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AFRICAN

BENNACHIN 1212 Royal St. 522-1230 Vegans and vegetarians are warmly welcomed here; a popular dish is a version of a hush puppy, made with black-eyed peas and served in an onion, ginger, garlic and tomato sauce. The lunch special for $5.95 is a deeply satisfying steal of a meal. Reservations recommended for large groups. Delivery available in French Quarter. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

AMERICAN

APPLEBEE'S 315 N. Hwy. 190, Covington (985) 898-0500; 1000 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner 469-6500; 1220 S. Clearview Pkwy., Harahan 734-0042; 3142 W. Hwy. 190, Hammond (985) 419-2220; 3701 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 455-0755; 3850 I-10 Service Road, Slidell (985) 641-4800; 4001 Gen. DeGaulle Drive 361-9700; www.applebees.com This national chain has become more convenient now that it has car-side service, allowing customers to phone in orders and have them brought to the car when they arrive. In addition to the already expansive offerings, Applebee's has added a Weight Watchers menu for the calorie-conscious. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BAYOU CAFE 6401 Veterans Memorial Blvd. (Four Points by Sheraton), Metairie 885-5700; www.fourpointsneworleans.com This hotel cafe offers visitors their first taste of New Orleans specialties with all the usual suspects, including gumbo, jambalaya and red beans and rice, as well as American standbys such as hefty burgers and Philly cheese steaks. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

BEACH HOUSE 2401 N. Woodlawn Ave., Metairie 885-1407 The standby appetizers, burgers and steaks are always popular, and don't miss the pasta plates and seafood platters, fried or grilled. The chicken fingers are the most popular menu item. No reservations. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday until the bar closes. Credit cards. $$

BENNIGAN'S GRILL AND TAVERN 2701 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Kenner 468-10723010 Holiday Drive 394-28053434 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 888-0664; www.bennigans.com Bennigan's is equally friendly to families and those seeking a brew at the bar. The country chicken salad remains popular and features fried chicken tenders atop greens, diced eggs, cheese, and smoky honey mustard dressing. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

BILLY'S PLACE 1025 Dealers Ave., Jefferson 818-2121 Daily specials such as chicken Parmesan and Monday red beans and rice supplement standbys like po-boys and white beans and rice. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Wednesdays and Fridays. Cash only. $

BULL'S CORNER 1036 W. Airline Hwy., LaPlace (985) 652-3544 Small-town charm enhances some old favorites here, like the pecan-crusted Catfish Bucktown, served with dirty rice and meuniere sauce. The seafood combo is something to behold, so mammoth are its proportions of French fries, onion rings, stuffed shrimp, grilled shrimp, stuffed oysters and fried catfish. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BYWATER BBQ 3162 Dauphine St. 947-0000 The barbecue combo is where it's at, with a choice between ribs, chicken, brisket or pulled pork. All the sides you'd expect from a self-respecting barbecue joint are here, like mac and cheese, greens, beans and potato salad. The $10 large pizza is priced low for delivery only. No reservations. Breakfast Monday through Friday, lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

CAFE BANQUETTE 3445 Prytania St. 891-5773 The fajita wraps are a mouthful by anyone's estimation, as are the succulent shrimp po-boys and the handmade onion rings. They have a nice selection of drafts for those getting off work in Uptown. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CANNON'S BISTRO AND STEAMERY 4141 St. Charles Ave. 891-3200; www.cannonsrestaurants.com This Uptown neighborhood favorite has refreshed its menu with an emphasis on fresh seafood and steaks. Watch the streetcar roll by as you sample new offerings from the 'steam menu,' such as the steamed bucket of lobster, Alaskan king crab legs, snow crab clusters, jumbo Gulf shrimp, mussels, potatoes and corn. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

COME BACK INN 3826 Williams Blvd., Kenner 443-1623 Regulars swear by the po-boys, which come in all the expected seafood varieties but also include some novel combinations, like the Joe-Don po-boy, which piles Chisesi ham, Swiss cheese and roast beef on toasted Italian bread. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

THE COMMONS 1010 Common St. 525-3508 It's hard to find a better breakfast deal than the 'Common Special' -- bacon, sausage, eggs, grits and a biscuit, all for $3.50. Later in the day, try one of the four daily specials, like the pan-seared breaded veal medallions, topped with sauteed crawfish in a brandy cream sauce and served over angel hair pasta. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $

THE COUNTRY CLUB 634 Louisa St. 945-0742; www.countryclubneworleans.com The outdoor pool and patio offer a great respite from the city heat during spring and summer months, and the bar and restaurant inside is a neighborhood hot spot year-round. Sandwiches, homemade quiche, and bar food staples like chili cheese quesadillas are great accompaniments to the club's frequent movie screenings, parties and cabaret shows. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

DIXIE CHICKEN & RIBS 6264 Argonne Blvd. 488-1377 Fried, baked and barbecued chicken are locals' favorites at this casual spot. Weekday lunch specials are also popular and give a nod to local seafood, as well as barbecue ribs. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

DOLLY'S DELI 5151 Canal Blvd. 486-8600 Burgers, po-boys and fried chicken make up the hearty lunchtime offerings at Dolly's. Rib-sticking breakfast options like egg and sausage sandwiches provide great fuel for the day ahead. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

FIORELLA'S CAFE 45 French Market Place 528-9566 Downtown bar crawlers and daytime shoppers alike enjoy the Italian- and Creole-influenced dishes found at Fiorella's. Fried chicken is a favorite, as are hearty sandwiches like the eggplant Parmesan po-boy and New Orleans specialties like shrimp and crawfish etouffee. No reservations. Breakfast Saturday and Sunday, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

HARD ROCK CAFE 418 N. Peters St. 529-5617; www.hardrock.com The Hard Rock franchise is known for a fun, rock 'n' roll atmosphere surrounded by music-biz memorabilia and solid menu classics. Start out with nachos, onion rings, or potato skins and move on to a hefty burger and fries, or a grilled T-bone served with smashed potatoes, gravy and veggies. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

HOBNOBBER'S CAFE 5928 W. Metairie Ave., Metairie 734-8448 The family that runs the venerable CBD Hobnobber's location brings its New Orleans home cooking to Metairie. Classics like paneed chicken with fettuccine, grilled chicken with grilled broccoli and tomatoes, and crabcakes with creamy crawfish sauce grace the menu. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

HOUSTON'S 1755 St. Charles Ave. 524-1578; 4241 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 889-2301; www.houstons.com Guests relax in large booths and enjoy generous portions of comforting American cuisine. Many rave about the ribs and rotisserie chicken, while adventurous diners have discovered the new Evil Jungle Thai Salad with noodles, cabbage, mint, mango and avocado. Save room for a slice of Key lime pie or the five-nut brownie. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

THE JIMANI 141 Chartres St. 524-0493 This unpretentious bar caters to the employees of other French Quarter establishments. With a kitchen open until 7 a.m., even folks working the late shift can find an after-work snack of pizza, burgers or a filet mignon sandwich. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

LA CHATELAINE 800 Iberville St. (Chateau Sonesta Hotel) 586-0800; www.sonesta.com/neworleans_chateau Diners find a quiet breakfast at this low-key hotel cafe just off Bourbon Street. The menu ranges from light pastries and fruit to substantial plates of eggs Pontchartrain with two poached eggs on an English muffin covered in shrimp, crabmeat, creamed spinach and Creole hollandaise sauce. Reservations accepted. Breakfast daily. Credit cards. $

LA PENICHE 1940 Dauphine St. 943-1460 With a breakfast menu served round the clock, La Peniche will be happy to cook its peanut butter and banana waffle for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Along with burgers and po-boys, this neighborhood restaurant also concocts signature sandwiches like the Kathryn, a burger with ham, Swiss cheese and grilled onions. No reservations. Open 24 hours, except for 2 p.m. Tuesday to 9 a.m. Thursday. Credit cards. $

MAMA'S TASTY FOODS 1641 Louisiana Ave. 899-6162 When mama says it's tasty, you can take her word on it. Hungry patrons appreciate the late hours and a menu that ranges from 19-inch shrimp po-boys to Asian items. The bite-size, skinless barbecue leg quarters have quelled many late-night hunger pangs. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Cash only. $

MCNULTY'S BITTER END 5129 Canal Blvd. 483-7930 Whether you're playing pool or just chilling with friends, a banger (British slang for a sausage) or a meat pie will quell your munchies demon. There's also patio dining overlooking the graveyard to better enjoy your mean steak sandwich and cold beer on tap. No reservations. Dinner and late-night Monday through Saturday.

NICK'S ON CARROLLTON 1120 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-1414 A leisurely brunch on the patio with a Bloody Mary and a hearty omelette is the perfect way to pass a Saturday morning. The lunch menu includes burgers, fries, soups and the signature Carrollton, a fried chicken breast sandwich with grilled onions and cheddar cheese. No reservations. Lunch daily, brunch Saturday and Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $

O'HENRY'S FOOD & SPIRITS 301 Baronne St. 522-5242; 634 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-9741; 710 Terry Pkwy., Gretna 433-4111; 1375 Gause Blvd., Slidell (985) 646-1600; 3020 Severn Ave., Metairie 888-9383; 8859 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 461-9840; www.ohenrys.com These family-friendly outlets serve burgers, pasta and Creole specialties, such as crawfish Monica or the chicken Tchoupitoulas smothered in a crawfish cream sauce over andouille dressing. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday at Carrollton location. Credit cards. $

PEPPER'S RESTAURANT 4416 Magazine St. 897-1940 Pepper's is both a friendly neighborhood bar on Magazine Street and a good spot to eat everything from po-boys to a plate of prime rib, lobster tail and pasta Alfredo. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

PICCADILLY CAFETERIA 533 Lapalco Blvd., Gretna 391-1063; 2222 Clearview Pkwy., Suite 107, Metairie 454-6271; 2609 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 834-2695; 3200 Paris Road, Chalmette 271-6860; 3800 S. Carrollton Ave. 482-0775; 4150 Gen. De Gaulle Drive, Algiers 392-7030; 4403 Chef Menteur Hwy. 282-7198; 8908 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 467-4224; www.piccadilly.com Many folks grew up eating fried chicken, liver in onion sauce and other Southern standbys from this chain of cafeterias. Select locations have added a breakfast menu on the weekends. No reservations. Breakfast Saturday and Sunday at select locations, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

POLYNESIAN JOE'S 869 Magazine St. 525-9301; www.polyjoes.com Poly Joe's hosts a non-stop party. The mozzarella sticks, chicken wings and burgers fuel the party. With Poly Joe's recent purchase of Mama Rosa's, pizza and Italian dishes from that French Quarter restaurant have been added to the menu here. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PONTCHARTRAIN GRILLE 5050 Williams Blvd. (Treasure Chest Casino), Kenner 443-8000; www.treasurechest.com Guests get lucky at the Treasure Chest Casino's al la carte restaurant. The menu changes daily and might include crabmeat au gratin (so popular it was promoted from appetizer to entree), served bubbling hot with a side of crispy croustades. The Chocolate Molten is a winning hand for dessert. Reservations recommended. Dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

RAISING CANE'S 1654 Gause Blvd., Slidell 985-405-1423; 1735 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey 297-3600; 4036 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 297-1632; 919 S. Clearview Pkwy., Jefferson 216-2424; www.raisingcanes.com If you love chicken fingers then you will love this franchise out of Baton Rouge that specializes in that tasty fried treat. In fact, they offer nothing but chicken fingers and their super top-secret dipping sauce. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

ROADHOUSE GRILL 5131 Lapalco Blvd., Marrero 341-3636; www.roadhousegrill.com Munch on a bucket of free peanuts while perusing the menu of bacon-wrapped shrimp appetizers, the new baby back ribs and the signature Roadie, a 13-oz. sirloin marinated in Jim Beam bourbon sauce and served with sizzling Cajun-seasoned onion rings. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SCHIRO'S COMMUNITY CAFE AND BAR 2483 Royal St. 944-6666 Streamline your life: have a meal, have a drink, make some groceries, and wash your tightie-whities all in one go. Schiro's happily offers up sandwiches, salads and wraps, like the Tuscano: pesto-smoked turkey with provolone and red peppers. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Monday through Saturday, grocery/laundry only on Sunday. Credit cards. $

SPUDLY'S SUPER SPUDS 2609 Harvard Ave., Metairie 455-SPUD (7783); www.spudly.com Up in the sky! It's Spudly's Super Spuds, saving you from the Atkins diet with the Super Duper: shrimp, crab and crawfish in a baked potato topped with cheddar cheese and chives; or the Pizza Spud: spiced pepperoni, Mozzarella cheese, chives and Italian sauce in a baked potato. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

SQUARE ONE RESTAURANT 701 Poydras St. 593-9884 Navigate the tables full of business suits at this One Shell Square eatery for the traditional breakfast menu that includes bacon, eggs, sausage and grits. At lunch there is a Chinese buffet or a regular menu of American foods such as a grilled chicken salad with vinaigrette dressing. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $$

ST. CHARLES TAVERN 1433 St. Charles Ave. 523-9823 Hop off the streetcar anytime day or night for a chili or crawfish etouffee omelette, as well as the typical breakfast fare. The Tavern Combo consists of red beans and rice with andouille sausage, seafood jambalaya and gumbo. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

SUPER POPEYES 3850 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 885-0356 Super Popeyes super-sizes the usual fast-food menu adding fajitas (chicken, beef or a combination of both) with shredded lettuce, baked onions and peppers, sour cream and pico de gallo wrapped in a flour tortilla. Housemade Southern-style cheesecake is served plain or with sliced strawberries or chocolate sauce. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

TREASURE ISLAND BUFFET 5050 Williams Blvd., Treasure Chest Casino, Kenner 443-8000; www.treasurechest.com/site/dining Treasure Chest Casino's buffet is stocked with fried oysters, shrimp, catfish, boiled shrimp and mussels. Add a T-bone steak or lobster tail for $7. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, Sunday brunch. Credit cards. $$

WOW WINGERY 231 Carrollton Ave. 488-6410; 2170 Gause Blvd., Slidell 985-661-9692; 3100 Severn Ave., Metairie 885-1322; 4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 889-9693; 5359 Mounes Blvd., Harahan 733-8600; www.wingery.com The selection of 15 sauces for the wings really sets these restaurants apart. Try the chicken quesadilla, fajitas and sweet potato pies. Try Santa Fe chipotle, Bombay coconut curry or Italian garlic and herb. Wings are 35 cents each on Monday, and on Tuesday kids can eat for less than a dollar. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

AMERICAN CONTEMPORARY

AUSTIN'S RESTAURANT 5101 W. Esplanade St., Metairie 888-5533 Try the redfish Papillote, wherein a fresh fillet is baked in puff pastry and served in a sauce of crawfish, crabmeat, and butter. The spumone amaretto cheesecake is an indulgence that shouldn't be missed, unless you're ordering the white chocolate bread pudding instead. Reservations recommended. Dinner Monday through Saturday, available by special arrangement for banquets and parties for lunch. Credit cards. $$

BAR AND BISTRO LA LOUISIANE 725 Iberville St. 387-8200; www.lalouisiane.com After a reopening last April, La Louisiane has recalibrated itself for a more contemporary, slick feel. The food meanwhile maintains its finesse with such offerings as the Colorado lamb braised in a tomato-based broth with a hint of orange zest, served over pan-crisped polenta. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner daily. Reservations recommended. Credit cards. $$

BELLA LUNA 914 N. Peters St. 529-1583 The roasted loin of lamb is herbed and topped with a shallot and garlic gravy with housemade sausage. Their sauteed redfish comes with corn maque choux and a meuniere sauce. Be sure to leave room for the fluffy richness that is the white chocolate cheesecake drizzled in Godiva chocolate sauce. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

BOMBAY CLUB 830 Conti St. 586-0972; thebombayclub.com Recently recommended dishes include the Bombay filet, a center-cut 8 oz. prime tenderloin topped with Stilton cheese, creamy mashed potatoes and bordelaise sauce. The chicken Saltimbucca is wrapped in prosciutto and served with wild mushrooms and a reduced Marsala wine sauce. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily, late-night Thursday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

COBALT 333 St. Charles Ave. 565-5595; www.cobaltrestaurant.com New twists on classic dishes include the crispy softshell crab sandwich, served with lemon-basil mayonnaise, bacon and sweet hot pickled fried green tomatoes, barbecue mussels served with jalapeno cornbread, and barbecued pork tenderloin served with white cheddar mashed potatoes. Reservations recommended. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$

COPELAND'S CHEESECAKE BISTRO 2001 St. Charles Ave. 593-9955; 4517 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 454-7620; www.copelandscheesecakebistro.com Everything's larger than life at the Cheesecake Bistro, from the generous servings of home-style American food with a twist to the awe-inspiring desserts to the party atmosphere. Try a comforting classic like the Cobb salad, chicken pot pie or pot roast special. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$

CRYSTAL ROOM 833 Poydras St. (Le Pavillon Hotel) 581-3111; www.lepavillon.com The weekend breakfast buffet offers a spread of everything from standards like eggs Benedict to innovations like the bananas Foster waffle. Also sample the weekday lunch buffet, which offers a variety of soups, salads and pasta. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

THE DELACHAISE 3442 St. Charles Ave. 895-0858 New menu items include steamed mussels in a curry cream sauce, ratatouille in vol-au-vent pastry, and steak au poivre in a pink peppercorn brandy cream sauce. At the bar, choose from 45 beers, 75 wines by the glass and more than 100 spirits. No reservations. Dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

HERBSAINT BAR & RESTAURANT 701 St. Charles Ave. 524-4114; www.herbsaint.com Gourmet's guide to America's best restaurants called a meal at Herbsaint 'a picture of modern New Orleans in action.' Apparently, modern New Orleans in action (courtesy Chef Donald Link and partner Susan Spicer) looks a lot like pan-roasted Gulf shrimp with romesco and toasted almonds. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

HOOKAH CAFE 1407 Decatur St. 943-1101; www.hookah-cafe.com Customers can eat tandoor salmon, grilled lamb sirloin, tofu or a host of other dishes from the extensive menu while enjoying nightly entertainment that includes singers and DJs. The salmon starts with a fillet that's marinated overnight in a basil-herb sauce before it's roasted over wood charcoal in the tandoor and served with sauteed asparagus spears and Wild Mushroom Bryanni (crimini and shiitake mushrooms cooked in curry sauce with raisins, onions and rice). Reservations accepted for large parties before 8:30 p.m. Dinner and late-night daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $$

KABBY'S ON THE RIVER 2 Poydras St. (Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel) 584-3880; www.emarketing360.com/hilton/no/hnor/ Watch the riverboats drift along the Mississippi while dining on a grilled yellowfin tuna with roasted pepper couscous. The upscale restaurant's eclectic menu of contemporary cuisine also includes blue crab bisque and a toasted pecan spinach salad. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

LA PETITE GROCERY 4238 Magazine St., 891-3377 Chef and part-owner Anton Schulte was Anne Kearney's chef de cuisine at Peristyle, while Schulte's wife, Diane (who directs the dining room), also worked at Peristyle. Enjoy the wide array of reduction sauces that grace such dishes as the veal flank steak with naturally pepper-scented French lentils and a beefy tomato-Dijon demi-glace. Reservations accepted. Dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

LAFAYETTE SPORTS CLUB 600 St. Charles Ave. (Lafayette Hotel) 410-2582; www.doylerestaurantgroup.com Lafayette feeds fans filet mignon with a glass of burgundy. Burgers are also available, including the Boggy Hebert made with Cajun turkey instead of beef. Lafayette doesn't forget the most important part of any sports bar: plenty of televisions. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, brunch and dinner Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$

LOUISIANA STAR 409 N. Columbia St., Covington (985) 893-8873 Start with an appetizer of steamed mussels in spicy white wine cream sauce, accompanied by sweet potato fries. Move onto Poulet Roti, an herbed, marinated roasted half chicken served with mashed potatoes, caramelized cauliflower and tasso ham jus. Reservations accepted for groups of six or more. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

LULU'S IN THE GARDEN 2203 St. Charles Ave., Garden District Hotel 586-9956; www.lulusinthegarden.com Chef Corbin Evans gathers seasonal local ingredients and prepares them with a light touch. The winter menu includes slow roasted salmon with braised red cabbage and sweet mash, mustard crusted catfish with goat cheese creamed lima beans and a pan-roasted chicken breast served with bacon mashed potatoes covered with black-eyed pea brown butter gravy. Reservations accepted. Breakfast Monday through Saturday, lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Wednesday through Sunday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

MAPLE STREET CAFE 7623 Maple St. 314-9003 Many diners opt for the salads and sandwiches, but the Duck Jameel, a pepper-crusted duck breast with blueberry cognac sauce, and the filet portobello, a grilled steak topped with a portobello mushroom in a balsamic port wine demi-glace, are both excellent options for guests seeking something more elaborate. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, dinner Sunday. Credit cards. $$

NOLA 534 St. Louis St. 522-6652; www.emerils.com The signature cedar plank fish, a seasonal fish rubbed with citrus and horseradish baked on a cedar plank, brings joy to locals and tourists alike. The roasted duck glace with a caramel whiskey sauce is also popular. Gambit Weekly readers voted Emeril Lagasse the best chef in New Orleans for 2004. Reservations highly recommended. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner nightly. Credit cards. $$$

ORLEANS GRAPEVINE 720 Orleans Ave. 523-1930; www.orleansgrapevine.com Orleans Grapevine offers 60 wines by the glass to accompany dishes like Boursin-stuffed chicken breast on a ragout of black-eyed peas, tasso, mushroom and spinach. Perhaps a glass of Australian wine would go well with Dijon mustard and herb crusted New Zealand rack of lamb coated in mint infused demi-glace? No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

STEVE'S DINER 828 Gravier St. 522-8198 Steve's a friendly guy, and keeps his food friendly by offering home-style breakfasts and offering daily specials. If you're not in the mood for eggs and grits, the California Wrap includes turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, avocado, cucumber and lettuce with mayonnaise and Creole mustard in a sun-dried tomato basil wrap. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $

TCHOUP-N-JOE'S 870 Tchoupitoulas St. 581-2858 Tchoup-N-Joe's has been happily cruising along for nine months now and attracts local folks with fare like char-grilled oysters and grilled portobello mushrooms. Don't forget the three flat-screen TV's zeroed in on football. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

THE VELVET ROOM 916 Lafayette St. 589-0069 The building that houses the Velvet Room was a bordello built in 1850. In keeping with its past, the little velvet-clad jazz and blues supper club seduces diners with dishes like the Aphrodisiac Duck Salad and the Shrimp Menage a Trois. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wednesday through Friday, dinner and late-night Wednesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

VICTOR'S GRILL 921 Canal St. (The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans) 524-1331; www.ritzcarlton.com/hotels/new_orleans Chef Matt Murphy is the man behind the food at Victor's Grill, and he promises new menu items come February. Until then, enjoy the lobster Thermidor and grilled New York strip with seared foie gras. The pecan-crusted rack of lamb is served with grilled vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. Reservations highly recommended. Breakfast daily, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

ZEA ROTISSERIE 1401 W. Esplanade Ave. (The Esplanade Mall), Kenner 468-7733; 1655 Hickory Ave., Harahan 738-079 They are famous for their selection of rotisserie meat and chicken, but the Thai ribs (pork ribs marinated in Thai sauce and slow cooked with sesame seeds and cilantro) are also popular. The less carnivorous enjoy the entree-size spinach salad dressed with pepper jelly vinaigrette. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BAGELS

BAYOU BAGELRY & DELI 1507 Metairie Road, Metairie 219-0206; 1907 St. Charles Ave. 525-9400; 3535 Severn Ave., Metairie 888-6400; 4626 Hwy. 22, Mandeville (985) 845-1081; 6307 S. Miro St. 862-6800 As the day begins, the folks at Bayou Bagelry get busy serving toasted bagels with cream cheese and lox to those bracing themselves for a day of work. At lunch, deli meats and cheeses are stacked on bagels for sandwiches such as the roast beef and the Executive Club. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday at the Gravier Street location, breakfast and lunch daily at all other locations. Credit cards. $

BAGEL FACTORY 3113 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie 837-8707 One of the small handful of places in town where you can find New York-style bagels and homemade cream cheese in such mouthwatering flavors as tomato basil, spinach artichoke, shallot, lox, and cinnamon raisin. A soon-to-open location at South Carrollton Avenue and Oleander Street will have bagel sandwiches and an expanded seating arrangement. Delivery available. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Checks and cash. $

BAR & GRILL

ALIBI BAR & GRILL 811 Iberville St. 522-9187; www.alibineworleans.com Here's your Alibi, which serves up po-boys, burgers, steaks and salads along with a few New Orleans favorites such as the shrimp plate (deep fried shrimp served with fries and a house salad with choice of dressing). No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

BABY BOOMERS 4617 Sanford St., Metairie 457-0065 The kitchen never closes so the juicy 10-oz. hamburger can be yours anytime. Likewise the rib-eye steak and fries, a steal at $9. Standby bar favorites like jalapeno poppers and chicken tenders are offered as well. The drinks here are affordable at any hour. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

BALCONY BAR & CAFE 3201 Magazine Street 891-1225 Along Magazine Street's sprawling stretch lie only a few places where the tap selection is awe-inspiring; Balcony Bar & Cafe is one such place, with 50 draft beers and 13 by the bottle. That's just a set-up for a kitchen that serves up half-pound burgers, pizzas, appetizers, salads and wraps, calzones and desserts. No reservations. Dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

BEACHCORNER BAR & GRILL 4905 Canal St. 488-7357 There's nothing like a burger with your beer, and one of the best burger deals in town is the Beach burger, 10-oz. for $4. The extensive sandwich list includes the likes of grilled chicken breast and fried shrimp, and you can also grab some newly added items like the chicken tacos or shrimp salad. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, open late. Credit cards. $

BROOKS' SEAHORSE SALOON 1648 Gentilly Blvd. 948-7050 Located across from the Fair Grounds, this local tavern attracts jockeys, trainers, racing enthusiasts and anyone who shares an appetite for a burger and a beer. The half-pound sirloin burgers are dressed as you like 'em; other bar fare includes chicken tenders and French fries. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

BULLDOG 3236 Magazine St. 891-1516; bulldog.draftfreak.com With hundreds of beers to choose from, the Bulldog is a veritable tourist attraction. It also claims to serve one of the best burgers in town and makes fresh 8-oz. patties of Angus steak, flame broils them and tops them with a variety of delicious and often quite messy combinations. No reservations. Lunch Friday through Sunday, dinner daily until 1 a.m. Credit cards. $

CAJUN MIKE'S PUB 'N' GRUB 116 Baronne St. 566-0055; www.cajunmikes.com This neighborhood hangout has been compared to TV's Cheers by more than one loyal regular. Maybe it's the whimsically named, overstuffed sandwiches that keeps them coming back: the 'Boudreaux's Atchafalaya Run' is a generous portion of turkey, provolone, onion, lettuce and tomato on a roll. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

CHEZ VODUN 822 N. Rampart St. 558-0653; www.africanvodun.com This annex to Rampart Street's voodoo museum has recently changed its menu to focus more on light bar snacks with plenty of mojo. Chicken fingers, pasta salads and fish and chips, combined with Henry Butler playing live on Friday nights, will put a spell on you. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

COLUMBIA ST. TAPROOM & GRILL 434 N. Columbia St., Covington (985) 898-0899 The Northshore jumps with this bar and grill that serves up almost as much live music as food, with salads, burgers, po-boys, wraps, specialty sandwiches and hot-plate offerings. Ask about the daily specials. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

DECKBAR & GRILLE 1715 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 837-7665 Hearty bar food and live music on weekends make this Jefferson joint jump. Check out the boiled seafood, fried pickles and the Sister-In-Law Debris: a beef brisket served with gravy and hollowed-out French bread. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Wednesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

DEJA VU RESTAURANT AND BAR 400 Dauphine St. 523-1936; www.dejavurestaurant-bar.com Everyone from off-duty strippers to partied-out conventioneers to rock bands after a gig heads to Deja Vu for late-night/early-morning fortification. Tuesday and Thursday nights offer a $5.99 steak special, an 8-oz strip served with loaded baked potato, from 6 p.m. 'until they run out' -- otherwise, try a variety of burgers, omelettes, salads and sandwiches. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

DINO'S BAR & GRILL 1128 Tchoupitoulas St. 558-0900 This laid-back spot offers a variety of sandwiches, burgers and po-boys, as well as reliable bar snacks like nachos and chicken tenders. Also check out Sunday plate specials like the grilled redfish, and be sure to stop by Tuesday nights for steak night. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

DINO'S LAKEVIEW 339 W. Harrison Ave. 484-6460 Dino's is a family-friendly pizza, ribs, chicken and seafood joint. Homemade pizza dough is hand-tossed and topped with a homemade sauce. No reservations. Delivery available. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

DONNA'S BAR & GRILL 800 N. Rampart St. 596-6914; www.donnasbarandgrill.com This Rampart Street joint is one of the hottest places in town to see brass bands and other traditional New Orleans music. Keep up your energy for a possible second line with New Orleans favorites like red beans or black-eyed peas with rice, as well as barbecued brisket, ribs and pulled pork. No reservations. Dinner Thursday through Monday. Credit cards. $

DOS JEFES UPTOWN CIGAR BAR 5535 Tchoupitoulas St. 891-8500 Nightly live jazz is the soundtrack for a fine cigar enjoyed over a game of 8-ball in Dos Jefes' intimate, relaxed but swanky surroundings. Tasty bar snacks include batter-fried fish and chips and savory baked brie. No reservations. Dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

THE EDGE BAR & GRILL 3400 Hessmer Ave., Metairie 780-2266 Steak nights are the bargain that keep locals coming back, with an 8-oz. filet with all the trimmings going for only $7 (Tuesday through Thursday). Barbecued ribs are also popular, as are the grilled tuna steaks and the Belly Buster, a serious meal of 1-1/2 pounds of prime beef. Lunch Monday through Friday, late-night daily. Credit cards. $

