French Quarter Fest. It’s FREE. It starts today, April 12, and goes to Sunday, April 15. Now in its 35th year, the festival has morphed into a huge draw for locals and tourists alike with more than 60 local food and drink vendors slinging everything from smothered rabbit po-boys to crawfish pies and sno-balls as they wind through a riverside corridor of live music.
Here’s Eater’s guide to all things food and drink at French Quarter Fest. So happy fessin’ and keep it safe out there.
Update: French Quarter Fest has cancelled all of Saturday’s events due to dangerous weather, including the possibility of heavy rainfall, strong wind, hail, and tornadoes. The festival will resume on Sunday at 11 a.m. for its final day.
There are nearly 40 new dishes this year. NOLA.COM has a list of all of them, including everything from deep-fried and seafood-stuffed bell peppers to avocado toast.
The new vendors are:
- The Daily Beet with fresh mango spring rolls; mango, pineapple, and papaya sticks with lime juice and chili powder; and avocado toast
- Café Dauphine with Cajun seafood eggrolls; deep-fried, seafood-stuffed bell peppers; fried green tomato shrimp remoulade stack; and a combo plate with it all.
- Flamingo A-Go-Go has shrimp a-go-go (roasted red pepper aioli, macadamia nuts, green onions, grilled pineapple, and corn salad); grilled chicken and ham Cuban; garlic parmesan fries; and coconut sorbet with honey, mango, and raspberry.
- SoBou has pig Latin tacosand chocolate belly cookies.
- Cafe Beignet has traditional beignets.
- Company Burger will have its Company burger served with American cheese, bread and butter pickles and onions; Company fries; and a turkey burger with arugula, green goddess dressing, and tomato jam.
All the Po-boys at FQF
Without a doubt, Walker’s cochon de lait po-boy draws the big crowds. But, there are nearly 20 other majestic po-boys to try.
Jackson Square Vendors:
- Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse has two po-boys: barbecue shrimp po-boy, as well as a prime roast beef debris po-boy. Both are $8.
- Galatoire’s has a fried shrimp “BLT” po-boy for $9.
- Jacques-imo’s has its beloved slow-roasted duck po-boy for $8.
- Vaucresson Sausage Co. has three po-boys: Creole hot sausage po-boy, Creole crawfish sausage po-boy; Creole barbecue chicken sausage po-boy. Each is $7.
LA State Museum Old U.S. Mint Vendors
- Boucherie has a twelve-hour roast beef po-boy with horseradish cream and pickled red onions.
Riverfront — Canal Street Vendors
- Ajun Cajun’s entire menu is po-boys: soft shell crab po-boy ($12), catfish po-boy ($8), yakiniku (garlic ribeye beef) po-boy ($8).
Riverfront — Kohlmeyer Lawn Vendors
- Original New Orleans Po-Boys has fried shrimp po-boys for $8.
- Red Fish Grill has an oyster po-boy for $10.
- Walker’s Southern Style BBQ has its fan-favorite cochon de lait po-boy $9
Riverfront — Palm Lawn Vendors
- Desire Oyster Bar has an oyster Rockefeller po-boy for $10.
- House of Blues has its blackened shrimp po-boy with remoulade slaw for $8.
Jax Brewery Vendors
- Jack Dempsey’s has a softshell crab po-boy for $10. That’s $2 less that Ajun Cajun’s soft-shell crab po-boy.
- Voleo’s Seafood Restaurant smothered rabbit po-boy with Cajun slaw is $9.
A Guide to Trying Iconic Louisiana Foods at FQF
From Rockefeller to yakamein, French Quarter Fest brings out some of New Orleans’ very best restaurants serving the food the state is famous for — and it’s possible to get a gastronomic education in emblematic Louisiana food while you’re there. Here’s how.
Options for the Wallet-Conscious Crowd
French Quarter Fest is free, which already makes it pretty easy on the wallet. Ann Maloney has a list of fest food that ring in at $5 and under to keep it that way. Granted, a lot of them are sweets and quite a few involve sweet potatoes. McHardy’s Chicken & Fixins has the most robust offering with “eight ‘all’ white meat fried chicken bits with potato salad or cole slaw’ for $5. (Eater’s not sure about the quotes around “all” either. Just know that McHardy’s food is good.)
Options for the Health-Conscious Crowd
The big news on the FQF food front is that lighter, healthier options abound this year. First off, there’s an app, EatFitNOLA, that reveals the nutritional content of all the EatFitNOLA-approved dishes (the app is free; just search “Eat Fit” in the app store). On the official fest vendor list, those are marked with a little orange circle.
Also, the vendor list on the FQF website labels all the vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
Here’s a quick list of EatFit NOLA-approved dishes:
- Company Burger: Turkey burger served with arugula, green goddess dressing, and tomato jam. (Jax Brewery Vendor)
- SoBou: Pig Latin tacos. (Riverfront Kohlmeyer Lawn vendors)
- Kingfish: Pickled, blackened shrimp over cabbage slaw dressed with honey mustard. (Riverfront Kohlmeyer Lawn vendors)
- The Daily Beet: Fresh mango spring rolls; mango, pineapple, and papaya sticks with lime juice and chili powder; and avocado toast (Riverfront Canal Street vendors)
- Tujague’s: Marinated crab claw remoulade (Jackson Square vendor)
Know Before You Go
For the full food vendor listings, here’s a list of all food at French Quarter Festival by stage area.
There’s also an app for French Quarter Fest. Download it before heading out.
If, by chance, you are planning to boat to the fest along the treacherous Mississippi River, which runs the length of the fest, just don’t.
Saturday’s weather forecast is 100% chance of rain with hail, lots of wind, and maybe even a tornado. French Quarter Fest plays on, rain or shine (as long as it’s safe), with plenty of indoor activities for a little refuge from the storm.
In related Mississippi River French Quarter Fest news, there’s an oil slick with a “marble cake” appearance visible from the Fest. A vessel carrying diesel fuel hit a pier late Thursday morning.
If the weather does seem unsafe, follow the Fest’s Twitter updates to find out if the coordinators are putting a hold on the events.
Here’s the music schedule.
If you want to know a little more about the bands, turn to New Orleans’ Offbeat magazine, which covers the music scene. Here’s Offbeat’s guide of music acts, alphabetized for your sanity.
And, here’s a guide to the very best festival etiquette, with some advice on what to wear to optimize comfort, skincare, and enjoyment.