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click to enlarge At Cafe Giovanni, general manager Nial George, chef Duke LoCicero and Brad Akers present innovative Italian dishes. - PHOTO BY SUSAN SNEE
  • Photo by Susan Snee
  • At Cafe Giovanni, general manager Nial George, chef Duke LoCicero and Brad Akers present innovative Italian dishes.
Gambit has a few items to add to your summer eating list. The Alligator to Zucchini guide is stocked with your favorite ingredients and dishes. There's everything from hot tamales to ice cream, ravioli to wraps, onions to oysters. When you find a dish or restaurant that interests you, flip to the directory for information about restaurant hours, reservation policy and more.

Alligator

Fried or stewed, in a sandwich or a soup, the mighty gator is the tastiest creature you'll ever eat that, under a different set of circumstances, could have been eating you. The alligator sausage at Dry Dock Café is char-grilled and served with house honey mustard sauce. Arnaud's accoutrements are smoked onion, apple relish and homemade Creole mustard. At Antoine's, gator swims in a potage au sherry, or wine-laced bisque. The Gumbo Shop spices up tenderloin strips with a light, tomato-based sauce piquante. Back on dry land, the meat may be best served between bread, as the po-boy at La Bayou, layered with marinated and fried loin, argues. The gator on Ignatius Eatery's grinder is simply grilled, dressed and encased in a Leidenheimer loaf. A snappy appetizer at Cochon heats up the fried reptile with chili garlic aioli and cools it down with torn mint. F&M Patio Bar serves alligator sausage quesadillas filled with grilled onions and peppers, cheese and salsa. Alligator sausage anchors Naked Pizza's Creole Cajun Throwdown pie, also topped with shrimp, chicken, garlic and bell peppers. Trey Yuen wok-sautes alligator in spicy Szechuan sauce.

Artichoke

Eat your heart out, artichoke lovers — it is, after all, the tastiest part. The spiny flora are an ideal vessel for stuffing, as a popular appetizer at Timphony's proves. Wit's Inn's stuffed artichoke casserole blends hearts, olive oil, Italian cheeses, spices and bread crumbs. Reginelli's takes a different tack, filling a boule bread round with creamy spinach and artichoke dip. At Nicole's Italian Cuisine, artichokes are steamed to order and stuffed with shrimp, oyster and crawfish in a garlic dill sauce. Houston's grills artichokes over wood for a smoky flavor. After a softening stay in the oven, the artichokes at Saltwater Grill are snowed with Parmesan cheese. Café Roma pairs the hearts with tomato and pesto on a pizza. Add artichokes to any entree at Camellia Café via an oyster and marinated-heart topping cooked with green onion and cream. And for those who crave it first thing in the morning, Begue's eggs Sardou are poached and served atop artichoke bottoms, with creamed spinach, asparagus spears, roasted tomato, Cajun potatoes and hollandaise. Artichoke hearts are fried and served with ranch dressing as an appetizer at Red Maple Restaurant. Artichokes are tossed in a salad with house Italian dressing at R&O's Pizza Place.

Asparagus

Blanched for a light salad or bathed in rich bearnaise, the ever-versatile asparagus can play the angel or the devil in any meal. At Antonio's, it's gently grilled and mated with shrimp or salmon on a bed of lettuce with sweet roasted peppers and balsamic vinaigrette. Bonefish Grill also pairs it with salmon over farmed greens, pecan-dusted goat cheese, green beans, fennel and tomato and citrus herb vinaigrette. Juniper Restaurant's take is more sinful, with fried spears and lump crabmeat dressed in satsuma hollandaise. The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel splits the difference in a grilled asparagus salad with egg, pancetta, grape tomatoes, Bibb lettuce and lemon vinaigrette. And it's the basis of a fine sandwich at the Bean Gallery, whose prosciutto and asparagus panino sports Parma ham, grilled spears, fresh mozzarella and pesto on a sourdough hoagie. Grilled asparagus with hollandaise is an all-star steak house side dish at Shula's. Fried asparagus takes a dip in blue cheese at Dish on First.

Avocado

Cool, creamy avocado sheds its guac complex during the steamy summertime months, taking a starring role on many restaurant menus. Ciro's Coté Sud lets the seeded fruit have center stage in its avocat vinaigrette, halved and filled simply with house dressing. The Steak Knife's Seraphine salad is a half stuffed with marinated hearts of palm and artichoke, served on mixed greens with asparagus and red onion. A Miyako salad has sliced avocado and flying fish roe over lettuce with ginger. Mandarin orange slices sweeten an avocado salad at Lakeview Brew, with walnut, blue cheese, red onion and mango vinaigrette as accompaniments. At Kyoto, avocado plays the foil to spicy shrimp and crunchy chili sauce in the favorite Sara roll. Covenant Café serves sliced avocado on rye bread with Swiss cheese, sprouts, purple onion and balsamic vinaigrette. For traditionalists, a salad at Carlos Mencia's Suavé Mexican Grill features guacamole on shredded lettuce. Vitality Juice, Java and Smoothie assembles its stuffed avocado salad by adding a scoop of egg, tuna or chicken salad and sprouts, sunflower seeds, baby greens and house dressing. Avocado and tomato join eggs, grilled peppers and onion and cheese in Pita Pit's Morning Glory. Sun Ray Grill prepares its signature guacamole with Haas avocados, onion, tomato, cilantro and lime and serves it with blue corn chips. Café Luna serves a vegetable panino topped with avocado and pesto.

Banana

Besides being utterly scrumptious, banana desserts come with their own built-in rationalization. People have to get their potassium, right? Emeril's banana cream pie sports a banana crust, caramel sauce and chocolate shavings. The monstrous banana split sundae at Copeland's piles on hot fudge, crushed pineapple, strawberry, raspberry, caramel, white chocolate and whipped cream. A Creole Creamery sundae has two scoops of vanilla topped with strawberry, banana, whipped cream and a cherry. The Ruby Slipper Café's bananas Foster pain perdu is French toast topped with rum-flambeed bananas and raisins, served with applewood smoked bacon. The Foster at Crepes a la Cart means buttery bananas and chantilly cream wrapped in a svelte crepe. At Ben & Jerry's the banana fudge royal tops a scoop of ice cream with sliced bananas, hot fudge and whipped cream. Tempura fried banana is served with ice cream and honey sauce at Mikimoto. Banana-nut muffins are among the baked goods served at CC's Coffeehouses. And Brennan's flames its signature dish tableside in rum, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and banana liqueur. Mmm, nutrients.