ERIN ROSE GRILL 811 Conti St. 523-8619; www.erinrosebar.com Hearty fare and generous portions are the rules at this pub, which offers an untypical version of the shepherd's pie in the Erin's Pie, which combines shredded chicken, peas, carrots, corn and potatoes (a vegetarian version also is offered). For a taste of the unusual, order the housemade Guinness ice cream (yes, you can taste the beer) served in a frozen schooner. No reservations. Late lunch and dinner daily. Delivery in the French Quarter available. Credit cards. $

ERNST CAFE 600 S. Peters St. 525-8544; www.ernstcafe.net Ernst Cafe features traditional Southern favorites while maintaining its New Orleans character and hospitality. The spring menu includes plates of Buffalo BBQ shrimp, pecan fried catfish and crabmeat au gratin. After a win at Harrah's, come by for the seafood gumbo, grilled chicken salad or a juicy burger. No reservations. Lunch dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

F&M PATIO BAR 4841 Tchoupitoulas St. 895-6784 Late-night antics involving the vintage jukebox and the leopard-print pool table have made F&M a local legend. Generous portions of cheese fries, burgers, fajitas and loaded nachos fuel the party well into the wee hours. No reservations. Late-night Monday through Saturday. Cash only. $

FAT HARRY'S BAR & GRILL 4330 St. Charles Ave. 895-9582 The solid bar menu offers a variety of salads, quesadillas, hot wings and other staples. A standout is the Jazz Burger -- a grilled patty of ground beef and sausage topped with cheddar and Monterey Jack Cheeses and finished off with a dollop of barbecue sauce. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

FOX & HOUND ENGLISH PUB & GRILLE 1200 S. Clearview Pkwy. (Elmwood Village Shopping Center), Harahan 731-6000 Sports fans don't just come here to watch the games. They also come for the slow-smoked baby back ribs, smoked brisket and chicken. These hearty platters come complete with Texas toast and a choice of sides, which include barbecued beans, fresh coleslaw, potato salad, mashed potatoes, fries or corn. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

FRIAR TUCK'S 5130 Freret St. 891-4080 The good friar was a fan of good living, and it shows on the menu of this Uptown hangout. The folks here boast of the hefty, hand-packed, half-pound, all-beef burger with cheese, complete with an order of fries. For those with a less carnivorous appetite, salads, sandwiches and soups grace the menu. No reservations. Dinner and late-night Monday through Sunday. Credit cards. $

GABBY'S FOOD & SPIRITS 6600 Morrison Road 242-9829 Regulars come back for specialties like the eggplant boat, fried chicken and grilled garlic shrimp, as well as daily lunch specials and a variety of po-boys. Night owls particularly appreciate the 5 a.m. closing time. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

G.B.'S PATIO BAR AND GRILL 8117 Maple St. 861-0067 G.B's thoughtfully serves up its juicy burgers in two sizes to accommodate all appetites. Both the small and the medium are accompanied by either a loaded baked potato or thick-cut seasoned fries. Grilled salmon and tuna are also a treat, and the all-beef hot dog with fries is a bargain. Reservations recommended. Lunch Friday through Sunday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

HEDGES BAR AND GRILL 4 Galleria Blvd. (Wyndham Hotel), Metairie 620-9412 The Wyndham Hotel offers its guests an unexpected dining option with this cozy tavern, complete with a brick oven that turns out gourmet pizzas such as the popular grilled chicken pizza with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese. Reservations recommended. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

HOBNOBBER'S BAR & GRILL 139 Carondelet St. 525-5428 For more than two decades, Hobnobber's has built a following with plates of home-style New Orleans cooking. A team of eight drivers stands ready to deliver lunches of grilled chicken with grilled broccoli and tomatoes or crabcakes with creamy crawfish sauce. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, bar open daily. Delivery available. Credit cards and checks. $

HOOTERS 301 N. Peters St. 522-9222; 2781 Belle Chase Hwy., Gretna 393-7177; 4748 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 889-0160; www.hootersoflouisiana.com Is it the babes, the brews, or the tasty bar food that makes Hooters such a popular sports bar? Cheer on the home team with a cold pint of beer, a plate of oysters and a burger. During weekday happy hours, the after-work crowd takes advantage of discounts on both drinks and Hooters' famous Buffalo wings. Reservations for large parties only. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

HURRICANE'S 1414 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 833-0050 To sate the hunger pangs, Hurricane's serves up hamburgers, chicken or shrimp quesadillas and daily lunch specials such as bell peppers stuffed with seafood and served with angel hair pasta bathed in marinara sauce. There's a full range of domestic and imported beers to help you wash it all down. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

JIGGER'S GRILL 1645 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 828-3555 This genuine neighborhood bar and grill offers juicy burgers and chicken straight off the fire. Enjoy these or a salad before you shoot a game of pool. It's the perfect place to kick back with friends after a long day at the office. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

KABBY'S SPORTS EDITION & GRILLE 2 Poydras St. (Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel) 584-3880 Sports fans from around the country watch their favorites teams at the Hilton New Orleans' sports bar. A menu of burgers, po-boys, bar-style appetizers and beer keeps the patrons happy, no matter who wins the game. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

LE BON TEMPS ROULE 4801 Magazine St. 897-3448 Le Bon Temps Roule creates perfect harmony with a combination of free music and a menu of quesadillas loaded with cheese, beans and chicken, juicy burgers and the new broccoli ball, a deep-fried floret of broccoli coated in cheese and bacon. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily, 24 hours on Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $

MELIUS BAR & CAFE 1701 Lake Ave., Metairie 828-9446 At this neighborhood joint, friends shoot darts and compete in pool leagues while snacking on burgers, bar food and Melius' signature French fries smothered in Swiss cheese and brown gravy. Breakfast begins at 6 a.m. and includes tasty omelettes and other traditional fare. No reservations. Breakfast Monday through Friday, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

METRY CAFE& BAR 601 Metairie Road, Metairie 834-1212 The bar with a cafe that's open for lunch only has been keeping people filled up for a quarter century with traditional home cooking. Try the fried chicken served with either French fries or mashed potatoes or go for the serious comfort food with homemade meatloaf. No reservations. Checks. $

MICHAEL'S MID-CITY GRILL 4139 Canal St. 486-8200 Michael's cooks hearty American favorites. The burgers are popular, but guests also devour ribs, seafood, po-boys and chicken tenders. Ask about the daily specials. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

MULLIGAN'S TAVERNE 3535 Severn Ave., Suite 10, Metairie 888-5858 On Friday nights, this sports bar turns on the karaoke machine and lets the customers provide the entertainment. The 1/3-lb. burgers keep the budding troubadours and wanna-be rock stars well fed. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PALMETTO'S 1901 Bayou Lane, Slidell (985) 643-0050; www.palmettos.net House favorites here include a seafood gumbo with crab, shrimp and oysters as well as Eggplant Palmetto's, which features lightly fried eggplant medallions drizzled in crab and shrimp sauce. Live music on some Wednesdays and Saturdays. Reservations accepted. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

THE PATIO GRILL & HIGHWATER BAR 2221 Lakeshore Drive, Mandeville (985) 626-9190; www.thepatiogrill.com Opened just last spring, the Patio Grill & Highwater Bar offers casual dining and an array of pizzas, steaks, seafood, hamburgers, wraps, pastas and salads. The burgers come in 4 or 8 ounces and are cooked to order with all the trimmings. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PETE'S PUB 444 St. Charles Ave. (Hotel Inter-Continental) 585-5401; www.new-orleans.intercontinental.com Located inside a swank hotel, Pete's Pub serves unpretentious American favorites like chicken tenders, flaming chicken fajitas and burgers. The crawfish Atchafalaya, pasta and crawfish in a cream sauce, makes a nod to local tastes. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards and checks. $$

PORT OF CALL 838 Esplanade Ave. 523-0120; www.portofcallneworleans.com People happily line up outside the Port of Call for one of the most acclaimed burgers in town. The steaks and stuffed potatoes are also worth the wait. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

THE RED EYE GRILL 852 S. Peters St. 593-9393; www.redeyegrill.net Billed as 'the last place you want to be,' the Red Eye's location and hours make it a convenient spot after a concert for a huge burger or a sandwich of grilled yellowfin tuna flavored with a secret seasoning and a special sauce. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night Monday through Saturday, dinner and late-night Sunday. Credit cards. $

RIVERSHACK TAVERN 3449 River Road, Jefferson 837-7118/834-4938 The bar stools here have two legs and most wear pants and shoes. The whimsically decorated shack serves fried green tomatoes, alligator pizza and specials like chicken Kiev every night until midnight. The atmosphere gets rowdy Saturday night with free live music. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

SHIMMY SHACK 1855 Dock St., Harahan 729-4442 Grab a sandwich or a burger, or if you're in the mood for something a little more sophisticated, try the oysters and brie on a warm pita, topped with balsamic vinaigrette. Reservations recommended for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $

SHOOTERS BAR & GRILL 3655 18th St., Metairie 456-2618 There's always something to cheer on at this bar's 9-foot screen or half-dozen 25-inch TVs. Try the 8-oz. Shooter Burger served with French fries. For a liquid dessert, try the cherry cheesecake martini. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

SIDELINES BAR & GRILL 1229 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 831-4002 Sports enthusiasts can sate their hunger for food as well as televised games at this restaurant, which offers steak night every Thursday featuring an 8-oz. filet mignon served with Cajun creamed potatoes and French bread for $10. Sidelines will also offer all-you-can-eat crawfish on Monday nights during Lent. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

SPEAKEASY SPORTS BAR & GRILL 4345 Williams Blvd., Kenner 466-4069 Supplement your sports-watching with darts, pool and video poker. Sate your appetite with a signature 10-oz. Speakeasy burger made to order and dressed, but don't forget the half-pound rib-eye steak with French fries. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

SPORTS CENTER BAR & GRILL 3805 Hessmer Ave., Metairie Saturday night is Surf or Turf Night, with a 6-oz. lobster tail, a 6-oz. filet and baked potato for $12.75. Friday offers all-you-can-eat crawfish for $10. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Delivery available. Credit cards and checks. $

STITCHES BAR & GRILL 3941 Houma Blvd., Metairie 454-6266 Stitches caters to its hospital staff patrons with a side of humor: try the Triple Bypass Burger: a 3/4-lb. patty with double cheese, bacon and a hot sausage patty, dressed of course, and accompanied by French fries. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

SUGAR PARK TAVERN 800 France St. 940-6226 Sugar Park offers everything from burgers to thin-crust, New York-style pizza, fish and chips and chili. Bywater locals often hang out at the bar watching sports and other TV shows. No reservations. Dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

SWAMP ROOM 5216 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 888-5242 The Swamp Room proudly declares itself 'Home of the Swamp Burger,' a 10-oz. burger with all the trimmings. Black bean quesadilla rolls, cheese fries and other bar foods are the mainstays for those who want to quench hunger as well as thirst at this bar. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

TIMES BAR & GRILL 1827 Front St., Slidell (985) 639-3335; 1896 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville (985) 626-1161; www.timesgrill.com If you want to go to Times, make sure you have a lot of it, as well as a big appetite. The Hulk Burger is a massive 1 1/2-lb. char-grilled hamburger dressed any way you can handle it. If you eat it all, you get your photo on the Hulk Wall of Fame. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

TUCKER'S TAVERN 635 S. Roman St. 522-0440 Tucker's is 'Home of the Stuffed Deep-Fried Burger.' Yes, they actually batter and deep-fry a hamburger. One of the most popular variations is The Big Tuck, a deep-fried burger filled with pepper Jack cheese and bacon and then topped with barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, lunch and early dinner Saturday. Credit cards. $

TYLER'S BEER GARDEN 3841 Orleans Ave. 482-7207 The kitchen is open at Tyler's from 11 a.m. to 6 a.m. That's because Tyler's specializes in 'Mid-City Munchies' including a cheese fries for starters, 'Where Ya At' breakfast wraps, and the Bayou St. John burger served with cheese and 'drug through the garden' (i.e., dressed) with options to add mushrooms or bacon, and with fries. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

UGLY DOG SALOON & BBQ 401 Andrew Higgins Drive 569-8459; www.uglydogsaloon.net The Ugly Dog satisfies sports-bar requirements with nine TVs and hearty servings of Memphis-style barbecue pork, beef, ribs and sausage. Bartenders serve $1.25 domestic beers during happy hour. Reservations accepted, except during lunch rush. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

WINSTON'S PUB AND PATIO 531 Metairie Road, Metairie 831-8705 Come here for the neighborhood bar vibe, cheer for the added bonus of good bar food like cheese fries or the Forest Hills Burger, a full half-pound burger dressed and cooked as ordered with a side of waffle fries or beer battered onion rings. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

BARBECUE

ABITA BAR-B-QUE 69399 Hwy. 59, Abita Springs (985) 892-0205 Often voted as having some of the best baby back ribs in the area, Abita Bar-B-Que keeps the Northshore licking its fingers with all the traditional faves (pork, chicken, beef, ribs, etc.) but also consider the boomerang-sized turkey legs. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

ADAM'S BARBECUE PLUS 1246 Franklin Ave. 942-1100 This family-run takeout joint near Faubourg Marigny has rapidly become a local favorite for its tangy barbecue sauce, potato salad and yams. Choose from pork or beef ribs or chicken, served in all possible combinations. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Delivery available. Cash only. $

CORKY'S BAR-B-Q 4243 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 887-5000; www.corkysribs.com Corky's serves up juicy Memphis-style barbecue plates and sandwiches with all the classic sides: coleslaw, beans, macaroni and cheese and the non-traditional but ever-popular spaghetti. Load up on barbecued pork, brisket or chicken, but save room for home-style desserts like apple cobbler with ice cream. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

FIVE O'CLOCK GRILLE & PREMIUM PIT BBQ 501 Bourbon St. 529-4256 Now you can strut with your barbecue right down Bourbon Street at this relatively new addition. Choose from beef brisket, pulled pork, hot sausage and smoked chicken and make your own plate with a variety of sides. Reservations accepted. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

HILLBILLY BAR-B-Q 208 Tallulah Ave., River Ridge 738-1508 Chef-owner Larry Wyatt claims Hillbilly Bar-B-Q isn't anything close to gourmet -- just good home cookin'. But regulars might argue that it's just as good for invoking dreams of Kentucky hickory-smoked meats cooked with a vinegar-based barbecue sauce, served alongside Hobo Taters, a hot potato salad dressed with bacon and sour cream. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

THE JOINT 801 Poland Ave. 949-3232 At this funky Bywater locale, patrons plug quarters into the jukebox and order helpings of pulled pork, ribs and barbecued chicken. The kitchen dry-rubs the meat, smokes it slowly and serves the housemade sauces on the side. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Thursday through Saturday and Monday, lunch and early dinner Sunday. Call for delivery availability. Credit cards. $

SILKY O'SULLIVAN'S 311 Decatur St. 525-1011 Watch the latest sports brawl on Silky's three big-screen TVs while feasting on Memphis-style ribs and pulled pork that has been smoked for 10 hours over apple wood. The barbecue treats are dry-rubbed, but there's always Silky's special sauce to add some humidity. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

VOODOO BBQ 100 E. James Blvd., Kenner 464-1880; 1501 St. Charles Ave. 522-4647; 8550 Pontchartrain Blvd., 283-8301; www.voodoobbqgrill.com The cooks at Voodoo BBQ know that good things often take time, so they slow roast their dry-rubbed brisket and pork for 16 hours. The tender meat is served with a choice of three homemade sauces and sides like corn pudding, Gris Gris Greens and Rattle Snake Beans. Voted best place to get barbecue by Gambit readers in 2004. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards.$

ZYDEQUE 808 Iberville St. 565-5520; www.zydeque.com Recently named by Esquire Magazine as 'The Best New Barbecue Restaurant in America,' Zydeque smokes its Cajun, dry-rubbed barbecue over hickory and pecan right in the heart of the French Quarter. Chef Tenney Flynn fills the plates with Memphis-style ribs accompanied by boudin balls and Southern Comfort mashed sweet potatoes. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

BELGIAN

CLEMENTINE'S BELGIAN BISTROT 2505 Whitney Ave., Gretna 366-3995 Dining is an active event with fun dishes like the filet mignon fondue for two or more; pots of hot oil sizzle on the table as you cook your meat, at the end of a long skewer, right at your own table. Rustic Belgian fare also includes chicken and mushroom crepes and mussels steamed in white wine sauce with the famous Belgian frites. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

BREWPUB

ABITA BREWPUB 72011 Holly St., Abita Springs (985)892-5837; www.abita.com A friendly atmosphere, 14 Abita brews on tap, and plenty of eats make this a destination for both locals and traveling beer scholars. Down-home favorites such as baby-back ribs are braised in beer and served with steak-cut fries. Reservations required for parties of more than 4. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CRESCENT CITY BREWHOUSE 527 Decatur St. 522-0571; www.crescentcitybrewhouse.com This airy, two-story French Quarter spot is largely dominated by the burnished copper tanks in which the restaurant cooks up its special house brews, including the light, crisp, Pilsner and the robust Red Stallion. Baked and fresh oysters, as well as heartier fare like the smoked and slow-roasted Brewhouse ribs, make an excellent match with the microbrews. Reservations recommended for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

GORDON BIERSCH BREWERY RESTAURANT 200 Poydras St. 552-2739; www.gordonbiersch.com Guests can see how the magic is made inside this restaurant featuring a state-of-the-art brewery that produces hand-crafted, Bavarian-style lagers. The dishes are prepared fresh from scratch, using local ingredients and served in a sophisticated yet casual atmosphere. Dine inside, at the bar (which features plasma-screen TVs for sports viewing) or outside on the patio. Reservations recommended. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

LAGER'S INTERNATIONAL ALE HOUSE 3501 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 887-9923 Lager's offers a full menu to go with its 75 beers on tap and 125 bottled choices. The crawfish Banditos piles crawfish tails on fried whole wheat tortillas stuffed with melted cheeses, green chiles and sour cream. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

ZEA ROTISSERIE & BREWERY 4450 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 780-9090 Obviously they are famous for their selection of rotisserie meat and chicken, but the Thai ribs (pork ribs marinated in Thai sauce and slow cooked with sesame seeds and cilantro) are also delicious at Zea's Rotisserie. The less carnivorous enjoy the entree-size spinach salad dressed with pepper jelly vinaigrette. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BURGERS

BUD'S BROILER 500 City Park Ave. 486-2559; 605 Lapalco Blvd., Gretna 393-8160; 2008 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie 899-BUDS (2837); 2338 Banks St. 821-3022; 2800 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Kenner 466-0026; 3001 Ormond Blvd., Destrehan 725-1116; 3151 Calhoun St. 861-0906; 4101 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 837-9419; 5600 Lapalco Blvd., Marrero 348-0492; 6325 Elysian Fields Ave. 282-6696; 8855 W. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette 270-9599; 9327 Jefferson Hwy., River Ridge 738-2452 Film buffs may want to visit the City Park Avenue location for its cameo as Halle Berry's workplace in the Oscar-winning flick Monster's Ball. However, the other locations all serve up the same fresh-grilled burgers and hot dogs topped with chili, cheese, hickory sauce, onions and much more, plus fries, onion rings, homemade desserts and rich, thick shakes. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Cash only. $

GROUND PAT'I BURGERS 814 N. Hwy. 190, Covington 985-893-4208; 1305 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner 466-8060; 2740 Severn Ave., Metairie 887-2711; 3124 David Drive, Metairie 887-9449; www.groundpati.com USDA choice ground chuck is grilled to order over an open-flame char broiler at all Ground Pat'I locations, resulting in juicy, sizzling burgers. Also on the menu are appetizers like the homemade onion rings and char-grilled shrimp skewers, as well as steaks, seafood and salads. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

LEE'S HAMBURGERS 103 Schlief Drive, Belle Chasse 392-9922; 904 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 836-6804; 2100 Airline Drive, Kenner 472-0966; 4301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 885-0110 You can get your burger craving squelched, and choose from hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, chili cheese fries or shakes. The Schlief Drive and Airline Drive locations also serve lunch specials such as fried shrimp and hamburger steak. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Methods of payment vary by location. $

CAFE

BACK PORCH GRILL 414 N. New Hampshire St., Covington (985)892-5252 On Mondays, red beans and rice come with a garden salad. On Friday, the fried catfish plate is a popular favorite, and comes with homemade potato salad. On the days in between, you're guaranteed to find a daily soup special, overstuffed sandwiches, and great meal-sized salads. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards and checks. $

BAYOU COFFEE HOUSE 324 N. Jefferson Davis Pkwy. 484-7390 The best-selling tuna and egg salad sandwiches sustain many nearby professionals through their workdays. Bayou also makes a muffaletta and any frothy coffee drink you can think up. Fair trade iced coffee is also available. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

BLUEBIRD CAFE 625 Prytania St. 895-7166 The Bluebird has extended its hours, and now you can get their hearty breakfast fare and sandwiches (and some new dinner items) until 10 p.m. The brand new veggie corned beef hash is a twist on the popular, traditional version. Eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and a pile of other veggies are served as a hash cake with the standby sides of two eggs, home fries or grits, and a biscuit or toast. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Cash only. $

BROKEN EGG CAFE 200 Gerard St., Mandeville (985)624-3388; www.anotherbrokenegg.com The dining rooms in this unique turn-of-the-century house fill up so quickly for breakfast that loyal patrons from New Orleans call ahead as they're getting on the Causeway to reserve a place in line. The brioche-stuffed French toast features thick slices of brioche wrapped around home-made pastry cream and topped with fresh blueberries, strawberries, and homemade whipped cream. Reservations recommended. Credit cards. $

CAFE AU LAIT 307 Chartres St. 528-9933 This atmospheric spot is perfect for whiling away the afternoon while sipping espresso. Likewise you can while away the afternoon filling your belly with large sandwiches like the Quarter Club (the classic version with the addition of avocados) or the ever-popular Chartres Burger, smothered in Cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Credit cards and checks. $

CAFE D'CAPPUCCINO 4041 Williams Blvd., Suite B8, Kenner 443-2299 The Southwest chicken sandwich is the most popular of the sandwich offerings: marinated, grilled and served with cheese, guacamole, lettuce and tomato. The Club salad is a meal in itself, perfect for a midday recharging before going back out into the world. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Cash only. $

CAFE EN VIE 1241 Decatur St. 524-3689 Espresso drinks are the focus, with seasonal specialties like the candy cane latte; there's also a full bar and menu of light salads, quiches, sandwiches and pastries. Breakfast is a bargain; a buttermilk biscuit loaded with bacon, egg and cheese is only $3. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

CAFE FRESCA 4441 W. Metairie Ave., Metairie 887-2010 Diners love to peruse the chef's daily specials, particularly the eggplant Vincent, a deep-fried eggplant pirogue served in a seafood cream sauce with angel hair pasta. The crabcakes are prepared as a traditional New Orleans jumbo crabcake. The frozen granitas are always in demand. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

CAFE LATTE 2324 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 833-6343 Lattes and espressos are the stars of the show here, but visitors can grab eats like the croissant club, the popular Greek salad and the New Orleans-style roast beef po-boy wrap. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and brunch daily. Delivery available. Credit cards and checks. $

CAFE LAVANDE 4241 Veterans Memorial Blvd., 888-0550 Freshly brewed espresso drinks pair up here with luxe desserts like the lavender creme brulee and the signature Chocolate Lover's Brownie. Before the sweets, though, try a hot pressed panini sandwich or an oversized specialty salad. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

CAFE LUNA 802 Nashville Ave. 269-2444 Located in a stately converted Uptown house, Cafe Luna offers a wide, shaded porch as an excellent spot to pass an afternoon chatting, browsing the Web with the wireless Internet access, or reading with a gourmet espresso drink. Also try a selection from the variety of pastries and panini sandwiches. No reservations. Continental breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CAFE RANI 2917 Magazine St. 895-2500 New menu items will be debuting soon, but regulars can continue to enjoy favorites like the shrimp and eggplant Rani pasta: grilled, breaded medallions of eggplant served over penne pasta in a pesto cream sauce with shrimp, portobello mushrooms and wilted greens. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

CAFE ROSE NICAUD 620 Frenchmen St. 949-3300 Enjoy gourmet espresso drinks, a variety of teas, and a selection of beer and wine. Snack on fruit sorbets or a cheese plate, or go for heartier fare like the grilled portobello mushroom sandwich dressed with tomato basil pesto, avocado, sprouts and smoked gouda. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CAFE SATORA 3749 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie 832-1444 This friendly coffeehouse offers traditional breakfasts and light lunch fare, including salads, panini sandwiches and housemade soups. Favorites include the refreshing cold grilled shrimp and avocado salad and the grilled chicken salad with honey-mustard dressing. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

CAFFE! CAFFE! 3900 Hwy. 122, Mandeville (985) 727-4222; 4301 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie 885-4845; www.caffecaffe.com Each day brings new special offerings at Caffe Caffe, with soups, salads, sandwiches and herbal fruit teas. Favorites include the grilled marinated chicken breast sandwich, served on a croissant and dressed with snow peas and honey-mustard sauce. No reservations. Breakfast daily, lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

COFFEE BEAN EUROPEAN CAFE 3244 Severn Ave., Metairie 456-9870 This cafe has sugar-free iced blended coffee drinks for those counting their carbs, as well as rich cappuccinos and espressos in the European tradition. The menu brings a selection of healthy salads, like the Cobb salad with avocado, red onion, hard-boiled egg and grilled chicken. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

COFFEE & COMPANY 800 Harrison Ave. 488-8946 All the favorite coffeehouse offerings are represented here, with espresso drinks, gourmet black coffee and herbal teas, and fresh pastries. Hot breakfast plates and salads are also served, as are local favorites like shrimp chowder and seafood gumbo. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

COFFEE COTTAGE 2559 Metairie Road, Metairie 833-3513; www.coffeecottage.com The gourmet sandwiches at Coffee Cottage are offered both on focaccia and as wraps (for the carb-conscious). Try the grilled tenderloin dressed with herbed blue cheese butter and onion marmalade. Salads, burgers and omelettes like the hearty Cowboy Eggs (five egg whites scrambled with onions, peppers, ham and salsa) are also a treat. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

COFFEE COVE 3431 Houma Blvd., Metairie 780-9445 Champagne brunch is the only civilized way to start a Sunday, and Coffee Cove's version delivers with gourmet omelettes, grits and grillades, and other treats. Lunch brings more quotidian dishes, with a menu of soups, wraps, sandwiches and hot plate specials. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $

COFFEE RANI 234-A Lee Lane, Covington (985) 893-6158; 3510 Hwy. 190 (Pontchartrain Square), Mandeville (985) 674-2002 This winter brings an array of fresh new salads to tempt your palate, including the sinister 'Godfather of Italian Salad,' the Soprano -- pesto-grilled chicken breast on a bed of spring mix and romaine, topped with roma tomatoes, olive salad, provolone and feta cheeses, artichoke hearts and mushrooms in a Parmesan dressing. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

COMMON GROUNDS 335 Huey P. Long Ave., Gretna 227-2200 This casual local hangout beside the courthouse boasts a shoeshine stand as well as its well-known sandwiches and salads. Popular favorites include the artichoke Amelia, stuffed with seafood, deep-fried and dressed in a remoulade sauce, and the chunky chicken salad, studded with slivered almonds and finished with a poppy-seed dressing. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

COTTAGE CAFE 423 10th St., Gretna 366-2233 The Cottage Cafe gets West Bank residents through the week with its lunch menu of Creole and Italian favorites and dinners on Thursday though Saturday. The corn, crab and shrimp bisque are good starters, and the Louisiana crabcakes are winners every time. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Thursday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

COVENANT CAFE 1515 Poydras St. 522-3335; www.covenanthouse.org Formerly known as Coffee & Company, this CBD spot offers deli, grilled, gourmet and specialty sandwiches as well as gourmet and pasta salads, soups and scoops. Try the Blue Mambo sandwich, a grilled chicken breast with crumbled blue cheese, purple onions, tomato and blue cheese dressing on French bread and grilled. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $

CROISSANT D'OR PATISSERIE 617 Ursulines Ave. 524-4663 People watchers can nibble their elaborate pastries in the bay windows facing the street, and shyer folk can enjoy soups, espresso drinks, and sweet and savory croissants in the rear garden. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Monday. Credit cards. $

CYBER BAR & CAFE AT THE CAC 900 Camp St. (Contemporary Arts Center) 523-0990; www.cacno.org This annex to the CAC offers culture-hungry visitors satisfaction, with a selection of gourmet coffees, teas, beer and specialty wines. Internet access is available, as is a light menu of sandwiches, soups, pastries and salads. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $

ESPRESSO EXPRESS 701 Poydas St. 524-5115 If you're in a hurry, get your food and coffee on the run at Espresso Express, which offers salads, sandwiches, a breakfast burrito, pastries and, of course, espresso and coffee. The blackened shrimp and pasta salad features spicy blackened shrimp and spiral pasta mix, with a Parmesan dressing. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $

ESPRESSO YOURSELF CUSTOM COFFEE 3604 DeLaRonde Drive, Chalmette 271-0380 You can pick up pastries and specialty coffees from the drive-up window for breakfast. For lunch, nibble on salads, quiche, gourmet wraps and deli-style sandwiches. No reservations. Breakfast daily, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, coffee and pastries only on Sunday. Credit cards. $

GLENN MICHAEL'S BEAUTY CAFE 1628 Metairie Road, Metairie 828-6848 Fancifully named menu items include the popular Beauty Salad -- mixed greens tossed with pecans, pine nuts and roasted peppers in a tomato basil vinaigrette -- and the Frozen Dream, a concoction of blended ice cream, milk and coffee. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and early dinner Monday through Saturday, breakfast and lunch Sunday. Credit cards. $

HICKORY CAFE & GRILL 1313 Hickory Ave., Harahan 737-0033 Regulars love breakfast at the Hickory because of bargains like Hickory's Big Breakfast featuring two eggs any style, two pancakes, two strips of bacon and two slices of toast for only $4.50. For lunch try the chicken Caesar wrap: grilled chicken in a white or whole wheat tortilla wrap with Romaine lettuce, shredded Parmesan cheese, Caesar salad dressing and croutons. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $

HOME FURNISHINGS STORE CAFE 1600 Prytania St. 566-1707 This fall, pork medallions Florentine and the baked chicken plate are not to be missed. The cafeteria-style line forms to sample hearty gumbo and slices of chocolate cake. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Friday. Checks and cash only. $

