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1600 St. Charles Ave., 527-090
9Located inside the St. Charles Athletic Club building, the café offers breakfast, smoothies and cappuccinos as well as lunch and dinner. For lunch there are salads and sandwiches like the barbecue chicken on croissant or turkey, bacon and Swiss cheese on focaccia. In the evening, there is everything from simple sandwiches and burgers to grilled chicken kebabs over rice pilaf and grilled fish with steamed vegetables and artichoke bread. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Mon.-Sat., Dinner Mon.-Fri. Credit cards. $$

1433 St. Charles Ave., 523-9823
The late-night/early-morning standards of eggs, po-boys and burgers are mainstays of the menu at this Uptown institution, but the menu also offers some creative dishes as well. The chicken andouille hash is a mix of shredded deep-fried chicken, andouille, green peppers, onions and garlic tossed with red new potatoes boiled in crab boil, all topped with a couple of eggs. Catfish Lafayette ladles crawfish etouffée over grilled catfish and adds a loaded baked potato on the side. No reservations. Open 24 hours daily. Credit cards. $

5004 Prytania St., 899-4737;
St. James offers more than 70 varieties of fine cheese from around the world. A small menu of sandwiches, salads, cheeseboards and charcuterie plates are available for take out or dining in. Customers are welcome to bring their own bottle of wine to accompany sandwiches and salads that make the most of the cheeses in the store. Comte cheese is served with prosciutto and grilled artichoke hearts on ciabatta bread. The Ploughman's lunch includes portions of stilton, cheddar, goat's cheese, Yorkshire, chutney, paté and a green salad. No reservations. Lunch and early dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards and checks. $

535 E. Boston St., Covington, (985) 893-5553;
From students and professionals enjoying free Wi-Fi access to families gathering at outdoor tables, the varied crowd at this corner coffeehouse stays well stimulated by an assortment of caffeinated drinks, more mellow beverages and plenty of art on the walls. Gourmet sandwiches and wraps are served daily from noon to 4 p.m. Try the signature Sedona sandwich with Southwest cream cheese spread. Ice cream, shakes and an assortment of baked goods are also available. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash and checks. $

126 Lake Drive, Covington, (985) 809-6689; 817 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, 468-9929; 1130 S. Clearview Pkwy., Harahan, 733-8879; 4201 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 777-7253
Sake Café offers the usual mix of sushi bar options and hot dishes from the kitchen. A good place to start is with the New Orleans roll, which wraps spicy crawfish, crunchy tempura bits, avocado, tuna and snow crab with tobiko caviar and is served with an avocado-eel sauce. The sweet chili crispy fillet is a fillet of grouper served in a sweet chili sauce. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Fri.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

2830 Magazine St., 894-0033
Perhaps the city's most radically redesigned drug store is home to some of the most elegant sushi creations in a hip, upscale environment. The TNT sushi special pairs yellowtail and tuna mixed with a layer of tobiko and sushi rice, all topped with a quail egg. For something completely different, Sake Café serves a feast of Maine lobster prepared five different ways: lobster fat salad, boiled lobster tail, spicy lobster roll, lobster claw sushi and a lobster hand roll with caviar. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

400 Iberville St., 561-6070
This unassuming corner joint hidden behind the Customs House cooks up wonderfully aromatic dishes and halal-meals from Pakistani and Indian cuisines. Try biryani, a plate of long grain basmati rice cooked with saffron, Indian spices and your choice of chicken, beef or goat. Samosas are redolent with savory spice inside dough that's buttery on the inside and fried crispy on the outside. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1340 S. Carrollton Ave., 324-6640
There's a special every night at Saltwater Grill and Mondays are always a good option with 50-cent oysters on the half shell. Lunch brings a selection of fried seafood po-boys, red beans and rice, hamburgers and grilled chicken. New menu items include grilled fish with cherry tomato salsa, chicken etouffee and blackened redfish. The restaurant's new market features boiled seafood by the pound. Reservations accepted for five or more. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

6601 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-7784;
Modeled after the family-run, neighborhood restaurants of Italy, Sandro's intimate dining room is filled with the aromas of freshly baked bread and roasting garlic. House specialties include mussels in a tomato and garlic sauce over pasta and Aunt Vera's lasagna with handmade pasta. Paninis and Italian-style po-boys with fried seafood on ciabatta make up a large sandwich menu. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

