Any way you cut it, you're going to enjoy Jazz Fest food. Standards are high, many recipes are classics and there's a reason this edible line-up has inspired such devotion in our food-obsessed city. 

Below, I've gathered all of my top picks and recommendations for Jazz Fest food this year to help you answer your cravings or find something new. The links below each section to my full stories with many more photos and analysis.

What's new?

As soon as Jazz Fest opened this year I hustled around the grounds to try every new food item on the menu. Here's my take on how they play out.

Light and cool but still not wimpy

Sometimes a light, cool dish sounds perfect. Sometimes that also sounds like it'll leave you still hungry. Here are a few choices around the grounds that won't weigh you down and won't let you down.

Sleeper hits, flavorful finds

Some dishes rock the Jazz Fest food world like Acura stage headliners. Others are more like that delightful, lesser-known act that got the nod for the Lagniappe stage and turned into your own fest highlight.

Consider these when you want something a little different, or don’t want to wade into the soft shell crab po-boy line.

Bargains for the frugal fester

The food options can seem limitless at Jazz Fest. Your wallet probably does not. Here are some dishes that can stretch your festival dining dollar.

Snacks to share

Sometimes you want to devour a dish all on your own. Other times, you just want something to munch on and maybe share. These finger food picks have you covered.

Top picks for vegetarian dishes

It wasn’t so long ago that dishes brimming with shrimp and oysters were commonly considered “meatless” Louisiana dishes. Times have changed, and the food options at Jazz Fest have grown more accommodating for true vegetarians and those just looking for a lighter dish.

Knife, fork, spoon: big plates and hearty bowls

A lot of Jazz Fest food is drawn straight from Louisiana tradition, and that means deeply-flavored, home-style dishes. This is not your typical festival fare or street food snacks. You want to tuck in with a fork, knife and spoon and really get after it.

Tops for po-boys

Under normal circumstances, one po-boy is enough for the day. Jazz Fest is not exactly normal circumstances, and there are lots of options before you. Here are your best bets on French bread.

Fest food for first timers

Every veteran Jazz Fest reveler has their favorite foods, and some even have rituals around specific dishes. But every day at the fest is someone's first time. For these rookies, I recommend an all-star line up of Jazz Fest classics that will give a flavor of what this event is all about and stories to share the next time Jazz Fest food comes up in conversation. Just like a returning appetite, it surely will.


Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.