KICKSTAND CAFE 690 Lafitte St., Mandeville (985) 626-9300 Kickstand Cafe offers freshly baked housemade pastries daily, a menu of coffee and specialty beverages, and soups, salads, wraps and changing daily hot lunch specials. It's best known for its chicken salad, which can be ordered on a salad, sandwich or wrap. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available for lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards and checks. $

LA BOULANGERIE 625 St. Charles Ave. 569-1925; 3143 Ponce de Leon St. 940-0577; 4526 Magazine St. 269-3777 The Ponce de Leon Street location bakes up French pastries and breads, the Magazine Street locale is a full bakery, and the St. Charles Avenue spot serves coffee, breakfast and lunch. Some of the favorites at the downtown La Boulangerie include the hot, open-face sandwich with bacon and blue cheese, hot soups changing daily, and fresh bread. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $

LA MADELEINE 547 St. Ann St. 568-0073; 601 S. Carrollton Ave. 861-8662; 1325 St. Charles Ave. 410-8500; 3300 Severn Ave., Metairie 456-1624; 3434 Hwy. 190 (Albertson's Premier Shopping Center), Mandeville (985) 626-7004; 5171 Citrus Blvd., Jefferson 818-2450; www.lamadeleine.com A spinach salad, seafood puff pastry with shrimp and scallops or a croque monsieur (a traditional grilled ham and cheese sandwich) provides a welcome relief from burgers and fries. The strawberry Napoleon and baked goods satisfy the sweet tooth. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

LA MARQUISE PASTRY SHOP 625 Chartres St. 524-0420 La Marquise bakes light and fluffy pastries. For lunch, management recommends the signature La Marquise, an oversized croissant filled with roast beef, turkey and ham. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Cash and checks. $

LA SPIGA BAKERY 2440 Chartres St. 949-2253 Tracking down one of La Spiga's pies or pastries can feel like a scavenger hunt. The Faubourg Marigny retail location unlocks its doors only on Saturday, but during the week the bakery peddles its goods around town at the Crescent City Farmers Markets. Recently featured in Bon Appetit magazine, La Spiga makes divine Mardi Gras brioche king and queen cakes. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Saturday. Visa. $

PARADISE CAFE AND GIFTS 3717 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 888-4141 The Paradise Club with turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato is a little slice of heaven for sandwich lovers. This combination gift shop and cafe also makes soups, gumbos and salads with homemade dressing. No reservations. Breakfast daily, lunch Monday through Saturday, and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

PLANTATION COFFEEHOUSE 5555 Canal Blvd. 482-3164 Dessert lovers could make a meal of the banana-walnut bread pudding. The health conscious prefer the Greek salad of mixed greens with feta cheese, red onions, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

PUCCINO'S 17th Street and Severn Avenue, Metairie 835-3151; 3128 Magazine St. 894-8898; www.lovepuccinos.com At this Italian coffee shop, order a delicious meatball sandwich on a muffaletta loaf to go with your cappuccino. A double shot of espresso pairs well with the grilled campagnola, a grilled chicken breast sandwich with roasted red peppers, provolone and creamy pesto mayonnaise. Reservations available for special events. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

ROYAL BLEND COFFEE & TEA HOUSE 204 Metairie Road, Metairie 835-7779; 222 Carondelet St. 529-2005; 621 Royal St. 523-2716; www.royalblendcoffee.com Savor a cup of joe with an Executive Club layered with turkey, ham, American and Swiss cheeses, mayo, Dijon mustard and homemade honey mustard between two slices of seven-grain bread. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday, brunch Sunday at Metairie location. Credit cards. $

SECRET GARDEN TEA ROOM AND CAFE 3626 Magazine St. 895-2913 Traditional English teas are offered along with herbal and green varieties. Other menu favorites include a variety of housemade soups and quiche choices. Reservations recommended on weekends. Lunch and tea time Monday through Saturday. Major cards. $

ST. JOHN'S COFFEE HOUSE 535 E. Boston St., Covington (985) 893-5553; www.stjohnscoffeehouse.com The owners here are committed to stocking fair-trade coffees. In addition to a full range of coffee and tea drinks and pastries, this coffeehouse serves up salads, sandwiches and wraps, including the Combo Wrap: ham, roasted turkey breast, bacon, lettuce (or baby spinach), Roma tomatoes, Bermuda onion, American cheese and a roasted red pepper cream cheese in a wrap. No reservations. Breakfast daily, lunch Monday through Saturday. Cash or checks only. $

SURREY'S CAFE AND JUICE BAR 1418 Magazine St. 524-3828 Fresh-squeezed organic juices and a host of traditional breakfast items are favorites, but the black bean crabcakes seasoned with habanera cumin and garlic and served with poblano remoulade sauce deserve special attention. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash only. $

SWEET OLIVE CAFE 610 Tchoupitoulas St. 299-8188 Hearty and affordable meals are the rule at this Warehouse District eatery, which offers breakfasts such as an egg croissant or innovative lunch fare including the Huey P. sandwich: sliced marinated duck breast topped with melted Provolone cheese and served on a multi-grain Kaiser dressed with aioli, Creole mustard, shredded lettuce and tomato. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch weekdays. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

VIANNE'S TEA SALON AND CAFE 544 Gerard St., Mandeville (985) 624-5683; www.viannes.com Vianne's specializes in high tea, but you can eat your fill of tea sandwiches, scones, savories, and dessert while selecting from the establishment's 50 teas. The cafe menu offers fresh baked scones, crumpets, farmers market salads and soups. Reservations recommended. Cafe menu and teas Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Credit cards and checks. $

CAJUN

ALEX PATOUT'S 720 St. Louis St. 525-7788, 2025 Lakeshore Drive, Mandeville (985)626-8500; www.patout.com All the favorites are here: shrimp remoulade, housemade crawfish etouffee, along with more elaborate creations like Cajun smothered duck with oyster dressing, and marinated mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat. Don't miss the delectable housemade andouille and boudin sausages, done the traditional Cajun way. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

THE ALPINE 620 Chartres St. 523-3005; www.thealpinebistro.com A sauce-laden barbecue shrimp entree is served with plenty of French bread to dip into the drippings, and the perennial favorite softshell crab is served with sauteed seasonal vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, Dinner daily, Brunch Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$

CAJUN CABIN 503 Bourbon St. 529-4256; www.cajuncabin.com Paw Paw's Cajun sampler for two includes alligator boudin, seafood gumbo, fried shrimp, crawfish pie, jambalaya and bread pudding with pecan praline sauce. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

THE JAMBALAYA SHOPPE 701 Poydras St. (One Shell Square) 522-0138 Inexpensive jambalaya, seafood gumbo and other Cajun specialties keep the office workers well fed. The kitchen also serves non-Cajun dishes, like baked chicken and hamburger steak. Insiders know that the Jambalaya Shoppe is one of the few sources of LeBlanc boudin in the city. No reservations. Lunch weekdays. Delivery available. Credit cards and checks. $

JILLY JOE'S 91 French Market Place 525-5637 Jilly Joe's Taste of New Orleans platter includes all the local favorites: gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya and fried catfish. Diners looking for a non-local option can try the half-pound hamburger plate, a flame-broiled burger dressed with mayo, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles with a side of fries. No reservations. Lunch and early dinner daily. Credit cards. $

MICHAUL'S LIVE CAJUN MUSIC RESTAURANT 840 St. Charles Ave. 522-5517; www.michauls.com After downing a potent Blue Mamou cocktail, timid guests hit the dance floor. The nightly zydeco music and free dance lessons draw the crowds, who fuel up with entrees of barbecue shrimp, catfish pecan and bayou seafood pasta with crab, crawfish and shrimp in cream sauce. Reservations recommended. Dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

MULATE'S THE ORIGINAL CAJUN RESTAURANT 201 Julia St. 522-1492; www.mulates.com The tunes swing and the spicy food kicks at Mulate's, where guests come for the live zydeco music and the Cajun dishes. The lunch menu focuses on po-boys, but at night the kitchen sears blackened red fish, fries tender chunks of alligator and bakes a rich crabmeat gratin.Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CARIBBEAN

MANGO HOUSE 8115 Jeannette St. 862-5848; www.mangohouserestaurant.com Chef Anne Lloyd recreates Caribbean cuisine with such items as a basket of sweet potato chips, a plate of savory empanadas filled with ground pork and a special rum cocktail. For a main course, the chef recommends the double cut grilled pork chop marinated in Jamaican jerk seasoning or the pepper pot, a sweet and spicy beef stew. No reservations. Dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

MARTINIQUE BISTRO 5908 Magazine St. 891-8495 The oven-roasted double-cut pork chop is coated with a whole grain mustard demi-glace and served with housemade choucroute. Jamaican Jerk seasoning and pineapple and pickle habanero vinaigrette bring some heat to the yellowfin tuna. Reservations recommended. Dinner nightly. Credit cards. $$

CHINESE

AUGUST MOON 3635 Prytania St. 899-5129 Chinese and Vietnamese specialties dominate the menu. The most popular dishes are the fresh rice-paper spring roll with choice of shrimp, pork, or chicken. Word has it that the orange chicken here is a lot more than average, with a homemade sauce to prove it. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, till midnight Friday and Saturday. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

CAFE EAST 4628 Rye St., Metairie 888-0078; www.cafeastnola.com This upscale, eclectic Chinese restaurant swears by all-fresh ingredients and no MSG for a funky, flavorful menu that includes intriguingly named dishes like the Screamer Oyster appetizer and the Wow Lobster. The chef's recommendations include the goat cheese spring rolls served with a soy lime dipping sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CHINA BLOSSOM 1801 Stumpf Blvd., Suite 8, Gretna 361-4598 China Blossom's minimalist Asian decor creates a simple, modern, Zen-like setting to enjoy spicy specialties like the signature grilled shrimp, sauteed with fresh mushrooms in a dry wok. Also recommended are the pecan-glazed shrimp, served with crispy rice noodles. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday and Sunday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

CHINA DOLL 830 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey 366-1111 All the Cantonese classics that Americans love so much can be found at this West Bank spot. Fans swear by the lo mein, such as the Triple Dragon. Of course, crab Rangoon is terrific way to start, and the Gen. Tso always pleases. Check out their lunch specials for some great deals. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

CHINA ORCHID 704 S. Carrollton Ave. 865-1428 The menu at China Orchid gives diners a culinary tour through the provinces of China, with Mandarin, Hunan and Szechuan dishes all represented. The Emperor's Chow Mein is a regal feast with a bounty of beef, chicken, shrimp, pork and vegetables tossed with pan-fried noodles. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CHINA ROSE 125 Robert E. Lee Blvd. 283-3333 Signature dishes at China Rose include the special duck, shredded and sauteed with bell peppers in a spicy brown sauce, as well as the seafood pot -- shrimp, scallops, and crawfish sauteed with fresh vegetables and topped with a light white sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CHUN LEE RESTAURANT 1101 Elmwood Park Blvd., Jefferson 733-8562 For nearly a quarter century, Chun Lee has been delighting regular diners with favorites like rumaki shrimp wrapped in bacon, and specials like the Seven Stars chicken, stuffed with ham and served over vegetables. Hot and sour soup is also a longtime favorite. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

DOUBLE DRAGON 8236 Hwy. 23, Belle Chasse 433-4333 Lobster is the star of the show at Double Dragon, served any of five ways; plain steamed, Cantonese style, 'salt-and-pepper' or with ginger or garlic sauces. Other specialties include the Garlic Delight, shrimp and chicken served in a spicy brown sauce. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner served daily. Credit cards. $

EASTERN CHINESE AND JAPANESE RESTAURANT 1801 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey 368-0788 For Chinese options, the black-pepper dusted steak dinner comes covered in stir-fried vegetables. Sushi tops the Japanese side for most customers, though appetizers such as the Edamame Beans are star attractions. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

FIVE HAPPINESS 3605 S. Carrollton Ave. 482-3935; www.fivehappiness.com House specialties include the Sizzling Go-Ba, a combination of chicken, beef, shrimp and vegetables served on a sizzling plate with crispy rice. Also try the locally influenced pecan shrimp crusted in sesame seeds. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

FONG'S CHINESE RESTAURANT 2101 Williams Blvd., Kenner 467-9928 Fong's suggests the subgum wonton, fried crispy wontons and a combination of mushrooms, fresh shrimp, chicken, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts blended with Fong's special sauce. Or go light with sai fun with shrimp and pork on bean threads. Brunch, lunch, dinner and late night daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

GOLDEN DRAGON 4417 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 887-6081 Start with a crispy spring roll or the crab Rangoon, then move on to the sesame chicken, marinated with sesame seeds, fried and sauteed with a sweet bronze sauce. Reservations for large parties only. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

HONG KONG RESTAURANT 7400 Lakeshore Drive 282-1511 Seafood and beef lovers alike will take interest in Hong Kong's menu as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Crystal Shrimp is marinated in wine and garlic and prepared alongside stir-fried Chinese vegetables, while a beef filet comes with a wine, butter and basil sauce. Reservations recommended for parties of six or more. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

MANDARIN HOUSE CHINESE BUFFET 1545 Lapalco, Harvey 263-5333; 3400 Holiday Drive, Metairie 352-5608; 3501 Severn Ave., Metairie 779-0888 Mandarin House, now with three locations, keeps its customers happy with inexpensive buffets of both Chinese and American dishes. A meal here might include fried chicken, pepper steak, baked salmon, fried rice and egg rolls. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

P.F. CHANG'S CHINA BISTRO 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd. (Lakeside Shopping Center), Metairie 828-5288; www.pfchangs.com Choose one of the 50 wines by the glass to complement fillets of salmon over vegetables in lemon pepper sauce or the pork flank in Sichuan sauce. A limited number of reservations available. Lunch and dinner daily, late night on weekends. Credit cards. $$

RED PALACE CHINESE RESTAURANT 1025 Westbank Expwy., Harvey 366-7071 Red Palace tempts diners from the moment they sit with Tastes of the Tropics, a long list of fruity, fun-to-drink cocktails. The food menu consists of family-style dinners, plus a number of beef, seafood, chicken and pork dishes. Lunch specials range from $5.25 to $5.95 and feature favorites such as pepper steak and sweet and sour pork. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday. $$

RED STAR CHINESE 8330 Earhart Blvd. 861-1933 A fiery rendition of General Tso's chicken and the spicy crispy shrimp are the specialties here. Egg rolls or an order of shrimp fried rice can be added to any entree and the combination plates are excellent for diners who can't choose just one dish. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $

TAN DINH 1705 Lafayette St., Gretna 361-8008 Check out the tapioca pearl drinks in strawberry, mango, peach, avocado and passion fruit flavors. Seek comfort in the chicken noodle soup and beef noodle soup. Indulge in the sticky rice plate with marinated roasted chicken. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Wednesday through Monday. Cash only. $

TEA GARDEN 1918 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 833-0668 The Tea Garden serves good food at reasonable prices and a relaxed atmosphere. Try the Seafood Worbar, which consists of sauteed shrimp, scallops, crawfish and crab flavored with wine and served in a light brown sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

THREE HAPPINESS 199 Lafayette St., Gretna 368-1355 Three Happiness' vast but reasonably-priced menu offers a variety of traditional Chinese, Mandarin and Cantonese dishes and Vietnamese cuisine. The managers recommend the roast duck, barbecue quail or spring rolls. Reservations recommended on weekends. Lunch and dinner daily, breakfast Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$

TREY YUEN CUISINE OF CHINA 600 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville (985) 626-4476; 2100 N. Morrison Blvd., Hammond (985) 345-6789 Try the honey-pecan shrimp: large Gulf shrimp glazed with a creamy coating and served on honey-roasted pecans. Or hunt for the stir-fried alligator with mushrooms and onions in oyster sauce. Reservations recommended for parties of eight or more. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

COFFEE & DESSERT

ANGELO BROCATO 214 Carrollton Ave. 486-0078 This year Angelo Brocato will celebrate 100 years of making delectable Italian pastries and gelati. It's still owned by the founding family, and you can't beat the cannoli filled with the creamiest of ricotta, nor can you deny the pull of the house-made gelati in traditional flavors like spumoni, zuppa inglese, pistachio, and strachiatelle. Open all day Monday through Sunday, and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

CAFE DU MONDE 1 Poydras St. 587-0841; 800 Decatur St. (French Market) 525-4544; 813 Decatur St. 581-2914; 1039 Decatur St. 587-0835; 1400 Poydras St. 587-0842; 4600 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 888-9770; www.cafedumonde.com The beignet recipe has remained unchanged through the years right down to the powdered sugar that dusts your chin as you take your first bite. The French Market location is open 24 hours, and the Veterans' Boulevard location has drive-through service and is open 24 hours on weekends. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Cash only. $

CC'S COFFEE 2 Poydras St. (New Orleans Hilton Riverside) 525-0024; 650 Poydras St. (Poydras Center) 586-0278; 701 Metairie Road, Metairie 831-1449; 900 Jefferson Ave., 891-4969; 910 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 465-0527; 941 Royal St., 581-6996; 1452 Louisiana Ave., 899-1866; 1597 Gause Blvd., Slidell 985-641-3177; 2800 Esplanade Ave., 482-9865; 2917 Magazine St., 891-2115; 3647 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 454-1200; www.ccscoffee.com CC's stands out among the multitudes as our very own local brew and a favorite long before anyone blended it into a cappuccino or latte. Specialty seasonal and blended drinks, as well as the standards, go great with bagels, muffins and other sweet and savory pastries. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $

CITY PERK 637 N. Carrollton Ave 482-4847 This Mid-City hangout is a cozy respite for neighborhood regulars, who nibble La Spiga pastries and sip lattes and espresso while taking advantage of the free wireless Internet access. Bagels, sandwiches and a selection of vegan-friendly pastries round out the menu. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and early dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CREOLE CREAMERY 4924 Prytania St. 894-8680 A mad scientist of ice cream might be working at the Creole Creamery, where new, quirky flavors like peppermint, sweet cream Danish and buttermilk drop are constantly created. For those who prefer a traditional treat, this ice cream shop has revived the classic nectar soda. No reservations. Open daily. Cash only. $

FLORA GALLERY AND COFFEE SHOP 2600 Royal St. 947-8358 This artsy cafe attracts an eclectic Faubourg Marigny crowd to read, work, and hang out over gourmet teas and coffee drinks. Enjoy vegetarian sandwiches, wraps and quiches. Stop by on the way to work for a bagel or croissant with your coffee to go. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash only. $

FRENCH QUARTER BEIGNETS 816 Hwy. 190, Covington (985) 892-0125 This Northshore restaurant celebrates the French Quarter and one of the combos it's arguably best known for -- cafe au lait and beignets. In addition to the staples, this 15-month-old establishment also sells juices, coffee and iced coffee. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, Breakfast and lunch Sunday, closed Monday. Cash only. $

HAAGEN-DAZS 1 Poydras St., 523-3566; 621 St. Peter St., 523-4001; 8108 Hampson St., 861-1005; www.haagendazs.com This gourmet ice cream chain indulges cravings into the wee hours at the French Quarter and Riverbend locations. Special concoctions like the Mint Chip Dazzler and the Bailey's shake are satisfying, as are old favorites like banana splits, root beer floats or the humble plain scoop. No reservations. Credit cards. $

INDONIQUE 4861 Magazine St. 891-8776; www.indonique.com On cold nights, Indonique warms its guests with more than 50 varieties of whole leaf tea from around the globe. The tea shop makes its chai daily and serves it hot or cold. For a light snack, try the fresh pastries and scones. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

JAVA GROTTO 1943 Lakeshore Drive, Mandeville (985) 626-0976 The atmosphere here makes almost all walks of life feel comfortable stopping in for a coffee, latte or muffin, and the patio affords a great view of Lake Pontchartrain. On weekend mornings, Java Grotto features made-to-order omelettes with fresh ingredients. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. $

MAURICE FRENCH PASTRIES 1114 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-7052; 3501 Hessmer Ave., Metairie 885-1526 With two locations to better meet your cravings for all those little French pastries, Maurice's is one of the go-to bakeries in town. Stop by and pick from a score of fresh fruitcakes or try the popular kugelhopf, a tasty pound cake of German origins. No reservations. Open daily. Credit cards. $

MORNING CALL COFFEE STAND 3325 Severn Ave., Metairie 885-4068; 4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd. (Clearview Shopping Center), Metairie 779-5348; www.morningcallcoffeestand.com Since opening in 1870, Morning Call has been self-described as 'New Orleans' most famous coffee drinking establishment.' It has continued to do what it does best, and that's serve piping-hot, lightly sweetened, fluffy bits of heaven known as beignets. No reservations. Open 24 hours at the Severn Avenue location; breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night Friday through Sunday at the Clearview location. Cash only. $

PLANC COFFEE AND TEA 1827 Hickory Ave., River Ridge 738-2220; www.planc.com Now Web-friendly with its Wi-Fi access, Planc's prides itself on its Orange Julius and frozen hot chocolate drinks, but you can also get standard cafe fare, ranging from salads to soups, sandwiches to pastries. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PJ'S COFFEE & TEA 106 Reilly Center (Tulane) 862-8063; 143 Elk Place 585-1775; 154 E. Hall Ave., Slidell (985) 643-9040; 224 W. Thomas St., Hammond (225) 381-2495; 644 Camp St. 529-3658; 800 Metairie Road, Metairie 828-1460; 945 Magazine St. (National D-Day Museum) 525-0255; 1532 Robert E. Lee Blvd. 283-6686; 1545 Lapalco Blvd., Harvey 368-6600; 1600 N. Hwy. 190, Covington (985) 871-9326; 1808 B W. Airline Hwy., LaPlace (985) 359-7575; 2963 Hwy. 190, Mandeville (985) 674-1565; 3700 Orleans Ave. (American Can Co.) 934-1192; 4100 Gen. DeGaulle Drive 392-4280; 4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd. (Clearview Shopping Center), Metairie 885-4543; 4480 Hwy. 22, Mandeville (985) 624-9015; 5300 Tchoupitoulas St. 895-2007; 5432 Magazine St. 895-0273; 7624 Maple St. 866-7031; 10158 Jefferson Hwy., River Ridge 738-779761103 Airport Road, Slidell (985) 847-9474; 70456 Hwy. 21, Covington (985) 875-7894; New Orleans International Airport (West Terminal and Terminal B), Kenner 466-2103; www.pjscoffee.com As PJ's expands across the nation, the rest of the country is learning how good a cup of coffee from New Orleans can be. You can also find king cakes at the local PJ's outlets. No reservations. Menu and hours vary by location. Credit cards. $

RUE DE LA COURSE COFFEEHOUSE 401 Carondelet St. 586-0401; 1140 S. Carrollton Ave. 861-4343; 1500 Magazine St. 529-1455; 3121 Magazine St. 899-0242 Rue offers specialty espresso drinks, sandwiches and pastries. On one of the typical New Orleans hot days, try the iced caffe mocha, which combines espresso, chocolate milk and chocolate froth and tops it with whipped cream and cocoa or cinnamon. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Cash only. $

STARBUCKS COFFEE CO. 300 Canal St. (Canal Place) 566-1223; 424 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 837-7874; 817 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner 472-6190; 1290 Front St., Slidell (985) 641-6257; 1451 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey 365-0208; 2701 Airline Drive, Metairie 828-6700; 2801 Magazine St. 897-4944; 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 828-5257; 3601 Hwy. 190, Mandeville (985) 626-5234; 5161 Citrus Blvd., Jefferson 818-0633; 5800 Magazine St. 269-5113; 7700 Maple St. 864-0411 The very popular Caramel Macchiato is an icy concoction that adds vanilla, caramel sauce and steamed milk to espresso. You'll also find pastries, muffins, bagels and plenty of college kids cramming for finals. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards and checks. $

STILL PERKIN' The Rink, 2727 Prytania St. 899-0335 Pastries and desserts abound, and those not in the mood for caffeine can sip on frozen lemonade and frozen granitas. It also serves panini sandwiches from La Spiga, including one starring turkey, cheese, pesto and basil. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

TRUE BREW CAFE 200 Julia St. 524-8441 Under new management, the open-mic comedy, improv, theater performances and poetry readings are the real star of the show here, but the proceedings are supplemented by light fare like the turkey avocado sandwich (smoked turkey breast with avocado spread, lettuce and tomato on hoagie roll). Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CREOLE

ANTOINE'S 713 St. Louis St. 581-4422; www.antoines.com Classic entrees from the impressively lengthy menu include the Pompano Ponchartrain, a grilled fillet with lump crabmeat sauteed in butter, and the chicken Rochambeau, a broiled boneless half of chicken bathed in bearnaise sauce and sweet Rochambeau sauce and served over a slice of ham. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $$$

ARNAUD'S 813 Bienville St. 523-5433; www.arnauds.com The Crabmeat Karen is an Arnaud's classic, with Louisiana crabmeat and mushrooms baked inside a puff pastry and served in white wine sauce. The icon, however, may be Shrimp Arnaud: jumbo Gulf shrimp marinated in Creole remoulade sauce and grilled to perfect succulence. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

BARRISTER'S PATIO BAR & GRILL 2120 Pakenham Drive, Chalmette 271-2500 The Eggplant Napoleon is a dish of exceptional decadence: fried eggplant with eggplant and shrimp dressing, covered in hollandaise and served over pasta with pesto cream sauce. The early bird special includes an entree, drink and bread pudding for $10.95. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

BRENNAN'S RESTAURANT 417 Royal St. 525-9711; www.brennansneworleans.com Eggs Hussarde are a popular Brennan creation: Holland rusks topped with Canadian bacon, marchand de vin, a poached egg, and finally gently bathed in the finest of hollandaise sauces. The new filet Serice is 9 ounces stuffed with Boursin cheese and an orange cabernet sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

BROUSSARD'S 819 Conti St. 581-3866; www.broussards.com The Broussard Smile is made with Courvoisier, Mandarin Napoleon and peach schnapps. Pompano Broussard comes grilled and tucked into a puff pastry shell alongside shrimp and scallops. Another good choice would be the veal tenderloin, sauteed French-style with crabmeat, mushrooms, and béchamel, along with a port wine reduction. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

CAFE ADELAIDE AND THE SWIZZLE STICK LOUNGE Loews New Orleans Hotel, 300 Poydras St. 595-3305; www.cafeadelaide.com The centerpiece at the bar is a 75-pound block of ice, from which the bartenders hand-chip the rocks for cocktails. This balance of refinement and playfulness carries over to the menu, which offers such delights as pistachio-crusted lamb sirloin served with mirliton shrimp croquettes and a cane and pepper jelly demi-glace. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Brunch Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

CAFE GUMBOLAYA 1000 N. Peters St. 523-7418 This French Quarter joint always pleases alike with a relaxed atmosphere and generous portions of New Orleans classics. The house specialty is the namesake Gumbolaya, a combination of the two local favorites. Red beans and rice, shrimp Creole, fried okra and fried green tomatoes are also winners. Reservations accepted for large groups. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CAFE MASPERO 601 Decatur St. 523-6250 This congenial spot often sports a long line snaking down Decatur Street of determined diners waiting for their crocks of French onion soup and fresh strawberry daiquiris. Other local standards show up on the menu as well, including overstuffed po-boys and muffalettas. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, late nights Friday and Saturday. Cash only. $

CAFE SBISA 1011 Decatur St. 522-5565; www.cafesbisa.com Enjoy the sounds of nightly live traditional jazz on the veranda, in the courtyard or on the balcony, and sample Creole specialties like barbecue shrimp or speckled trout Meuniere. More innovative touches include the grilled 20-oz. pork porterhouse, served with apple bacon chipotle barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese mashed potatoes and firecracker onion rings. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily, jazz brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

CHARTRES HOUSE CAFE 601 Chartres St. 586-8383 Visitors flock to this airy, open cafe to enjoy New Orleans dining classics like po-boys, jambalaya and gumbo with an uninterrupted view of the goings-on in the streets. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

CHRISTIAN'S RESTAURANT 3835 Iberville St. 482-4924; www.christiansrestaurant-neworleans.com Try the oyster en brochette, topped with a beurre noir sauce, and move onto the hearty bouillabaisse Marseillaise -- fish filets, shrimp, oysters and mussels poached in a saffron-seasoned fish stock. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

CLANCY'S 6100 Annunciation St. 895-1111 Clancy's gets hopping around happy hour when Uptowners retreat to the bar to sample the fine scotch collection and wine list. But the real action is in the dining room, where the contemporary Louisiana menu features fried oysters with Brie, smoked softshell crab, lobster risotto and grilled fish. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and local checks. $$

COFFEE POT 714 St. Peter St. 524-3500 Jambalaya, shrimp Creole and seafood gumbo are tried and true favorites at this French Quarter standby. Breakfast is a fortifying affair, featuring Southern staples like grits and grillades and biscuits slathered with rich country gravy. Reservations required for large parties. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

COMMANDER'S PALACE 1403 Washington Ave. 899-8221; www.commanderspalace.com This Brennan family flagship is known for turtle soup redolent with sherry and cream, as well as Sunday jazz brunch staples like the eggs Sardou and the delightfully decadent peaches and cream pain perdu. Reservations required. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily, jazz brunch Saturday and Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

CORNER OYSTER BAR AND GRILL 500 St. Peter St. 522-2999; www.thecorneroysterbarandgrill.com With 16 TV sets going in the bar, the only way you'll miss any part of the game is if you look down at your plate -- which is hard not to do, with a solid menu of local classics like crawfish etouffee, barbecue shrimp and blackened catfish over pasta. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

THE COURT OF TWO SISTERS 613 Royal St. 522-7261; www.courtoftwosisters.com Elaborate specialty entrees include the chicken Michelle, in which the chef stuffs a boneless breast of chicken with a seafood dressing and wraps it in phyllo dough before popping it in the oven, to be topped later with a Creole mustard hollandaise sauce. Reservations recommended. Jazz brunch, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

FEELINGS CAFE 2600 Chartres St. 945-2222; www.feelingscafe.com Live music drifts in from the piano bar as you tuck into veal d'Aunoy, sliced and sauteed in herb and lemon butter, garnished with fresh mushrooms new potatoes and topped with Hollandaise. Reservations recommended. Lunch Friday, dinner nightly, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