Beef

A ubiquitous ingredient like beef can be prepared in endless ways. Sal & Judy's puts an Italian spin on the standby with brucioloni, a round steak rolled around a stuffing of cheese, Italian sausage and ground beef. Bovine shines in Country Flame's empanada, where it's ground, spiced and tucked inside light, crispy dough. Flaky empanadas on Mimi's in the Marigny's Spanish tapas menu are spiked with red pepper aioli. Dress It's meatloaf is 8 ounces of ground beef and veal seasoned with shallots, garlic, Creole spices, mustard and fresh herbs, topped with ketchup and served on buttered toast. At Ignatius Eatery, the comfort food meets its match in Poche's pork-and-jalapeno boudin stuffing and horseradish cream. Mike's American Grill crusts a beef brisket with the sinus-tingling root and chopped garlic, tempered by broiled tomato and broccoli. The smoked brisket at Abita Bar-B-Q features lean meat with homemade barbecue sauce. Slathered with savory sauce and garlicky Parmesan fries, thick-cut brisket at Boucherie makes fine dining out of backyard fare. Equally nose-opening is Liborio Cuban Restaurant's picadillo, a ground beef hash cooked in a tomato-based sauce with garlic and raisins and served with white rice, black beans and a fried egg. Yuki Izakaya's beef tongue, by contrast, is sliced thin, seasoned with just salt and pepper and grilled. Start off your day or end an eventful night with Buffa's Restaurant's corned beef hash, combining potatoes, onions, red peppers and garlic browned in a skillet and flanked with two eggs. For those still hurting the next day, Pho Tau Bay rightly bills its pho tai, a clear rice-noodle soup with thinly sliced medium rare beef and a raft of herbs and spices, as the perfect hangover cure. Doson Noodle House's bun bo is fragrant, lemongrass-scented beef and vegetables served over rice or vermicelli. And for those days when nothing but a dripping sandwich will do, Southern Po-Boys serves its slow-cooked beef with gravy on toasted French bread. Zoë Restaurant's braised Kobe beef short ribs are served on a potato pancake with mushroom ragout made with morels, trumpets, chanterelles and black truffle essence. No dinner at Tujague's is complete without a course of beef brisket with horseradish and tomato sauce. Spicy Mongolian beef is cooked to order at Asian Super Buffet. Squeal Bar-B-Q serves nachos with smoked brisket, black beans, green onions, jalapenos, cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa over a pile of tortilla chips. Tender lengua, or beef tongue, is among the authentic Mexican options at Tacos San Miguel. Christina's Empress of China flash-fries beef with orange peel and serves it with a sweet and peppery sauce. Ristorante da Piero uses grass-fed beef for its carpaccio topped with arugula, shaved prataioli mushrooms, Reggiano cheese, olive oil and lemon. Alligator Pear's Mongolian beef is a wok-sauteed combination of steak, mushrooms, broccoli and onion in sweet-and-spicy brown sauce, served over rice.

Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a seafood platter in a bowl and many cuisines have their own interpretation of the stew. Broussard's makes a New Orleans bouillabaisse by simmering fish, shrimp, scallops, mussels and oysters in saffron tomato broth and serving it with crabmeat and rouille croutons. At Café Minh, bouillabaisse features mussels, shrimp, scallops and fish with angel hair pasta in saffron seafood broth. La Provence's bouillabaisse combines redfish, Gulf shrimp, P&J oysters, mussels, clams and fennel in saffron broth. Galvez Restaurant's Spanish version includes mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops, calamari and fish in saffron broth. Local Terranova Italian sausage livens the fennel saffron butter broth of the Bistro at the Maison de Ville's bouillabaisse with scallops, shrimp, mussels, oysters, crawfish and crab. Copeland's Social City fills its version with lobster, jumbo shrimp, Jonah crab, catfish and crawfish served with julienne vegetables and roasted potatoes. Orleans Grapevine combines Gulf fish, mussels, shrimp and crawfish in saffron lobster broth and serves the bowl with garlic-tarragon bread.

Bread and Baked Goods

Bread is the base of New Orleans' culinary language, and it's spoken by our restaurants with a hundred different dialects. For Magnolia Grill, sweet is the word, with thick slices of Cajun-style, pecan-sprinkled French toast comprising its pain perdu. Naan, aka Indian flatbread, is a sturdy suitor to any number of spicy dishes at Curry Corner. Nothing speaks to American comfort food like cheesy bread, and Pepperoni's Café says it with an Italian accent via a crusty round enlivened with house garlic sauce, cheddar and marinara. And Southern hospitality at Clover Grill is spelled out with a large, biscuit split and smothered in country gravy. La Boulangerie bakes airy, flaky, buttery croissants and other pastries. Croissant d'Or bakes croissants with chocolate, almonds, blueberries, raspberries and other fruit. Taj Mahal uses its tandoor oven to make fresh naan flatbread. Babylon Café serves Mediterranean dips with homemade najah bread as an alternative to pita.

Bread Pudding

When good loaves go bad, they only get better — thanks to eggs, sugar and any number of accent flavors. Morton's Seafood Restaurant's bread pudding is punch drunk on rum sauce. Deanie's gets a tropical touch from coconut milk, coconut flakes and hazelnut and coco crème anglaise. Fresh bananas brighten the dessert at Galatoire's Restaurant. Old French bread is given spectacular new life in NOLA's white chocolate-banana's Foster bread pudding with drizzled fudge and Drunken Monkey ice cream. Walker's Southern Style Bar-B-Que serves bread pudding with whiskey sauce. Chocolate bread pudding is a rich dessert option at the Country Club. Rum sauce helps make bread pudding an old favorite at Ye Olde College Inn.

click to enlarge Soft-shell crab salad is a summer dish at Flaming Torch Restaurant. - PHOTO BY SUSAN SNEE
Burger