3544 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 779-9288
Sapporo features barbecue grills mounted on the tables to allow guests to cook their own meats or they can have the staff prepare the meal before their eyes. The extensive menu includes all the classic sushi specialties, plus some new creations like the Sapporo special with snow crab, salmon, tuna, vegetables and special sauce. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

724 Dublin St., 861-0565
Among the Riverbend's cluster of restaurants is Sara's, which has an ambitious menu of blended Creole and Asian flavors. Start with crawfish egg rolls and samosas, and then tempt your palate with pressed muscovy duck that is grilled and served with a port plum wine reduction sauce. Look for dishes like pepper-crusted pork chops, honey-ginger scallops or Malaysian steamed mussels in savory garlic white wine broth. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tue.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards and checks. $$

4519 Magazine St., 895-2665;
Savvy is like a culinary community center with everything from lunch service to cooking classes to an emporium of culinary tools and supplies. The menu includes creative and thoughtful dishes using local ingredients like the fried oyster salad with celery hearts and creamy herb dressing. The seared salmon sandwich is topped with bacon, avocado, farmer's cheese and roasted tomatoes and is served on sourdough bread. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Sat., brunch Sun. Credit cards and checks. $

2483 Royal St., 944-6666;
This Marigny corner store and café provides its neighbors with groceries, a bar, laundry machines and even a guesthouse for out-of-town visitors. But what brings regulars back to its colorful dining room and sidewalk tables are inexpensive renditions of New Orleans comfort food and specialties such as lasagna, stewed chicken and rice and fried catfish. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

279 Hickory Ave., Harahan, 738-1116
Po-boys and fried seafood platters are the mainstays of this casual local eatery, but the chef's specialties offer a refined take on Cajun cooking. The eggplant Harahan features fried eggplant medallions layered with crabmeat stuffing and topped with shrimp in a cream sauce. The boiled seafood platter is a large platter of boiled crawfish, shrimp and six crabs plus corn and potatoes. No reservations. Lunch Tue.-Fri., dinner Fri.-Sat. Credit cards. $

239 Decatur St., 525-9595; For Japanese cuisine in the French Quarter, head to Sekisui Samurai to enjoy the sushi bar, bento box specials and soups. The kitchen prepares a full range of teriyaki dishes and hot appetizers like crab or pork dumplings. For a unique creation, try the Decatur roll with cilantro, crawfish and crunchy tempura bits inside and seared white tuna and fresh chopped garlic on the outside. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

3226 Magazine St., 895-4260;
The folks who brought the popular local chain into the market have taken a different tack with their latest creation, Semolina Italian Bistro. The Italian focus pays off with dishes like angel hair marinara, linguine Alfredo or penne pasta with mushrooms, garlic and basil. Off the rotisserie, try chicken Marsala with mushrooms in wine sauce over polenta. The scampi di carfucci torta is a pan-seared artichoke cake served with jumbo shrimp and a garlic lemon butter sauce. Through early April, a crawfish menu features dishes like crawfish bread and crawfish au gratin. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

In spite of the Italian name, Semolina is inspired by pasta dishes from around the world. Classic pasta Alfredo with chicken or shrimp could share a table with pad Thai, the sweet and spicy stir-fry of shrimp, mushrooms and tofu with rice noodles, peanuts and a distinctive sauce. The double cheeseburger pasta pays homage to the American classic but without the bun. Pasta jambalaya with andouille, tasso and Creole sauce should strike a familiar note with locals. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $$

4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 780-2354;
With regional specialties from across Central America and the Caribbean and a bar stocked with dozens of tequilas and rums, this local restaurant offers plenty of variety in a colorful, upbeat environment. For a refreshing start, try the Ecuadorian ceviche with fresh fish in a bath of lime juice and peppers. Entrees include grilled ribs, crabmeat quesadillas or Cuban-style pork marinated in citrus. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

4413 Banks St., 484-4440;'s
offers everything from boiled seafood to po-boys, hot dogs and daily specials. Besides hot dogs dressed with sauerkraut, sweet relish or chili, there's a beer bratwurst topped with spicy brown mustard. Po-boys include hot sausage and seafood varieties. Boiled seafood is also available. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat., late-night Tues.-Sat. Cash only. $