GALATOIRE'S RESTAURANT 209 Bourbon St. 525-2021; www.galatoires.com A much-loved part of New Orleans mythology, celebrating its centennial this year, Galatoire's is as famous for its its see-and-be-seen Friday lunches. The traditional starter is the shrimp remoulade; from there move on to other classics like the fish amandine meuniere, or the oysters en brochette. Reservations recommended upstairs. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

GUMBO SHOP 630 St. Peters St. 525-1486; www.gumboshop.com Historic New Orleans is served up here, in the form of savory gumbo and other traditional local delicacies. Smoked duck and oyster gumbo is a hearty winter favorite, as is the chicken Espagnole, braised in a rich dark gravy with shallots, mushrooms, wine and garlic. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

THE HUNT ROOM GRILL 214 Royal St. (Hotel Monteleone) 523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone.com The house recommends the Black Angus sirloin or the almond crusted snapper lightly sauteed with white wine and butter sauce. The Marquis Chocolat, a chocolate roulade soaked in Kirsch and served with mango-raspberry sauce, makes a happy ending to any meal. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

JAZZ SEAFOOD & STEAKHOUSE 2722 Williams Blvd., Kenner 468-3237 The kitchen improvises on Creole traditions with dishes that features both aged steaks and fried local seafood. The management recommends the eggplant Napoleon with pan-sauteed eggplant covered with a seafood cream sauce. Save room for a slice of the bananas Foster pie. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

LA CUISINE 225 W. Harrison Ave. 486-7664 La Cuisine uses the freshest seafood in their Creole recipes. Guests can't go wrong with softshell crab three ways topped with amandine, meuniere and Pontchartrain sauces. The daily lunch menu has recently been updated to include brunch favorites like grits and grillades. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $$

LE CITRON BISTRO 1539 Religious St. 566-9051; www.lecitronbistro.com The kitchen tops the St. John Baptist catfish fillet with lump crabmeat sauce and serves sweet potato chips and papaya sauce on the side. The fried chicken is free-range, and they serve potent Chimay beer on tap. Lunch Wednesday through Friday, dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Reservations required for parties of five or more. Credit cards. $$

MARGAUX'S 8400 Oak St. 865-1559 It takes a careful touch to update a favorite like the former Zachary's, so the new owners wisely kept the popular Creole lunch and brunch while adding some innovations in the evenings. The dinner menu changes monthly and features dishes like sweet potato-crusted salmon and seared redfish. Reservations recommended. Breakfast Monday through Saturday, lunch buffet and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Reservations recommended. Major cards. $$

MR. B'S BISTRO 201 Royal St. 523-2078; www.mrbsbistro.com The kitchen's rendition of New Orleans barbecue shrimp is legendary, the Gumbo Ya Ya with chicken and andouille can't be beat and the pasta jambalaya with shrimp, andouille, duck and chicken morsels in a buttery sauce over spinach fettuccine adds a twist to a classic. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Monday through Sunday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

OLD COFFEE POT 714 St. Peter St. 524-3500 The Coffee Pot gets you started with generous helpings of hot biscuits and gravy and grits and grillades. Later meals offer Cajun favorites like blackened redfish, shrimp Creole, and a seafood platter with fried oysters, shrimp, trout and softshell crab. Reservations required for large parties. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

OLDE NAWLINS COOKERY 729 Conti St. 529-3663; www.oldenawlinscookery.com The Cookery's menu reads like a dictionary of Creole cuisine; turtle soup, blacken redfish topped with both crawfish and a tangy veloute sauce of white wine, lemon and green onions and a classic crawfish etouffee all make an appearance. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

OLIVIER'S CREOLE RESTAURANT 204 Decatur St. 525-7734 The moist Creole rabbit, a staple of 19th century New Orleans, is first braised, then simmered in roux gravy and finally served with a sage seasoned oyster dressing. A gumbo sampler includes Creole, file and okra versions of the classic Cajun stew. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

THE ORIGINAL PIERRE MASPERO'S RESTAURANT 440 Chartres St. 524-8990 No matter the meal, this French Quarter institution can satisfy your appetite. Enjoy a spicy Blood Mary and eggs for breakfast, a muffaletta and a beer for lunch, and an afternoon snack of baked crawfish bread topped with crawfish tails and mushroom cream sauce. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

ORLEANS CAFE 135 Decatur St. 581-1136 Chip Wilson plays traditional jazz every Wednesday as guests put away plates of Tuna Marigny with crawfish tails in Crystal cream sauce and Red Fish Americaine, blackened red fish in lobster cream sauce. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, late night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

PALACE CAFE 605 Canal St. 523-1661; www.palacecafe.com For an entree, the management particularly recommends the barbecue duck with a grilled breast and hickory-smoked leg finished with a chicory barbecue sauce. Housemade charcuterie may be a fad across the nation, but Chef Darin Nesbit has been making his own sausages and cured meats for years. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

PAMPY'S CREOLE KITCHEN 2005 N. Broad St. 949-7970; www.pampyscreolekitchen.com Pampy's found the secret to fabulous fried chicken: hire legendary fry master Austin Leslie. Creole file gumbo, deep-fried Cornish hen injected with Cajun spices, fiery Buffalo shrimp and other old favorites are still on the menu at this Seventh Ward establishment. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, dinner Saturday. Credit cards. $$

PATTON'S RESTAURANT AT THE HISTORIC SALMEN-FRITCHIE HOUSE 127 Cleveland Ave., Slidell (866) 6-Patton; www.pattonsrestaurant.com In a restored 1895 home, guests indulge in Jim Beam Drunk'n Duck, duck breast with caramelized onions, mushroom savory bread pudding and Jim Beam sauce, and Trout Thomas, a pan seared trout topped with crabmeat lemon wine sauce. Reservations recommended. Dinner Thursday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $$

THE PEARL RESTAURANT AND OYSTER BAR 119 St. Charles Ave. 525-2901 The mosaic of oysters on the sidewalk outside lets diners know that plenty gulf oysters await them inside. Since the 1920s, Pearl has been serving seafood gumbo of shrimp, crab and okra and crawfish etouffee at this location just beyond the French Quarter. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

PERE ANTOINE 741 Royal St. 581-4478 Dishes that show off local flavors such as the Seafood Pirogue reflect Pere Antoine's connection to New Orleans food. It's a casserole of crabmeat, scallops and shrimp blended with rice, white wine and a hint of spinach in a cheesy cream sauce. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

PETUNIA'S RESTAURANT 817 St. Louis St. 522-6440; www.petuniasrestaurant.com Divine 14-inch crepes named after saints, like the St. Edith stuffed with cheddar, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and ham covered with hollandaise, grace the menu here. Po-boys, jambalaya and other Cajun and Creole specialties are served for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended for dinner. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

PONTCHARTRAIN CAFE 2031 St. Charles Ave. (Pontchartrain Hotel) 524-0581; www.pontchartrainhotel.com Even before they tuck into the blackened trout Pontchartrain covered in crabmeat, diners know what they're ordering for dessert: the signature Mile High Pie. The colossal pie begins with an 8-inch stack of Neapolitan ice cream in a pie crust with layers of peppermint ice cream and meringue on top. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

RED MAPLE 1036 Lafayette St., Gretna 367-0935 A longstanding centerpiece of West Bank social life has been revitalized with a new menu. Creole dishes include mirliton stuffed with shrimp, crabmeat, oysters and andouille and the eggplant Maple topped with sauteed shrimp in a black pepper sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

RIVER 127' 100 Iberville St. (Wyndham New Orleans at Canal Place, 11th floor) 553-5082; www.wyndham.com Look down on the world while enjoying an order of shrimp Grande Isle, battered gulf shrimp in garlic parsley and lemon garlic sauce, or a few Barataria Bay crabcakes seasoned with fresh herbs and finished with lemon caper butter. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

RIVER'S EDGE RESTAURANT 801 Decatur St. 525-4478 Eaters who like variety appreciate the daily specials, homemade soup of the day and the River's Edge sampler with chicken gumbo, shrimp Creole, red beans, jambalaya and bread pudding. For some guests, though, only the blackened baby back ribs will satisfy their hunger. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

THE ROCK 5209 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie 885-3762 A solid place for tangy barbecue shrimp, fresh-cut fillets and a constantly updated specials board. All desserts are homemade, so don't have a meal without one. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SAZERAC BAR & GRILL 123 Baronne St. (Fairmont Hotel) 529-4733 The Sazerac serves exquisite cocktails, but the Pontchartrain jumbo shrimp is celebrated here. Try imaginative pasta dishes like the pecan pesto sauce, tossed with tomatoes, artichokes, shrimp, andouille, basil and garlic in penne pasta and finished with a hint of cream. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

TRICOU HOUSE 711 Bourbon St. 525-8379; www.711bourbon.com Make this a stop on your French Quarter party route for (so the chef insists) the best etouffee on Bourbon Street. You can also fortify yourself with daily all-you-can-eat specials: catfish on Monday and Thursday, barbecue ribs on Wednesday and Sunday, and boiled Cajun shrimp daily. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

TUJAGUE'S 823 Decatur St. 525-8676; www.tujagues.com The city's second-oldest restaurant has been satisfying patrons since before the Civil War. The shrimp remoulade is classic and admirable, as is the beef brisket with Creole sauce. Lighter items are available at the bar. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

UPPERLINE RESTAURANT 1413 Upperline St. 891-9822; www.upperline.com The New York Times recently declared Upperline's Cane River Shrimp (shrimp, garlic, mushroom and bacon sauteed together and laid across crispy grits) the best in the nation. Reservations recommended. Dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

CREPES

CAFE DE MELLO 81 French Market Place 522-3121 This popular, recently opened creperie has crepes both sweet and savory, rolled and folded, for meals or snacks. The huevos rancheros crepe is barely able to contain the scrambled eggs, black beans, cheddar, Cajun salsa and sour cream tucked within. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Credit cards. $

CREPES A LA CART 1039 Broadway St. 866-2362 The humble, slender pancake is a vessel for fillings both sweet and savory. The more than fifty varieties of crepe served up here include breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert options -- all of which are compact, portable and quite continental. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, late-night Friday-Saturday. Credit cards. $

DELI

BIG APPLE DELI 7708 Maple St. 309-1465 The name should go a long way in explaining the influence behind this deli, as does the Classic Reuben: corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing served on grilled rye bread. Then there's the New York cheesecake shipped straight from Carnegie Deli. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CELLARS OF RIVER RIDGE 1801 Dickory St., River Ridge 734-8455 Look for new menu items to be added soon, but you can count on favorites like the quesadillas, chicken tortilla soup, and green olives stuffed with blue cheese, feta or anchovies. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

CENTRAL GROCERY 923 Decatur St. 523-1620 From this unassuming storefront was born one of our city's greatest treasures: the muffaletta. If the pungent union of olive salad, meats and cheeses on a gargantuan hard roll isn't your taste, sample the full deli counter offerings, or just make your groceries. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CHARLIE'S DELI AND CATERERS 515 Harrison Ave. 486-1766 Locals flock at lunchtime for perennial favorites like the Red Man, a savory sandwich concoction of hot roast beef, grilled onion, Swiss cheese and mayonnaise on a po-boy. The Moon is another top seller, combining hot roast beef, ham, Swiss cheese, provolone, Russian dressing and coleslaw. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday, early dinner Friday-Saturday. Checks. $

GATTUSO'S DELI 435 Huey P. Long Ave., Gretna 368-1114 Grilled shrimp is a favorite, especially served in Gattuso's club sandwich or wraps. Also popular are the hearty baby-back ribs, glazed with watermelon-infused barbecue sauce. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Delivery available. Credit cards and checks. $

THE GROCERY 2854 St. Charles Ave. 895-9524 This friendly, sunny Garden District lunch spot specialized in hot, pressed panini sandwiches. A favorite is Chef-owner Marcy McCall's version of the classic Cubano; slow-roasted pork, ham, Creole mustard and pickles. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Checks. $

HEAVENLY HAM 5300 Tchoupitoulas St. 891-5100 Gourmet sandwiches and box lunches are the name of the game at this deli, with favorites including the Paradise Club: smoked turkey, ham, peppered bacon, havarti cheese with a special honey mustard sauce on a croissant. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, lunch and early dinner Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $

HUGH'S WINE CELLAR 4250 Hwy. 22, Mandeville (985) 626-0066; www.hughswinecellar.com A bold red wine pairs well with Hugh's signature Northshore Reuben piled high with corned beef, pickled red cabbage, Swiss and mustard. This wine shop offers a selection of deli sandwiches and gourmet-to-go options. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

KOSHER CAJUN NEW YORK DELI & GROCERY 3519 Severn St., Metairie 888-2010 Kosher Cajun, the only certified kosher deli in the city, builds tall sandwiches with more meat than bread. Create the perfect New York lunch with a dill pickle, a can of Dr. Brown's soda and a Rachel sandwich of turkey breast on toasted rye with Russian dressing and sour kraut. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Friday and Sunday, dinner Monday through Thursday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $

LOGAN FARMS 3770 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 456-7311; www.metairie.loganfarms.com Logan Farms sells their dry-cured hams whole, while the deli keeps the lunch crowd happy with sandwiches layered with their signature meats. The barbecue brisket, the house special of grilled honey-glazed ham and the po-boys are all popular. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

MARTIN WINE CELLAR 714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie 896-7300; 3827 Baronne St. 899-7411; www.martinwine.com The top-notch delis at these wine shops make a meltingly tender pulled pork sandwich, a true New York-style Reuben and a tasty burger. The inexpensive wines by the glass might encourage guests to try a more refined dish, like the Sena Salad with oven roasted chicken, golden raisins, toasted pecans, pepper jelly vinaigrette and blue cheese. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $

MID-CITY DELI & CATERING 4107 S. Carrollton Ave. 486-8889 There's nothing fancy at this deli, just a wide-ranging menu with reasonable prices. For lunch, Italian and Greek dishes, daily specials, a seafood platter priced under $9, and po-boys that hold their own with the best in town. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

THE POINTE DELI 5050 Williams Blvd. (Treasure Chest Casino), Kenner 443-8000; www.treasurechest.com This recently opened dining option at the Treasure Chest Casino offers breakfast sandwiches, pastries, hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, po-boys, soups, salads, specialty coffees, and desserts. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

RASCAL'S DELI 1400 Poydras St. 522-1787 Everyday at Rascal's you can order the seafood platter, which combines fish, shrimp and oysters along with French fries and a salad, for $6.95. Breakfast sticks to the essentials of eggs, grits and sausage, and of course coffee. No reservations. Delivery available for large orders. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

ROBERT'S FRESH MARKET CAFE & BAKERY 1325 Annunciation St. 524-6431 Shoppers discover gourmet treats at this grocery store cafe. Why buy ingredients and cook, when you could take home fried chicken with three-cheese macaroni, jerk pork chops or Creole crawfish etouffee? No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

SAMMY'S LIVE OAK MARKET & DELI 801 Live Oak St., Metairie 835-0916 You can't beat Fridays at Sammy's Live Oak Market and Deli, where the special is all-you-can-eat trout. The hot, gravy-soaked roast beef po-boy is a popular standby. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

SCHLOTZSKY'S DELI 123 Gause Blvd. West, Slidell (985) 781-1007; www.cooldeli.com The most ordered sandwich at this franchise is the Original, which is a mound of smoked ham, Genoa and Cotto salamis, cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and yellow mustard on a toasted sourdough bun. Order it as a 'Deli Deal' and you get chips and a drink. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards and checks. $

VERTI MARTE 1201 Royal St. 525-4767; www.vertimarte.com French Quarter revelers can recharge with the Royal Feast: roast beef, ham, turkey, cheeses, olives and WOW sauce; or with the All That Jazz: ham, turkey, grilled shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese and (again) WOW sauce. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Delivery available. Credit cards for in-store purchases. $

DINER

BETSY'S PANCAKE HOUSE 2542 Canal St. 822-0213 When Betsy's opens every morning at 5:30 a.m., there's already a line forming outside in the dark. They're waiting to enjoy the all-day breakfast special of two eggs, bacon, grits, and toast or pancakes for a mere $3. The hot specials change every day, and include iced tea, dessert, and salad. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Credit cards. $

CAMELLIA GRILL 626 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-9573 The linen napkins may be gone, but the bow-tied waiters are still around to serve up burgers and chili-cheese omelettes at this Riverbend staple. For dessert, remember to have your pecan pie warmed up on the flattop. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Cash only. $

CLOVER GRILL 900 Bourbon St. 598-1010; www.clovergrill.com Make sure to give the cleverly annotated menu the twice-over before you start in on your overstuffed omelette and hash browns; even if it's not 4 in the morning, it'll still give you a giggle. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

DARIL'S DINER AND SHORT STOP 717 St. Peter St. 524-3287 The expanded menu includes a variety of burgers and po-boys, including the Po Man's Po-Boy with fried baloney. There are also all-day breakfasts of biscuits and eggs, and thick slices of apple pie. No reservations. Limited delivery in the French Quarter. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

DOT'S DINER 2317 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 831-3681; 4150 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 833-9349; 6633 Airline Drive, Metairie 734-0301; 10701 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan 738-9678; 12179 Hwy. 90, Luling (985) 785-6836 Dot knows what you need for a late-night fix or an early-morning fortification; omelettes, ham steaks, bacon, eggs, grits and biscuits. Burgers and sandwiches round out the menu, as well as selected pies. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily at the 4150 Jefferson Hwy. location, open 24 hours at other locations. Credit cards. $

GOODY'S CAFE 3516 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 887-3848 Hearty home cooking is the order of the day at Goody's, from Monday's red beans and rice to fruit-topped Belgian waffles for weekend breakfasts. Be sure to stop in for weekday plate lunch specials like meat loaf, chicken-fried steak and pork chops. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

HUEY'S 24/7 DINER 200 Magazine St. 598-4839; www.hueys247diner.com Huey's reinvents the classic diner with gourmet flair. The kitchen, which never closes, serves juicy burgers on brioche buns and tops their meatloaf with delicate onion strings. All desserts are homemade. Reservations accepted for large parties. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

KRYSTAL'S 116 Bourbon St. 523-4030; www.krystal.com The small square burgers, hot dogs and chicken nuggets provide the perfect way to refuel during a night in the French Quarter. Eggs and breakfast sandwiches available in the mornings. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Cash only. $

L'IL RAY'S DINER AND BAR 133 N. Carrollton Ave. 309-8824 Traditional diner food rules here, with The Slammer sporting two eggs on golden hash browns topped with bacon chili and cheddar cheese. Try the crawfish hush puppies, two little pups made with flour cornmeal, onion, garlic and fried golden brown with a roasted red pepper sauce. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

NEW CITY DINER 1340 Poydras St. 561-0061 The secret to this diner's success is the friendly service, hearty sandwiches and surprisingly creative lunch specials, such as spicy Thai baked chicken with zucchini and cabbage or a beef brisket smothered in gravy over rice. No reservations. Delivery available for large orders. Breakfast and lunch weekdays. Credit cards and checks. $

POYDRAS DINER 1555 Poydras St. (Exxon Building) 568-0733 Both the shrimp topped with Creole sauce and the stuffed chicken with eggplant are popular at this CBD lunch spot. Daily specials include a Friday fish item. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $

RUSSELL'S MARINA GRILL 8555 Pontchartrain Blvd. 282-9999/282-9980 Russell's serves breakfast all day and into the night for those with the post-partying comfort munchies. Otherwise, try any of the recently added wrap sandwiches, or the highly recommended fried onion mum. Chase it all down with the Big Al's Bloody Mary. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

SLIM GOODIES 3322 Magazine St. 891-3447 The omelettes are huge and boast inventive ingredient combinations at this popular Uptown diner. The spinach salad is a generous and fine choice for vegetarians and light food seekers. Don't discount the chocolate milkshake. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

TED'S FROSTOP 6303 S. Claiborne Ave. 861-3615 Ted's Frostop has been a cornerstone of the Calhoun shopping area since 1955. Ted serves quick breakfasts at 'low-low' prices. Hearty plate lunches change daily, and a local favorite is the Lot-o-burger. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

TIC TOC CAFE 3205 36th St., Metairie 834-6272 It's always breakfast somewhere in the world, so the Tic Toc serves hearty breakfasts 24 hours a day and decks the walls with clocks proclaiming the time in cities around the world. Daily specials include Wednesday's barbecue beef pot roast served with potatoes, a vegetable and salad. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

FRENCH

ANTOINETTE 1910 Magazine St. 671-3990 Start off with light and fluffy beignets stuffed with fresh Louisiana crawfish to get your appetite piqued, then moved on to smoked rabbit stew made with rabbit that's slowly braised with tomatoes and herbs. Reservations accepted. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday, brunch Saturday and Sunday. Credit cards. $$

CAFE DEGAS 3127 Esplanade St. 945-5635; www.cafedegas.com The veal Parmesan is a best seller, classically prepared with lemon butter and capers, with seasonal vegetables. The pastry chef has some tricks up his sleeve too, like the white chocolate coconut decadence. Reservations recommended for parties of three or more. Lunch Tuesday through Saturday, brunch Sunday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CAFE LISÉ 1111 S. Tyler St., Covington (985) 892-3838; www.cafelise.com At lunch, the pecan-crusted chicken salad is a hot item, with pecan-crusted chicken on a bed a romaine lettuce and blue cheese with balsamic vinaigrette and a pecan glaze. At dinner, the shrimp and crawfish Lisé and the shrimp Francisco are popular. Reservations accepted. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Wednesday through Friday. Credit cards and local checks. $

DAVE'S PETIT PARIS 730 Common St. 524-7660 New management ushered in a few changes at the former Le Petit Paris, as the menu now incorporates more of a local flavor with dishes such as crawfish etouffee and andouille gumbo. French staples remain, and regulars line up for lunch specials such as Wednesday's brucceloni: beef wrapped around tomato, boiled egg, Italian seasonings and Parmesean cheese, served in a marinara sauce over pasta. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, brunch Sundays. Major cards. $

FLAMING TORCH 737 Octavia St. 895-0900 For French continental food, try the shellfish Pernod: sauteed shrimp, scallops and jumbo lump crabmeat wrapped in a savory crepe with Pernod cream sauce. Or try the magret au poivre: pepper-encrusted duck breast glazed with honey, lime and peppercorn sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

INDIGO 2285 Bayou Road 947-0123; www.indigonola.com Indigo now focuses on small dishes, appetizer sized portions that allow diners to sample several tastes. Try the mustard seed-glazed pork tenderloin, quail stuffed with cornbread and andouille sausage or the Lamb Lollipops with pepper jelly glaze. Reservations recommended. Dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

LA CREPE NANOU 1410 Robert St. 899-2670; www.lacrepenanou.com La Crepe Nanou is elegant enough for a date and comfortable enough for an impromptu weeknight dinner. The kitchen makes both savory and sweet crepes, rich fondues and steaming pots of moules marinieres -- mussels steamed in white wine, garlic and cream. No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

LA PROVENCE 25020 Hwy. 190., Lacombe (985) 626-7662; www.laprovencerestaurant.com The rack of lamb roasted with fresh herbs and garlic demonstrates why many gourmets consider the delicate flavors of Provence the most satisfying in the world. The quail gumbo shows that Chef Chris has adopted some local tastes since he left France. Reservations recommended. Dinner Wednesday through Sunday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $$$

LILETTE 3637 Magazine St. 895-1636; www.americascuisine.com/neworleans/lilettemenu.html This season star chef John Harris adds a dash of Italian to his French country cooking is offering Alaskan king crab claws with passionate butter, and the sauteed day boat cod with chanterelles. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

LOUIS XVI RESTAURANT FRANCAIS 730 Bienville St. (St. Louis Hotel) 581-7000; www.louisxvi.com The beef Wellington, a pastry wrapped filet covered in foie gras, and Poisson Louisiane, seasonal fish sauteed with bananas and bell peppers covered with a beurre meuniere, would satisfy the palate of a king. Reservations recommended. Breakfast and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

MEAUXBAR BISTRO 942 N. Rampart St. 569-9979 Asian flavors can be found in appetizers like ginger crawfish dumplings and Paradise spring rolls filled with jumbo shrimp, pork and crawfish. Contemporary French entrees include the tarragon- and thyme-roasted chicken, whole trout with bacon and sage topped with lemon butter and a New York strip with steak frites. Reservations accepted. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

MIDI 614 Canal St. (JW Marriott Hotel) 527-6712; www.midirestaurant.com The cheery decor lets guests know they have entered a restaurant imbued with the traditional thyme, garlic and rosemary flavors of southern France. The dishes, like the baked Bourbon Street grouper coated in crushed pecans or the crown point beef filet stuffed with Boursin cheese and wrapped in apple-smoked bacon, blend French cuisine with Louisiana ingredients. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

MIRABELLE 3216 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie 833-8108; www.mirabelledining.com Management recommends the veal sweetbreads meuniere served with capers in a lemon beurre blanc followed by the signature coq au vin, chicken simmered in red wine sauce with mushrooms, bacon and pearl onions. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

RENÉ BISTROT 817 Common St. (Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel) 412-2580; www.renebistrot.com Chef Rene Bajeux brings a sophisticated flair to the humble dishes of French country cooking. The updated menu might include bouillabaisse, a rotisserie roasted duck with vinegar and honey glaze or the Saint Jacques, a dish of sea scallops with orange, fennel and black olive salad in a basil vinaigrette. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

ZOE 333 Poydras St. 207-5018; www.zoebistrot.com This hip eatery in the W hotel boasts a menu of elegant dishes from starters like the fried green tomato Napoleon to entrees like the redfish sauteed in brown butter and topped with lump crabmeat. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$$

GOURMET-TO-GO

CHEZ NOUS CHARCUTERIE 5701 Magazine St. 899-7303 Pop by between work and home to pick up some sandwiches or salads for an easy dinner, or order up a full-on holiday meal. Specialty grocery items like flavor-infused olive oils and gourmet ice cream. No reservations. Lunch and early dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

DORIGNAC'S 710 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 834-8216 More than just a grocery store, this old-school, family-owned business keeps customers happy with a breakfast-and-lunch counter offering such down-home favorites as a breakfast combo with Creole sausage, bacon, grits, hash browns and eggs. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and early dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

FOODIES KITCHEN 7457 St. Charles Ave. 865-8646; www. foodieskitchen.com Foodies' presence could be a tough choice for gourmands: Shop for artisan breads, gourmet cheeses, fresh specialty produce and meats for dinner? Favorites from the deli case include chile lime chicken breast, vegetarian and meat lasagnas and gourmet mac and cheese wedges. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

FORTISSIMO BISTRO & DELI 3331 St. Charles Ave. 899-5313 Try the Mark's Famous shrimp salad or the Oysters Fortissimo, six crisply fried oysters atop a bed of creamed spinach with melted smoked gouda cheese. No reservations. Delivery available. Lunch daily, dinner Monday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $

WHOLE FOODS MARKET 3135 Esplanade Ave. 943-1626; 5600 Magazine St. 899-9119; www.wholefoodsmarket.com In addition to a seasonal selection of prepared dinners, Whole Foods offers made-to-order sandwiches, a full bakery and a salad bar. Vegetarian and vegan options include spicy chile tofu and spinach lentil soup. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

GREEK

ACROPOLIS 3841 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 888-9046 This restaurant, known for its grilled kebabs, also offers gyros, pizza and pasta. Try the moussaka: thin layers of eggplant, zucchini and potatoes sauteed in extra virgin olive oil with ground veal simmered in herbs and spices. It's all topped with a creamy sauce and baked. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

MR. GYROS GREEK RESTAURANT 3232 Williams Blvd., Kenner 466-6833 Gyros sandwiches and platters appear on the menu, but management also recommends the roasted lamb chops, roasted pork and the souvlaki of grilled lamb marinated in oil, lemon juice, oregano and seasonings. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

INDIAN

INDIA PALACE 3322 N. Turnbull Drive, Metairie 889-2436; www.indiapalacerestaurant.com Diners enjoy dishes of succulent meats and seafood, which the kitchen marinates overnight and quickly roasts in a 500-degree tandoor oven. On Thursday and Sunday, India Palace features South Indian specialties. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $$

NIRVANA INDIAN CUISINE 4308 Magazine St. 894-9797 Vegetarians find paradise when they sample the tamatar and capsicum, tomatoes stuffed with bell peppers, vegetables and homemade cheese. Meat-eaters swear by the heavenly dhanya ghost, a leg of lamb stewed with coriander and spices. Reservations recommended for parties of five or more. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

SALT 'N' PEPPER RESTAURANT 201 N. Peters St., Suite C 561-6070 The owner suggests the biryanee, basmati rice with mutton or chicken, but the restaurant also features traditional shish kebab, fresh naan bread, a goat masala and many vegetarian dishes. No reservations. Delivery available. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

TAJ MAHAL INDIAN CUISINE 923-C Metairie Road, Metairie 836-6859 The Shahi Murgh takes two days to prepare and quickly sells out, but if you can catch it, the chicken breast stuffed with housemade cheese, fresh herbs and spices, topped with dried fruit and a fabulous almond and cashew gravy is divine. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

TANDOORI CHICKEN 115 University Place 299-1926 The all-you-can-eat buffet features a generous variety of the restaurant's favorites, including tender chicken baked in clay tandoor ovens, as well as a range of vegetable dishes like saag paneer. Load up with garlic naan bread on the side. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

INTERCONTINENTAL

BAYONA 430 Dauphine St. 525-4455; www.bayona.com Recent delights from the kitchen have included peppered lamb loin with herbed goat cheese and a Zinfandel sauce, and grilled duck breast in a pepper jelly glaze with purple cabbage and dirty rice. The daily lunch special offers ever-changing choice of fish, pasta, or omelette at a nice price. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

BLUE TOMATO 4401 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 734-3000 The Garbage Pan nachos are by far the most beloved offering at this cozy cantina. They're laden with seasoned beef, cheese, onions, pico de gallo, sour cream, olives, and jalapenos. Their burgers are big; their quesadillas are cheesy. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

