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339 Chartres St. 581-6868;
Serving up a wide variety of coffees, pastries and lunch specials well into its third year, La Boucherie is a great place to start the day. Along with those coffees, espressos and lattes, La Boucherie features pastries from Zoe's Bakery in Covington. Consider the croissants, quiches, soups and salads as well as the daily lunch specials. As the afternoon progresses, check out the fully stocked bar. No reservations. Breakfast and late lunch daily. Credit cards. $

4526 Magazine St. 269-3777; 625 St. Charles Ave., 569-1925
Would that every New Orleans neighborhood had a bakery such as La Boulangerie in it. The bakery turns out fresh breads and pastries every day, including a tender olive-rosemary loaf and ciabatta. Baguette sandwiches and oversize cookies make a lovely lunch to go. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

643 W. Causeway Approach, Mandeville (985) 624-8667 La Casa Gomez is located in a turn of West Causeway Approach that's shaded by trees that almost hide its splashy neon signage. Be careful not to bypass the restaurant, because you don't want to miss their traditional Mexican and Cuban cuisine, including the tender and flavorful roast pork, which also stars in the Cuban sandwiches. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

700 Tchoupitoulas St. (Renaissance Arts Hotel), 613-2350;
Amid the dazzling array of modern artworks in the Renaissance Arts Hotel, Chef Chuck Subra creates art for the plate and palate in La Cote Brasserie. The menu changes frequently, but one constant is the glazed salmon, which uses Steen's cane syrup as a crunchy, just-sweet-enough crust. Though the restaurant offers a dessert menu, you might want to consider the Ragin' Nagin drink from the bar, Godiva white and dark chocolate liqueurs blending peacefully in one glass. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$

1410 Robert St. 899-2670;
Crepes and other French favorites keep La Crepe Nanou busy with regular customers. Escargot, salade Niçoise, the crepe au crabe, and Les Cailles — two grilled quail with mushroom sauce — are among the highlights, as is the namesake Crepe Nanou. The interior has low lighting, and in pleasant weather, diners can sit outside on sidewalk on Robert Street. No reservations. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Cash and checks. $$

725 Iberville St. 378-8200;
Elegant cuisine such as chicken fricassee, filet mignon, hanger steak and tuna tartare are on La Louisiane's new menu, which was designed in the "same spirit" as its pre-K offerings. Pasta and fish dishe are also available. Speaking of spirit, the building dates to 1837 and is reputed to be haunted, so perhaps an unexpected ghostly guest will join your dinner party. Reservations recommended. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

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. $

601 S. Carrollton Ave. 861-8662; 3434 Hwy. 190, Mandeville (985) 626-7004; 5171 Citrus Blvd., Suite 2000, Harahan 818-2450;
Entrée-size salads and cafeteria-style service, combined with French cooking, consistently make La Madeleine a popular choice. The chicken Friand combines puff pastry, chicken and mushroom sauce; the croque monsieurs are a hot, buttery rendition of the ham-and-cheese sandwich, and there are lots of options in the dessert case. No reservations. Breakfast daily at Mandeville, lunch daily at both locations. Harahan: lunch daily at all locations. Credit cards. $

4238 Magazine St. 891-3377
La Petite Grocery is one of the newer establishments to create a buzz among the fine-dining set. Situated in the former grocery of its name, the restaurant is under the guidance of Chef Anton Schulte, who prepares French bistro classics, including pan-seared foie gras, onion tart and duck, as well as grilled bass with spinach. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

25020 Hwy. 19, Lacombe (985) 626-7662;
Chef Constantin Kerageorgiou, better known as "Chris," was born in France but has Mediterranean roots. Both cuisines are honored at his St. Tammany Parish restaurant. The menu includes French country cooking — foie gras, squab, rabbit — but the North African specialty sausage Merguez offers diners a taste from a different region. The early-dinner menu is still available for diners who come in before 7 p.m. Reservations recommended. Dinner Wed.-Sun., brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