Beef and bread define a burger, but it's what happens in the middle that distinguishes one. Fat City Diner's "Bobby Lee Special" is a meaty, cheesy mix of ground beef, hot sausage, American and Swiss. The Hot Shimmy burger at Shimmy Shack has the same idea, with half ground beef and half hot sausage patties. Phil's Grill's build-your-own-burger menu has exotic choices like a jalapeno bun, grilled pineapple ketchup and avocado-tomato relish. Applebee's Cowboy burger is more traditional, topped with a crunchy onion ring, honey barbecue sauce, Jack and cheddar cheeses and applewood smoked bacon. The Flaming Bruno burger at Bruno's Tavern is as much a dare as a dinner, cooked in hot sauce, smothered with jalapeno and banana peppers and topped with pepper Jack cheese. Add cheese, bacon, grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, sour cream or chili to G.B. Patio Grill's char-grilled burger. Ground Pat'i Grille and Bar gets clever with the Smoking Ring burger, topping ground chuck with barbecue sauce, applewood bacon, cheese and a fried onion ring. When you're craving the basics, head to Fat Harry's for a half-pound Angus beef cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. For those feeling blue, Lakeview Deli's Catherine's Classic Lake Vista burger is dressed and topped with Danish blue cheese crumbles. Slim Goodies' Robert Johnson burger sells its soul to blue cheese and bacon. Beachcorner Bar & Grill's hickory-smoked Beachburger is 10 ounces dressed with homemade hickory barbecue sauce. The Smoky Mountain Hamburger at Hillbilly Bar-B-Q is, yes, a smoked burger. Garden's Edge Café's Houla's Super Surfer burger, served on wheat, boasts lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, sour cream, bacon and cheddar. The Si burger from Si Senor at Cosimo's is a half-pounder covered in another half-pound of toppings like sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms, diced jalapeno, homemade chili and cheddar cheese. Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Café brings the singer's Cheeseburger in Paradise to life with American cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato and a big kosher pickle. Bite-sized burgers are an edible novelty at Molly's at the Market where individual Freedom burgers are served a la carte. Or buy by the bundle with Friar Tuck's five sliders. For a weekly twist, try Café Royale's hamburger steak, a Tuesday special smothered with onions and gravy. The Tex-Mex burger option at Rivershack Tavern includes bacon, pepper Jack, onions and mushrooms as toppings. Bud's Broiler tops charbroiled burgers with options including cheese, hickory sauce or chili. Check Point Charlie's well-seasoned Cajun burger is available around the clock. Clubhouse Bar and Grill makes a blue cheese burger by mixing the cheese into the patty. Sauteed onions and mushrooms, smoked bacon and Monterey Jack cheese work their mojo on Voodoo BBQ & Grill's Voodoo Burger. Déjà Vu Restaurant and Bar serves a homestyle hamburger steak topped with grilled onions, mushrooms, gravy and choice of fries, mashed potatoes or salad. Igor's Budda Belly serves half-pound barbecue burgers well past midnight. A Cajun Sunset burger is Times Grill's basic burger topped with a fried egg and Creole spices. Customers line up early for Port of Call's thick burgers topped with cheese or mushrooms. Red Eye Grill's burgers are brushed with barbecue sauce on the grill and dressed with lettuce, tomato and grilled onions. Jukebox Cajun Diner allows customers to substitute sweet potato fries, coleslaw, onion rings or potato salad for the fries that come with its burgers, like the barbecue bacon or Italian burger. Pat Fannie's Blarney Stone burger is topped with corned beef hash, Swiss cheese, bacon and a fried egg.

Calamari

You don't have to go 20,000 leagues under the sea for killer squid. Rings of calamari, lightly battered and deep fried, make a classic accompaniment to Sal & Judy's famous sauces. The crispy calamares fritos at Galvez Restaurant gets its kick from Spanish spices, garlic and saffron sauce. Fausto's Bistro's calamari fritti is lightly battered, fried and served with garlic lemon butter or marinara. Mimi's Italian and Seafood Restaurant's uses Japanese panko breadcrumbs to crust its calamari, which comes with Meyer lemon aioli. A white remoulade sauce is the cool foil of choice for Jacmel Inn's crispy fried squid. Hoshun's five-pepper calamari is lightly battered, fried and tossed with red, green and bell peppers and jalapeno, and seasoned with white and black peppercorn (six peppers?). A calamari po-boy is a welcome sandwich switch-up at Mother's, with shredded cabbage, pickles, mayo, Creole mustard and tartar sauce. Columbia Street Tap Room and Grill serves fried calamari Buffalo style. Flash-fried Asian calamari is tossed with sweet chili sauce and sambal-lime sour cream at the Bombay Club. Etoile's crispy calamari is served with caper remoulade and green onion aioli.

Catfish

Bottom feeder? Not when catfish is on the menu. Vazquez Seafood & Po-Boy Restaurant pairs its grilled fillets with sweet potato fries. The fish is fried at Ernst Café, coming on a huge platter with fries. Parkway Bakery & Tavern's golden-fried catfish comes dressed on French bread. Copeland's catfish is a Creole delight, stuffed with lump crab and sauced with garlicky bordelaise. Shimmy Shack goes Southern with blackened catfish and shrimp over cheese grits. Sauteed crawfish tails, capers and lemon butter commingle with blackened fillets at Landry's. Cannon's catfish is similarly blackened and topped with crabmeat stuffing and crawfish sauce. Chicken Sue's fried fish sold by the pound or as a dinner is catnip for true catfish fiends. Dot's Diner serves grilled catfish Julie with a sauce of crawfish, mushrooms, scallions and pesto with sides like mashed potatoes and gravy and garlic bread. Fried crispy or lemon baked catfish are a couple of the weekly specials at BreauxMart deli counters. Columbia Street Tap Room and Grill's catfish Lafayette is topped with crawfish, mushroom and green onions in cream sauce. Fried thin slices of catfish are a good reason to make the trip to Middendorf's in Manchac. The namesake catfish special at Mulate's is a grilled fillet topped with crawfish etouffee and served with jambalaya, vegetables and a twice-baked potato. Smilie's Restaurant serves almond-crusted catfish with lemon butter sauce, vegetables and mashed potatoes.

Cheese

As an appetizer, topping, ingredient or dessert, dairy's best representative reigns on menus in the Big Cheesy. A plate at Helix Restaurant & Wine Bar features selections from St. James Cheese Co., candied mixed nuts, sliced apple and stewed figs. Leonardo Trattoria's mozzarella in carrozza is a gooey, fried mozzarella sandwich ladled with tomato sauce. Vegetarians find bliss at Julie's Little India Kitchen at Schiro's, whose aloo-mutter-paneer, a hearty saute of Indian cheese, potatoes, peas, onions, garlic and masala sauce, doesn't miss meat for a second. Café Roma Uptown's feta cheese rolls are light and crispy pastry rolls filled with feta and parsley, served with marinara. Dia Roma Café's "Cheese Stix" start with homemade dough baked with garlic butter sauce, then get treated to melted mozzarella, Italian spices and a marinara bath. Rotolo's Pizza ups the ante with Sweep the Floor Cheese Stix, loaded with pepperoni, bacon and cheddar cheese. Fried into airy puffs and drizzled with honey, the goat cheese croquettes at Mimi's in the Marigny should be required eating for all of the bar's patrons. Fontina, Gruyere, Gran Queso and fresh mozzarella Perlini combine like a cheese Voltron in the Melting Pot's formidable quattro formaggio fondue. Byblos' Drunken Halloumi is a different kind of fried cheese appetizer, with Cypriot Halloumi seared in olive oil and flambeed with Ouzo. And a grilled cheese sandwich at Between the Bread means homemade pimento and sliced tomato, with the option of bacon. There are more than 100 varieties of gourmet cheese from around the world to choose from at St. James Cheese Co. Semolina serves a thick wedge of mac and cheese cake topped with creamy cheese sauce. Hot tapas dishes at Café Granada include manchego cheese flamed in tequila and served with bread. Sake Café Uptown serves goat cheese gyoza, or dumplings, as an appetizer.