CAFE ARABESQUE 211 LaSalle Court 524-6455 Pressed panini-style sandwiches are popular, as is the ever-changing daily hot special. On Tuesdays, look for Cuban specialties and the Mezze platter, replete with hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves and tabbouleh. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday. Delivery available. Credit cards and checks. $

DOMINIQUE'S 1001 Toulouse St. (Maison Dupuy Hotel) 522-8800; www.dominiquesrestaurant.com Innovative dishes include the sugarcane skewered Kobe beef sweetbreads, served over spiced lentil white corn fritters with veal jus and parsley oil, or the Louisiana blue crab and coconut soup infused with lemongrass essence. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

LA COTE BRASSERIE 700 Tchoupitoulas St. (Renaissance Arts Hotel) 613-2350; www.lacotebrasserie.com Management recommends the seared scallops over an herb salad and Parmesan tart dressed with truffle vinaigrette or, for the meat eaters, the Black Angus New York strip with bone marrow maitre d'butter. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

MARISOL RESTAURANT 437 Esplanade Ave. 943-1912; www.marisolrestaurant.com Though the menu changes constantly to adjust for seasonality and freshness, current choices include an appetizer of housemade ricotta ravioli with lobster sauce and caviar, and an entree of grilled duck breast with wild mushroom-pork confit empanada and smoked chile-rhubarb sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wednesday through Sunday. Major cards. $$$

MOONLIGHT CAFE 1921 Sophie Wright Place 522-7313 Into the wee hours of the night, the kitchen happily turns out Middle Eastern dishes, like tuna, salmon or shrimp kebabs, and the signature Moonburger with mozzarella, sauteed mushrooms and grilled onions. From midnight to 3 a.m., this night owl's paradise runs a happy hour drink special. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Delivery until 3 a.m. Credit cards and checks. $

NEW ORLEANS GRILL 300 Gravier St. (Windsor Court Hotel) 523-6000; www.windsorcourthotel.com British-trained chef Jonathan Wright understands how to treat guests with a seasonal menu that includes a salad of fennel and shaved hearts of palm dressed with truffle oil and a roasted elk loin with pumpkin and preserved lemon puree. Let the staff help you select one of the cellar's 10,000 bottles of wine. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

RASPUTIN 600 St. Charles Ave. 561-9261; www.doylerestaurantgroup.com The bar stocks more than 100 varieties of vodkas to complement the shashliks, traditional Russian kebabs grilled en brochette presented tableside with lentils and rice pilaf, or the beef stroganoff of beef tips with sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions in a cream sauce. Reservations accepted. Dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

SARA'S 724 Dublin St. 861-0565; www.sarasrestaurant.com With its innovative fusion of Indian, Mediterranean, Thai and French Creole flavors, eclectic specialties include the green curried scallops with jasmine rice and black bean salsa. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $$

SEMOLINA 100 Tyler Square, Covington (985) 898-0004; 1121 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, 361-8293; 1503 Gause Blvd., Slidell (985) 641-3456; 2999 Hwy. 190, Mandeville (985) 626-8923; 3226 Magazine St. 895-4260; 3501 W. Chateau Blvd., Kenner 468-1047; 4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd. (Clearview Shopping Center), Metairie 454-7930; 5080 Pontchartrain Blvd. 486-5581 www.semolina.com This local chain takes an eclectic, international approach to pasta, offering up imaginative dishes. The pad Thai pasta is a shrimp and vegetable stir-fry tossed with rice noodles, crushed peanuts and fresh bean sprouts. A new crawfish menu is due to arrive Feb. 12. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SUN RAY GRILL 619 Pink St., Metairie 837-0055; 1051 Annunciation St. 566-0021; 2600 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna 391-0053; 3700 Orleans Ave., Suite 3A 274-0091; www.sunraygrill.com A new Mid-City location is available to patrons wishing to take a culinary journey, from Taqueria Guacamole to Ginger Chicken Spring Rolls to a Greek salad to a cheeseburger. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

VERANDA RESTAURANT 444 St. Charles Ave. (InterContinental New Orleans) 585-4383; www.new-orleans.intercontinental.com Here patrons dine on European fare with a Cajun accent in the pleasant atrium of the InterContinental. The chef serves vegetable-stuffed ravioli, Angus filet mignon and delicious seafood. Reservations recommended. Breakfast and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

VIC'S KANGAROO CAFE 636 Tchoupitoulas St. 524-4329 Casual ambience and delicious Australian food is the mantra at this CBD hangout. This is the place to go on a cool night for an imported beer and warm shepherd's pie: seasoned ground beef and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

THE WINE LOFT 752 Tchoupitoulas St. 561-0116; www.thewineloft.net A menu of light European fare, like an artesanal cheese board or escargot bourguignonne wrapped in a pastry shell and drizzled with Herbsaint cream, goes well with this elegant Warehouse District wine bar. Reservations recommended for parties of eight or more. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

ITALIAN

ADOLFO'S 611 Frenchmen St. 948-3800 Each entree is served with a bowl homemade pasta, tossed the fresh sauce of your choice. The kitchen urges patrons to 'make your own special' by mixing and matching the various menu items. The fish of the day is always a good bet, and comes with either shrimp crawfish or crabmeat caper sauce. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

ANDREA'S RESTAURANT AND CATERING 3100 19th St., Metairie 834-8583; www.andreasrestaurant.com From the Aqua Pazza --'crazy water' stew, made with red snapper, fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil and plenty of herbs -- to the veal shank osso buco, Andrea's exemplifies Northern Italian food prepared with care, and they also work wonders on fresh seafood. The extensive wine list has won a Wine Spectator award, among others. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily, brunch on Sunday. Credit cards. $$

ANDY MESSINA'S 2717 Williams Blvd., Kenner 469-7373 Seafood is the star on the menu, but don't miss the baby veal Spedine, which comes is stuffed with eggplant dressing, topped with mozzarella, and served on a bed of angel hair pasta. Barbecue baked oysters are freshly shucked and sauteed in butter, garlic, and herbs, and served over pasta. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

ANGELI ON DECATUR 1141 Decatur St. 566-0077 Locals stop in here for hearty doses of Italian classics like fettuccine Alfredo, which is a bestseller here. Try the Lucifer pizza, weighed down by more kinds of meat than you can shake a pitchfork at, along with caramelized onion, roasted red pepper, and jalapenos. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards and checks. $

ANSELMO'S 3401 N. Hullen St., Metairie 889-1212 Anselmo's remains a bustling Metairie favorite thanks to Italian specialties such as osso buco and jumbo shrimp submerged in a rosemary cream sauce. The diverse menu also features the salad Alyse, which combines greens, Gorgonzola cheese, bacon and sugared pecans in a vinaigrette. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

BACCO 310 Chartres St. 522-2426; www.bacco.com Start with a tender treat of fried calamari with lemon aioli for dipping, and don't miss the housemade lobster ravioli in champagne butter sauce, dotted with beads of caviar. An extensive Italian and international liqueur selection is available for postprandial lingering. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BARRECA'S 3100 Metairie Road, Metairie 831-4546 Recent specials include a fresh filet of trout lightly floured, pan fried and served with a shrimp and crab stuffing and a creamy shrimp butter sauce. Another good bet is their half a boneless duck, with tender meat encased in a delectably crispy skin, and served over Cajun rice in a peach brandy glaze. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $$

BRAVO! ITALIAN KITCHEN 1711 St. Charles Ave. 525-5515; 3413 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 828-8828; www.bravoitalian.com Among the wood-fired pizzas is the Margherita, which brings the taste of summer to the table with toppings of fresh mozzarella, tomato slices and basil leaves. Steaks, seafood and pasta dishes are also on the menu. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BRICK OVEN CAFE 2805 Williams Blvd, Kenner 466-2097 The Costoletta di Vitello Liberta is a veal chop stuffed with prosciutto, fontina cheese, pine nuts and mushrooms, and is served in a marsala wine sauce. The pasta jambalaya is a nice twist, with Gulf shrimp, andouille, duck and chicken tossed with spinach fettuccine. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

CAFE DIBLASI 1801 Stumpf Blvd. Suite 4, Gretna 361-3106 The specialty is the Veal Diblasi, breaded medallions served with lump crab meat and a lemon cream sauce. Entrees come with pasta, vegetable, and a small salad, so you won't leave hungry. A nice Italian wine list rounds things out. Reservations accepted. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

CAFE GIOVANNI 117 Decatur St. 529-2154; www.cafegiovanni.com Live opera on Wednesdays and weekends is still around, as are classics like the veal saltimbocca, medallions of veal served with sage and prosciutto in a vermouth garlic reduction. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily, late-night Friday-Saturday. Credit cards. $$

CARMINE'S ITALIAN SEAFOOD AND GRILL 4101 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 455-7904 The generous appetizers include an artichoke stuffed with fried shrimp, oysters and fish and topped with a dill cream sauce, while entrees feature pasta dishes such as lasagna and crabmeat ravioli. Look for specials including steamed lobsters and steaks. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

DIA ROMA CAFE 3712 Williams Blvd., Suite O, Kenner 443-6663 Dia Roma is most known for its inventive gourmet pizzas, such as the chicken fajita pizza with grilled chicken breast, mushrooms, peppers, and a creamy Alfredo sauce. But the menu continues with foot-long sandwiches and pasta dinners, including the shrimp Alfredo dinner where angel hair pasta is tossed with veggies and shrimp and served with garlic bread. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

ELEVEN79 1179 Annunciation St. 299-1179 Always on the menu is the grilled calamari with pecorino polenta and lemon butter or the signature Paneed Veal Eleven79 served with roasted red peppers, asparagus, buffalo mozzarella and lemon sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Thursday and Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

FAUSTO'S BISTRO 530 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 833-7121 This winter, Fausto's will keep you warm with robust New Orleans Italian dishes like the veal saltimbocca: tender veal medallions sauteed with herbs and fresh mushrooms, crowned with prosciutto and mozzarella and flamed in Marsala wine. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

FIGARO'S RESTAURANT 7900 Maple St. 866-0100 Tempting additions include the mussels Figaro, baked with pancetta, bacon and Roma tomatoes, a rack of lamb in cranberry sauce served with a wild mushroom risotto, and seafood risotto packed with sea scallops, shrimp, crawfish and mussels served with grilled asparagus tips. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

FRANK'S RESTAURANT 933 Decatur St. 525-1602 This old-school Sicilian-American restaurant has been family-owned and operated for decades. Try the Snapper Jack, a deep-fried filet smothered in shrimp, crawfish, and softshell crab topping over pasta. Frank's also serves a hefty 1-lb. rib-eye cooked how you like it. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

IMPASTATO'S 3400 16th St., Metairie 455-1545; www.impastatos.com Regulars order a Tom Benson (crabmeat salad) or an Iron Mike (veal chop with sauteed mushrooms). The softshell crab, deep-fried and topped with lump crabmeat, the pasta and the steak all have diehard fans. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday, late-night Friday-Saturday. Credit cards. $$

IRENE'S CUISINE 539 St. Phillip St. 529-8811 In candlelit rooms, diners devour comforting pasta dishes, like the fried softshell crab on linguine with tomato basil cream sauce. For something different, try the roasted duck with wild rice and corn maque choux. Reservations for parties of five or more. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

MAXIMO'S ITALIAN GRILL 1117 Decatur St. 586-8883; www.maximositaliangrill.com The menu features the popular housemade ravioli with four cheeses, lots of veal, a daily fresh fish selection and seafood specialties like the gamberoni agrodolce with jumbo shrimp prepared in garlic, sherry and lemon. An extensive wine list complements the regional Italian cuisine. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

MIMI'S ITALIAN & SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 10160 Jefferson Hwy., River Ridge 737-6464 Italian and Creole cuisines both make an appearance at Mimi's, where diners often pick up some pasta on the way home from work. For dinner, don't miss the double-cut pork chop smoked in-house and served with Creole mustard and green peppercorn demi-glace. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

MOSCA'S 4137 W. Hwy. 90, Avondale 436-9942/436-8950 More than three generations of the Mosca family have prepared Old World Italian entrees like the legendary chicken a la grande, a pan-fried chicken fragrant with olive oil, rosemary and plenty of garlic. Everything is served family style, so share platters of spaghetti in red sauce with garlicky meatballs and spicy sausage with roasted potatoes. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Cash only. $$$

NARDO'S TRATTORIA 6078 Laurel St. 895-9441; www.nardostrattoria.com This new Uptown trattoria's menu ranges from the casual, such as the three-cheese calzones to the elegant Tuscan specialties like osso buco, veal Oscar with lump crabmeat and braised rabbit with figs. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

NUVOLARI'S 246 Gerard St., Mandeville (985) 626-5619; www.nuvolaris.com A Northshore tradition, Nuvolari's boasts a classic New York-style dining room and a menu of fine Italian entrees, like veal Parmesan Florentine with marinara, fresh spinach, provolone and Romano cheese. Reservations recommended for parties of four or more. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

OLIVE BRANCH CAFE 1995 Barataria Blvd., Marrero 348-2008; 5163 Gen. DeGaulle Drive 393-1107; www.olivebranchcafe.com The Olive Branch bills itself as 'the gourmet pizza place' on the West Bank, and pies like the Muffuletta (salami, ham and imported olives with mozzarella cheese) and the shrimp pesto (shrimp, pesto sauce, artichokes, tomatoes, mozzarella and provolone) explain why. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

RAGUSA'S SICILIAN DELICATESSEN 3363 Severn Ave., Metairie 454-2723 This Italian deli, with its 'old country meets Crescent City' flavors, now stays open for dinner. The artichoke bread, a French loaf stuffed with artichokes and three kinds of cheese, the eggplant Parmesan sandwich and signature muffalettas are all tasty treats any hour of the day. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

RESTAURANT CYPRESS 4426 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie 885-6885 Cypress adds a Creole inflection to Old World Italian specialties like homemade ravioli stuffed with both Maine lobster and mascarpone cheese in a dill cream sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Thursday and Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

RICCOBONO'S PEPPERMILL RESTAURANT 3524 Severn Ave., Metairie 455-2266 The signature oysters Riccobono, a casserole with mushrooms, green onions, garlic and Parmesan cheese, and the hearty veal dishes are both good choices. Reservations recommended. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Tuesday through Sunday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

RISTORANTE CARMELO 541 Decatur St. 586-1414; www.ristorantecarmelo.com This trattoria makes a devilishly good spicy lobster fra diavolo in red sauce over linguine and an authentic veal sorentino, a dish of sauteed white veal, eggplant, prosciutto and mozzarella in a touch of tomato sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

RISTORANTE DA PIERO 401 Williams Blvd., Kenner 469-8585 Guests are serenaded by an opera singer while dining on Romagnia regional specialties like filetto al pepe verde, medallions of beef served with green peppercorn sauce and pasta. Seasonal specials take advantage of the freshest regional produce and seafood. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Sunday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $$

RISTORANTE FILIPPO 1917 Ridgelake Drive, Metairie 835-4008 Chef Philip Gagliano lovingly prepares zuppa Fellippa, a soup of seafood stock, shrimp, lump crab and oysters, and the signature spedini, a chicken breast stuffed with breadcrumbs, tomatoes and cheese over spaghettini in a Mediterranean sauce. The menu also includes fish, veal dishes and a wonderful selection of Californian and Italian wines. Reservations recommended on weekends. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

RISTORANTE LA RIVIERA 4506 Shores Drive, Metairie 888-6238; www.larivierarestaurant.com They say at La Riviera, 'the seafood is fresh, the pastas are homemade and the service is friendly.' Seafood risotto and lump crabmeat-stuffed ravioli topped with a rich white sauce are specialties in Chef Aldo Marcone's repertoire of classic Italian cuisine. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

SAL AND SAM'S 4300 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 885-5566 Sal and Sam's prides itself on its steaks and osso buco: veal shanks marinated in a marinara sauce. Live piano jazz courtesy of Joey Arnd is a feature on weekends, and some dishes are prepared tableside, including steak Diane and the always impressive bananas Foster. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$$

SALVATORE RISTORANTE 3226 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie 455-2433; www.chefsfreerecipe.com The trout Salvatore is a sauteed fillet served in a shrimp and crabmeat sauce. The Sal's Delight is a mesquite-grilled petite filet, a fried softshell crab finished with lemon butter caper sauce, and sauteed baby veal finished off with crabmeat and mushroom sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

SANDRO'S TRATTORIA 6601 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 888-7784 Specialties include the frutti del mar pasta -- steamed mussels, shrimp and oysters in a light white wine sauce over fresh pasta -- and the Boscoli burger, a 10-oz. burger topped with olive salad and melted provolone, a lunch favorite. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Monday though Saturday. Credit cards. $$

TECORO'S SEAFOOOD & ITALIAN RESTAURANT 3525 Williams Blvd., Kenner 466-5550 The sisters Terrie, Corliss and Rose offer their own take on Italian food, starting with the Three Sisters Stuffed Chicken. The dish features three fried chicken breasts served different ways: Sister Terrie (proscuitto, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, green onions and provolone cheese), Sister Corliss (spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic and feta cheese) and Sister Rosemary (rosemary-stuffed chicken). Reservations recommended on weekends. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

TOMMY'S CUISINE 746 Tchoupitoulas St. 581-1103 Chef Tommy Andrade presents a Creole-Italian menu that features daily specials, osso buco and stuffed pork chops. Try the eggplant seafood casserole: shrimp, crabmeat and crawfish baked with eggplant and herbs. The duck Tchoupitoulas is crispy roasted duck glazed with raspberry demi-glace and served with fresh spinach and wild rice. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

TONY ANGELLO'S RISTORANTE 6262 Fleur de Lis Drive 488-0888 Perhaps the best way explore the fine Italian meals at Tony Angello's is to select the 'feed-me' option: Chef Tony Angello will bring out several courses of his favorites of the night. Eggplant Tina is thinly sliced eggplant, lightly battered and fried, then layered with cheese and fresh marinara sauce. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

TONY MANDINA'S RESTAURANT 1915 Pratt St., Gretna 362-2010; www.tonymandinas.com Tony Mandina's specializes in southern Italian cuisine. The restaurant proclaims its eggplant/veal parmigiana is 'The Best of Both Worlds': Italian breaded eggplant and tender veal layered with mozzarella and marinara, served with pasta. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

TONY MORAN'S 240 Bourbon St. 523-4640; www.ruebourbon.com Two standard dishes beckon to discriminating diners: Seafood lovers are invited to try the stuffed prawns diavolo, filled with a crabmeat stuffing and served over a spicy tomato sauce and vegetables. Meat-eaters should try the bistecca alla funghi, a prime-aged New York strip steak broiled and then flamed in a peppercorn cream grappa sauce. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

TORTORICI'S 441 Royal St. 522-4295; www.tortoricis.com To the tune of the nightly live piano music, Tortorici's creates an Italian and Creole fusion with dishes like stuffed redfish braciola, a fresh redfish filled with seafood stuffing then rolled, paneed, baked, and topped with fresh Louisiana shrimp and mushrooms in a light cream sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

TWO TONY'S RESTAURANT 105 Hammond Hwy., Metairie 831-0999; www.two-tonys.com Co-founded by Tony Montalbano and his son, Chef Anthony, Two Tony's serves up Italian and seafood. Tony recommends the speckled trout piccata, a pan-fried speckled trout fillet cooked golden and topped with artichoke hearts in a lemon butter sauce. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

VENEZIA 134 N. Carrollton Ave. 488-7991; 587 Central Ave., Jefferson 734-3991 Venezia is comfortably enjoying its popularity at two locations, following an expansion to Jefferson. Diners are happy to dig into the trout amandine or eggplant Vatican, a hollowed-out, batter-fried eggplant stuffed with seafood cream sauce. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday at Jefferson, daily at the Carrollton Avenue location. Credit cards. $$

VINCENT'S 4250 Hwy. 22 (Pine Tree Plaza Shopping Center), Mandeville (985) 624-2300; 4411 Chastant St., Metairie 885-2984; 7839 St. Charles Ave. 866-9313 Excellent Italian choices like the corn crab bisque, veal and spinach cannelloni and the seafood-stuffed pork chop ensured that Vincent's was voted the best Italian restaurant by Gambit Weekly readers in 2004. Reservations recommended for large parties and on weekends in Mandeville. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $$

JAPANESE

ASAHI 709 St. Charles Ave. 528-9008 Only in New Orleans will sushi lovers find the Jazz roll, featuring spicy half-cooked tuna, avocado, and wasabi with lump snow crab on top. Other favorites are the hijiki salad and the Ultimate Tuna roll, a huge glimmering slice of fresh tuna atop a roll of crunchy snow crab and avocado. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

CAFE ZEN 2112 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna 393-2293 This West Bank sushi spot continues the tradition of sister restaurants Hana and Kanpai in New Orleans, with glistening slabs of sashimi and elaborate sushi rolls like the Special Salmon Roll, in which deep-fried salmon is stuffed with snow crab and wrapped in sticky rice and seaweed. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

HANA JAPANESE RESTAURANT 8116 Hampson St. 865-1634 This neighborhood favorite is both a sushi bar and a full Japanese restaurant, providing light lunches and hot meals of noodles or cooked fish. Enjoy an assortment of specialty sushi rolls, including the Hana Special Roll with a combination of salmon, tuna, snow crab, cucumber, avocado, egg, and shrimp tempura. Reservations recommended for parties of six or more. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

HORINOYA 920 Poydras St. 561-8914 Horinoya's sushi chefs prepare classic sashimi, maki and nigiri sushi. Try the soybean paper roll, a rice-less roll with tuna, white fish, salmon, mixed vegetables and a special sauce. Private tables and seating for large parties available in the elegant back room. Reservations accepted. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner nightly. Credit cards. $$

JIPANG 814 Gravier St. 565-5322 The sushi lunch special and the chicken curry over rice are both popular items. For breakfast, Jipang serves more Western fare like coffee, pastries and eggs cooked to order. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Friday. Credit cards. Delivery to CBD and part of the French Quarter. $

KANNO SUSHI 3205 Edenborn Ave., Metairie 455-5730 Kanno Sushi laces sushi rolls with a bite of spice. Some diners need an emergency glass of water to douse the heat of the spicy veggies, snow crab and Cajun tuna in the 911 roll. Sushi eaters who want to skip their veggies should order a Protein roll with spicy tuna, snow crab, whitefish and salmon. Reservations accepted. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

KANPAI 4116 Canal St. 483-0880 The Japanese buffet features a variety of popular sushi rolls, but includes the smoked eel, the scallops and a fusion version of ceviche with Asian ingredients and Mexican spices. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

KYOTO 4920 Prytania St. 891-3644 The sushi chefs at this Uptown restaurant prepare a full selection of rolls and raw fish. Guests who prefer cooked cuisine should try the tuna tataki ginzina, seared tuna over shredded turnips with sesame avocado sauce. Reservation recommended for parties of six or more. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

KYOTO II 5608 Citrus Blvd., Harahan 818-0228 Diners in Harahan can get their raw fish fix at Kyoto II, where the chefs slice up a variety of rolls, sushi and nigiri. The beef teriyaki dinner is popular with diners who prefer turf to surf. Reservations accepted. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $$

LITTLE TOKYO RESTAURANT 1521 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie 831-6788 From tempura-battered beef to crunchy rolls, Little Tokyo's chefs bring all the delicious dishes of Japan to Metairie. Grab a pair of chopsticks and dig into a plate of sushi. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $$

LITTLE TOKYO RESTAURANT PART II 3225 Williams Blvd., Kenner 443-7660 Little Tokyo II offers an a la carte menu and a buffet loaded with sushi, rolls, tempura-battered vegetables and hibachi-grilled steak and seafood. There is a salad bar for those who insist on greens with their protein. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

MIKIMOTO 3301 S. Carrollton Ave. 488-1881 Sushi doesn't have to be expensive at this Carrollton standby, where at lunch an assortment of raw fish over rice can be had for 99 cents. Check out the chef's specials and, for the carnivores, the rib-eye steak. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

MIYAKO JAPANESE SUSHI BAR & HIBACHI 1403 St. Charles Ave. 410-9997; 3837 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 779-6475 Miyako's sushi chefs artfully create crunchy rolls, California rolls, fresh sashimi and nigiri. For diners who prefer their dinner cooked, the kitchen turns out hibachi-grilled entrees and other authentic Japanese dishes. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

NINJA 8433 Oak St. 866-1119 Uptown neighbors sample the Box Sushi, layers of fish, eel, snow crab, rice and avocado. The dinner for two includes tempura, beef and chicken teriyaki, gyoza dumplings, edamame, seaweed salad, and choice of two rolls. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Tuesday and Sunday. Credit cards. $$

OKI NAGO 2712 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie 780-8588; www.okinago.com Chopsticks get a real workout at Oki Nago, where diners can sample as many Japanese dishes as they desire. The all-you-can-eat buffet includes sushi, grilled hibachi items, teriyaki, fried tempura, fresh oysters and salad. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

ROCK-N-SAKE BAR & SUSHI 823 Fulton St. 581-7253; www.rocknsake.com The hip urban decor and rock 'n' roll energy set this place apart from other sushi shops. Sample creative combinations like the Hawaii 5-0 filled with fried coconut shrimp, cream cheese and mango slices. Reservations recommended for parties of 10 or more. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner nightly, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

SAKE CAFE 4201 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 779-7253; 817 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner 468-8829 Try the exclusive sushi creations like the Kenner roll: whitefish, snow crab, avocado and crab stick in sticky rice and seaweed, all deep fried in tempura batter. Or the stuffed shrimp dinner features eight shrimp stuffed with crabmeat and served with a wasabi peanut sauce. Reservations accepted, recommended on weekends at Metairie location. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SAKE CAFE UPTOWN 2830 Magazine St. 894-0033; www.sakecafeuptown.com Sake Cafe Uptown is pleased to announce that the North American Restaurant Association recently awarded the restaurant a five-star rating. With offerings like the Spider Web Roll (softshell crab, avocado, cucumber, wrap spicy tuna, wasabi tobiko, served on a web of the chef's special sauce), it's easy to see why. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SUSHI CAFE 3125 Esplanade Ave. 945-1919 Head Chef Victor Pasigan is proud of the mango blue crab roll, a popular order that won a recent food contest in Hawaii. Blue crab, lettuce, peanuts, cucumber, avocado and mango are rolled up in a soybean wrap and covered with a sweet chile sauce. No reservations. Lunch Tuesday through Saturday, dinner Tuesday through Friday. Credit cards. $$

WASABI 900 Frenchmen St. 943-9433; www.wasabirestaurant.com Friendly and elegant, Wasabi can accommodate both crowds sharing sake and summer rolls (crabmeat, avocado, asparagus and smelt roe wrapped with cucumber) and couples lingering over plates of sashimi. A new location on Canal Boulevard in Mid-City is due to open soon. No reservations. Lunch weekdays, dinner Monday through Saturday, late-night Friday and Saturday. $$

LATIN AMERICAN

CHURROS CAFE 3100 Kingman St., Suite 104, Metairie 885-6516 Cuban favorites served up here include ropa vieja, shredded spicy beef over rice, as well as the classic Cuban sandwich, with ham, sliced pork and Swiss cheese. No reservations. Breakfast Monday through Friday, lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

COUNTRY FLAME 620 Iberville St. 522-1138 Painted with colorful murals on the outside, Country Flame is a French Quarter favorite for inexpensive Cuban and Mexican dishes. The Spanish influenced Puerco Frito involves marinating the pork for days before frying it up and serving it alongside rice, black beans and yucca. No reservations. Delivery available. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

FIESTA LATINA RESTAURANT 1924 Airline Drive, 469-5792 The most popular item is the carne asada, a time-honored barbecued beef dish. The beef is grilled with rock salt and lime juice and served with rice, beans, salad and plantains. Breakfast is no less authentic, serving huevos rancheros with fresh pineapple. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $

LA MACARENA PUPUSERIA AND RESTAURANT 4221 Williams Blvd., Kenner 464-4525 La Macarena's offerings include the favorite pupusas: corn-stuffed tortilla cakes filled with cheeses and pork. Or try yuca fritas, deep-fried yuca root adorned with Latin slaw, pico de gallo and a sprinkling of pork crackling. Bring your own bottle (for now). No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Cash only. $

LAS PENITAS 4520 Freret St. 891-9557 La Cocinita Escondida has reopened as Las Penitas with an expanded menu that adds a few Mexican favorites to the former restaurant's popular Nicaraguan dishes. Management recommends the Nicaraguan ropa vieja, a beef stew more often associated with Cuba. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

PUPUSERIA DIVINO CORAZON 2300 Belle Chase Hwy., Gretna 368-5724 When this restaurant opened 17 years ago, Central American pupusas were exotic. These days, more people know about the yummy thin grilled cakes stuffed with pork, cheese or onions. Another popular dish is the faro del pacifico platter with a pupusa, chicken tamale, meat pie and sides of cabbage salad and rice. Reservations accepted for parties of six or more. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

LOUISIANA CONTEMPORARY

201 RESTAURANT AND BAR 201 Decatur St. 561-0007 The new menu is laden with local seafood offerings served up with poise and panache. The chipotle-grilled jumbo shrimp entree comes on a bed of lump crab and fresh herb risotto, sauteed sugar snap peas and a sweet bell pepper coulis. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily, open until midnight on Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

ALBERTINE'S TEA ROOM 3811 St. Charles Ave. 899-9308; www.thecolumns.com. Sunday brunch specials have included sesame-crusted tuna with garlic mashed potatoes and wilted spinach greens. All your breakfast favorites from sausage to French toast are on the menu daily, along with affordable mimosas and Bloody Marys. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Saturday, brunch on Sunday. Credit cards. $$

ALLEGRO BISTRO 1100 Poydras St. 582-2350 Popular dishes include paneed veal in a Creole mustard breading served with crawfish hollandaise, and classic Louisiana-style jumbo shrimp boiled in barbecue sauce and served with garlic mashed potatoes. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $$

ANNADELE'S PLANTATION 71495 Chestnut St., Covington (985) 809-7669; www.annadeles.com Pan-sauteed pompano is topped with lump crabmeat and drizzled with a citrus beurre blanc. The layout includes two floors of dining and walls of windows looking out over the Bogue Falaya river and the surrounding groves. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner daily, Sunday brunch. Credit cards and checks. $$$