933 Metairie Road, Metairie 828-3089
Chef Merlin Chauvin's Maryland-style crabcake is prepared with jumbo lump crabmeat, baked in an oven with Japanese bread crumbs, and topped with extra jumbo lump crabmeat over a bed of sweet chile sauce. The dish comes with grilled asparagus and fresh sauteed vegetables. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Fri., dinner Sat. Credit cards. $$

3501 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 887-9923
Lager's, on the corner of Veterans Boulevard and Severn Avenue, is part of a two-establishment stretch of happy-hour places (its counterpart is New Orleans Original Daiquiris across Severn Avenue). The variety of beer and the big-screen sports may make it a favorite among the 9-to-5e set, and its menu is always solid, including burgers, a tuna sandwich, Southwest-style eggrolls and the cheesy Crawfish Banditos. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

5433 Laurel St. 897-0576
One of those new businesses that suffered from a little Katrina shock, the Laurel Street Bakery opened Aug. 9, but was able to reopen Oct. 8 with minimal damage and has been baking like crazy ever since in its Uptown location, providing classic bakery fare all made from scratch. Breakfast options include bagels, cinnamon rolls, quiche, scones and eight different quick breads including zucchini and banana. Cakes are prepared for all occasions. Spring is a perfect time to enjoy the 10 outside dining tables. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash and checks. $

800 Metairie Road, Metairie 831-6682; 1330 Arabella St. 899-9283;
No trip to Langenstein's — so squeaky clean it shines — is complete without a pass through the deli counter and gourmet-to-go sections. Freshly prepared sushi, dips, appetizers, and gourmet items as well as the night's dinner — family-size containers of crawfish etouffee, seafood gumbo, and red beans and rice —are for sale. Special orders are accepted in advance. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1539 Religious St. 566-9051;
Let's start with Le Citron Bistro's charming 1810 building, the oldest documented building above Canal Street. The charming, brick double Creole cottage sets the stage for a menu of New Orleans cooking, including the barbecued shrimp and wild crawfish bisque appetizer, with some twists, such as fish tortilla and Saturday's all-you-can-eat pasta meal. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

509 Williams Blvd., Kenner 471-0534
Kenner residents in the know go to Le Parvenu for stylish meals prepared by Chef Dennis Hutley. The signature dish is the lobster Le Parvenu, a paneed lobster tail stuffed with fresh seafood and drenched with a lobster-tail cognac cream sauce. Reservations recommended. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

1500 S. Carrollton Ave. 862-6200
Lebanon's menu carries the traditional Middle Eastern dishes we've come to love in New Orleans, such as shawarma and gyro. But the lentil soup and the eggplant sandwich — prepared on hot, crusty bread — are just as flavorful. Its Riverbend location ensures you'll see lots of hungry college students. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

2100 Airline Drive, Kenner 472-0966; 3516 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 885-4291; 4301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 885-0110
New innovations at this old-school burger eatery include a new drive-through location and the acceptance of credit cards. The drive-through is convenient for days when you can't stand in line, but must have your fix of The Works, a big cheeseburger dressed, with onion rings or fries on the side. It's fast food, but still homemade. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

2708 Hullen St., Metairie 887-3877
Legends provides classic bar-and-grill fare along with live local music. Check out the seafood platters, burgers and fries or a potato salad, and signature po-boys. No reservations. Lunch and early dinner weekdays. Credit cards. $

17 Camp St. (International House Hotel) 523-1200;
Lemon Grass gets our vote as an underappreciated restaurant for romance. Its lighting and décor visually put you in the mood, and Chef Minh Bui's French-tinged Vietnamese cuisine keeps you there. Duck and chicken dishes are light and bursting with Asian flavors. Every meal should end with vanilla créme brulée. Reservations recommended. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Thu.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

1500 Esplanade Ave. 569-8997
The Baquet family of Zachary's fame is serving up its legendary fried chicken, gumbo, stuffed peppers and other classics of Creole cooking. A lunch buffet in this newish Treme restaurant lends a casual vibe. Reservations accepted. Breakfast and lunch Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

