It's not as unsafe is people might label it. Sure, it's not a crime-free city, but which one is? Just don't travel alone at night outside of the quarter and don't wear fancy jewelry. I was in NOLA this January and again in March for my wedding and it was a-ok. Stayed outside of the Quarter both times.
One of my favorite places to visit while there is the cemeteries. There are some near the projects that may seem scary, but not so much during the day.
Another great area is City Park.
Food: Mothers. Mothers. Mothers.