ARTESIA 21516 Hwy. 36, Abita Springs (985)892-1662; www.artesiarestaurant.com At Artesia, you're just as likely to be gazing lovingly at your plate as at your date, with sumptuous fare such as lamb shanks braised till tender in Abita Amber and jumbo lump crabcakes that are bursting with crabmeat. The backyard herb garden provides the kitchen with the freshest savory touch. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Thursday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $$$

BANK CAFE 2001 Burgundy St. 371-5260 This recently opened restaurant in Faubourg Marigny has a young, urban feel and impressive fine-dining chops. The smoked rib-eye with pecans and bacon demi-glace reminds you that you're in New Orleans, not New York. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday, brunch on Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $$

BEGUE'S 300 Bourbon St. (Royal Sonesta Hotel) 586-0300 The grouper bouillabaisse is inspired by Cajun courtbouillon and is a fragrant delight. Another perennial favorite is the pan-roasted veal with roasted artichokes, summer vegetables, and lime. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

BENEDICT'S RESTAURANT PLANTATION 1144 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville (985) 626-4557; www.benedictsplantation.com This sumptuous restaurant resides among ancient live oak trees and serves grand Cajun and Creole fare including baked oysters of all varieties, Creole crabcakes, pecan-smoked baked rib, and trout meuniere or amandine. Reservations accepted. Dinner Wednesday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

BISTRO AT MAISON DE VILLE 733 Toulouse St. 528-9206; www.maisondeville.com The confit of duck is perfect for chilly weather; house-smoked duck breast is served with cannelini bean cassoulet, grilled Italian sausage, seared foie gras, and wild rice. The house specializes in a variety of soups, which change regularly. Reservations required. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

BRIGTSEN'S 723 Dante St. 861-7610; www.brigtsens.com Chef Frank Brigtsen's commitment to freshness means that the menu changes often; winter brings favorites like the butternut squash and shrimp bisque and roast duck with cornbread stuffing and honey pecan gravy. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

CAFE LATROBE 707 Conti St. 568-9992 The recently expanded dinner menu includes fresh takes on local favorites, like the New Orleans surf 'n' turf -- sauteed Gulf shrimp and filet mignon tips in a Creole cream gravy over rosemary biscuits. The pecan crusted redfish is served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily; dinner Tuesday through Saturday; Sunday brunch. Credit cards. $

CAFE VOLAGE 720 Dublin St. 861-4227 This winter, try robust dishes like the tomato-based rabbit stew, or the braised veal shank, finished in a mushroom demi-glace and served over pasta. Reservations recommended on weekends. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

THE CHEF'S TABLE 2100 St. Charles Ave. 525-CHEF (2433); www.ci-no.com/restaurant.html Homework suddenly becomes appealing when it's the meals turned out by the student chefs at the Culinary Institute of New Orleans. Start off with the fried green tomatoes topped with jumbo Gulf shrimp in remoulade sauce, and move on to dishes like the potato-crusted salmon in citrus beurre blanc. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $$

COPELAND'S 680 N. Hwy. 190, Covington (985) 809-9659; 701 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 831-3437; 1001 S. Clearview Pkwy., Jefferson 733-7843; 1700 Lapalco Blvd., Harvey 364-1575; 4338 St. Charles Ave. 897-2325; www.copelands.net/copelands/copeland.asp The eggplant pirogue is a house special with fried eggplant topped with shrimp, crab claws and au gratin sauce and served over angel hair pasta. The seafood platters are also popular choices, and the rich chocolate fudge cake ends the meal on a sweet note. Reservations recommended. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $$

DAKOTA RESTAURANT 629 N. Hwy. 190, Covington (985) 892-3712; www.thedakotarestaurant.com Northshore diners in the know keep coming back for the house specialty, the rich, silky crabmeat and brie soup. Cuvee's sister across the lake also shines with appetizers like the seafood beignets in lobster cream sauce, as well as the smoked pork tenderloin glazed in Steen's cane syrup and soaked in Kentucky bourbon barbecue butter. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, dinner Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

DANTE'S KITCHEN 736 Dante St. 861-3121; www.danteskitchen.com Stars of the seasonal menu also include the falafel-crusted fresh Gulf fish, as well as brunch dishes like savory crab and Brie French toast and shrimp and grits. Reservations accepted for parties of six or more. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Saturday and Sunday. Credit cards. $$

DICK AND JENNY'S 4501 Tchoupitoulas St. 894-9880 By policy, this Uptown spot doesn't advertise, so the full dining room speaks volumes of the power of word of mouth -- or what Dick and Jenny can put in your mouth. A new menu will debut in February, but favorites like the fried oysters in remoulade sauce will remain. No reservations. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

DOC SMITH'S 1009 Poydras St. 561-0528 This casual annex to Smith & Wollensky's serves the classic steakhouse menu in a relaxed atmosphere. USDA prime steaks are dry-aged and paired with favorites like lobster cocktail, tomato and onion salad, whipped potatoes and creamed spinach. No reservations. Dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

EMERIL'S 800 Tchoupitoulas St. 528-9393; www.emerils.com Local ingredients shine in appetizers like the almond-crusted Plaquemines Parish oysters served with melting brie, bacon brown sugar tomato glaze and rosemary fennel apple slaw. Reservations required. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

EMERIL'S DELMONICO RESTAURANT 1300 St. Charles Ave. 525-4937; www.emerils.com This stately St. Charles Avenue dining establishment, first opened in 1895, shines under Lagasse's stewardship with dishes like the wild mushroom-ricotta cannelloni, served with oven-roasted tomato cream sauce, sauteed rapini and herb pesto. Reservations required. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily, jazz brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

ETOILE 407 N. Columbia St., Covington (985) 892-4578 The shining star at this Northshore bistro is the culinary styling of Chef Tony Savage. One popular dish is mussels with spicy dill in a white wine cream broth served with sweet potato French fries. A sweet ending to an elaborate meal is the apple tart with almond creme. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

FRENCH QUARTER BAR (FQB) 921 Canal St. (The Ritz-Carlton Hotel) 524-1331; www.ritzcarlton.com Cocktail specials include the 'Bloody Tower' -- seven takes on the classic Bloody Mary -- and the Davenportini, named for frequent performer Jeremy Davenport. Either goes well with the New York strip, served with bordelaise sauce, roasted fingerling potatoes, asparagus and cippollini onions. Reservations recommended Thursday through Saturday. Lunch and dinner daily, jazz brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

GABRIELLE RESTAURANT 3201 Esplanade Ave. 948-6233; www.gabriellerestaurant.com Start off with the seared foie gras on a pig's ear with fresh fruit and blueberry demi-glace, and move on to the Creole cream cheese-crusted lamb chops with Israeli couscous, roasted pecans and black grape sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

GAUTREAU'S 1728 Soniat St. 899-7397; www.gautreaus.net In 2004, Chef Mathias Wolf was selected as one of Food & Wine magazine's 10 best new chefs in America for creations like seared sea scallops with truffled black pepper linguine and braised lamb shank with white bean, zucchini and tomato pistou. Reservations recommended. Dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

GIROD'S BISTRO 500 Chartres St. 524-9752 The house recommends the bouillabaisse, a saffron-tomato broth chock full of fresh Gulf fish, shrimp and oysters and topped with aioli and a falafel cake. No reservations. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

HILLERY'S ON TOULOUSE 827 Toulouse St. (Hotel St. Marie) 571-2888 Chef Ed Moise recommends an appetizer of Oysters Verdant, flash-fried oysters served with spinach and a Pernod cream, before moving on to meltingly tender braised veal cheeks served over housemade fettuccine with natural au jus. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

JACQUES-IMO'S CAFE 8324 Oak St. 861-0886; www.jacquesimoscafe.com The oddly named Godzilla vs. Fried Green Tomato features a stuffed softshell crab perched atop a fried green tomato. Voted one of the top three overall restaurants in town by Gambit Weekly readers in 2004. Reservations accepted for parties of five or more. Dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

JEAN LAFITTE BISTRO 240 Bourbon St. 523-4640; www.ruebourbon.com In the same building that houses Tony Moran's is this upstairs restaurant that serves what it calls 'New Orleans French cuisine.' One of the more popular items on the menu is the crawfish Linda: pasta tossed with crawfish cream sauce. Reservations accepted. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

JUNIPER 115 Gerard St. Mandeville (985) 624-5330 Juniper's chef creates 'progressive Creole' cuisine with a menu that changes weekly. Management recommends the pork osso buco, a braised pork shank with Creole demi-glace over oyster andouille dressing finished with Jack Daniels' cane syrup sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

K-PAUL'S LOUISIANA KITCHEN 416 Chartres St. 596-2530; www.kpauls.com Paul Prudhomme invented blackened fish at this legendary restaurant and the black drum, served with drawn butter, potatoes and veggie, continues to be the restaurant's signature dish. Reservations accepted. Lunch Thursday through Saturday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

LE PARVENU RESTAURANT 509 Williams Blvd., Kenner 471-0534 In an old cottage, diners discover Chef Dennis Hutley's innovative Creole cuisine. The popular mirliton stuffed with shrimp and crab makes an excellent appetizer for the signature paneed lobster medallions served with a cognac cream sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

THE MARIGNY BRASSERIE 640 Frenchmen St. 945-4472; www.cafemarigny.com Award-winning Chef Scott Varnedoe has recently taken over the kitchen at this swank Faubourg Marigny bistro. His creative additions include the cast-iron seared beef tenderloin set atop an andouille caramelized red onion and goat cheese cheesecake. Reservations accepted. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Sunday through Saturday, Sunday brunch. Credit cards. $$

MAT & NADDIE'S 937 Leonidas St. 861-9600 Mat & Naddie's popular grilled oyster appetizers are traditional, but the menu also features chicken waterzooi, a Belgium stew of organic boneless chicken breast, braised leeks, baby carrots and jasmine rice finished with a liaison base. The nightly wine dinner pairs three courses with complementary wines. Reservations recommended. Dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

MURIEL'S JACKSON SQUARE 801 Chartres St. 568-1885; www.muriels.com The ghosts of New Orleans look on approvingly at Chef Erik Veney's innovative dishes of goat cheese and crawfish crepes and pan-seared, pecan-crusted drum served with a crabmeat pecan relish and lemon beurre blanc. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

NAPOLEON HOUSE BAR AND CAFE 500 Chartres St. 524-9752 Everyone loves the historic Napoleon House, with its knowledgeable barkeeps with their penchant for Pimm's Cups. The menu of snacks and Italian entrees features a muffaletta, served hot with ham, salami, melted Provolone cheese and homemade olive salad. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

THE PELICAN CLUB RESTAURANT & BAR 615 Bienville St./312 Exchange Alley 523-1504; www.pelicanclub.com This classy restaurant's menu endeavors to provide a high-flying choice for any refined taste, such as the Trio of Duckling: a combination of Peking duck leg confit, Chinese barbecue duck and Maigret duck breast served with honey and Louisiana navel orange sauce and accompanied by three-potato mash and baby vegetables. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

PERISTYLE 1041 Dumaine St. 593-9535 While the style and most of the menu remains the same, Chef Tom Wolfe has added a slow-grilled pork chop on tasso wild rice pilaf with a port wine and sultana reduction and a grilled boneless duck breast with seared foie gras served with duck crackling sweet potato hash in a stratified foie gras berry reduction. Reservations recommended. Lunch Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

PHILIP CHAN'S ASIAN CAJUN BISTRO 301 Decatur St. 522-4964 Atlanta's Chef Philip Chan has opened a contemporary Louisiana restaurant in the French Quarter with a decidedly Asian flair. Try the Asian Cajun Stuffed Chicken, with eggplant, cheese and crawfish, or the Orange Duck, Asian Cajun style served with Grand Marnier sauce and Louisiana spices. Reservations recommended. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$$

QUARTER SCENE RESTAURANT 900 Dumaine St. 522-6533 Ask for Tennessee Williams' favorite table at this historic French Quarter locale. For breakfast, the famous playwright might have enjoyed the decadent Caribbean Belgian waffle topped with mixed fruit and for dinner, the rich pecan crusted catfish topped with crawfish. Reservations recommended for parties of six or more. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

RALPH'S ON THE PARK 900 City Park Ave. 488-1000; www.ralphsonthepark.com The grilled herb-crusted lamb chops feature tender domestic lamb chops, grilled with a mustard-herb crust and served with a natural sauce, satin potato and wilted spinach. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

RESTAURANT AUGUST 301 Tchoupitoulas St. 299-9777; www.restaurantaugust.com In the past, diners have encountered gnocchi filled with crab and covered in truffle shavings, a Moroccan spicy duck and a five-course asparagus tasting menu. The $20.05 three-course lunch special continues in the new year. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

RESTAURANT CUVEE 322 Magazine St. 587-9001; www.restaurantcuvee.com For an entree, management recommends the Steen's cane syrup-cured duck breast with whole confit leg accompanied by seared Hudson Valley foie gras with pear glace. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday and some Sundays. Credit cards. $$$

STELLA! 1032 Chartres St. 587-0091; www.restaurantstella.com Chef Scott Boswell sure has been busy lately, what with running his own restaurant and taking part in an Iron Chef battle. Let's hope that with dishes like breast of Moullard duck, marinated then seared and served with foie gras won tons, mooshu pancake stir-fry and currant-cassis reduction, he emerges victorious. Reservations recommended. Dinner Wednesday through Monday. Credit cards. $$$

STIXX ASIAN CAJUN CAFE & SUSHI BAR 535 E. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette 276-2742 Stixx mixes Asian and Cajun in dishes like the paneed chicken: chicken served over angel hair pasta and topped with crawfish cream sauce. There's also a full-service sushi and sashimi bar. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, dinner Saturday. Credit cards. $$

SUGAR HOUSE 315 Julia St. (Embassy Suites Hotel) 525-1993; www.embassysuites.com/es/neworleans The management recommends the crabmeat-stuffed shrimp: three butterflied jumbo Gulf shrimp wrapped around crabmeat dressing and coated with coconut curry oil before roasting. All entrees come with a chef special, house salad and a choice of garlic mashed potatoes, rice pilaf or rosemary mashed potatoes. Reservations recommended. Lunch buffet Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

WOLFE'S OF NEW ORLEANS 7224 Pontchartrain Blvd. 284-6004; www.wolfesofneworleans.com Chef Tom Wolfe's contemporary New Orleans cuisine includes the panko crusted red fish with a smoked Gouda veloute and the Steen's cane syrup roast duck with foie gras and duck-crackling sweet potato mash. For the third year in a row, Wine Spectator honored Wolfe's wine list with an Award of Excellence. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

MEDITERRANEAN

FELLINI'S 900 Carrollton Ave. 488-2155 This casual joint offers a reasonably priced menu of gourmet pizzas, sandwiches, wraps and salads that combine Italian and Middle Eastern flavors. Recent additions to the menu include a chicken Parmesan lavash sandwich and a Greek pizza topped with gyro meat, red onion, tomatoes, feta cheese and garlic butter sauce. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

JAMILA'S CAFE 7808 Maple St. 866-4366 Jamila's brings the exotic flavors of Tunisia to Maple Street. The mixed grill delights diners with shish kebabs, chicken breast, spicy housemade marguez sausage, asparagus and rice. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

LAURENTINO'S RESTAURANT 4410 Transcontinental Drive., Metairie 779-9393; www.laurentinos.com Saffron-scented paella and tapas -- small dishes of Spanish delicacies -- are the most popular items. Xavier Laurentino recommends the rack of lamb for guests who desire a more substantial portion. Several Italian pasta dishes have recently been added to the menu. No reservations. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

LOLA'S 3312 Esplanade Ave. 488-6946 Spanish food may be the latest trend, but New Orleanians have been eating superb gazpacho, garlic shrimp and seafood paella at Lola's for the last decade. The lamb and grilled tuna with green lemon-pepper sauce are divine. It's strictly BYOB, so pick up a bottle of Rioja on the way over. No reservations. Dinner daily. Checks. $$

MADRID RESTAURANTE 2723 Roosevelt Blvd., Kenner 469-5599 This restaurant makes a traditional saffron scented paella Valenciana full of chicken, sausage, calamari, shrimp and mussels along with more exotic vegetarian, meat and squid ink version of the Spanish rice dish. Sample from the tapas selection while waiting. Reservations accepted. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

MEXICAN & SOUTHWESTERN

BANDITO'S 535 Tchoupitoulas St. (Ambassador Hotel) 599-2111; www.drg.com This Mexican restaurant features sizzling fajitas and a wide variety of fresh margaritas from more than 40 brands of tequila. Wednesday's extended happy hour includes two-for-one margaritas (on the rocks, or frozen), with $4 shots of any brand of tequila. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CARRETA'S GRILL 1200 W. Causeway Approach, Mandeville (985) 727-7212 For casual Mexican dining, swing by Carreta's, where the spicy food goes great with a cool margarita. Start with stuffed jalapeno peppers or crawfish nachos, then look to the grill for a red snapper fillet. The Carreta Platter is a sampler with a beef taco, a beef enchilada, a burrito and guacamole. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CASA GARCIA MEXICAN RESTAURANT 8814 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 464-0354 Casa Garcia's festive patio with its bubbling fountain centerpiece is a near-perfect recreation of a Mexican hacienda. Go on Sundays for the family fiesta dinner -- all you can eat for $9.50 per person, and look for early-week lunch and dinner specials Monday through Wednesday. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CASA TEQUILA 3229 Williams Blvd., Kenner 443-5423 Try the house special fajitas -- made with your choice of chicken, steak or shrimp, served with shredded cheese, pico de gallo and guacamole -- or the veggie-friendly spinach and artichoke quesadilla. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CHEVY'S FRESH MEX 1201 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey 368-2100; 1325 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner 469-5657; 3330 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 887-7788; www.chevysfreshmex.com Start off with chili con queso or guacamole with fresh chips and move on to something from the mesquite grill, like juicy strips of skirt steak marinated in a special Agua Negra sauce and served with cheese, veggies, sour cream, pico de gallo and warm tortillas. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

COYOACAN COCINA MEXICANA 1432 St. Charles Ave. 525-9996 Chef-owner Guillermo Peters recommends the venison chops with the three-chile sauce. Or consider the crepa de langosta: sweet morsels of lobster and fruity strips of poblano chile. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

CUCO'S 1300 Gause Blvd., Slidell (985) 641-4706; 2000 SW Railroad Ave, Hammond (985) 345-2634; 2766 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna 393-7766; 5048 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 835-0306; 5953 W. Park Ave., Houma (985) 868-0800 This lively chain freezes and shakes up a great menu of specialty margaritas with several premium tequilas. Menus vary by location, but count on Mexican standbys like enchiladas, burritos and fajitas made with grilled chicken and spicy steak. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

GEORGE'S MEXICAN RESTAURANT 1461 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville (985) 626-4342 The shrimp a la Mexicana is sauteed with peppers, onions and tomatoes and served with rice, beans and guacamole salad. Also try the tequila-marinated tuna steak, topped with sauteed poblano peppers and crawfish tails. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $$

JUAN'S FLYING BURRITO 2018 Magazine St. 569-0000; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave. 486-9950; www.juansflyingburrito.com Always fresh and never expensive, these edgy Mexican eateries are the perfect choice for a filling lunch or a quick dinner. Try the new fish tacos with grilled tilapia, cheese, lettuce and mango salsa. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

KOKOPELLI'S 3150 Calhoun St. 861-3922 This Tex-Mex restaurant wraps up a few surprises inside its 25 different burritos that mix and match flavors from around the world. Try a Thai chicken burrito or substitute hummus for guacamole. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

LA CARRETA 108 N.W. Railroad Ave., Hammond (985) 419-9990; www.carretarestaurant.com La Carreta brings the true tastes of Mexico to Hammond with chile rellenos, ceviche and flautas. Wash it all down with a sangria margarita, one of the signature margaritas. The restaurant also offers a new low-carb menu. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

LIBORIO CUBAN RESTAURANT 321 Magazine St. 581-9680 A house favorite is the Ropa Vieja ('old clothes'). Don't let the name turn you off; it's a beef brisket stewed with onions, olive oil, tomatoes, and garlic and served with black beans and rice. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

LUCY'S RETIRED SURFERS BAR & RESTAURANT 701 Tchoupitoulas St. 523-8995; 5961 Magazine St. 895-0240; www.lucysretiredsurfers.com A popular happy hour location, Lucy's tempts after-work revelers to stay for dinner with the turkey-based California burgers, soft tacos and nachos loaded with beans, jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole, cheese and salsa. Reservations for large parties only. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday Uptown. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday downtown. Credit cards. $

MANUEL'S HOT TAMALES 4709 S. Carrollton Ave. 482-6616 Dining is strictly al fresco at the venerable Manuel's, where the only seats available are picnic tables in front of the building. On the way from work, pick up an order of tacos, enchiladas and moist corn tamales with chili and cheese. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

MI RANCHO MEXICAN GRILL 2201 Lapalco Blvd., Harvey 366-9697 Mi Rancho offers a delightful twist on Mexican fare, particularly with the No. 52 -- cordoniz, or quail, a double breast rubbed with black pepper and lime, eaten as a fajita or taco. Also consider the Huasteca Potosina, a juicy skirt steak served with refried beans, fluffed orane rice and three cheese quesadillas in a green salsa. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

MUCHO GUSTO 1107 Decatur St. (inside Molly's at the Market), 299-0673 If you're wondering about the intoxicating aroma wafting in from the back bar at Molly's at the Market, it's the Mexican food being prepared by the courtesy of Emily Kratzer and Bailey Smith. Check out the selection of jibaritos, mole enchiladas, chimichangas, fish tacos, sopes and nachos, along with a beer special to wash it all down. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $

NACHO MAMA'S MEXICAN GRILL 721 Common St. 558-0830; 3242 Magazine St. 899-0031 Mama keeps the lunch crowd happy with speedy service and Tex-Mex favorites such as fajitas, chimichangas and shrimp- and bacon-stuffed quesadillas grilled over an open flame. Reservations recommended for large parties. Lunch weekdays at CBD location, lunch and dinner daily at Uptown location. Credit cards and checks. $

SANTE FE RESTAURANT 801 Frenchmen St. 944-6854 The management of this Faubourg Marigny spot praises the Santa Fe combo: chicken enchilada, beef relleno and a pork tamale topped with poblano sauce, cheese and chili and served with rice, beans and guacamole. No reservations. Dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

SERRANOS SALSA COMPANY 4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 780-2354. www.serranossalsacompany.com Serranos is a hotspot for Mexican-inspired food, margaritas, exotic drinks, and an extensive selection of tequilas and rums. Drop in for grilled fajitas, hand-rolled enchiladas, Cuban steaks and grilled quail. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SUPERIOR GRILL 3636 St. Charles Ave. 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com Once again, Cajun food insinuates itself into other styles in dishes like the Enchilada Del Mar: crawfish-stuffed enchiladas topped with a mesquite-grilled tilapia fillet served with grilled vegetables and Mexican rice. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday, brunch Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$

TAQUERIA CORONA 857 Fulton St. 524-9805; 1827 Hickory Ave., Harahan 738-6722; 3535 Severn Ave., Metairie 885-5088; 5932 Magazine St. 897-3974 Try the hearty rib-eye carne asada taco, which starts with grilled marinated rib-eye steak served with grilled cebollita (seasoned green onion). No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily at Magazine Street location; lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday at all other locations. Credit cards. $

TAQUERIA JALISCO 601 Terry Pkwy., Terrytown 368-1868 Taqueria Jalisco specializes in traditional dishes from central Mexico. The grilled beef fajitas served with rice, beans and a salad or fish lightly battered, fried and served with the same accompaniments come highly recommended. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

VAQUEROS 2037 Metairie Road, Metairie 837-7776; www.vaqueros-restaurant.com Vaqueros brings the tastes of Santa Fe to New Orleans, courtesy of Chef Joseph Griffo. He recommends the Tequila & Brown Sugar Lacquered Cowboy Cut Pork Chop. Reservations recommended for large parties. Lunch Sunday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

VERA CRUZ 7537 Maple St. 866-1736 Vera Cruz gets into the spirit of expansion on Maple Street with a new chef and weekly food specials on the way. Until then, chill with the college crowd and two-for-one margarita specials on Tuesdays and Thursdays, fill up on the Guadalajara enchiladas and munch on Vera Cruz's homemade chips. Reservations accepted. Dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

YO MAMA'S BAR & GRILL 727 St. Peter St. 522-1125 After kicking back a few of Yo Mama's 63 varieties of tequila, diners are ready to stare down the horns of the Bullfighter burger, loaded with jalapenos, avocado and salsa. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

MIDDLE EASTERN

BABYLON CAFE 7724 Maple St. 314-0010 Don't miss the gyro plate, heaped with tasty spiced ground lamb and beef, tahini, hummus, and fresh salad. The vegetarian sandwich is guaranteed to scratch your veggie itch, offering grilled eggplant, spinach, garlic, tomato, and feta, all grilled to toasty perfection. Reservations recommended for large groups. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

BYBLOS 1501 Metairie Road, Metairie 834-9773; 3218 Magazine St. 894-1233 Although Byblos belongs to a popular row of very casual Magazine Street eateries, it's a decidedly stylish destination for upscale Middle Eastern food. The kebabs are always a hit, as is the eggplant crabcake, made with a creamy parmesean dressing. Thursday nights is $3 martini night. Takeout is available. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CAFE PYRAMIDS 1113 Decatur St. 569-0041; www.cafepyramids.com This new French Quarter spot serves up authentic Mediterranean cuisine, such as eggplant dip, grilled shrimp kebabs and tender lamb chops. All of this can be enjoyed in their cozy space or out in the courtyard. Belly dancing performances liven up Wednesday and Friday evenings, and hookahs are always available for your smoking pleasure. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CASABLANCA MOROCCAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT 3030 Severn Ave., Metairie 888-2209; www.kosherneworleans.com North African classics like pita sandwiches, hummus, stuffed grape leaves and baba ganoush are all represented. No reservations. Lunch Sunday through Friday, dinner Saturday through Thursday. Credit cards. $$

CLEOPATRA MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE 2701 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey 361-1113 Whether it's appetizers (hummus, baba ghanoush, spinach pie), entrees (lamb shish kebab, chicken shawarma) or the Cleopatra Super Special (beef or lamb shank, stuffed squash, potato, tomato, eggplant, bell pepper and rice), Cleopatra is never in denial of quality food. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

DIXIE GYROS 110 Carondelet St. 523-6614 Gyro and falafel sandwiches and leafy Greek salads studded with olives and feta provide a lunchtime oasis. The Greek omelette is a popular dish, stuffed with peppers, tomatoes, onions and gyro meat. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and early dinner daily. Credit cards. $

LEBANON'S CAFE 1500 S. Carrollton Ave. 862-6200 Lovers of garlic rejoice when dining at this Mediterranean mecca. The hummus is spicy and well seasoned, the chicken and beef shawarmas are tender and the baklava melts in your mouth. The menu includes many vegetarian options. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

MONA'S CAFE 504 Frenchmen St. 949-4115; 3149 Calhoun St. 861-2124; 3901 Banks St. 482-7743; 4126 Magazine St. 894-9800; www.shopno.com/monas This casual Middle Eastern eatery now boasts four locations that all serve favorites like grilled lamb chops marinated in herbs, beef shawarma and the gyro topped with tahini sauce. Vegetarians appreciate the platter loaded with hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh and falafels. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PHOENECIA 4201 Veterans Memorial Blvd. (Independence Mall), Metairie 889-9950 All the exotic flavors of the Middle East can be found at Phoenecia. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike always find something satisfying on the menu of hummus, falafels, stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, vegetarian platters and lamb kebabs. Reservations recommended on weekends. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

MUSIC & FOOD

CARROLLTON STATION BAR & GRILL 8140 Willow St. 865-9190 Fortify yourself for Carrollton Station's nightly live local music with hearty sandwiches like the Philly cheese steak, loaded up with cheese, grilled onions and peppers on French bread. Also check out new plates like the creamy chicken pasta. No reservations. Delivery available. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

THE GAZEBO CAFE 1016-1018 Decatur St. 525-8899 Enjoy the sounds of Joe Fox's Jazz Groove featuring Prince Albert ('The Dog Man') daily while slurping down one of the specialty drinks before hunkering down to platters or ribs, pork chops or seafood. Finish it all off with a delicious Mudslide for dessert. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

HOUSE OF BLUES 225 Decatur St. 529-BLUE (2583); www.hob.com Grab some House of Blues' pan-seared Voodoo Shrimp or slow-smoked baby back ribs with Jim Beam barbecue sauce before a show and receive priority entrance into the concert hall. Skip the opening act and order the famous white chocolate banana bread pudding with Jack Daniels creme anglaise, whipped cream and caramel halo. Reservation recommend. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

JIMMY BUFFETT'S MARGARITAVILLE CAFE 1104 Decatur St. 592-2565; www.margaritavilleneworleans.com Coconut Telegraph Shrimp never climbed the pop charts, but the coconut-battered shrimp with an orange marmalade horseradish sauce make a tasty entree. Free live music every day from 3 p.m. to midnight. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

THE MARKET CAFE 1000 Decatur St. 527-5000 The Market Cafe has been family owned and operated since 1982, with a menu that starts off with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, and fresh seafood served while enjoying a five-piece jazz combo every day of the week. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

MID CITY LANES ROCK 'N' BOWL 4133 S. Carrollton Ave. 482-3133; www.rocknbowl.com Guests gather strength to pick up a spare with crawfish quesadillas and orders of the 'Super Bowl,' a hearty gumbo of andouille sausage, turkey, shrimp and oysters. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Thursday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

O'FLAHERTY'S IRISH CHANNEL PUB 514 Toulouse St. 529-1317; www.oflahertysirishpub.com While some patrons drink pints of thick stout for dinner, the menu also includes an Irish beef stew of carrots, parsnips and potatoes and Connermara shepherd's pie with a side of soda bread. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PALM COURT JAZZ CAFE 1204 Decatur St. 525-0200; www.palmcourtcafe.com A friendly staff serves music fans plates of crawfish Nantua, crawfish in flamed brandy sauce, and shrimp ambrosia in Pernod and fennel sauce over spinach pasta. There is a $5 cover for music. Reservations recommended. Dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $$