Chicken

From Popeyes to poulet rouge, New Orleans' favorite fowl can do dressy or casual. Smoked chicken is the star of Shane's Rib Shack's signature chicken salad. Roasted chicken rests atop mixed greens, carrots, mandarin orange and sesame soy ginger dressing in Welty's Deli's Asian chicken salad. A paneed breast crowns Vianne's Tea Salon's peanut chicken salad, which contains organic greens, mandarin orange, peanuts, tomatoes and cucumbers. At Fong's Chinese Restaurant, white meat is battered, fried and hit with a spicy brown glaze for its namesake General Fong chicken. For Tea Garden's sesame chicken, dark meat is battered, fried and sauced with sweet brown glaze and sesame seeds. Coconut milk, lemongrass and chilies provide the balance in a Thai red curry chicken entree at Curry Corner. "Lake Ave. Chicken" is what Melius Bar & Café calls its marinated and char-grilled or fried chicken breast sandwich. Cooked in a clay oven, the chicken tikka masala at the aptly named Tandoori Chicken Restaurant is a breast slow-cooked in creamy tomato gravy. A large boneless breast, coated in homemade Italian breadcrumbs and sauced with hearty Creole red gravy, is the foundation of chicken Parmesan at Deanie's on Hayne. Mo's Pizza offers the dish as a Tuesday and Thursday special, its fried breast covered in red sauce and mozzarella. Rosemary, white wine, garlic and spices give Mosca's famous chicken a la grande its mighty allure. Sauteed chicken is just one voice in the Cantonese chow mein choir at South Seas Asian Cuisine, along with beef, pork, shrimp, crawfish and Chinese vegetables. Smoked jalapeno chipotle sauce provides the caliente in the chipotle pollo caliente at Carlos Mencia's Suavé Mexican Grill, dressing a grilled breast and sauteed onions, Jack cheese, tomato and avocado. Two Tony's chicken Montalbano is pounded thin, paneed and finished with browned butter. Seco de pollo, a Daniel's on the Bayou specialty, is an aromatic chicken dish simmered in tomato, garlic, onion, cumin, lemon juice, cilantro and Ecuadorian chili. Seasoned flour and 100 percent peanut oil are the hallmarks of the fried chicken at Chicken Sue's. Mr. Ed's chicken is stewed in brown gravy and served with rice, baked macaroni and seasonal vegetables. An exotic chicken pot pie takes the name Bastilla at the Mediterranean Café, with phyllo, dates, almonds, spices and orange peel for flavor. Five Happiness' Double Feature Szechuan style is diced chicken and shrimp sauteed with hot peppers and cashews. Jack-Leg chicken at Friend's Coastal Restaurant marries three New Orleans favorites, with a golden fried breast atop jambalaya surrounded by a seafood gumbo moat. Guillory's Grocery's Krispy Krunchy chicken is served individually, in combos, as tenders or in large orders. Fried chicken and french fries is all you will find at McHardy's Chicken & Fixins. Igor's Lounge & Game Room serves fried chicken nuggets in nine or 20 piece baskets. Willie Mae's Scotch House was made famous by Willie Mae Seaton's fried chicken and her granddaughter keeps up the tradition. Pan-roasted chicken bonne femme with garlic and parsley potatoes is a popular dish at Tujague's, even if it isn't written on the menu. Angeli's combines chicken, Portobello mushrooms, spinach and red peppers in a dipping sauce served with pita triangles. Chicken tikka masala served with tomato gravy is a signature dish at Taj Mahal. Sweet-and-sour chicken is a regular item at Asian Super Buffet. Pollos a la Brasas seasons whole chickens with lime and paprika and smokes them in a wood-burning rotisserie. Boswell's Jamaican Grill fills flaky patties with mildly spicy chicken curry. Spicy hot jerk chicken served with Spanish rice and vegetables is a mainstay at Coco Hut. Pontchartain Point West End serves fried chicken with garlicky bordelaise sauce, salad, fries and bread.

Crab

No other seafood brings New Orleanians out of their shells like crab. Morton's Seafood Restaurant serves its claw appetizer marinated or fried. Kjean Seafood feature stuffed crabs. Blood orange, tropical fruit, pea tendrils and grilled lemon vinaigrette dress up cracked Florida stone crabs at Commander's Palace. A jumbo lump crabmeat salad at La Côte Brasserie mixes spinach, candied pecans and satsuma sugarcane vinaigrette. Alfredo sauce with a hint of Roma tomato and basil enrich lump crab and angel hair pasta in Riccobono's Peppermill's crabmeat Angelique. Riccobono's Panola St. Café builds a crabcake Benedict out of jumbo lump cakes, two poached eggs, hollandaise and hash browns. The eponymous crabmeat salad at Clancy's is served on a bed of greens with special dressings. Crabmeat is sauteed with wild mushroom and baked in a pecan crust in Palace Café's crabmeat cheesecake, sauced with Creole meuniere. The Restaurant at Victoria Inn combines local lump crabmeat with tarragon mayonnaise for a spiced cucumber, sliced tomato and baby greens salad. Alaskan king crab legs are served with drawn butter, vegetables and choice of potato at Jacmel Inn. A panko-breaded, 8-oz jumbo lump crab cake is mixed New England-style with mayo, fresh herbs and bay seasoning at Dress It. Tommy's Cuisine bakes jumbo lump crabmeat in a casserole with fresh herbs and fine cheeses. Crab patties come between a bun or French bread at Big Al's Seafood Restaurant. At Muriel's Jackson Square, chef Gus Martin's special blue crab menu includes jumbo lump crabmeat salad tossed with tarragon tartar sauce and served over Creole tomato slices. The Buffet at Harrah's features Dungeness crab on Thursday nights. Louisiana Bistro's entree-sized jumbo lump crabmeat and panko-crusted asparagus salad includes mixed greens, red onions, cherry tomato confit, crumbles of applewood-smoked bacon and lemon pepper aioli. Blue crab tossed with Perigold truffle and handmade gnocchi is one of chef John Besh's signature dishes at Restaurant August. Creole crabcakes are served over penne pasta in spicy cream sauce at Pontchartrain Point West End.

