made margarita. Felipe's usually has drink specials every night, and plenty of seating to accommodate your group. (504-309-2776)
2 Crabby Jack's
Crabby Jack's, on Jefferson Highway is the "side of the road seafood shack" type of venue that was prefaced in the intro to this list. While it doesn't generate the fanfare or publicity of some of the more upscale seafood joints, the locals know and love Crabby Jack's because they do fried shrimp po'boys better than anyone in the city. Owned and operated by the same chef that gave you Jacques-Imos on Oak Street, the menu here is focused on loaded po'boys and seafood platters at uber reasonable prices. This is the type of place you come to straight from a day working the land or for those visitors, playing in one of the city's parks. Tacky t-shirts and holey shorts as a wardrobe will have you fitting right in. ((504) 833-2722)
1 Port of Call
Port of Call is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans. They are known for their large, juicy, delicious burgers and loaded baked potatoes. Don't take the word "loaded" lightly, as the science behind filling these starches is art form perfected by the Port of Call staff. The eats are cheap, the atmosphere low key, lighting dim and drinks a-flowing. Speaking on drinks, the Monsoon is raved about by locals and tourists as a means of "taking it to the next level". Situated conveniently in a plastic "to-go" cup, this liquor loaded concoction will only serve to amplify a night out in New Orleans. (504-523-0120)
About Kristopher Neild
Kris is a South Florida resident, living close to the coast in West Palm Beach. The area provides him with plenty of golf courses to hack up, restaurants to sample and beaches to surf and sun. Plus, he can get his baseball fix with all the spring training and minor league action. Kris is also a CFA candidate, meddling in financial matters to pay the bills.
Read more about Kristopher Neild here.