SNUG HARBOR JAZZ BISTRO 626 Frenchmen St. 949-0696; www.snugjazz.com Very few places in New Orleans can outdo Snug Harbor's live jazz. While you're there, check out the Fish Marigny, a fillet of fish topped with Gulf shrimp and drizzled with Creole cream sauce. There's also a classic Cajun gumbo that includes shrimp, chicken, sausage, okra and rice. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

NEIGHBORHOOD

CAFE RECONCILE 1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. 568-1157; www.caferconcile.com Try one of the New Orleans soul food classic daily lunch specials, like red beans and rice or smothered chicken, accompanied by jalapeno cornbread baked in-house. Tempting sides include garlic mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and collard greens. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards and checks. $

CASAMENTO'S 4300 Magazine St. 895-9761 This Uptown classic opens only during oyster season as that is their specialty. Expect fresh and salty bivalves whether raw, fried or in the creamy stew. The old-school, white-tiled atmosphere proves just as charming as the cooking -- inviting you to stay for one more dozen. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. $$

CORNER CAFE 3316 Green Acres Road, Metairie 454-1008 Around lunchtime, you'll find this cafe full of diners who come for the home-cooked roast beef sandwich. Dinner brings out the serious eaters who dig into the seafood platter for two, which includes hush puppies, onion rings, crab balls, jalapeno poppers, gumbo, fried oysters, catfish and shrimp. Reservations accepted. Lunch daily, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

CRABBY JACK'S 428 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 833-2722 This sister restaurant to Jack Leonardi's Jacques-Imo's in Uptown brings the same fresh approach to seafood in an even more casual atmosphere. You can find Austin Leslie's famed fried chicken here as well as the ever-popular cochon de lait and paneed rabbit po-boys. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

ELIZABETH'S RESTAURANT 601 Gallier St. 944-9272; www.elizabeths-restaurant.com Brunch specials have included tempting creations like French toast stuffed with bourbon-soaked bananas, cream cheese and brown sugar, or fried cheese grits with tasso gravy. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Saturday, brunch Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

ESPLANADE DELI 3443 Esplanade Ave. (The Esplanade at City Park) 821-8939 This cozy spot located in the lobby of the Esplanade at Park Esplanade Apartments now features more sandwiches and salads and serves pizza every day. There is always a daily special, such as meatballs and spaghetti. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

FRANKY AND JOHNNY'S 321 Arabella St. 899-9146; www.frankyandjohnnys.com Plastic tablecloths, a worn but friendly bar, and locals eating enormous softshell crab po-boys with the legs hanging out of the bread is what you'll find at Franky and Johnny's. Patrons flock to this favorite for hearty local fare: red beans and rice, po-boys, and boiled or fried seafood platters. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

FURY'S 724 Martin Behrman Ave., Metairie 834-5646 Fury's is famous for its meatballs, which, along with the house special fried chicken, have kept tables packed for years. No one wants to leave before having a serving of rich bread pudding with rum sauce. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

JOEY K'S 3001 Magazine St. 891-0997 Joey K's dishes up local favorites like white beans and pork chops, fried catfish and jambalaya. Management also recommends the trout Tchoupitoulas, a fillet lightly dredged in flour and pan-fried served with caramelized zucchini, squash and onions. Reservations recommended for large parties. Breakfast Saturday, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

JUDICE'S 421 E. Gibson St., Covington (985) 892-0708 This neighborhood favorite focuses on Creole and Italian dishes, such as duck and andouille gumbo or housemade pasta. When the chef's in the mood, though, diners might even find Asian specials on the menu. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Thursday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $$

KATIE'S 3701 Iberville St. 488-6582 Try the chicken Marsala over pasta, one of the gumbos or a barbecue shrimp po-boy. On Thursday, Italian entrees are two-for-one. The addition of live piano music makes Saturday night a little more elegant. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

LAKEVIEW HARBOR 911 Harrison Ave. 486-4887 Lakeview Harbor makes hungry insomniacs and night owls happy by keeping the kitchen open late. Earlier in the day, diners find a menu of classic burgers, steaks and pizzas. Daily specials available. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

LIUZZA'S BY THE TRACK 1518 N. Lopez St. 943-8667; www.nola.com/sites/liuzzas With a gumbo of sausage, chicken, shrimp and oysters widely regarded as the best in the city, Liuzza's is an irresistible detour on the way to a horse race or Jazz Fest. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

LIUZZA'S RESTAURANT & BAR INC. 3636 Bienville St. 482-9120 For 50 years, diners have packed this neighborhood haunt for the tasty fried seafood, plates of pasta and frosty mugs of beer. The Frenchuletta repackages the standard muffaletta filling on a po-boy loaf. Pizza has recently been added to the menu. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

MALONEY'S RESTAURANT 5000 Old Gentilly Road 942-2400; www.maloneysrestaurant.com Maloney's refuels travelers with a hearty buffet of New Orleans cuisine like red beans and rice, fried chicken and barbecue shrimp. Bring your appetite, because breakfast, lunch and dinner are all you can eat. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Open 24 hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $

MANDE'S RESTURANT 340 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville (985) 626-9047 For a real treat, try the Cajun Benedict with a crawfish patty on an English muffin covered with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. The lunch menu also includes crawfish etouffee and friend seafood. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Credit cards and checks. $

MANDICH RESTAURANT 3200 St. Claude Ave. 947-9553; www.mandich.net Management recommends the signature trout Mandich, a broiled fillet with crisp crust served with butter and lemon. Broiled oysters on the half-shell with garlic, shrimp stuffed with crabmeat and roast pork loin are also good bets. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

MANDINA'S 3800 Canal St. 482-9179 For nearly half a century, Mandina's has fed generations of families plates of stuffed shrimp, fried catfish and spaghetti with meatballs. This neighborhood joint fills up with diners looking for bowls of turtle soup and comforting home cooking. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Cash only. $$

PASCAL'S MANALE RESTAURANT 1838 Napoleon Ave. 895-4877 Every meal here must include an order of the original barbecue shrimp, large shrimp prepared in a signature spicy and tangy sauce. The oyster bar, crab-stuffed trout and housemade pastas are all standouts. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

PAUL'S CAFE 100 E. Pine St., Ponchatoula (985) 386-9581 According to its owner, Paul's Cafe is 'a simple place, nothing fancy.' Most mornings, though, a comfortingly familiar breakfast of eggs, biscuits and grits can't be beat. Homemade onion rings, over-stuffed shrimp po-boys and red beans and rice keep the lunch crowd happy. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Credit cards and checks. $

R&O PIZZA PLACE 216 Hammond Hwy., Metairie 831-1248 The decor is basic, but the pizza has a divine crust and the muffalettas are particularly fine. This family-friendly also features stuffed artichokes, Italian salads, seafood dishes and a scrumptious roast beef po-boy. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Wednesday through Monday. Credit cards. $$

RENDON INN 4501 Eve St. 822-9858 Check in at the Rendon Inn for a platter of the house-smoked barbecue brisket, pulled pork or ribs served with sides of baked beans and potato salad. Friday is gumbo night, and the management claims to serve one of the best bowls in town. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $

RICCOBONO'S PANOLA STREET CAFE 7801 Panola St. 314-1810 A pleasant neighborhood cafe that makes a phenomenal eggs Benedict, a fine eggs Pontchartrain and a popular rendition of Tex-Mex huevos rancheros. The kitchen also serves a decadent crabcake Benedict with two crabcakes topped with hollandaise sauce. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Credit cards. $

ROCKY & CARLO'S 613 W. St. Bernard Hwy., Chalmette 279-8323 Out in 'Da Parish,' Rocky & Carlo's dishes up overwhelming plates of veal cutlets, baked macaroni and fried seafood fit for a champ. Open late daily for those who need a roast beef sandwich before bedtime. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Cash only. $

SMILIE'S RESTAURANT 5725 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan 733-3000 Service with a smile for 25 years. Owner Augie Lopez serves up delicious signatures like the veal Augie: paneed veal topped with a lump crabmeat, mushroom and shallot sauce and served with potatoes and vegetables. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, dinner Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

TEDDY'S GRILL 5325 Franklin Ave. 288-9370 Teddy's Grill has served down-home classics since 1961, like fried chicken cooked to order. Roast beef is slow cooked on premises and the gravy is made from scratch. Have it on a po-boy or on a plate. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Wednesday through Friday. Credit cards. $

UGLESICH'S 1238 Baronne St. 523-8571; www.uglesichs.com Uglesich's still pulls locals in with promises of great fare like a creamy oyster Brie soup, made with fried oysters with blue cheese dressing, followed by the barbecue oyster plate, sauteed with new potatoes in olive oil, butter, basil, garlic, Worcestershire and lemon. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Friday. Cash only. $$

YE OLDE COLLEGE INN 3016 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-3683 It still serves the oyster loaf advertised on the outside wall, but the nearly 75-year-old restaurant's 'Atkins friendly' catfish Manchac (broiled catfish with a crab and Brie sauce) shows that Ye Olde College Inn also keeps up with modern trends. Reservations recommended. Lunch daily, dinner Monday through Saturday, late-night Friday and Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

PANASIAN

ASIAN SUPER BUFFET 3900 Williams Blvd., Kenner 712-0899; asiansuperbuffet.com With the number of choices approaching 250, and the words 'all you can eat' written next to the numbers $5.99 at lunchtime, some first-timers here have had to pinch themselves in disbelief. But it's true; you do see sushi, Mongolian barbecue, house special duck, ginger lobster and killer homemade apple pie spread out before you. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

GIGI ASIAN BISTRO 4415 Banks St. 483-7884; www.gigiasianbistro.com Closed for renovations during the month of January, GiGi's will reopen with a new look in time for Mardi Gras. Fans of this relative newcomer will be happy to revisit favorites like herb-seasoned calamari with lemon grass-chili dipping sauce and a selection of curries fragrant with coconut milk and Thai spices. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $

KING BUFFET 601 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 837-4383 Diners find endless eating at King Buffet, where the buffet offers Chinese, Japanese and American food. Dinner features boatloads of seafood, like snow crab legs, boiled crab, oysters on the half-shell, sauteed lobster. A la carte items also available. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

LA THAI CUISINE 933 Metairie Road, Metairie 828-3089/828-3080 Chef Alfredo Diaz melds the spices of Thailand with local Louisiana traditions. The daring fusion can be seen in the grilled sea bass with green curry, grilled vegetables and wasabi mashed potatoes. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

LEMON GRASS RESTAURANT 217 Camp St. (International House Hotel) 523-1200; www.lemongrassrest.com Chef Minh Bui has received accolades from local and national press for his refined blend of French and Vietnamese cuisine. He fills spring rolls with shredded chicken and jicama and serves a wok-sauteed salmon with a balsamic reduction. Reservations recommended. Breakfast Monday through Sunday, lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

NOODLE BAR & TEA SHOP 702 Decatur St., 571-8928 Into the thin ranks of ethnic French Quarter restaurants comes the Noodle Bar & Tea Shop, which serves up such delightful pan-Asian treats as miso soup (gratis), barbecue beef rib appetizers, soba noodles, tempura shrimp, pad Thai and teas imported from China. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PANASIA THAI RESTAURANT 500 St. Charles Ave., Best Western Parc St. Charles 299-8004 Always popular at Panasia Thai is the chicken coconut soup, a cream-based soup with lime, lemon grass, galangal and mushroom. Reservations recommended. Breakfast and dinner daily, lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $$

PIZZA

AUGIE'S TOWER OF PIZZA 4428 Downman Road 246-9948 At Augie's, the lasagna is homemade, the pizza is hand-tossed, and the Alfredo sauce is about as creamy as you could ask for. Create your own pizza with choices that range as far as blue cheese, artichoke, shrimp and grilled chicken. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, open till midnight Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

CAFE PICASSO 3401 Chartres St. 948-6881 This funky cafe on the recently repaved stretch of Chartres Street in Bywater specializes in Naples-style pizza that has a puffy crust and crispy bottom, and comes topped with all manner of meat, veggies and seafood. Delivery available. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Checks. $

CAFE ROMA 435 Wall Blvd., Gretna 392-2315; 1119 Decatur St. 586-0563; 1901 Sophie Wright Place 524-2419; 2026 Metairie Road, Metairie 833-7662; 3340 Bienville St. 827-2300; 3558 Paris Road, Chalmette 270-0999; 4001 Lapalco Blvd., Harvey 340-3535 With so many locations sprinkled liberally throughout New Orleans, one is never too far from gourmet pizzas like the popular spinach pizza with feta and garlic, or the barbecue chicken pizza. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. Delivery available. $$

DEANGELO'S 111 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 833-7331; 318 Dalwill St., Mandeville (985) 624-8500; www.deangelosmetairie.com The express lunch menu gets you in and out in under 20 minutes, but you may want more time to savor Nona's lasagna, layered with homemade Bolognese sauce, mozzarella, homemade ricotta and fresh basil. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

FRESCO CAFE AND PIZZERIA 7625 Maple St. 862-6363 The veggie wrap is brain food, stuffed with hummus, roasted peppers, eggplant, spinach, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and kalamata olives. The breezy patio is a cheerful spot to enjoy a hearty salad or gourmet pizza. No reservations. Delivery available. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

ISABELLA'S PIZZERIA 4250 Hwy. 22, Mandeville (985) 674-5700; 70452 Hwy. 21, Covington (985) 875-7620 Try the Isabella Suprema: pepperoni, ground beef, Italian sausage, fresh mushrooms, black olives, onions, green peppers, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. Other traditional Italian food is available including pastas and calzones. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

ITALIAN PIE 417 S. Rampart St. 522-7552; 901 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 832-1121; 1530 LaPalco Blvd., Harvey 362-3657; 1914 E. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette 278-0001; 3600 Williams Blvd., Kenner 469-4999; 4350 Hwy. 22, Mandeville (985) 626-5252; 4840 Bienville St. 483-9949; 5217 Elysian Fields Ave. 288-0888; 5406 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 887-9977; 5538 Magazine St. 894-0005; 5650 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan 734-3333; 7070 Read Blvd. 244-7200; www.italianpierestaurants.com At one of the 12 locations in the New Orleans area (with the 13th soon to open in Laplace), guests gobble gourmet pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and large salads. Try one of the Gourmet Lavash Wraps -- a mountain of fresh ingredients wrapped and roasted in a crispy Mediterranean flatbread. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

LOUISIANA PIZZA KITCHEN 95 French Market Place 522-9500; 615 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-5900; 2112 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna 433-5800 Consider the chicken roulade, a grilled chicken breast stuffed with crawfish and andouille sausage, served with fettuccine in a tomato and basil cream sauce. LPK puts a spin on the classic ravioli with the artichoke ravioli, a ricotta cheese version in a pesto cream sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes and Parmesan cheese. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

MAMA ROSA'S SLICE OF ITALY 616 N. Rampart St. 523-5546 Mama's Everything includes four kinds of meat, bell peppers, onions, olives and optional jalapenos and anchovies. The kitchen also prepares sandwiches on house-baked bread and plates of traditional Italian dishes. Reservations recommended for large groups. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

MARK TWAIN'S PIZZA LANDING 2035 Metairie Road, Metairie 832-8032; www.marktwainspizza.com This restaurant boasts many dishes named after characters in Twain's novels. Aunt Polly's salad, with cucumbers, green olives and Genoa salami, and the Huck Finn, a pizza topped with mushrooms, green peppers, red onions and olive, are both good ways to get your veggies. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $

MONA LISA RESTAURANT 1212 Royal St. 522-6746 This is a regular spot for French Quarter residents who can't get enough of the Mona Lisa special combo pizza topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, onions, mushroom, green peppers, black olives and optional jalapenos and anchovies. Lunch and dinner daily. Delivery available. Credit cards. $$

MO'S PIZZA 1112 Avenue H., Westwego 341-9650 Mo's is known in Westwego for piping-hot pizzas, lasagna, spaghetti, muffalettas and Italian salads. Daily specials like veal parmigiana on Thursday and roast beef on Friday are also available. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

NEW YORK PIZZA 208 N. Carrollton Ave. 482-2376; 5201 Magazine St. 891-2376 New York Pizza's signature pies include the Bronx loaded heavy with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, sausage and salami. The Snooie bread, an Italian bun topped with melted Swiss, mozzarella, oregano and fresh tomatoes, is a popular appetizer. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

PIZZA FLORENCE 4445 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 888-7888 This new pizza parlor specializes in gourmet pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and salads. Management recommends the supreme pizza and the grilled chicken salad. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PRIMO PIZZA & PASTA 2401 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Kenner 464-4547 Primo's buffet offers both thin-crust and Chicago deep-dish pies with a wide selection of toppings. For dessert, how about a slice of chocolate chip pizza? Reservations recommended for six or more. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $

REGINELLI'S PIZZERIA 741 State St. 899-1414; 817 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner 712-6868; 874 Harrison Ave. 488-0133; 3244 Magazine St. 895-7272; 5608 Citrus Ave., Harahan 818-0111; www.reginellis.com Try the specialty pizzas, like the creative pie topped with shrimp, pesto sauce, mozzarella, red onions, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers and feta. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

ROCKY'S OLD NEW ORLEANS BAR & PIZZA JOINT 2701 Airline Drive, Metairie 833-1288; 3222 Magazine St. 891-5152 Known for gourmet pizzas like the Magazine, topped with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and tasso ham on white or wheat crust, this funky pizzeria also makes killer salads and sandwiches. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

ROMAN PIZZA 7329 Cohn St. 866-1166; www.eatromanpizza.com Roman Pizza has provided free delivery to the Carrollton and university areas for more than 15 years, offering pizza, hot sandwiches, fresh baked bread and signature salads. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards and checks. $

SLICE PIZZERIA 1513 St. Charles Ave. 525-7437 Get what you want in the amount you want by choosing a slice of Sicilian soft, thick crust, white pizza or thin Neapolitan-style crust and building up with your favorite toppings. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

THEO'S PIZZA 4216 Magazine St. 894-8554 Specialty pizzas range from The Hippie, which is loaded with veggies, to the Hawaii Five-O, an eclectic combo of pineapple and Canadian bacon. Sandwiches and salads are also available, and Wednesday night means wine specials. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT PIZZA 1068 Magazine St. 529-1466 This pizzeria cooks a pie that's a little bit wild with toppings that include venison, duck or pheasant sausage. The Warehouse District Special, a 20-inch pizza with a variety of toppings, will feed a crowd. No reservations. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

SANDWICHES & PO-BOYS

BARCIA'S GROCERY 3633 Annunciation St. 899-9111 Regulars love the homemade potato salad, and early risers can count on hearty breakfast sandwiches with a choice of meat, egg, and cheese. On Fridays, fried seafood is a sandwich special. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. Cash only. $

BEAR'S RESTAURANT 128 W. 21st Ave., Covington (985)892-2373 All the po-boys in the book, plus homemade cookies to boot, is what this family-friendly spot is all about. They say that no po-boy outsells another, which must mean they're all pretty good. It's mostly carry-out, but there is a small dining area. No reservations. Lunch Tuesday through Saturday. Cash only. $

CHEESE STEAK BISTRO 528 Columbia St., Covington (985) 875-9793 As you might expect, the specialty here is the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. The restaurant also offers other grilled specialty sandwiches as well as baked potatoes super-stuffed with everything from chicken breast and cheeses to a shrimp and crabmeat combo with cheese and chives. Reservations accepted. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit Cards. $

CHRISTY'S PO-BOYS AND CUBAN FOOD 1102 Stumpf Blvd., Gretna 368-6498 Try the Cuban steak that is marinated in lemon juice and Cuban spices and topped with grilled onions or the slow-cooked ox tails if you are feeling especially adventurous. Wash it all down with a tropical milkshake. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Cash only. $

COUSIN'S PO-BOYS 3808 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 780-7804 The Sicilian veal po-boy is a house specialty, dressing a fried, breaded veal cutlet with provolone and red gravy and serving it up on fresh French bread. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Monday through Friday. Credit cards. $

DANNY AND CLYDE'S 801 Martin Behrman Hwy., Terrytown 392-6783; 1944 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna 392-2242; 2201 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie 885-1332; 3441 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey 362-5637; 3450 Kabel Drive 394-0240; 4101 E. Ames Blvd., Marrero 348-9650; 4320 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie 888-0129; 5861 Citrus Blvd., Jefferson 734-0060; 68083 Hwy. 59, Mandeville (985) 809-2133; www.dannyandclydes.com At sunrise, whether you're out late or up early, nothing hits the spot like a buttery scrambled egg po-boy on fresh French bread, topped with sausage and cheese. Po-boys are now all available as wraps for the carb-conscious. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily; some locations open 24 hours. $

DOMILISE'S PO-BOYS 5240 Annunciation St. 899-9126 The shrimp, oyster and catfish po-boys all satisfy a hungry belly, but it's the roast beef po-boy with two kinds of mustard and gravy that lingers most in patrons' minds. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Cash only. $

GIOVANNI'S PO-BOYS 1325 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 835-4558 Giovanni's brings po-boys to the hungry lunch crowds in Metairie, keeping the menu simple with a choice of shrimp, oyster, catfish or meatball po-boy on crusty French bread. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Checks. $

GUY'S PO-BOYS 5259 Magazine St. 891-5025 The menu features roast beef, ham, sausage, oyster and fried or grilled shrimp po-boys. For a little something different, a chicken club is now made with a fried breast of chicken, bacon, and two cheeses. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Cash only. $

JOHNNY & JACKIE'S PO-BOY RESTAURANT 326 Huey P. Long Ave., Gretna 362-8690 They serve all the classic po-boys here, but a popular item is the namesake Johnny & Jackie's po-boy stuffed with grilled ham, roast beef and American and Swiss cheese. Diners who prefer lettuce over bread opt for the Caesar salad with a choice of chicken, oysters or shrimp. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch weekdays. Credit cards. $

JOHNNY'S PO-BOY RESTAURANT 511 St. Louis St. 524-8129 Since 1950, the overstuffed po-boys at this French Quarter shop have quelled the hunger of both locals and tourists. The menu includes classic shrimp and oyster po-boys, along with a few surprises like the seafood muffaletta. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash only. $

MCALISTER'S DELI 2701 Airline Drive, Metairie 830-4030; www.mcalistersdeli.com More than 27 types of sandwiches, salads and baked potatoes, including the popular Spud Max with turkey, ham, cheddar, Swiss, black olives and onions, are on the menu. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

MIKE SERIO'S PO-BOYS & DELI 133 St. Charles Ave. 523-2668 Festooned with football memorabilia, this sandwich shop keeps the regulars coming back for the signature po-boys like the ham and roast beef Mickey Special or the Big Mitch with grilled ham and melted cheese. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

MOTHER'S 401 Poydras St. 523-9656; www.mothersrestaurant.net The debris version of the roast beef po-boy is a classic, while the ham is equally popular. Those lines will lengthen during the Carnival season. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

MR. ROO'S RESTAURANT & CATERING 3501 Severn Ave., Metairie 885-4010 It may be Mr. Roo's deli, but the most popular gentleman here is Mr. Club, a sandwich with turkey, ham, lettuce and American cheese. Atkins followers skip the bread and order a club salad with chicken strips, cheddar, bacon and tomatoes over iceberg lettuce. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

PARASOL'S RESTAURANT & BAR 2533 Constance St. 899-2054; www.parasols.com Some say the best roast beef po-boy in town can be found at this Irish Channel institution. Deep-fried pickles, oyster po-boys or the doubly delicious gravy cheese fries all make the perfect accompaniment to a pint of Guinness. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PARKWAY BAKERY & TAVERN 538 Hagan Ave. 482-3047 A lovingly restored Mid-City landmark builds one of the best roast beef po-boys in the city. Order a can of PBR for a buck to wash down an oyster or shrimp po-boy. Parkway hosts family-friendly free concerts every Saturday at 7 p.m. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PHILLY'S STEAKHOUSE 4639 Westbank Expwy., Marrero 328-2222 The Hawaiian Delight combines chicken, shrimp, bell peppers, onions and sweet-and-sour sauce. Tough guys prefer the new Lean and Mean loaded with chicken, shrimp, smoked hot sausage, onions and cheese. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Sunday through Friday. Credit cards and checks. $

QUIZNO'S 308 St. Charles Ave. 371-5955; 339 Baronne St. 581-1735; 817 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner 466-9195; 1170 Terry Pkwy., Terrytown 394-3808; 1400 Poydras St. 598-4330; 1801 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey 368-7839; 2315 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Kenner 461-5607; 3200 Severn Ave., Suite 106, Metairie 454-9892; 4021 Behrman Place, Suite G 362-0261; 7105 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan 737-2588; www.quiznos.com Quizno's is the sub shop that turns out its sandwiches piping hot for its customers, as well as bountiful salads that can be all veggie or have meat added. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $

RADOSTA'S 249 Aris Ave., Metairie 831-1537 Radosta's butcher roasts and slices the meat for their roast beef po-boy. Specialty po-boys like the Joan's Special with grilled shrimp, herbs and spices and the hamburger po-boy with fresh ground meat satisfies connoisseurs. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Friday. Credit cards. $

RAG'S TOO OLD FASHIONED PO-BOYS 103 W. 30th Ave., Covington (985) 892-7895; www.ragspoboys.com Rag's specializes in traditional po-boys of shrimp, roast beef and oysters, plus a few originals like the Herbie with roast beef, ham and Swiss. Daily plate lunch specials abound. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday. Credit cards. $

ROLYPOLY SANDWICHES 701 Poydras (One Shell Square) 561-9800; 5409 Tchoupitoulas St. 891-8373; www.rolypoly.com Roll in for a wrap sandwich of basil cashew chicken, a tortilla folded around a filling of chicken salad with cashews, Thai sauce and avocado. The Key West Cuban blends the tropical tastes of roasted pork, ham, turkey, melted Swiss, onion, pickles and honey-mustard dressing. No reservations. Lunch weekdays at CBD location, and lunch and dinner daily Uptown. Delivery available. Credit cards and checks. $

RUSSELL'S SHORT STOP PO-BOYS 119 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie 885-4572 What says classic New Orleans more than po-boys and gumbo? Russell says not much, offering specialties like roast beef or meatball po-boys and two types of gumbo, with all dishes prepared with fresh ingredients. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

SOUTHERN PO-BOYS 720 Claiborne Drive, Jefferson 835-3035 Shrimp (dressed however you like), roast beef drenched in gravy, oyster, catfish, softshell crab, meatballs homemade from scratch daily -- Southern takes the po-boy seriously. Italian muffalettas also have devoted followings. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

WEAVER'S PO-BOYS 800 Navarre Ave. 488-9267 This butcher-shop-turned-lunch-spot has attracted a following for its roast beef po-boy. Other popular sandwiches include the Papa Dee's: grilled chicken breast topped with grilled ham, cheese, grilled onions, bell peppers and smothered in barbecue sauce. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $

SEAFOOD

ACME OYSTER HOUSE 519 E. Boston St., Covington (985) 898-0667; 724 Iberville St. 522-5973; 7306 Lakeshore Drive 282-9200; www.acmeoyster.com All locations serve chilled oysters on the half-shell, and gumbo, fried seafood platters and po-boys are also on the menu. Bananas Foster cream pie or bread pudding with rum sauce give any meal a sweet finish. A new location at 3000 Veterans Memorial Blvd. is scheduled to open at the end of January. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

ADAM'S CATFISH HOUSE 8523 Hwy. 23, Belle Chasse 392-0541; www.adamscatfish.com Regulars keep coming back for the all-you-can-eat fried whole catfish, served on the bone with steak-cut French fries, homemade hush-puppies, and classic coleslaw. No reservations. Open Monday through Friday for lunch, and Wednesday through Saturday for dinner. Credit cards. $

AFT DECK OYSTER BAR 214 Royal St. (Hotel Monteleone) 523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone.com A menu of seafood classics such as fried fish platters and raw oysters by the dozen or half dozen are rounded out by such succulent creations as Cajun crawfish popcorn, hot sauce-marinated fried catfish strips, and a sauteed fish platter in a beurre blanc with herbs. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BOURBON HOUSE 144 Bourbon St. 831-8666 Start with Louisiana oysters on the half-shell topped with Cajun caviar. Menu highlights include the Gulf Fish Iberville, served with a saute of Gulf shrimp and oysters. Lunch Monday through Friday, brunch Saturday and Sunday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

BOZO'S 3117 21st St., Metairie 831-8666 Through the years, Bozo's has kept its reputation for fresh fish, crabs, crawfish and shrimp served broiled, boiled or fried. The oyster bar stays open between lunch and dinner. Reservations accepted for dinner except on Fridays. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

BRUNING'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT West End Park 288-4521 Bruning's stuffed flounder is either fried or broiled, and served with crabmeat stuffing with a choice of French fries, sweet potato fries, or spicy broiled new potatoes, along with salad and toast. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

BUBBA GUMP SHRIMP COMPANY 429 Decatur St. 522-5800; www.bubbagump.com Everyone loves the Bourbon Street Mahi-Mahi served with sour cream mashed potatoes and bourbon sauce and the Bucket of Boat Trash, which is a pile of fried and grilled fish and shellfish of many stripes. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily, open till midnight on Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$

CAJUN CATFISH HOUSE 521 Central Ave., Jefferson 733-9538 For 32 years, golden-fried fillets of white, flaky catfish have satisfied diners at this friendly family joint. The seafood gumbo is a favorite, as is the crabmeat-stuffed shrimp. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CHARLIE'S SEAFOOD 8311 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan 737-9190 The bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp is a perennial favorite, as is the deservedly Famous Seafood Platter, loaded up with fried shrimp, oysters, catfish and stuffed crab. Reservations recommended for large parties. Lunch daily, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

CRABBY J'S 2345 Paris Road 271-2301; 7420 W. Judge Perez Drive, Arabi 271-9907 Fans of Crabby J's seafood pastas, po-boys and plate lunches can now get them on the go at their new second location, which caters mainly to takeout and drive-through orders. Sit-down dining is still available at the original location. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