1855 Dock St., Harahan, 729-4442
Slide into the Shimmy Shack for burgers, po-boys and fried appetizers. The Hot Shimmy burger is a half-pound mixture of hot sausage and ground beef, and the Buffalo chicken po-boy is pretty hot stuff itself. Oysters and brie are baked with apple-smoked bacon and served with warm pita bread. Abita Pita Pizzas offer a variety of toppings on toasted pita bread. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

2325 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 833-7477
Many locals had their first sushi experience at Shogun, which has been "rolling" for years in Metairie. While there is a sushi bar and table seating, most regulars head straight for the hibachi tables where an array of steak, shrimp, chicken and vegetables are cooked with flair by chefs working a chopstick's length away. No reservations. Lunch Tue.-Sun., dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

119 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie, 885-4572
Long on flavor and tradition, Short Stop Po-boys does the New Orleans classics proud. The roast beef is prepared in-house with a rich gravy, and the po-boys are served dripping in the specially seasoned sauce. Fried crawfish tails provide a different spin on seafood po-boys, and the four-meat special puts all the most popular cold cuts together on one sandwich. The seafood gumbo starts with a thick roux and okra and is studded with shrimp and crabmeat. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards and checks. $

614 Canal St., 586-7211;
Shula is no longer prowling the sidelines. He's heading up a steakhouse franchise that has the kind of ingredients that make for a Superbowl of a meal. Each of Shula's steaks is certified Angus beef. Those looking for something other than red meat can sink their teeth into lobster, barbecue shrimp and succulent desserts like the chocolate soufflé for two or the Mountain Lava chocolate cake. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

620 Conti St., 681-0911
Just across the street from the Louisiana Supreme Court building with a corner spot on Exchange Alley, Sidebar is a quaint café offering a variety of dishes -- and Sunday crawfish boils. The menu ranges from fish tacos made with mahi mahi and topped with corn chutney to burgers and Creole white beans with andouille sausage. There are entrees like chicken cacciatore, and the citrus chicken sandwich features chicken marinated in an orange vinaigrette and served with avocado, lettuce, tomato and red onion on grain bread. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1229 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 831-4002
Burgers and appetizers take centerfield at Sidelines. Some other memorable players joining the fray are the Creole pork sandwich served on ciabatta bread with Creole sour cream, red onion and pepperjack cheese and the California chicken sandwich with raspberry chipotle mayo and pepperjack cheese on a Kaiser roll. New daily specials include grilled chicken wraps, and a chicken sandwich on sourdough jalapeno bread. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

413 Carondelet St., 581-2205
Singha Thai offers a little oasis of Thai cuisine in the shadow of the CBD's tallest buildings. The menu includes popular dishes like spicy coconut milk soups with chicken or hot and sour soups with mushrooms. Entrees include pad Thai and many rice and noodle dishes with beef, chicken or shrimp. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Tue. Credit cards. $$

1513 St. Charles Ave., 525-7437;
Order one slice at a time or go for the whole pie at this dimly lit, stylishly designed café where the best pizzas are often the ones you invent from the long list of classic and offbeat toppings. The New York-style pizza starts with a thin, crisp crust while the Sicilian style has a thicker crust and a choice of red or white sauces. Along with new dishes like steamed mussels, barbecue shrimp and shrimp pesto pizza, the kitchen makes paninis, salads and a host of pasta dishes. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

3322 Magazine St., 891-3447;
Follow the flying fried egg up Magazine Street to Slim Goodie's, where breakfast specials like the Bon Ton (an omelet made with crawfish étouffée) and the Creole Slammer ensure this neo-retro diner is always slammed with customers. Ask for a seat on the relaxed backyard patio if there's no room up front. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash and checks. $

5725 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, 733-3000;
A family favorite for many years, Smilie's specializes in home-style Italian fare and New Orleans seafood specialties. The trout Lafitte is a fillet fried golden brown and topped with creamy crawfish sauce. Veal Augie is paneed baby veal covered with lump crabmeat, fresh mushrooms, shallots and a touch of hollandaise sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat., brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$

