For a good, CHEAP plate of red beans and rice, try Mena’s (corner of Iberville and Chartres in the French Quarter). You get rice & beans, sausage, or fried chicken, salad, and braead for around $5. It’s not a fancy place-you’ll see businessmen in suits sitting next to dock workers, but the food is good and the servers are friendly. They once fixed my brother in-law a gallon jug of red beans to carry back to Seattle! Very much a local place.
Napolean House has a great muffaletta–thay also have a pretty good rb&r special.
If you want some good, mainly local folks Italian-try Vincent’s on St. Charles. Very good and not at all touristy.
You’ll love New Orleans–it’s hard to get a bad meal there. Make sure to have a beignet or two for me!