Jacque-Imo's colorful dining room
Jacque-Imo’s colorful dining room

I’m not gonna lie. New Orleans is not a town that has ever been easy to be vegan in, but it’s getting easier. In the late 1990s and early 2000s I went to college here, and at the time I was a vegetarian. It was so, so hard back then to eat healthy and fresh in this city. Especially on a college kid’s budget. New Orleans is one of our favorite cities to travel to, with the live music, friendly culture, and beautiful architecture, so my husband and I go here often. These are a few of my favorite places to eat, with I’m sure more coming in the future:

Juan’s Flying Burrito – their Lower Garden District location is my favorite lunch spot in New Orleans. They have vegan sides, burritos and fajitas to choose from, great service and a cool atmosphere. My favorite is the vegan version of their Veggie Punk burrito, incredibly filling and so tasty, and the vegan version of their Mardi Gras Indians Taco.

Surrey’s Cafe and Juice Bar – also in the LGD, Surrey’s has a delicious Tofu Breakfast Platter along with an assortment of fresh-squeezed juices. Spicy and filling, the platter is a great way to begin your day shopping and strolling on Magazine Street.

Jacques-Imo’s – my favorite restaurant in New Orleans, on one of my favorite streets in New Orleans, next to my favorite night club in New Orleans, the Maple Leaf. The food and service here is incredible, and it’s always packed. I like to get here late, right before a show starts at the leaf, and enjoy a leisurely dinner. They’ll make a vegan vegetable dish if you call ahead. Last time they made me a butternut squash stuffed with quinoa, veggies and a tomato sauce and it was to die for.

Breads on Oak – also on Oak Street, this great new bakery always offers a delicious assortment of vegan sandwiches, soups, breads, muffins and even (thank everything holy in the world) vegan beignets.

Lola’s – in a very, very close tie wi Jacque-Imo’s, Lola’s is a Spanish restaurant on Esplanade, near the wonderful New Orleans Museum of Art. If you call ahead they will make you a delicious vegan paella that will most definitely be the best paella you’ve ever eaten. In a tiny old home, this restaurant is definitely worth the wait. Do not come here in a rush, enjoy every minute of the garlic infested meal and appetizers you will be noshing on! And pick up some local art from their collection before you head out the door.

GW Fin’s – of the really nice and really expensive restaurants in New Orleans, this place is my favorite. I know that’s a hard thing to say with Mr. B’s and Arnaud’s and Bayona and Palace Cafe (among many, many others) right around the corner, but if you’re going to to spend a night in the Quarter (and really every tourist will), hit up this place. They’ll make you a vegan dish if you call ahead, whether a grain and seasonal vegetable based, or portobello mushroom based, or vegetable pasta dish. They have great service and a friendly, welcoming chef and owner.

La Crepe Nanou – this gem of a restaurant in uptown features a few vegan salad and appetizers, and will make their ratatouille vegan for you. The food is delicious, but it’s the atmosphere here that makes it so special. Whether on a date or with a group of friends, do not miss coming here.

I can’t stop at just the food in this wonderful city. If you’re visiting, spend at least a night on Frenchman Street, go hear the Royal Rounders at Buffa’s (they have a vegan sandwich and vegan burger on their menu too), hear Kermit or any other great Nawlins musician at Little Gem Saloon, dance the night away to the best funk/Jazz at Maple Leaf, bowl and dance to great live music at the Rock n Bowl, hear a singer-songwriter at Chickie Wah-Wah, hang out with the college kids at one of the many bars or enjoy a vegan pizza slice at SLICE, all on Magazine, and stroll through the cemeteries and past the historic homes in the Garden District. Most of the higher end restaurants will prepare you something vegan if you call ahead, so go prepared and have a blast in one of North America’s best and most diverse cities.