click to enlarge Magazine Po-Boy serves a variety of po-boys and lunch specials in the Lower Garden District. - PHOTO BY SUSAN SNEE
  • Photo by Susan Snee
  • Magazine Po-Boy serves a variety of po-boys and lunch specials in the Lower Garden District.
Crawfish

Whether the table is covered with newspaper or white linen, these little lobsters are the essence of Crescent City cooking. Pasta carbonara at Commander's Palace means grilled crawfish and a spring duck egg poached in lemon and Champagne over hand-made noodles, leeks and shaved Oregon black truffle. Corner Oyster Bar's crawfish chicken is a marinated and grilled breast topped with crawfish tails, peppers and mushrooms on fluffy white rice. Crawfish, onions and mushrooms in reduced cream are the basis of Crazy Johnnie's crawfish Johnnie. Fat Hen Grill prepares Louisiana tails with tomato, green onion and cream over a grilled buttermilk biscuit. Local tails mingle with garlic, penne pasta and spicy cream sauce in the Louisiana crawfish Diablo at Maximo's Italian Grill. And Jill's crawfish fettuccine is Buster's Place's rendition of mudbugs in butter and cream with mushrooms, green onion and shredded Parmesan cheese. Among the signature crawfish dishes at Bon Ton Café is the hearty crawfish bisque. Crawfish tails are wok sauteed with pork, ginger, garlic and egg and served with lobster sauce at Trey Yuen. Crawfish joins shrimp and feta cheese on the Irish Channel pie at Rocky's Gourmet Pizza. Creole sauce and garlic aioli top crawfish cakes at Pat O'Brien's Courtyard Restaurant. O'Henry's crawfish combination platter includes crawfish and corn bisque, fried crawfish tails, crawfish cakes and fries. Fazzio's Creole-Italian options include fettuccine Alfredo topped with crawfish. N'Tinis Restaurant makes crawfish flourentine dip with three cheeses and spinach and serves it with focaccia bread. Smitty's Seafood serves changing nightly all-you-can-eat boiled seafood specials of either crawfish, shrimp or crab and with sides like corn, potatoes and sausage. The Bulldog's crawfish Banditos are fried tortilla rolls stuffed with crawfish and cheese and served with avocado sour cream.

Crêpe

Sweet or savory, the crepe is among the only foods that can serve as breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The thin, folded cakes at Rendez-Vous Café house eggs, cheese and a choice of meat. Jäger Haus' Bavarian crepes give the first meal of the day a German twist, with scrambled eggs, ham and cheese topped with hollandaise, tomato and cucumber. Thanh Thanh's banh xeo offers two pan-fried, rice-flour shells stuffed with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and onions, served with lettuce, fresh herbs, cucumber and pickled carrot. Roasted shallots and Brie veloute give the crabmeat crepes at Broussard's their rich flavor and texture. La Parisien, a ham, melted Brie and Dijon mustard crepe, is a cordon bleu riff served at Crepes a la Cart. Coffea Coffee House fills big breakfast crepes with fresh berries, bananas, Nutella or apple butter. Green Goddess makes Spooky Crepes with organic blue corn and fills them with mushroom brandy ragout. Clementine's Belgian Bistro serves baby spinach, goat cheese and Parmesan crepes. Crepes can't get much more savory than the large roast beef, mushroom, onion, gravy and sour cream filled St. Phillip version served at Petunia's Restaurant.

Dessert

There's no wrong way to end a meal in New Orleans — besides skipping dessert, that is. The cake batter confetti ice cream cake at Cold Stone Creamery is everything it sounds like and more, with two layers of red velvet cake encasing the rich ice cream, a fluffy layer of white frosting and sprinkle-dipped Kit-Kat candy bars on top. Julie's Little India Kitchen bills its white chocolate mango cheesecake as good enough for the Elephant God. Angel-food cake at Laurel Street Bakery is iced with lemon or strawberry, and the layered coconut cream cake has meringue icing and toasted coconut flakes. Cheesecake Crush, a specialty shake at Zack's Frozen Yogurt, combines 7 ounces of cheesecake yogurt with crushed graham crackers, fruit and whipped cream. Nectar soda floats are revived at Wayne Jacob's Smokehouse, with N'Awlins' nectar soda poured tableside over vanilla ice cream. The Chocolate Hill at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen is a chocolate addict's best nightmare, a bundt cake with ganache underneath and white and dark sauce drizzled on top. For its cheesecake beignets, Mimi's Italian and Seafood Restaurant wraps cake slices in rice paper, fries them and dusts them with powdered sugar. Rotating cakes by G.B.'s Patio Grill pastry chef Gerald include chocolate sin, red velvet, butter pecan rum, German chocolate, cinnamon orange swirl and fresh blackberry. Ashta, the preferred dessert at Byblos, is a creamy, eggless custard flavored with rosewater and orange blossom inside a phyllo purse, topped with syrup and crushed pistachio. Don't drive after ordering the Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Café strawberry margarita cheesecake, which is finished with the house Island Lime tequila and Grand Marnier whipped cream. "Lemonicious" pound cake at Caffe! Caffe! features a luscious buttermilk icing made from fresh-squeezed lemons. Morning Call Coffee Stand's beignets are light, fluffy squares of dough. Chocolate pecan crispies and rice pudding follow the burritos at Felipe's Taqueria. Bacon can be an appetizer, entree and dessert at Boucherie, thanks to the Fudge Farms bacon brownie. And the Bean Gallery's brownies come in the more traditional, but no less mouth-watering, varieties of espresso, triple chocolate and peanut butter. For a sweet drinkable option, try Vianne's Tea Salon's Perfect Pear bubble tea made with Perfect Pear red tea, tapioca pearls and coconut milk topped with fresh fruit. Ted's Frostop makes cool shakes or floats in banana, chocolate, vanilla or nectar flavors. CC's Coffeehouse presents a Turtle Mochassippi frozen espresso drink with swirls of chocolate, caramel and hazelnut. Order almond or anise flavored biscotti to go with coffee at Angelo Brocato's ice cream parlor. Bittersweet Confections specializes in handmade chocolate truffles in flavors like bananas Foster. Café du Monde's signature beignets arrive under snow drifts of powdered sugar. Camellia Grill serves pecan pie warmed on the grill. Marigny Perks serves cup cakes in flavors like red velvet and cookies and cream.

