New Orleans food culture can be all about the gluten - from flour-thickened gumbo rouxs to flour battered fried chicken and sandwiches like po-boys and muffalettas. But restaurant folks are increasingly catering to eaters with special requests, and eating gluten free isn't difficult with a little bit of forethought.
In the following list, some places actually offer separate gluten-free menus. These menus still offer appetizers, entrees, desserts, just without the gluten.
Other places offer recommendation menus. These menus will guide you through how to order off the regular menu to make sure your food comes out exactly the way you want. This includes instructions on what to tell your server, including the appropriate substitutions to make.
Globally inspired restaurants, from Mexican to Thai and Vietnamese, are ideal spots to avoid bread and pasta. Rice and corn-centric cuisines deliver lots of flavor without a hint of flour.
Just because you are trying to, or have to eat gluten-free doesn't mean you can't enjoy all the wonderful food New Orleans has to offer. Even the upper crust Creole palaces like Galatoire's, Broussard's and Arnaud's will happily help you choose items from the regular menu that adapt to your needs. Heck, all of Casamento's fried seafood is gluten free!
Carmo is a breath of fresh air in a city full of rich and decadent food. From its tropical vibe and art gallery setting to its menu of fresh, raw, light and tasty dishes, Carmo delivers on all counts. The only restaurant in Louisiana certified by the Green Restaurant Association, Carmo is an oasis of fresh, local ingredients, with an emphasis on vegetarian and vegan fare, along with sustainable seafood and other options for omnivores. Simply put, Carmo makes healthy delicious. Just ask Woody Harrelson. The notoriously health-conscious actor won't eat anything but raw food from Carmo when he's in town on a shoot.
Theo's is a go-to pizza place with a few locations throughout the city and the option of gluten-free pizza along with fresh salads and specialty items. Two popular locations are uptown on Magazine and in Mid-City. PBR flows cheap here, televisions are available for sports viewing, and waiting for a seat is a rarity. The pizza errs more on the side of thin crust, with excellent an cheese to sauce ratio and a solid mix of red and white pies. The chalkboard sign out front will alert guests to daily specials, and the beer is a great value when you're ordering lunch or dinner.
Ninja Sushi on Oak could be the best sushi joint in the city. Located in the Uptown/Riverbend neighborhood of New Orleans, Ninja serves lunch and dinner. Their creative, thickly wrapped rolls bring in guests in droves for dinner, and the affordable lunch specials are a great grab midday. The establishment has an upstairs and downstairs bar, and is very kid friendly. Take-out is very efficient and can be great to take back to your hotel or to one of the city's parks for a picnic. The sushi list is packed with copious choices complete with full descriptions of the ingredients. The service staff is always ready to help and make suggestions.
Thai hot is only for the very brave at Suko Thai, a Thai eatery with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and dishes some of the best Thai cuisine in town in a setting that will soothe and delight. Everything is good, from the pad Thai to curries as fiery as you like and stir fries perfumed with Thai basil. Service is most accommodating and gluten free is the order of the day, since flour isn't a common ingredient in Thai cooking. Instead, rice noodles and steamed white and brown rice are options on the side. There's an inventive menu of tropical cocktails and imported beers.
Deanie's Seafood is a New Orleans powerhouse when it comes to fresh from the Gulf seafood offerings. Most famous for their seafood platters, Deanie's has made a name for themselves by being the best at boiling, broiling and frying various ocean critters. Shrimp, oyster, crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, crab and fresh fish are always to be found here. Deanie's has a location in the French Quarter with a great courtyard eating area. If you are coming to the city for a business outing or something involving a large group, consider Deanie's. They have large private dining areas, and their platters were basically created for group dining.
A New Orleans tradition for nearly 50 years, this unpretentious neighborhood classic offers seafood fare that's all local, all fresh and all affordable. Casamento's best and most renowned entrees are those that come from the raw bar, but other signature menu items include sandwiches like the fried Oyster Loaf po-boy and a gumbo that's sure to satisfy even the most die-hard devotees of Cajun cuisine. Thanks to its spiced cornmeal coating mix, the fried seafood is gluten free, without a bit of flour in the mix. This is a beer only joint - outside drinks are not allowed. But there is a gluten free beer option.
Juan's Flying Burrito touts itself as the worlds first Creole "taqueria". Two locations on Magazine and S. Carrollton (Mid-City) serve up delicious tacos and burritos made to order. Serving sizes are large and meals come value priced relative to other city offerings. The joints are hip, with a younger waitstaff slinging drinks, nachos and an early riser favorite, the "Texican" (PBR and shot of well tequila complete with lime). Happy hour is 2-7 pm Monday through Friday and all day Sunday ($1 PBR, $2 Tecate and $5 Margaritas). Juan's offers take-out, and does great "family sized" meals for 4+ people.
Strolling down Decatur, passing by Jackson Square, you will see a lot of familiar chain type restaurants like Bubba Gump and Hard Rock Cafe. Muriel's is one of a few spots in the area that is local, has historical significance and can cook up some savory Creole food. Muriel's offers four different experiences with a courtyard bar, balcony seating, bistro seating and a lounge area known as "the Seance". The BBQ Shrimp and Seafood Bayoubaisse are big hits, as is the Sunday Jazz Brunch. They even have one of the city's only exclusive gluten-free menus to accommodate guests who require such food items.
While most New Orleans seafood restaurants take a hyper local approach to filling in the catch of the day, chef-owner Tenney Flynn at GW Fin casts a global net. The French Quarter restaurant impresses with quality and variety, including fish caught in waters around the world as well as right here in the Gulf. Chef de cuisine Michael Nelson's menu changes daily, depending on what's fresh and seasonal, but you might feast on King crab from Alaska, sea scallop crudo with local caviar and Scottish salmon with jalapeno glaze. The philosophy is simple at this upscale establishment: let the seafood's natural flavors shine. The wine list shimmers with crisp whites guaranteed to enhance the your catch of the day. Although not coming out until August, chef Tenney's new book The Deep End of Flavor, written with former Atlanta Journal Constitution Food Editor Susan Puckett, is already blowing up on Amazon. Ask about a signed copy.
Superior Seafood, located on the corner of Napoleon and St. Charles Uptown, is a popular seafood restaurant with a comprehensive gluten-free menu with boatloads of options. Choose from risottos and blackened seafood items, salads, fresh grilled fish and flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Situated right on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line, Superior has a large bar, full-service oyster bar, climate-controlled patio and private indoor and outdoor dining space. The building was formerly used as a car barn for the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad Company in the early 1800s. Come for happy hour and enjoy 50 cent raw oysters. The vast wine list includes 325 selections, or order a shot neat from the 100 whiskey menu.