3637 Magazine St. 895-1636;
Yet another local chef to rack up national accolades for his inspired work, star Chef John Harris reopened his acclaimed Uptown bistro quickly after Katrina and continues to attract discriminating diners with dishes such as duck confit with greens, and pan-roasted halibut. After dinner, take note of the intricate, custom-built shelving behind the bar while your order a couple rounds of the Lilette Rouge, which goes down smoothly after Harris' brilliant cuisine. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

811 Conti St. (Erin Rose) 299-8496
It may be small in size but The Little Grill delivers the big flavors of the proprietor's native Greece. Pork souvlaki as a pita sandwich or as part of a platter is the specialty. No reservations. Lunch Tue.-Sat., dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit cards. $

590 Asbury Drive, Mandeville (985) 727-1532
One of Mandeville's picks for sushi, Little Tokyo offers all the standards (including sushi) and caters to lots of families and teenagers in St. Tammany Parish. The best-selling menu item is the Burning Man roll, which we're sure is not spicy at all. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

1521 S. Causeway Blvd., Metairie 831-6788
On South Causeway Boulevard, that lesser-traveled stretch between Veterans Memorial Boulevard and Airline Drive, Little Tokyo packs them in for traditional sushi and sashimi. One favorite is the toothy unagi — eel. If you see Godzilla Steak on the menu, you know you're in for a Japanese adventure. Balance it with a giant bowl of ramen or a seaweed salad. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

1518 N. Lopez St. 943-8667
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 the Fair Grounds. The barbecue shrimp po-boy is a popular menu item. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

3312 Esplanade Ave. 488-6946
The menu is as good as ever at this Faubourg St. John Spanish cafe, with favorites like paellla with seafood and meats, pork loin with mojo sauce, rainbow trout, gazpacho soup, baked mussels and ceviche among the offerings. Lola's now serves beer and wine but maintains its long-standing BYOB option as well. No reservations. Dinner nightly. Cash only. $$

21516 Hwy. 36, Abita Springs (985) 871-8171
Longbranch is a newcomer to the Northshore dining scene, but it promises to be a heavy hitter with dishes such as fresh fish, beef and Deconstructed Oysters: poached Virginia oysters with beurre fondue and spinach. The menu changes nightly, and jazz brunch is offered on Sundays. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wed.-Fri., dinner Wed.-Sat., brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$$

730 Bienville St. (St. Louis Hotel) 581-7000;
Guests lose their heads over the French fare and graceful table-side preparation at this lavish restaurant. The Poisson Louisiane, a fresh fish fillet topped with sauteed banana and fresh bell pepper, would satisfy the palate of a king. Ask for a recommendation from the extensive wine list. Reservations recommended. Breakfast and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

337 Dauphine St. 525-3335
This small restaurant turns out Creole specialties such as Creole surf and turf, including the pan-seared filet mignon with crawfish-tail scampi. Tourists haven't discovered it yet — lucky for us locals. Reservations accepted. Dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit cards. $$$

95 French Market Place 522-9500; 615 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-5900
The name may sound utilitarian, but the ambience is sophisticated in this established restaurant. Refined palates may appreciate the lamb or garlic pizzas — all are wood-fired — or the popular chicken roulade, a breast of chicken with crawfish and andouille stuffing on fettuccine. But there's a pizza for everyone, including the simple and classic "Margarita," with basil and fresh tomatoes. Reservations recommended for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

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 on to Poulet Roti, an herbed, marinated and roasted half chicken served with mashed potatoes, caramelized cauliflower and tasso ham jus. Daily specials are available. Louisiana Star also has a retail wine shop next door. Reservations accepted for groups of five or more. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

701 Tchoupitoulas St. 523-8995;
There are those who have been patronizing Lucy's since those long-ago college days, probably because the food draws in crowds as much as the vaunted happy hour. Lucy's is gradually building its menu back to pre-Katrina strength; in the meantime, the Cali turkey burger and grilled tuna soak up all the, um, atmosphere ingested at the bar. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

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