Duck

Crisp-skinned or confit, duck is always in season in New Orleans kitchens. August Moon's West Lake bird is deboned, fried crispy and served over mixed vegetables in brown sauce. An 8-oz. breast is simmered in pomegranate walnut sauce and served with grilled tomato, vegetables and salad at Cleopatra's Mediterranean Grill. Scallions, cinnamon, ginger and spicy wine sauce infuse half a duck at Café East. The Restaurant at Victoria Inn's duck breast is glazed with orange tea, seared and served with creamy yellow corn grits and seasonal vegetables. The wok-seared duck breast at Sake Café Uptown gets a kiss of ginger. Pecans, raspberry pancetta demi-glace, sweet potato mash and spinach dress up Irene Cuisine's roasted duck St. Philip. Panang duck curry at Sukho Thai combines strips of breast with carrots, peas, sweet basil, coconut milk and kaffir lime. A Peking duck breast with raspberry demi-glace is behind Juniper Restaurant's confit de canard. Stuffed with andouille, the Creole Skillet's duck breast is finished with Steen's Creole mustard glaze and served with sweet potatoes and collard greens. And Tommy's Cuisine's duck Tchoupitoulas is a crispy breast with raspberry reduction, wild rice and spinach. Café Minh's lacquered duck is half a smoked duck rubbed with Asian spices and served with sticky rice and natural jus. Crabby Jack's serves slow-roasted duck in a po-boy. At Wolfe's, crispy duck leg confit is served on candied pecan and Chambord cherry risotto with Boursin cheese, grilled asparagus and tarragon reduction. MiLa brines duck in sweet tea before cooking it on the rotisserie and serving it with wilted greens, roasted beets and date jus. Brigtsen's roast duck is served with cornbread dressing and tart dried-cherry sauce. The Bombay Club's duck duet pairs duck leg confit and a peppered seared breast with black currant duck reduction. At Dick and Jenny's, smoked duck breast and duck sausage are served with pecan risotto, pickled green beans and marchand de vin. Cuvée's smoked duck breast and leg confit duo are complemented by walnut blue cheese risotto, Hudson Valley foie gras and pear glace. J'Anita's at the Avenue assembles its St. Chuck Duck by serving Cabernet sauteed duck on grilled sourdough bread topped with currant tapenade, blue and cheddar cheeses, green apple and grilled onions. One of Upperline's longtime signature dishes is roast duck with either ginger peach or garlic port sauce. Duck confit egg rolls with caramelized onions and garlic cream cheese are served with spicy soy and apricot glaze and cucumber salad at Restaurant Cypress.

Eggplant

The plump purple nightshade is a especially popular at Creole-Italian restaurants but is found on menus all around the area. Adolfo's layers eggplant with lump crabmeat and capers. At Café Reconcile, eggplant Jennifer is stuffed and served with mashed sweet potatoes and collard greens. At Seither's, eggplant Harahan features three fried medallions layered with lump crabmeat topped with shrimp cream sauce. Mr. Ed's Creole Grille serves fried eggplant strips with red sauce for dipping. Try it sauteed with scallions in a rich, spicy garlic sauce at August Moon. At Hipstix Asian Kitchen, tender strips of eggplant are stir-fried with marinated beef. Eggplant Lisa at Tony Angello's is thinly sliced breaded eggplant fried and layered with light marinara and Romano cheese. Louie & the Red Head Lady's eggplant Algiers is fried and stacked with crabmeat and shrimp and topped with brandy cream sauce. Two pieces of eggplant sandwich lump crabmeat stuffing and are served with homemade sauce and pasta at Nicole's Italian Cuisine. Surrey's Café and Juice Bar tops flatbread with an eggplant spread, red onion, goat cheese, roasted bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, sprouts and pea tendrils. Café Lynn fills a half-roasted eggplant with breadcrumb stuffing with shrimp, crabmeat, sauteed onions, peppers, celery, garlic and herbs and serves it with a tomato fondue and pistou. At the Alibi, fried eggplant sticks are topped with grated Parmesan cheese and marinara. The hot eggplant Parmesan hero from Brooklyn Pizza is topped with melted mozzarella and ricotta cheese and marinara. Fried eggplant sticks are served with remoulade dipping sauce at Oceana Grill. Baba ghanoush fills a pita sandwich at Pita Pit. Smilie's Restaurant tops fried eggplant with shrimp and crabmeat sauce and serves it over angel hair pasta in marinara.

Eggs

You have to break some eggs if you want to make an omelet or any of these local dishes. Choose from a dozen different omelets at Magnolia Grill, like the Manhattan omelet filled with corned beef, potato and cheese. At Big Shirley's, the vegetarian omelet is filled with mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, tomato and herbs and topped with Creole sauce. New Orleans Cake Café & Bakery makes an omelet with fresh spinach and goat cheese. Dixie Gyro's complete breakfast menu includes omelets with hash browns and homemade biscuits. The Sausalito omelet at Riccobono's Panola Street Café is filled with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, green onions, garlic and mozzarella. Mano's Po Boys serves a Saint Special two-egg omelet sandwich with American cheese and a choice of meat on French bread, a bun or toast. While its namesake street is busy with construction work, try the Construction Debris plate at Oak Street Café — three scrambled eggs tossed with bacon, spicy sausage, grilled onions and peppers, topped with cheddar cheese and green onion. La Peniche's eggs Benedict features poached eggs on a toasted English muffin with Canadian bacon, grilled tomato and made-to-order hollandaise sauce. Dot's Diner's four-egg Almost Famous omelet stars ham, bacon, sausage, bell pepper and cheddar and American cheeses. Daisy Dukes serves a Cajun omelet filled with spicy sausage, cheddar cheese, onion, parsley, tomato and paprika. Café Navarre's Mediterranean omelet combines sauteed spinach, artichoke, diced tomato and feta and mozzarella cheeses. Louie & the Red Head Lady's spin on eggs Benedict comes with flash-fried oysters and homemade hollandaise. The Blue Jay special at Huevos is a "huevorito" tortilla filled with eggs, cheese and sausage (with a small coffee). And it wouldn't be breakfast at Brennan's without eggs Hussarde featuring poached eggs on Holland rusks, Canadian bacon and both marchands du vin and hollandaise. Albertine's Tea Room at The Columns prepares eggs Benedict by nesting poached eggs in puff pastry, topping them with Cajun hollandaise and serving applewood smoked bacon and creamed spinach on the side. Petunia's Restaurant's White Cloud omelet is made with egg whites, parsley, asparagus or broccoli and served with dry toast. Get your omelet topped with chili and cheese at Camellia Grill. The Cajun seafood omelet at Jukebox Cajun Diner is filled with crawfish, shrimp, crabmeat, topped with creamy seafood sauce and served with sauteed red potatoes, onions and peppers. Rio Grande Taqueria starts the day with huevos a la Mexicana, a scramble with tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. At Bayou Coffee House & Café wheat or flour tortilla breakfast burritos are filled with scrambled eggs, olives, cheddar cheese and salsa, and jalapenos can be added for additional heat. Parrot Pete's fills its Meaty Petey omelet with sausage, applewood-smoked bacon, ham and cheddar and pepper Jack cheeses.