The city's smoothie gold standard has a blend for everybody -- from spring break dieters to beach-ready body builders and everyone in between. Fine-tune your favorite smoothie by adding enhancers like Immune, Energy, Female Balance, or Muscle Builder. Or subtract ingredients you'd rather avoid. Supplement your liquid intake with snacks like lean jerky, high-protein cookies or a wide assortment of protein bars. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $

626 Frenchmen St., 949-0696;
While contemporary jazz greats like Ellis Marsalis or Davell Crawford cook up smooth tunes in the music hall, Snug Harbor's kitchen cooks up regional cuisine for diners in its bistro. The kitchen complements the musical counterparts by offering a juicy menu of blue ribbon Black Angus steaks including rib-eyes, filets and New York strips. Seafood options include barbecue shrimp and grilled tuna that comes with wild rice and salad. Reservations accepted. Dinner nightly. Credit cards. $$

1912 Magazine St., 561-0291;
Sophie's has the retro look of the all-American ice cream parlor and a selection of deliciously rich gelatos. Sundaes, floats and banana splits are popular, and one option is the strawberry parfait made with Creole cream cheese gelato and strawberries topped with whipped cream. Sophie's also serves pastries, hot dogs, soups and sandwiches with choices of chicken, tuna or egg salad. The chicken salad is made with raisins, walnuts and apples. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

141 Delaronde St., 227-2989; www.sortezcafé.com
Roll off the Canal Street ferry at Algiers Point and into this petite take-out gourmet food specialist. Try any of the baked goods made in house, like cakes, breads and cookies. Some of the specialties include barbecue shrimp, which are peeled, sautéed and flamed in butter with three types of pepper, garlic and cream. Salmon is marinated, grilled and served on a bed of wild rice with spinach. Sortez offers snacks like crawfish dip and chips and does a lot of gourmet-to-go business in the neighborhood. No reservations. Dinner Mon.-Fri. Credit cards. $

2700 Chartres St., 947-4477
Drop by Sound Café on Wednesday nights for live music. Or drop by anytime to snack on brownies, cookies, cakes or bagels with cream cheese. There's a small list of sandwiches like grilled cheese, which can be enhanced with vegetables or a choice of meats like ham, turkey or salami. There's a daily quiche special and a cheese plate as well. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

720 Claiborne Ave., Jefferson, 835-3035
Southern Po-Boys makes sandwiches with everything from roast beef with gravy to fried shrimp or oysters to chicken-fried steak and veal. Try a seafood muffuletta for a change of pace. Complete a meal with an order of fried okra or homemade onion rings on the side. Daily specials include beef stew over rice, baked lasagna, barbecue chicken and gumbo. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Fri. Cash only. $

3154 Pontchartrain Drive, Slidell, (985) 643-6133; www.southsidecafé.net
Southside has a huge menu to choose from, whether you want to graze on bar food, dig into burgers and steaks or stick with seafood. The seafood muffuletta can be ordered with fried shrimp, oysters, catfish or a mix of all three. Thursday and Saturday evenings are steak nights, featuring 12-oz. certified Angus rib-eyes served with baked potatoes loaded with butter, sour cream, bacon, cheddar cheese and chives. Sandwiches include everything from Reubens to Philly cheesesteaks to Southern-style barbecue. The bar offers specialty drinks like the Bushwacker, a blended cocktail with vanilla ice cream and rum. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

4345 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 466-4069;
Speakeasy's game plan is a straight-ahead rush of big 10-oz. burgers, sandwiches and bar food. Some of the bar munchies include French fries, jalapeno poppers, quesadillas, chicken wings, chicken tenders, egg rolls and meat pies. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

2609 Harvard Ave., Metairie, 455-7783
Who knew so much could be done with the humble potato? Spudly's own cheese sauce graces many of the terrific tubers served here, as well as everything from diced roast beef to shrimp and crabmeat to chili on top. Burgers, salads and soups are also available. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

237 Decatur St., 525-6151;
The surf and turf at Star ranges from oysters Rockefeller to Maine lobster and rib-eyes to filet tips on a shish kebab. The garlic filet mignon is an aged center cut topped with minced garlic, served with an herbed natural reduction sauce with butter and mushrooms and complemented by a vegetable and roasted potatoes. The whole main lobster is steamed and served with a baked potato and the vegetable of the day. The menu also includes shrimp Creole, blackened chicken, fried oysters, seafood gumbo and other local favorites. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

