Delicious food on a budget is hard to come by in New Orleans' tourist-heavy French Quarter, but if you know where to look, there are some very good options for cheap eats. Serving everything from po' boys to diner fare, local specialties to quasi-ethnic treats, these ten restaurants should keep you well-fed and leave you with plenty of drinking money still in your pocket.
This French Quarter institution is a must-visit regardless of whether your vacation budget is of the beer or champagne variety. The fact that a Central Grocery muffuletta comes pretty cheap is just a bonus. A full sandwich is stuffed with mixed Italian meats and cheeses and salty, flavorful olive salad. But keep in mind that a half sandwich is more than enough for one person. Add in a bag of locally-made Zapp's potato chips apiece and you can pretty easily split a muffuletta between four friends.
Pro tip: Muffulettas taste even better after they've "marinated" for a few hours, so pick one up before you start drinking and stow it in your hotel for a late-night snack.
Johnny's has been serving up tasty breakfasts and overstuffed po' boys (a New Orleans sub sandwich) for over 60 years. Counter service and packed-in tables keep costs to a minimum. Head there for breakfast for sandwiches, meat, eggs, and biscuit platters. It's simple food, but it's done right and the atmosphere is breezy and friendly. Cash only.
The menu of sandwiches and meals-to-go is huge, surprisingly affordable, and unbelievably delicious. Verti Marte is vegetarian-friendly, with grilled veggie and mushroom sandwich options, among others. Cash only.
Clover Grill is a classic greasy spoon that's generally chock-full of stereotypical Bourbon Street denizens. It's noisy and service is brusque, but that's part of the charm. Nothing on the menu will change your life, but it does the trick.
The French Quarter outpost of this local chain serves cheap and mighty tasty Mexican food into the wee hours of the morning most nights, though the food is more than good enough to eat sober. Ingredients are impeccably fresh and service is quick and friendly.
These ubiquitous hot dog carts, immortalized as "Paradise Dogs" in the brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning A Confederacy of Dunces, are all over the place in the Quarter. The enormous hot dogs taste like, well, something you bought off of a hot dog cart, but if you've had a few drinks and like the idea of connecting to some literary history, give 'em a try. Cash only.
Locations throughout the French Quarter
Though it's sometimes thought of as "that other beignet place," Cafe Beignet, with two French Quarter locations, actually offers an excellent menu of breakfast items, sandwiches, and New Orleans specialties like gumbo and jambalaya. And the beignets aren't bad, either! Everything on the menu is usually under $10, and though the line to order at the counter can be long, it moves very quickly and is worth the wait.
This French Quarter outpost of the legendary Uptown diner is a most welcome addition to the neighborhood. Take a seat at the enormous, wrap-around counter and be ready for some flamboyant and entertaining service and some very good classic diner fare.
Cafe Maspero can be a bit of a tourist haven, but for good reason. The food is reliable and affordable, and there's something on the menu for a variety of palates, including both those that love Creole food and those that prefer something less exotic.
Gyros are really the perfect drinking food. They're easy to eat, they offer a bit of grease to line the stomach, but a good balance of protein and veggies and carbs to mitigate the hangover. And at Ali Baba's, they're cheap and yummy. Other Greek and Mediterranean specialties round out the menu: falafels (a good vegetarian option), spanikopita, baklava, and the like. Cash only.