DEANIE'S SEAFOOD 841 Iberville St. 581-1316; 1713 Lake Ave., Metairie 831-4141 The barbecue shrimp are a spicy favorite that features jumbo, head-on shrimp sauteed in a unique blend of seasonings. The giant seafood platter should satisfy just about anyone with its abundance of fresh shrimp, oysters, catfish, softshell crabs and crawfish balls. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

DESIRE OYSTER BAR 300 Bourbon St. (Royal Sonesta Hotel) 586-0300; www.royalsonestano.com Order a dozen raw on the half-shell, and follow it up with quintessential New Orleans dishes like seafood gumbo, jambalaya, po-boys and red beans and rice. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

THE DOCK OF NEW ORLEANS 1926 West End Park 284-3625; www.thedockno.com Some offerings from the buffet cornucopia include fried and broiled crawfish, shrimp and oysters, coconut-crusted shrimp, Oysters Rockefeller, a full salad and dessert bar and a soft-serve ice-cream machine complemented by an array of sundae toppings. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

THE DOCK OF SLIDELL 118 Harbor View Court, Slidell (985) 645-3625; www.thedockslidell.com This bar/restaurant/marina offers a variety of grilled fish, such as tilapia, salmon and redfish. The Dock Burger is another popular entree. You can enjoy your meal in either an outdoor or indoor seating area, and there's live music on Saturday and Sunday. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Wednesday through. Credit cards. $$

DON'S SEAFOOD HUT 4801 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 889-1550 Bargains abound at Don's, with all-you-can-eat fried shrimp and catfish or crawfish etouffee Monday evenings. Check nightly for dinner specials, and save room for cheesecake or homemade bread pudding. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

DRAGO'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT AND OYSTER BAR 3232 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie 888-9254; www.dragosrestaurant.com Char-broiled oysters, steamed lobsters and fried seafood plates are standards. Also tempting are appetizers like the four-cheese shrimp fondue served in a bread bowl and entrees like the blackened duck breast, served over linguine with oysters and cream. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

FELIX'S RESTAURANT AND OYSTER BAR 739 Iberville St. (another entrance at 210 Bourbon St.) 522-4440; www.felixs.com If all the oysters that Felix's has shucked and served in its 55 years on Bourbon Street were laid end to end, they'd likely circumnavigate the globe many times over. They're better put to use, though, in dishes like the Rockefeller, Bienville or en Brochette -- or just straight up on the half-shell. No reservations. Late breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, late-night Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

FRIENDS ON THE TCHEFUNCTE 407 St. Tammany St., Madisonville (985) 845-7303 For two classic New Orleans dishes in one get the fried green tomatoes layered with shrimp remoulade. The seafood Mornay is a house specialty, with crabmeat, shrimp and crawfish sauteed in a light cream sauce, tossed with bowtie pasta and topped with mozzarella cheese. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $$

THE GALLEY SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 2535 Metairie Road, Metairie 832-0955 The Galley specializes in local seafood classics like the popular softshell crabs, blackened redfish with crawfish sauce and almond-fried trout. The crawfish tail po-boy is a signature dish regulars count on. Reservations accepted for five or more. Lunch Monday, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

GW FINS 808 Bienville St. 581-3467; www.gwfins.com GW Fins gives Louisiana seafood a fun, frisky touch in airy, modern surroundings right on the edge of the French Quarter. Chef Tenney Flynn's specialties include the lobster dumplings, cashew-peppercorn swordfish and a whole roast striped bass served with curried basmati rice and grilled banana. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

HARBOR SEAFOOD AND OYSTER BAR 3203 Williams Blvd., Kenner 443-6454 Patrons of the Harbor find plenty to celebrate as oyster season kicks off. Everyday lunch favorites include plates of boiled shrimp, bowls of gumbo and po-boys stuffed with fried seafood, while daily specials include pork chops, red beans and rice, and a daily Gulf fish dish. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

JACK DEMPSEY'S 738 Poland Ave. 943-9914; www.jackdempseys.com When only fried seafood will do, Jack Dempsey's J.D. Platter for two, with stuffed crabs, crawfish pies, shrimp, oysters, catfish, redfish and gumbo, will quench that craving. No reservations. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

JAEGER'S ON THE LAKE 1928 West End Park 283-7585; www.jaegersonthelake.com The Big 'A' Serious Seafood Platter feeds up to eight people with generous helpings of fried crawfish, shrimp, oysters, trout, crabcakes, softshell crabs and shrimp croquettes. Entertainment nightly. Reservations accepted. Lunch Saturday-Sunday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $

JOE'S CRAB SHACK 8000 Lakeshore Drive 283-1010; www.joescrabshack.com Diners admire the view of Lake Pontchartrain while enjoying a heaping fried seafood platter. Don't miss the signature barbecue Dungeness Crab and the redfish with etouffee topping. Reservations recommended for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

LAMA'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 7007 Read Lane 242-5656 With moderately priced seafood, Joe Lama aims to keep his customers full without emptying their wallets. Boiled seafood and the seafood platter are the specialties here. Daily lunch specials priced below $5 include spaghetti and red beans and rice. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. $

LANDRY'S RESTAURANT 789 Harrison Ave. 488-6496 The reasonable prices and family-friendly atmosphere keep the guests coming back to Landry's for seafood, plate lunches and specialty sandwiches like the Landry Special (roast beef, ham, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes). Management recommends the seafood pasta with shrimp and crawfish in red or cream sauce over angel hair pasta. Breakfast Saturday, lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Thursday through Saturday. Cash only. $

LOUISIANA GRILL 2223 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville (985) 727-5585; www.louisianagrill.com Seafood is king at this Northshore haunt, where Trout Myrtle wears the queen's crown. It's a fried whole speckled trout topped with a special Myrtle sauce made with lump crabmeat, crawfish and shrimp and served with vegetables and rice. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and checks. $$

MIDDENDORF'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT Highway 51 North (exit 15 off I-55 North), Manchac (985) 386-6666 Catfish connoisseurs can't get enough of the fried fillets cut razor-thin for extra crispness. The crawfish cakes or barbecue oysters, broiled and served with a spicy herb sauce, are both an excellent way to build up an appetite for the signature catfish. The menu also includes a variety of other seafood items, including oyster stew and softshell crabs. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

MIKE ANDERSON'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT #1 Poydras St., Suite 163 (Riverwalk Food Court) 522-7727; 215 Bourbon St. 524-3884; www.mikeandersons.com Mike Anderson's serves a broiled seafood platter with enough fish fillets, crawfish scampi, stuffed bell peppers and stuffed crabs to feed a party. A standard fried seafood platter can also be ordered. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

MORTON'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT & BAR 702 Water St., Madisonville (985) 845-4970; www.mortonsseafood.com Not to be confused with the similarly named chain of steakhouses, this little cabin set along the Tchefuncte River dishes up surf instead of turf. Sit on the cypress-lined patio and enjoy a bowl of shrimp and crabmeat bisque followed by a mirliton and shrimp casserole. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Wednesday through Monday. Credit cards and checks. $$

MR. ED'S SEAFOOD AND ITALIAN RESTAURANT 1001 Live Oak St., Metairie 838-0022 Since 1989, this casual, family-friendly neighborhood restaurant has been serving up the works such as seafood stuffed bell peppers, full of crawfish tails and crabmeat. For a fish dinner, try the paneed trout, topped with crabmeat, green onions and mushrooms. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

NEW ORLEANS FOOD & SPIRITS 208 Lee Lane, Covington (298) 875-0432; 210 Hammond Hwy., Metairie 828-2220; 2330 Lapalco Blvd., Harvey 362-0800 Diners can't miss with the new cheesy crawfish egg roll appetizers or the softshell Lafayette, a softshell crab garnished with shrimp sauce. On Thursday arrive early for the smothered rabbit with white beans, which often sells out. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

NEW ORLEANS HAMBURGER AND SEAFOOD CO. 817 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 837-8580; 1005 S. Clearview Pkwy., Jefferson 734-1122; 6920 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 455-1272; www.nohsc.com The kitchen filled a po-boy with barbecue shrimp and produced the new One Handed Barbecue Shrimp, perfect for commuters who need a snack during the drive home. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

OCEANA GRILL 739 Conti St. 525-6002; www.oceanagrill.com No surprise that this nautical-themed locale offers a signature barbecue shrimp, oysters on the half-shell and blackened catfish with crawfish cream sauce. Lovers of land creatures might prefer a steak topped with a rich buttered garlic sauce. Reservations accepted and recommended for large parties. Breakfast Friday through Sunday, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday. Credit cards. $$

THE ORIGINAL FRENCH MARKET RESTAURANT AND BAR 1001 Decatur St. 525-7879; www.frenchmarketrestaurant.com Now that crawfish are back in season, the largest seafood boiling pot in New Orleans will be full of mud bugs. This nearly 100-year-old restaurant keeps French Quarter visitors well fed with boiled seafood, lobster etouffee, crabcakes and char-grilled oysters. Reservations accepted for five or more. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

PONTCHARTRAIN POINT CAFE 8536 Pontchartrain Blvd. 282-4233; www.pontchartrainpoint.com Formerly known as the West End Cafe, the Point offers seafood and traditional New Orleans fare such as the trout meuniere pecandine: a fresh fillet of trout encrusted in pecan breading, pan sauteed and topped with meuniere sauce and served with smothered turnip greens and smashed seafood-boiled new potatoes. Lunch and dinner daily, breakfast Saturday-Sunday. Checks. $$

THE PORT HOLE RESTAURANT 4406 Pontchartrain Drive, Slidell (985) 643-1419 Peek inside The Port Hole and find a selection of steaks, redfish Pontchartrain and tuna in tequila lime beurre blanc topped with lump crabmeat. Chef William Faberas enormous seafood platter satisfies both sailors and landlubbers. No reservations. Dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

QUARTER VIEW 613 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie 887-3456 Seafood fans love the fried seafood platter and trout stuffed with a crabmeat dressing covered in a creamy crawfish sauce. The salads, steak and lunch special are also popular. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $

RALPH & KACOO'S THE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 519 Toulouse St. 522-5226; www.ralphandkacoos.com This family-friendly locale in the French Quarter can prepare a seafood platter fried, broiled or blackened. Management recommends the Ruby, a seasonal fish stuffed with crabmeat dressing and topped with hollandaise sauce and crabmeat. A new, lower-priced lunch menu has just been introduced. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

RED FISH GRILL 115 Bourbon St. 598-1200; www.redfishgrill.com Red Fish Grill's specialties include hickory grilled red fish in a lemon butter sauce and blackened redfish with barbecue oysters over Abita beer braised cabbage. Chef Gregg Collier also grills a mean filet mignon with bordelaise sauce for the red-meat aficionados. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

RESTAURANT DES FAMILLES 7163 Barataria Blvd., Crown Point 689-7834 A glass-walled dining room lets guests take in views of the swamp as they eat orders of softshell crab Foster, a lightly battered and fried crab topped with green onions, artichoke hearts and mushrooms in a buttery wine sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, brunch and dinner Sunday. Credit cards. $$

RIOMAR 800 S. Peters St. 525-3474; www.riomarseafood.com Chef Adolfo Garcia focuses on light, Mediterranean-influenced recipes prepared with only the freshest seafood, like the pan-seared tuna wrapped in Spanish Serrano ham and finished with a romesco sauce. At lunch the menu focuses on the increasingly popular Spanish tapas. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

SAIA'S ON THE LAKE 200 Hammond Hwy., Metairie 831-5700 Sal Saia mixes up prime steaks and seafood that makes the mouth water. Managers recommend the seafood-stuffed eggplant boats and softshell crabs served in a crawfish cream sauce over angel hair pasta. No reservations. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

SAL'S SEAFOOD 1512 Barataria Blvd., Marrero 341-8112 Sal offers up seafood pretty much any way you like it, but you can supplement the experience with stuffed artichokes, a delicious roast beef sandwich and, of course, gumbo. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, takeout only until noon Sunday. Credit cards. $

SALTWATER GRILL 1340 S. Carrollton Ave. 324-6640 Chef Russell recently added char-grilled oysters, as well as a spinach, artichoke and crabmeat dip, both of which, he claims, have been 'rockin' out the door.' Reservations accepted for parties of five or more. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

SAMMY'S 627 Bourbon St. 525-8442 Entice beautiful passersby with Mardi Gras beads from a table on Sammy's Bourbon Street patio, while you fill up on Sammy's blackened steak and shrimp. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SHELL SHUCKED 1506 S. Carrollton Ave. 861-1003 When taking a break from shucking oysters in the back, the management at Shell Shucked recommends the fried green tomatoes with a crawfish remoulade sauce, as well as the blackened drum with seasoned veggies. No reservations. Lunch Friday through Sunday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SID-MAR'S OF BUCKTOWN 1824 Orpheum Ave., Metairie 831-9541; www.sidmarsofbucktown.com Sid-Mar's seafood bisque boat features crawfish, shrimp and crab in a seasoned red roux. The Fisherman's Platter is heaped with stuffed crab, softshell crab, oysters, shrimp and catfish with French fries, a salad, hushpuppies and toast. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

SNAPPER JOHN'S 509 S. Tyler St., Covington (985) 674-3657 Seafood rules at this Northshore restaurant, but there is also an array of steaks, ribs and pasta. Start with a cup or bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo, followed by a plate of the barbecue shrimp. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

STINGRAY'S SEAFOOD GRILL & BAR 1303 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner 443-4040 Shrimp Nicole is a favorite here, which includes shrimp, diced mushrooms and green onions served over a choice of fettuccine or angel hair pasta. While you're working on that, sip on the Stingtini, a concoction of rum, blue Curacao, pineapple and other fruity juices. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SWEET GINGER 228 Camp St. 571-7500 Sweet Ginger puts its unique stamp on crispy Louisiana oysters by tossing them with a homemade sweet chili sauce. The Red Ocean has shrimp and crawfish braised in red curry and vegetables with sesame-crusted softshell crab. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

TRAUTH'S LAKE HOUSE & STEAMERY 3700 Williams Blvd., Kenner 443-6488 Get seafood cooked anyway you like it, or try fresh offerings of broiled catfish stuffed with crabmeat, or crabmeat au gratin: white crabmeat covered with melted cheese and served with garlic rounds, new potatoes and a house salad. Reservations accepted for eight or more. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

VOLEO'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 5134 Nunez St., Lafitte 689-2482 Some of the most popular dishes are the Surf 'n' Turf, a 20-oz. steak glazed with a shrimp and crawfish jalapeno sauce, and the flounder Lafitte, a rolled fillet stuffed with crabmeat and corn, fried and covered in a Crawfish Paradise sauce. Reservations accepted. Dinner Monday and Wednesday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

ZEKE'S RESTAURANT 1517 Metairie Road, Metairie 832-1133 Zeke's prepares oysters on the half-shell with garlic butter and a special seasoning, then grills them on an open fire. The boiled seafood, which changes seasonally, is popular with the serious seafood connoisseur. Reservations recommended for large parties. Breakfast Saturday and Sunday, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SOUL

CAFE UNIQUE 2529 Dauphine St. 948-8884 This homey Faubourg Marigny cafe proudly dishes up soul food classics like smothered chicken, homemade cornbread and pork chops. Daily specials include Cornish hen on Sundays, seafood gumbo on Fridays and other hearty favorites throughout the week. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash only. $

CAUSEY'S COUNTRY KITCHEN 7245 Chef Menteur Hwy. 242-2604 Family-owned and operated, Causey's down-home dining is about as close as you can get to your own mama's cooking -- if she served up chitlin dinner plates, catfish and smothered pork chops at home, that is. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and early dinner Monday through Saturday, dinner Thursday and Friday. Credit cards. $

DEEP SOUTH LOUNGE 329 Decatur St. 529-3331 To get your fried chicken fix in the French Quarter, head to this down-home joint that serves up heartwarming hot plates. Its pork chops, mac and cheese, and cornbread rival mom's. Late-night brings bar food like cheese fries and Philly cheese steak sandwiches. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

THE PRALINE CONNECTION 542 Frenchmen St. 943-3934; www.pralineconnection.com The Praline Connection prepares heaping portions of Southern favorites with loving care. A plate of fried chicken, smothered pork chops or chicken livers with greens and okra on the side can create an authentic soul food experience. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

THE PRALINE CONNECTION GOSPEL & BLUES HALL 907 S. Peters St. 523-3973; www.pralineconnection.com Feel free to eat a second helping of gumbo, red beans, greens, fried chicken and stuffed bell peppers. A full gospel choir entertains diners at the Sunday brunch. Reservations recommended for parties of 10 or more and for Sunday brunch. Lunch Monday through Friday, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

TWO SISTER'S KITCHEN 223 N. Derbigny St. 524-0056 Two Sister's daily specials include spaghetti on Tuesday, chitterlings on Wednesday and stuffed peppers and barbecue chicken on Thursday. In the mornings, $5 will buy a full breakfast of eggs, meat, grits, coffee and toast. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. Cash only. $

STEAKHOUSE

THE BEEF CONNECTION STEAKHOUSE 501 Gretna Blvd., Gretna 366-3275 Beef Connection has it all, from filet mignon to Maine lobster and everything in between. It's all grilled and then broiled to juicy perfection, and served with soup, salad, or gumbo. The lamb is a popular treat and is served with mint jelly. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

THE BESH STEAKHOUSE AT HARRAH'S Harrah's Casino 533-6111; www.harrahs.com This celebrated venture from Chef John Besh of Restaurant August sets itself apart in two ways: top quality meat, and absolutely massive portions. Consider the 30-oz. rib-eye, served with wild mushrooms and garlic roasted potatoes. You could have the grilled sea bass, or the 18-oz., 40-day dry-aged New York strip. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

BOULE PRIME RIB HOUSE 1202 N. Hwy. 190, Covington (985) 809-0969 Seafood is also widely featured on the menu, and the side dish options include potatoes or spinach au gratin, grilled vegetables, and asparagus. The wine list is extensive, featuring 21 wines by the glass and 37 varieties of martinis. Take-out is available. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

CHATEAUBRIAND STEAKHOUSE 310 N. Carrollton Ave. 207-0016; www.chateaubriandsteakhouse.com This Mardi Gras, watch Endymion roll in style with Chateaubriand's special package, which for $90 includes free parking and a gourmet buffet. Favorites include the grilled duck breast, whipped potatoes sweetened with yam and the signature 20-oz. filet for two served in maitre d'hotel butter with dauphinoise potatoes. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

CRAZY JOHNNIE'S STEAKHOUSE 3520 18th St., Metairie 887-6641; www.crazyjohnnies.com Crazy Johnnie serves up sizzling steaks and seafood at near-bargain prices. Be sure and sample the signature 8-oz. filet, served with 'crazy potatoes,' or the filet mignon po-boy. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $

CRESCENT CITY STEAKHOUSE 1001 N. Broad St. 821-3271 This New Orleans institution maintains a vintage 1930s atmosphere, with dark-wood cubbyhole booth seating shielded from the public eye by forest-green curtains. Enjoy steakhouse classics like juicy strip steaks, filets and chops with lyonnaise potatoes, stringy onion rings and creamed spinach. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

DICKIE BRENNAN'S STEAKHOUSE 716 Iberville St. 522-CHOP (2467) Before you dig into a juicy filet, try the turtle soup, escargot or the Napoleon salad: thick-sliced tomatoes layered with crumbled blue cheese and red onions over romaine lettuce with garlic croutons. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

THE EMBERS ORIGINAL BOURBON HOUSE 700 Bourbon St. 523-1485; www.emberssteakhouse.com Sizzling steaks provide the protein needed for a night on Bourbon Street. Diners can gaze down on the free-for-all from the covered balcony while enjoying Creole specialties and Louisiana seafood. Reservations recommended. Lunch Saturday and Sunday, dinner daily, late-night Friday and Saturday. Credit cards. $$

THE LIVING ROOM STEAK AND LOBSTER HOUSE 2800 Magazine St. 324-9554 The char-broiled oyster appetizer is a great way to kick things off, followed by steaks and lobsters as well as duck, chicken, fish and pork offerings. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

MORTON'S OF CHICAGO 365 Canal St. (The Shops at Canal Place) 566-0221; www.mortons.com House suggestions include the Cajun rib-eye, marinated for 60 hours prior to cooking the way you like it. There's also the top-of-the-line, double-cut filet mignon, served with sauce bearnaise. Finish off the meal with a sinful Godiva chocolate cake. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

MR. JOHN'S STEAK AND SEAFOOD HOUSE 2111 St. Charles Ave. (Avenue Plaza Hotel) 679-7697; www.mrjohnssteakhouse.com USDA Prime beef is served at this popular spot. The menu features offerings such as cornmeal-crusted redfish and center-cut filet Oscar; both come with a crabmeat topping. Reservations recommended. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, brunch Saturday and Sunday, dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$$

OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE 60 Park Place Drive, Covington (985) 893-0505; 830 E. I-10 Service Road, Slidell (985) 649-4329; 1601 Barataria Blvd., Marrero 341-5544; 2746 Severn Ave., Metairie 455-6850; www.outback.com Outback cooks steaks 'just right' with soup, salad and potatoes on the side. Lamb, ribs and chicken also meet the 'barbie,' as Australians call their barbecue grills. Some guests, though, come just for the Blooming Onion appetizer. No reservations. Lunch Sunday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

RIB ROOM 621 St. Louis St. 529-7045; www.ribroom.net The Rib Room roasts meats and seafood on a rotisserie located in the dining room. The spit-roasted rack of lamb comes with a rosemary and roasted garlic sauce, while the roasted shrimp is served with lemon butter and mushroom raviolis. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, champagne jazz brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

RUTH'S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE 711 N. Broad St. 486-0810; 3633 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 888-3600; www.ruthschris.com The filet is the most tender cut of corn-fed Midwestern beef broiled to perfection. Or try the barbecue shrimp, sauteed New Orleans style in reduced white wine, butter, garlic and spices. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday and Sunday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

SMITH & WOLLENSKY 1009 Poydras St. 561-0770; www.smithandwollensky.com The management at this revered steak joint recommends the spicy New Orleans filet: filet mignon dusted with Creole seasoning, smothered in an herb butter and served over a bed of spinach. Try the chocolate creme brulee for dessert. Reservations recommended. Lunch, dinner, late-night daily. Credit cards. $$$

THE STEAK KNIFE RESTAURANT & BAR 610 Poydras St. 212-5656; 888 Harrison Ave. 488-8981; www.thesteakknife.com The popular Lakeview restaurant has added a downtown location, with its full complement of steaks, seafood and other meats. Favorite entrees such as the teriyaki-marinated double-cut lamb chops in a demi-glace served with celery-garlic mashed potatoes will follow. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

TAPAS

27 HUNDRED ASIAN CAFE AND BAR 2700 Metairie Road, Metairie 833-6108 Recently, the menu was transformed into a selection of affordable small plates. There are mostly Chinese dishes here, although there are nods to Japanese ingredients as well. There are about 40 choices of tapas, many of which are served cold. Reservations accepted for large groups. Dinner Thursday through Tuesday until midnight. Credit cards. $

UPSTAIRS AT MIMI'S 2601 Royal St. 947-8015 Go light with a glass of Spanish red and a plate of olives at the bar, or savor a small meal of herb-stuffed pequillo peppers, mushroom manchego toast or gambas al ajillo (shrimp sauteed with garlic and white wine). No reservations. Dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

VEGA TAPAS CAFE 2051 Metairie Road, Metairie 836-2007; www.vegatapascafe.com Chef Michael Hampton fuses the tastes of Spain and the Mediterranean for his own unique style that won the hearts of Gambit Weekly readers: Vega Tapas was voted best tapas/small plate restaurant in 2004. Hampton suggests the Serrano ham-wrapped quail with fig glaze or the braised empanada with romesco sauce. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

THAI

BANGKOK CUISINE 4137 S. Carrollton 482-3606 A wide variety of red and green curries are made fresh and the degree of spiciness is up to you. For those looking to protect their palates from the fiery chili flames can opt for the Shrimp Siam, whose primary seasoning comes from lemon grass. Reservations recommended. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BANGKOK THAI 513 S. Carrollton 861-3932 The Thai hot and sour soup is a standout here, made with lemon grass, fresh lime leaves, and any meat you choose. Red curry is also a house specialty, made with big pieces of fresh Thai basil. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily. Credit cards. $

BASIL LEAF 1438 S. Carrollton 862-9001 The Mee Grob is a favorite at this great casual date spot; roast shrimp and chicken sauteed with fresh veggies in white wine sauce and served in a crispy noodle basket. Their dessert menu features fried banana spring rolls and Thai coconut custard served with purple sticky rice. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CAFE EQUATOR 2920 Severn Ave., Metairie 888-4772 This upscale Thai restaurant combines Asian elegance with local ingredients in dishes such as the larb gai, a spicy Thai chicken salad flavored with red onion and cilantro. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

SIAM CAFE 435 Esplanade Ave. 949-1750 Upstairs the Dragon's Den is thumping with hot music, cool poetry readings and American tribal style belly dancing, but downstairs you can chill out in Siam Cafe. Many diners choose either the pad Thai or from several variations of curries, but there are also tofu and veggie dishes. No reservations. Dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

SUKHO THAI 1913 Royal St. 948-9309; www.sukhothai-nola.com Choose from spicy Thai salads, wok dishes, curries, soups, seafood and vegetarian dishes. The seafood-roasted curry consists of shrimp, scallops, mussels and calamari cooked with pineapple, bell pepper and sweet basil in a spicy brown curry. Reservations accepted. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards. $$

VEGETARIAN & HEALTH FOOD

13 517 Frenchmen St. 942-1345 After a long night out on Frenchmen Street, many customers here like to dig into a bulging breakfast burrito, stuffed with eggs, potato, cheese, and salsa. Tofu is always available as a substitute at this vegetarian and vegan-friendly spot. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily until 3 a.m. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

APPLE SEED SHOPPE 201 St. Charles Ave. 529-3442 It may be a new location, but the famous cheese soup is still made with the same secret recipe. After 26 years of business, the owners have fresh sandwiches and salads down. The soup and salad special is a no-brainer, at $4.45 for a cup of soup and $4.85 for a bowl. No reservations. Delivery available. Lunch Monday through Friday. $

AQUARIAN'S MARKETPLACE 2801 Dauphine St. 943-8884 Aquarian's is a family-run emporium of vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, salads, and fresh-squeezed 'live' juices -- add a shot of wheatgrass for a natural high. This is also the only place in town that caters to raw foods enthusiasts -- a food trend that is just reaching our fair city. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Delivery available. Credit cards. $

BACK TO THE GARDEN 833 Howard Ave. 299-8792 The stir-fried vegetable plate comes with brown rice and Swiss cheese grated on top, and the club sandwich is far from the traditional, stacked between slices of wheatberry bread and featuring avocado in the mix. No reservations. Lunch Monday through Saturday. Delivery available in CBD. Credit cards and checks. $

BARRACK'S STREET CAFE AND YOGURT SHOP 430 Barracks St. 525-0330 Traditional sandwiches like their no-joke Philly cheese steak brush elbows with nouveau offerings like the Thai wrap, packed with fresh veggies, crunchy veggies and delicious spicy Thai peanut sauce. Tofu is available as a substitute for many meat sandwiches. No reservations. Delivery available. Lunch daily. Credit cards. $

COLUMBIA ST. NATURAL FOOD MARKET 415 N. Columbia St., Covington (985) 893-0355 The sandwiches are made with organic or free-range ingredients, and the roasted chicken salad sandwich in pita bread keeps customers coming back. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday. Credit cards and local checks. $

SOPHISTICATED SALADS 6387 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan 737-1860 In a town of seafood and spices, Sophisticated Salads concentrates on lettuce and pasta. The chicken honey-mustard salad consists of Romaine lettuce, tomato, chicken, walnuts, Monterey Jack cheese and honey-mustard dressing. No reservations. Lunch and early dinner Monday through Friday. Delivery available for orders of three or more salads. Credit cards and checks. $

VIETNAMESE

9 ROSES 1100 Stephens St., Gretna 366-7665 Vietnamese Hot and Sour Shrimp soup is a lighter, lemon grassier take on gumbo, and the bowl is big enough for two. Although seafood is the most prominent player on the menu, regulars love having their Vietnamese rare beef served tableside on a sizzling cast-iron pan. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Thursday through Tuesday. Credit cards. $$

DONG PHUONG 14207 Chef Menteur Hwy. 254-0214, 254-0296 Coconut custard, sticky buns and banana-ginger candy are winners, as is the restaurant's duck soup with bok choy and egg noodles floating in a steaming broth. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Wednesday through Monday. Credit cards. $

DOSON'S NOODLE HOUSE 8128 Oak St. 861-9724 Doson's offers two restaurants in one, combining the flavors of Vietnam and China with everything from spring rolls to the specialty beef noodle pho. Seafood and meat are represented by such dishes as black pepper shrimp and mu shu pork. Reservations accepted. Lunch Tuesday through Saturday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Credit cards and checks. $$

FROSTY'S CAFFE 2800 Manhattan Blvd., Suite B, Harvey 361-9099 3400 Cleary Ave., Metairie 888-9600 Frosty's signature bubble tea has expanded is a popular favorite, with sweet, gummy tapioca balls floating in the sweet liquid. Not to be missed is the jasmine green tea with jellied lychee or the avocado shake. For more solid fare, the spring rolls are quite delectable. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

JAZMINE CAFE 614 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9301 With a menu evenly divided between traditional American breakfast food and Vietnamese specialties, this new restaurant can satisfy both timid and adventurous eaters. For a traditional breakfast, try the deluxe platter with pancakes, sausage, grits and biscuits. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

KIM SON 349 Whitney Ave., Gretna 366-2489 Diners make a pilgrimage from all over for the warm bowls of pho soup, fresh spring rolls and salt baked crab with black and hot pepper. Reservations recommended for six or more. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Credit cards. $$

PHO TAU BAY 113C Westbank Expwy., Gretna 368-9846; 216 N. Carrollton Ave. 485-7687; 1565 Tulane Ave. 524-4669; 3116 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie 780-1063 Bowls of pho, a traditional Vietnamese beef soup with rich housemade broth, the refreshing bun thit nuong of charbroiled sliced pork on vermicelli and the "Vietnamese po-boys" have made this growing group of restaurants a regular destination. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $

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