8801 Oak St., 861-9293
What could be more casual than a restaurant trying to resemble its past life as a filling station? Just as you might expect, there's plenty of good hearty food -- burgers, steak sandwiches and sweet potato fries -- that most grease monkeys and hungry diners would enjoy. The 8-oz. Angus beef burger is served with chips or a choice of fries, sweet potato fries or onion rings. The 10-oz. filet is served with spicy potatoes. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $

8550 Pontchartrain Blvd., 488-8981
The Steak Knife had reopened in Lakeview and welcomed back bar customers. Now the kitchen is grilling steaks again and serving a range of seafood dishes like the shrimp bordelaise, shrimp remoulade or eggplant medallions topped with spicy marinara sauce, crabmeat and cheese. There is a good selection of steaks and chops, and the pastry chef complements meals with a wide variety of desserts including brownie and pie a la mode. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

Toulouse Street Wharf, 586-8777;
Take a river cruise on this authentic steamboat and enjoy the view, the Creole cuisine, wine and live jazz. Popular items include the pecan-crusted chicken and red beans with rice. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Thu.-Sat., brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$

2207 Magazine St., 527-0771
For a bite of the Big Apple in the Big Easy, head to Stein's Market for deli favorites. The Rueben employs corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. The Italian hoagie uses hoagie rolls with mortadella ham, two types of salami, provolone cheese, lettuce, onions and a garlic vinaigrette. There are also knishes made with corned beef, matzoh ball soup, H&H Bagels from New York and a retail area with gourmet cheeses, imported Dijon mustards and other treats. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Wed.-Mon., dinner Mon., and Wed.-Fri. Credit cards and checks. $

1032 Chartres St., 587-0091;
Kind strangers and diners can always depend on award-winning local chef Scott Boswell's culinary art, which makes rampant use of rarefied and luxurious items like black truffles, heirloom vegetables, lobster and various ingredients from organic, boutique or local purveyors. A recent menu included lemon zest, basil pistou and lavender meringue as an ethereal-sounding appetizer. Plus there's a full range of exotic and tasty desserts. Reservations recommended. Dinner Thu.-Mon. Credit cards. $$$

4971 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, 889-9856
Although Step Brother's is known for burgers and po-boys, it's recently instituted a Sunday surf and turf special. A filet is matched with a grilled or fried lobster tail plus potatoes, vegetables and bread for $20. There's still a steak night on Tuesdays. Bar snacks include cheesesticks, jalapeno poppers, egg rolls, chicken tenders and wings. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

828 Gravier St., 522-8198;
This old-school diner, which now offers new-school free Wi-Fi and a full-service coffee bar, serves plate lunches and classic American breakfasts with eggs, grits, hash browns and biscuits. You can slim down for spring with Steve's specialty salads or forget your diet and try the fried catfish pecan, served with pecan-brown-butter sauce and two home-style side dishes. The bacon and cheddar burger, a hefty half-pound of Angus beef grilled to order with a mountainous pile of grated cheddar, is also recommended. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Mon.-Fri. Credit cards and checks. $

2727 Prytania St., 899-0335
Loyal locals love Still Perkin' for its ever-popular iced coffees and granitas, and many make a stop here for coffee or tea part of their morning routine. But, this local favorite also offers a reviving stop after a stroll through the historic Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 just across the street. Try a sandwich or salad for lunch or indulge in a chilled coffee drink on a warm afternoon. Free Wi-Fi and corner windows also make this a sunny study spot for students. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and early dinner daily. Credit cards and local checks. $

201 Baronne St., 565-5455
Talk about all-you-can-eat. Weekday lunches at the Streetcar Bistro are highlighted by an overflowing buffet, and it's quite a challenge for even a local to finish one of the many house po-boys. Choose from meatball, shrimp, oysters or bronzed chicken. Specialty plates include the crab cake and shrimp salad with wasabi soy and Polynesian shrimp curry. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

The nation's largest chain of sandwich shops has plenty on tap in the land of the po-boy, with a menu boasting cold and hot subs, salads and wraps, and toasted sandwiches like the chicken and bacon ranch sandwich. The Veggie Delite is a crunchy combination of lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, olives and pickles, or skip the bread and have a salad. The meatball marinara swings in the other direction with Italian-style meatballs packed into a loaf with cheese and tomato sauce. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $

