Jazz Fest Food

Besides the music, one of the delights of Jazz Fest, we have discovered, is the food. This is no normal fairground food. You will not find hot dogs, fries, or cotton candy. No greasy chicken fingers or hamburgers anywhere.

Rather, local restaurants and catering companies come with the best food around, both traditional New Orleans cooking as well as other ethnic cuisines, including Mediterranean, Vietnamese, and North African specialties.

And, what was surprising to us the first time we were here was how reasonably priced the food is. Normally food at festivals or fairs is not only mediocre at best, it’s expensive. But at Jazz Fest we have found the exact opposite. What you get for your money is extremely high quality and good value.

It’s impossible to try everything, even being at the Fest for three days. As this was our second time going, there were a couple of favorites from last year we knew we had to get, including Crawfish Monica, a bowl of pasta and crawfish tails coated on a black-pepper-spicy, super creamy sauce. This was absolutely overflowing with crawfish, and worth every penny for $7. If you ask any regular Jazz Fest goer, they will likely say this is a must:

The other must-eat item on our list was a Cochon de Lait po-boy ($6). A mound of pulled pork on top of creamy, mustardy cole slaw, hot sauce optional but highly recommended. This sandwich is so large we always split it:

We also tried a couple of new things this year. One stand sold several Middle Eastern dishes, including this tabbouleh served with pita, a very large portion for $3:

Having eaten so much rich food, this was a nice alternative. It was light, fresh, and delicious.

Finally, we also tried some Jambalaya. Two different vendors have it there (unusual for the Fest, where there is typically only one vendor for each item, providing the greatest variety). Rob cooks a fantastic Jambalaya at home, so it’s always interesting to try other versions. This was very good, made traditionally with Andouille, and a good sized bowl was $6:

All in all, a great eating experience this time.

Besides the food, there are lots of unique beverage options, too. Cafe du Monde, famous in the Quarter for chicory coffee and beignets, has a stand with cafe au lait served hot, iced, or frozen. Other stands serve rosemint or strawberry iced tea, and mango freezes. And of course, this being New Orleans, there are plenty of beer, wine, and daiquiri stands. I particularly enjoyed this adorable little can of sparkling wine, complete with straw:

We’ll report on all the other amazing food we had outside of Jazz Fest later. We head home today, but not before a final lunch here in the quarter, hopefully at one of our favorite hole-in-the-wall places, Coop’s.

If you’ve ever been to Jazz Fest, what’s your favorite dish?

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