In the French Quarter, fried seafood is plentiful, as is anything you want drenched in butter. But at some point you may want a break from the rich, delightfully artery-clogging dishes New Orleans is known for and tone it down to something healthier. Remember those green things your mama used to make you eat? Believe it or not, they exist down in the Quarter.
Want to stuff your face with three orders of beignets? Eat your heart out. But if you’re looking for a healthy bite in the French Quarter, you still have plenty of options. Here’s five to munch on.
Bennachin (1212 Royal St)
Some of the more exotic foods on this list will come out of Bennachin, an unassuming hole-in-the-wall serving authentic African food and New Orleans-influenced African dishes you won’t soon forget. Enjoy a variety of vegetarian and vegan options as well as meat plates on a menu inspired by the traditional fare of Gambia and Cameroon. Don’t miss appetizers like the fried ripe plantains or boneless chicken on a stick before munching down on a wide variety of entrees: sautéed lamb strips with bell pepper in ginger sauce, fish stew, or boneless chicken and roasted peanut, for starters. Or go all out with veggie dishes like eggplant, mushrooms, and bean sprouts in curry sauce or black-eyed peas in onion and tomato stew.
Green Goddess (307 Exchange Pl)
Tucked away in a quaint French Quarter alleyway, Green Goddess serves up a number of vegetarian and vegan dishes, such as the beet burrata kale salad, mole mushrooms, lemongrass tofu fritters, or rolled uttapam, a savory South Indian pancake dish filled with vegan curry and topped with young coconut slaw and other delicious, exotic ingredients. But don’t worry, carnivores—this hideaway is still meat-eater friendly with plates like pallapas pork (crispy slow-cooked Berkshire pork), lamb meatloaf, and Double Duck, a pulled duck confit patty plus smoked duck breast slices. Most dishes are gluten-free too if you’re watching your grains intake.
Meals From the Heart Café (French Market – 1100 N Peters St, Bay #13)
At this French Market gem, most of the Meals From the Heart Café menu is gluten-free, vegan, or both, and that includes items like the portabella mushroom sandwich, various po-boys (chicken, salmon, tilapia), and the specialty—crab cake passion, an exclusive blend of pure lump crabmeat served with fresh mixed greens, ripe tomatoes, and house garlic-lemon Remoulade sauce. There’s plenty of breakfast options here too, including omelets, pancakes (such as gluten-free and vegan-wheat), and sides like turkey-apple sausage and turkey bacon. They also make a handful of salads (raw avocado & beet) and gluten-free okra gumbo or black bean soup. Top it off with a vegan shake or fresh-squeezed carrot or orange juice.
Attiki Bar and Grill (230 Decatur St)
Commonly referred to as a heart-healthy diet, the Mediterranean diet is alive and well at Attiki. Instead of cutting back on fats, this restaurant encourages you to indulge on the healthy fats that make foods taste good and add a range of physical and mental health benefits. You can enjoy all of your favorite Greek and Lebanese classics, from hummus, gyros, and kabobs to shawarma, tabbouleh, and baba ganoush. Or feast on hearty but healthy entrees like rack of lamb, filet mignon, grilled salmon, or sautéed redfish with a side of fresh sautéed veggies.
Cane and Table (1113 Decatur St)
Cane and Table may be better known for its stellar rum collection, but alongside your Boss Colada, you can dive into some healthy bar bites as well. The whole table can share (read: fight over) a three pea hummus or roasted cauliflower, or you can enjoy small plates like a kale salad or Berkwood Farms pork vindaloo with "jazzmen" rice or large plates like five spice short rib or crispy rare yellowfin tuna. You can even find a healthy dessert in this spot: chia seed and coconut milk parfait, anyone?
No one’s stopping you from downing that second fried seafood platter. But if you’re looking for a healthier change of pace, you can’t go wrong with any of these five spots.
The dedicated and friendly staff of Hotel St. Marie will ensure you experience all of the best of New Orleans' many sights, sounds, and tastes.
The French Market Inn, New Orleans, La., is tucked away on the banks of the Mississippi River in the center of the French Quarter.