315 Julia St., 378-4000
This restaurant in the Embassy Suites hotel is named for the original hotel built on the site for the 1984 World's Fair. The restaurant pays homage to New Orleans with a menu of dishes like sautéed trout with candied lemon and side dishes of jambalaya or red beans and bananas Foster for dessert. The New York strip is served with Creole butter. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$$

800 France St., 940-6226;
Bywater pizza fans have a good source for delivery service from Sugar Park Tavern. Sugar Park specializes in thin crust pizza with a choice of sauces including a spicy Adobo sauce and pesto sauce. Popular pies include the Bronx Bomber topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, black olive and green peppers, and the Brooklyn Bridge is loaded with garlic, spinach and mushrooms. Hearty snacks include fries with curry or garlic mayo, chili cheese fries and nachos. Delivery available. No reservations. Dinner Wed.-Mon. Credit cards. $

1913 Royal St., 948-9309
Sukhothai, located in the Faubourg Marigny triangle, tempts diners to sample from its large menu of Thai cuisine, offering a helpful range of spice levels for each dish. Vegetarians have many options from which to choose as well. The Panang duck curry is recommended as a mildly spicy curry made with coconut milk and kaffir lime in a bowl filled with strips of pan-fried duck, carrots, peas and sweet basil. The three-flavored whole fish is the fish of the day fried till it's crispy on the outside and served over vegetables in a sauce made from three different chiles. Diners can also add shrimp or scallops to the dish. Lunch delivery available. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tue.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

619 Pink St., Metairie, 837-0055; 1051 Annunciation St., 566-0021; 2600 Belle Chasse Hwy, Gretna, 391-0053; 3700 Orleans Ave., 324-9663;
Stylish yet casual décor sets the mood at Sun Ray Grill, where an eclectic menu provides a melting pot of dishes from around the globe and close to home. Popular dishes include guacamole with chips, Thai curry barbecue ribs and southwestern chicken quesadillas. Popular entrees also include ahi tuna steaks crusted with black and white sesame seeds and smoky bourbon barbecue ribs served with fries and roasted corn. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $$

3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200
The kitchen and the bar duel for bragging rights on which is the more popular draw to this Uptown hotspot. While margaritas will start most meals here, specialties like fajitas, mesquite-grilled fish and shrimp stuffed with cheese and peppers and wrapped in bacon may just sway your allegiance. Drop in during the day for bargain-priced lunch specials, including combination plates with enchiladas, rice and beans. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

1418 Magazine St., 524-3828
With a plethora of early-morning Latin American plates, Surrey's presents a welcome alternative to ubiquitous breakfast joints stuck on bacon and flapjacks. Fresh favorites include the Costa Rican (rice, beans, fresh avocado) and the migas (eggs scrambled with tortillas and chilis). As an accompaniment, try one of the just-squeezed juice combinations like pineapple/orange/mango or watermelon limeade. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Wed.-Sun. Cash only. $

1612 St. Charles Ave., 581-4449
Pull up a seat at the sushi bar to watch the talented and fast-moving chefs craft their delicious creations at this low-key Japanese restaurant. Formerly known as Tokyo Bistro, the restaurant's fresh, inventive rolls and specials have kept its regulars loyal. Some house favorite rolls include hand rolls bulging with fish and vegetables and Tiger's Eyes made with baked salmon and crabmeat. The restaurant prepares plenty of cooked Japanese dishes and noodles as well. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

420 Tyler St., Covington, (985) 898-2166; 2534 Florida St., Mandeville, (985) 626-0208
Slow smoking is the key at Sweet Daddy's. Baby back ribs are seasoned with a dry rub and available in full (12-14 ribs) or half racks. The pulled pork starts with meat that is rubbed with herbs and seasonings and smoked for 12-14 hours. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards and checks. $$

701 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 831-3437;
An eclectic menu, flavored oxygen available on tap and a serious dose of neon glamour are the hallmarks of this hard-to-miss attraction on Veterans Memorial Boulevard. The diverse menu ranges from crab Rangoon to southwestern chicken salad to shrimp and tasso pasta. There are also many choices on the specialty drinks list at the bar, and cheesecake selections for dessert. No reservations. Lunch Sun.-Fri., dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

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