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Mar 2, 2010 07:05 PM

Vegetarian Cajun Options

My wife and I will be visiting New Orleans in 2 weeks - can anyone suggest to us some cajun/creole restaurants (or ones that have menu selections that fit) for us to try? We do eat seafood so that should help but there is often "hidden" meats in even these.

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  1. For full on vegetarian:
    -Bennachin is a west African restaurant in the FQ that has many lovely vegetarian dishes. Stewed beans, plantains, etc... It's a casual place but the food is very nice. Not cajun but clearly influential on NOLA cuisine.
    -Central Grocery and Napoleon House will both happily make you a meatless muffaletta, which we've had at both places and enjoyed tremendously both times. Central's is served room temp and it's more of a take-out, lunch counter sort of place. Napoleon's is warm (which melted cheese) and a gret place to sit and eat (and drink a Pimm's cup)
    -The Gumbo Shop is a casual and solid place that has gumbo z'herbe (which is a traditional vegetarian gumbo that has ranged from awesome to ok when I've been there) and a vegetarian special, which is usually white beans and rice, very nice.
    -I know there's at least one Vietnamese restaurant that comes highly recommended on here where you can get a banh mi, which if you don't know is basically a Vietnamese po boy. Banh mis I've had elsewhere have been vegetarian (tofu) and have been incredible so I can only imagine one on fresh NOLA french bread would be even better.
    -The po boy shops usually have vegetarian options too (like french fry po boy or veggie po boy)
    -The Green Goddess has some vegetarian options and everyone loves it, but I haven't been yet

    Now, if you eat seafood that opens up a WHOLE other world of options:
    -BBQ Shrimp at Mr. B's (the sauce is all garlic, butter and worschestire sauce) but do NOT order a bloody mary (it has beef broth, as it does at other places I'm sure.
    -softshell crab at K-Paul's (or anything else)
    -crawfish strudel, seafood bisque or most anything else at Commander's Palace
    -black drum at Pelican Club
    -trout tchoupitoulas at Joey K's

    It definitely can't hurt to make sure there isn't any meat or stock in the dish that you don't eat.

    1. To answer your question re pescatarian cajun/creole options, there are MANY MANY choices for cajun and creole with seafood that don't have beef, chicken, pork etc.

      EXCELLENT cajun seafood choices, Bon Ton (especially the crabmeat au gratin and imperial) a true New Orleans experience. Food, architecture, ambiance

      Classic in Every way (french creole) Galatoire's:

      I will say, Gumbo Z'herbes is made with meat (a concept I just don't get) which a lot of people IMO aren't aware, and oysters bienville is made with bacon.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Suzy Wong

        The gumbo z'herbe at Gumbo Shop is not made with meat. (I don't think?!?!)

        1. re: kukubura

          No, the Gumbo Shop's version isn't made with meat, but the dish does usually contain meat. Leah Chase's recipe via John Folse:

          See also the other gumbo z'herbes thread currently going, which has a link to Speyerer's (vegetarian) recipe and a discussion of the dish.

        2. re: Suzy Wong

          To clarify my statement, most classic New Orleans gumbo z'herbes is made/prepared with meat. Including Leah Chase's recipe as mentioned as well as Emeril's recipe. Langenstein's grocery sells it, and that has meat also. (The vegetarian option is the exception not the rule).

          recipe and brief audio interview from NPR '06 with Leah Chase:

          1. re: Suzy Wong

            The Gunbo Z'herbes that my grand-mère fixed was traditionally served on Good Friday so it was definitely meatless. This is a penitential gumbo for Lenten eating.
            However, I must admit Gunbo Z'herbes does taste much better with a ham hock added for seasoning. (Not on Good Friday of course.)

            1. re: speyerer

              Lifelong N.O. Catholic here, am aware of the ways of Lent...Still you will find vegetarian versions are the exception. Some people don't consider that meat stock makes it a meat dish even if there is no visible meat. As I said, I don't get that at all...Even Marcelle Bienvenu's recipe has meat...

              1. re: Suzy Wong

                And your point is? Are you questioning my grand-mère's (Louise Egan 1883 – 1955) √recipe? The vegetarian version was the dish when I enjoyed it in the '40s and 50's. My grand-mère was a better cook than Leah Chase or Marcelle Bienvenu. Can you set up a throw down?

                1. re: speyerer

                  I believe the point being made is although gumbo z'herbes is thought of as a meatless gumbo (often/traditionally made for lent), most modern variations of it in new orleans contain meat. the OP is looking for meatless options, so the caveat is to beware of gumbo z'herbes because nowadays it is usually not vegetarian, unless expressly stated to be so.

        3. Sorry, but "Vegetarians" do not eat fish.
          If you eat fish, then you are pescetarians !!!