Enchilada

Enchiladas are one more way to roll meat, cheese and tortillas into a tasty Mexican dish. At Country Flame, choose from spicy chicken, beef, seafood or bean and cheese enchiladas wrapped in flour tortillas and topped with melted cheese, lettuce and tomato. The "lunchiladas" at Nacho Mama's Mexican Grill are two corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and a choice of chicken, beef or pork, covered in Mama's enchilada sauce. The Flying Enchiladas at Juan's Flying Burrito feature grilled steak, chicken and shrimp with cheese topped with three sauces, sour cream and guacamole. The sophisticated shrimp and crab enchiladas at Chevy's contain garlic and white wine sauteed shrimp and crab rolled in corn tortillas with vegetables and topped with Monterey jack cheese and habanero-pesto sauce. Fox & Hound Pub and Grille's Sante Fe enchiladas are filled with chicken, roasted poblano peppers, corn and spinach and topped with roasted tomato and pepper Jack cheese sauce.

Escargot

You wouldn't want to eat what a snail eats, but eating the snail is another matter. The Steak Knife's fill mushroom caps and are served simmering in garlic butter with white wine and brandy. Arnaud's escargot en casserole presents Burgundy snails baked in garlic-herb butter with a dash of Pernod and capped with a flaky pastry. Martinique Bistro's escargot en profiterole is served with mushrooms, leeks and shallots in a brandy tarragon cream sauce. At the Court of Two Sisters, escargot au champignons features mushrooms stuffed with escargot sauteed in garlic butter with herbs. At Muriel's Jackson Square, escargot Orleans features escargot, fennel, applewood-smoked bacon and oyster mushrooms simmered in butter and served over grilled flatbread. Assunta's serves its Italian accented escargot sauteed with garlic, tomatoes, red pepper flakes and white wine with bruschetta. Dante's Kitchen combines escargot with house-made bacon, basil and goat cheese. La Provence's traditional preparation accents Burgundy snails with pistou (basil, garlic and olive oil) and herbed bread crumbs.

Fajita

Sizzling platters of meat and vegetables announce that some assembly is required with fajita entrees. The chicken fajita rollup at Applebee's rolls smoky chipotle chicken in a flour tortilla with melted Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, lettuce and pico de gallo, served with spicy ranch dipping sauce. Fajitas at La Caretta come with chicken, steak, shrimp (or all three) or mushrooms grilled with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. Superior Bar & Grill serves mesquite grilled chicken on a bed of grilled onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, with guacamole, pico de gallo, rice and flour tortillas. At Hard Rock Café, choose from grilled chicken or beef with pico de gallo, shredded cheese, guacamole, sour cream and flour tortillas. The shrimp and crawfish fajitas at Santa Fe are flash fried with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers and served with sour cream, guacamole, beans, rice and four tortillas. At Chevy's, try the achiote-seasoned shrimp sauteed in sizzling Mexican butter, with tortillas, vegetables, rice, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, sweet corn tomalito and beans. Fiesta Latina's combination fajitas serve chicken, beef and shrimp with guacamole, beans, rice, salad and tortillas. Calypso fajitas at Serranos Salsa Company include choice of meat and roasted red peppers, pineapple, red onion, cilantro and the usual accompaniments.

click to enlarge Dino's Bar and Grill serves cool chicken salad and mojitos. - PHOTO BY SUSAN SNEE
Fish

There are plenty of fish in the sea and almost as many to choose from on local menus. At Beijing, a whole, farm-raised striped bass is served crispy. The flounder del Rey at Specialty Italian Bistro features flounder fillets with crabmeat dressing tossed in fettuccine Alfredo. Vizard's serves a crab-crusted Gulf fish fillet topped with béchamel and jumbo lump crabmeat, served with sour cream and chive mashed potato with Tabasco butter. Jellyfish tempura at Stella! comes with a spicy melon salad and sweet red chili, coconut, jalapeno and cilantro emulsion. At Iris, roasted monkfish with fava beans and grilled wild leeks accompanies warm baby octopus salad dressed with caper berries and basil balsamic vinaigrette. The Grill Room at Windsor Court Hotel's signature Gulf seafood stew features grouper, shrimp and mussels. English-style fish and chips at the Hungry Forager are beer-batted and served with hand-cut French fries, minted peas and house made tartar sauce. Feelings Café's Gulf fish Nicholas is a grilled fillet topped with shrimp served on a spinach bed. The andouille-crusted redfish at Palace Café is pan-roasted and served with Crystal buerre blanc and chive aioli. At Mayas, baked jalapeno sauce and chilled lump crabmeat top Chilean sea bass served with grilled shrimp, asparagus, avocado and jasmine rice. The fish of the day at Two Tony's is grilled or blackened and served with house special sauce. O'Brien's Grille serves mahi mahi wrapped in pan-fried potato strips and topped with Creole buerre blanc. At Jung's Golden Dragon, lemon-pepper sauce coats grilled cod or shrimp with mixed vegetables. The sauteed snapper a la Cancun at El Gato Negro comes with jumbo shrimp and pico de gallo, tequila and garlic butter sauce. At the Pelican Club, a whole flounder is deep fried and served with pan-seared sea scallops with three-citrus chili sauce. Eat New Orleans serves blackened tilapia in a sandwich. Sake Café's sweet chili crispy fillet balances sweet and spicy flavors in its sauce and is served with crunchy asparagus and mixed greens. At GW Fins, sauteed American red snapper is served with mashed potatoes, shrimp etouffee and lobster butter. Meaux-bar Bistro sautees skate and serves it with caper brown butter, parsley potatoes and haricots vert. Grilled black grouper is served with black eyed pea succotash, fried green Creole tomatoes and Crystal beurre blanc at Marigny Brasserie. RioMar's ceviche tasting includes an Ecuadorian version with shrimp and tomato, a Panamanian version with fish, habaneros and lime and a mixed seafood version that adds squid. Nuvolari's serves pan-roasted Gulf fish with pancetta, asparagus, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms in Marsala demi-glace tossed with penne pasta.

