You might think that New Orleans food is going to be too regional for your taste with menu items like Gumbo, Po-Boys, and fresh oysters being served at every eatery that you find. If you’re in the mood for some classic BBQ, where are the best-hidden places that serve up some tasty barbecued dishes that will satisfy your craving for grilled goodness? Let’s find out how New Orleans BBQ is something very special that you can’t find anywhere else.
What is New Orleans-style BBQ?
Louisiana is seasoned with plenty of southern traditions that have deep roots and mingling cultures that are older than most of the US. A mixture of French, Spanish, African, and Native American cooking is also part of this tradition. When it comes to barbecue, this is not a new concept but does take on a different set of rules that relate to the local delicacies that are very regional along the southern coast.
And while BBQ is talked about commonly in states like Texas, Mississippi, and Missouri, Louisiana indeed has a secular and almost religious appreciation for the art of barbecue. Even the Spanish and French colonists brought their own variants of BBQ culture including the French’s Cochon de Lait and the Spanish-imported word Barabicu that was learned from Caribbean Indians.
Yet, had it not been for the rich seafood culture that defines the diet for most Louisiana-born locals, the defining flavors are decidedly in favor of smoky and spicy. It’s also a time-honored tradition that anything BBQ in Louisiana must include plenty of smoke to get that authentic BBQ flavor to please all of the Cajun senses. If there is one thing that defines New Orleans-style BBQ better than anything else it has to be their BBQ shrimp!
Popular NOLA BBQ dishes
It just wouldn’t be New Orleans without seafood being part of the NOLA BBQ experience. Some of these examples are as common as you’ll find in every restaurant and are considered localized for flavor and how they are prepared.
New Orleans BBQ shrimp
No matter how you add the spices or cook the shrimp, the whole reason that it gets put in the barbecue category is the sauce. Some might say the color of the shrimp when it’s covered with all the seasoning resembles something that is cooked on a barbecue. Yet this dish is always cooked in a cast iron pan with all of your onions and spices.
New Orleans-style chicken wings
Depending on where you go, these chicken wings might be fried or baked, but never see the surface of a BBQ grill whatsoever. Just like BBQ shrimp, NOLA-style chicken wings are covered with spices and loads of BBQ sauce. The sauce flavors aren’t always sticking to one select BBQ flavor, so there’s always a variety depending where you go.
New Orleans-style BBQ catfish
Any joint that is offering grilled catfish will no doubt have a version that comes with barbecue sauce. This is traditional catfish fillet is grilled on a grilling grate that can be a barbecue or indoor grill set-up. After it’s grilled, the catfish will have a flavored BBQ sauce added for extra flavor.
New Orleans-style Baked Mac Cheese
This is just your average Mac and Cheese but with a Cajun twist. Often, the bacon that adds smoky flavor is switched with Andouille sausage, pepper jack cheese, and plenty of Cajun hot sauce and seasonings. The top of this Mac and Cheese is baked so you get just the right toasty brown color and is served with many barbecued dishes on the side.
Best New Orleans BBQ Restaurants
Here is a great place for the whole family that has a full menu for parents and kids. What’s nice about Blue Oak is they have a neat menu order where you can choose between 2 to 3 types of meat on a combo plate that also includes two sides on each plate. Don’t forget to always check out the daily special that offers something signature that is always a real treat.
If you want to stick to ‘better safe than sorry’ barbecue joints that also feature a whole slew of franchise locations all over the place, you can’t beat BB Kings Blues Club. They do serve some very well-prepared BBQ menu items that are all popular southern barbecue classics.
This is the ultimate stop to grab some soul food and barbecue that is the heart of NOLA. This joint is straightforward chicken, ribs, and baked beans. Save some room for their Mac and cheese, since they aim to please! You have to check out their section inside this little rib shack that also sells local gospel and blues CDs!
Here’s a limited menu that features BBQ Chicken, fried chicken, pulled pork, pork chops, and St. Louis cut pork ribs. They won’t disappoint with plenty of BBQ Po-Boys and local sides. Heck, you don’t need fancy if you’re in the mood for simple pleasures that always deliver.
If you’re going to be famous for something different, Walker’s is the home to their signature Cochon de Lait Po-Boy sandwich! Not only that, they serve up their brand of southern barbecue every day from Wednesday through Friday or until they sell out. They have everything from ribs, brisket, burnt ends, and smoked wings to spare ribs and half slabs to whole chickens. It’s quite an impressive barbecue spread.
This might be a new restaurant that opened in 2016 but has plenty of experienced staff on hand that is behind the day-to-day BBQ duties. They’re also a three-time grand champion winner from the Hogs for the Cause BBQ competition! Their passion for pork is the reason they’ve got the best winning taste in town.
Since 2004, they’ve been serving up ribs, smoked brisket, and sausage to hungry BBQ fans in downtown New Orleans. If you’re looking for traditional barbecue classics and sides that never let you down, The Joint has what you’re craving.
A meatpacking company that’s been around for 6 generations is one of the few places in NOLA that knows their meat better than most people would expect. Now they offer great BBQ offering smoked meats, pulled pork, plenty of sides, and many other favorites.