While for many the main draw to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival may be the incredible daily lineup of live music, for many others, the food selection reigns king. This is for good reason too—Jazz Fests vendors pull out all the stops, including local restaurants and caterers, some of whom prepare and serve their food for Jazz Fest exclusively out of the entire year. The offerings are wide-ranging, absolutely delicious and are a proud showcase of the food that represents the city.This year there are nine areas of the festival where you’ll find food and drinks—as well as mini stations throughout the grounds—to keep you going throughout your long day at the Fest. Spread out throughout the fest, you can hardly turn around without having these vendor stands in eye shot, though a few areas are more prominent and varied than others. Food Area I, near the center of the map just passed the race track, and Food Area II, on the left side of the festival grounds in the center of the track, are by far the largest collection of food booths, where you’ll find the majority of your Fest dining options.
The staggering amount of great food is far too much to name here, but we can include a few of the classics and some personal favorites. Crawfish bread (Panaroma Foods – Food Area I) is a quintessential favorite year after year as well as boudin and boudin balls (Papas Ninety Catering – Food Area I). Over in Food Area II, you’ll find pheasant, quail & Andouille gumbo (Prejean’s Restaurant) for a unique take on a local favorite as well as Oysters Rockefeller bisque from Food for Thought and Crawfish Monica from Kajun Kettle Foods, Inc.
Perhaps surprisingly, there are in fact healthier options at the Fest for those on a diet or simply looking to watch what they eat, despite the temptation to indulge. You can head over to Bennachin for African-style grilled chicken and jama-jama, or sautéed spinach over by Congo Square. For your seafood options, boiled crawfish (Smitty’s – Food Area I) is another healthy option, with about half the calories of roasted, skinless chicken breast plus a high protein content as well as oysters on the half shell (J&M Seafood – Grandstand), which are also low in calories and packed with zinc and vitamin B12.
Despite the city’s penchant for great seafood and meats, vegetarians too can find quite a few dining options to suit their dietary needs. Over in Food Area I you’ll find fried green tomatoes from Cajun Nights Catering, a vegetarian muffuletta from DiMartino’s Famous Mufulettas and vegetarian Ya Ka Mein from Ms. Linda’s Catering. Or you can go for a simple corn on the cob from Lil’s BBQ at Food Area I or over at the Kids Food area.
There’s no shortage of great food at Jazz Fest year in and year out, and this year’s offerings are sure to please and keep you satisfied all day and weekend(s) long. You’ll have plenty of options to enjoy your favorites or try new things, so don’t be shy—and prepare for some long lines!