French Fries

Fries go with everything, and sometimes they make a meal all by themselves. Grab a beer at Fat Harry's while waiting on sweet potato or chili cheese fries. Helix Restaurant and Wine Bar tosses house-cut pommes frittes in truffle and Parmesan oil and serves them with bearnaise. Specialty Italian Bistro serves Mediterranean fries with Italian seasoning. Chateau Moanet Voila offers multiple takes on french fries, including one seasoned with sesame ginger and covered in peanut sauce. "Boo" fries at Acme Oyster House are slathered in roast beef gravy and cheese. Bring a friend or two to try the loaded fries at Checkered Parrot, an extra-large platter of fries topped with cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and a choice of chicken or steak. End a night on Bourbon Street at the Alibi with a pound of "Killer" fries topped with chili, onions, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, jalapenos, sour cream and salsa. F&M Patio Bar's grill covers waffle-cut fries with three types of cheese and green onions, and bacon and chili are available in a deluxe version. The Delachaise serves pommes frites cooked in duck fat with both roasted red pepper aioli and spicy peanut sauce. Harbor fries are topped with cheddar, onions and roast beef gravy at Harbor Bar & Grill.

Frog

Frog legs hop up on local menus in all sorts of plain and fancy concoctions. Grand Isle's fried frog legs are served with a pepper sauce and blue cheese. Herbsaint's crispy appendages are blended with fine herbs. Frog legs at the Bistro at Maison de Ville are lightly sauteed in a deep brown grillade sauce and served with cheddar cheese and bacon grits.

Gumbo

Roux's on first. Gumbo's on second. At Praline Connection, home-style gumbo is filled with shrimp, crab, sausage and chicken. Choose from seafood or chicken sausage gumbo at Jaeger's Seafood. At Steve's Diner, chicken, sausage and shrimp gumbo comes with a scoop of potato salad. Order a cup or bowl with a side of live jazz at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. Sushi Brothers ladles a miso gumbo with okra, soft-shell crab, shrimp, salmon, tofu and green onion. At Le Citron Bistro, try duck and andouille gumbo. Radosta's serves seafood gumbo. The gumbo ya ya at Mr. B's Bistro is made country-style with chicken and andouille. At House of Blues, the Cajun smoked turkey and shrimp file gumbo stews with tomato and lemon and is served with rice. Short Stop Po-Boys' Friday special is shrimp, crabmeat and okra gumbo with shrimp stock. Mulate's Zydeco gumbo is filled with chicken, shrimp, smoked sausage and okra. Jezz's Kitchen at Dorignac's offers gumbo with seafood, chicken and sausage as a weekly special. Leah Chase prepares a Creole-style seafood gumbo with sausage at Dooky Chase.

Gyro

The rotisserie-cooked spiced lamb and beef combination meat is also the adoptive name of similar wrap-style sandwiches. Dixie Gyro wraps gyro meat in pita bread with tzatziki sauce, lettuce and tomato. The grilled chicken gyro at Balcony Bar & Café comes with lettuce, tomato and onions on pita. Fresco Café & Pizzeria wraps gyro meat with hummus, lettuce, tomato, red onions and tzatziki. Albasha Greek & Lebanese Restaurant prepares a traditional gyro sandwich on pita bread with a lean blend of beef and lamb. The gyro plate at Lebanon's Café is served with salad, hummus and fresh-baked pita bread. At Attiki Bar and Grill, the lamb gyro tops thinly sliced meat with lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and tzatziki. Mona's Café serves a platter with ground lamb and beef gyro meat, tahini sauce, salad and pita bread. Byblos Market is a quick stop for a gyro sandwich on pita.

Hot Dog

Hot dogs are the perfect handheld summer sandwich. Cooter Brown's Tavern dishes out a true Chicago-style (no ketchup) hot dog with tomato wedges, sweet relish, onion, jalapenos, celery salt, mustard and a dill pickle spear. The Bulldog's Bull Dog is a quarter-pound, all-beef frank. At Hillbilly Bar-B-Q, the Hawg Dawg comes with two large beef wieners on a bun with chili, cheese or slaw, or all three together. Order the gourmet hot dog at Hooters "all the way" if you want chili, cheese, onions and relish. At Clover Grill, go for a huge late-night bite with a quarter-pound beef frank. A Jumbo Black Angus Double Dog at Times Grill features double-barrel Black Angus dogs topped with chili and cheese. Barley Oak boils a German bratwurst in Abita Turbodog, finishes it on the grill and serves it with sauerkraut and German mustard and a pickle.

Ice Cream / Gelato

The latest scoop is always good news at these places. The Big Zack at Zack's Frozen Yogurt and Smoothies is your choice of five scoops of any flavor, with fresh fruit, nuts, whipped topping and a cherry on top. At Cold Stone Creamery, the Founder's Favorite mixes sweet cream ice cream with fudge, brownies, caramel and pecans. The Stella Uptown sundae at Stanley scoops rum raisin ice cream with carrot cake, sweet cream cheese sauce, whipped cream, roasted walnuts and a cherry. Creole Creamery's rotating list of eclectic homemade flavors includes wedding cake, Champagne and Steen's molasses oatmeal cookie. Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop offers all the ice cream maker's signature flavors, from Phish Food and Chunky Monkey to new ones like Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. Besides spumoni and ice cream, Angelo Brocato is known for simple but refreshing lemon Italian ice. Häagen-Dazs' mix of flavors includes Crème Brulee, Java Chip, Pineapple Coconut and Pralines and Cream. Mix-ins ranging from sprinkles, pecans, bananas and chocolate chips to Butterfingers and Gummi Bears sweeten a wide array of ice cream flavors at Marble Slab Creamery. The sweet boutique Sucré serves fruit flavored sorbets including blood orange, raspberry and tropical passion. Hershey's Ice Cream Parlor offers signature flavors like Moose Tracks and Cappuccino Crunch. Gelato Pazzo Café makes gelati and sorbetti in flavors including banana, chocolate, coconut, hazelnut, Sicilian pistachio, tiramisu and zabaglione.

Jambalaya

This Creole staple keeps one-pot comfort food simple and flavorful. Sammy's Seafood Restaurant's popular lunch option is jambalaya with fried catfish. At Café Reconcile, try the chicken and sausage jambalaya with smothered okra and jalapeno cornbread. At Lazy River, the pasta jambalaya mixes shrimp, andouille sausage and chicken in a rich Creole cream sauce tossed in penne pasta. Jerry's jambalaya at Mother's Restaurant is made with chicken and sausage and served with French bread. Café 59 makes a jambalaya egg roll with rice, sausage, onions and garlic in a fried shell.

Lamb

Don't pull the wool over your eyes. Try Pyramids Café's sauteed lamb with hummus and pita bread. At Albasha Greek and Lebanese Restaurant, tender lamb shank comes with hummus and rice pilaf with sauteed pine nuts. The caldereta at Liborio Cuban Restaurant is oven-stewed lamb in a brown gravy seasoned with red wine, black pepper and onions. At Stella!, the almond and herb-crusted Australian rack of lamb and boneless lamb ribeye is served with caramelized potato abalone mushroom duxelles, wet sauce dry sauce and porcini air. The sheekh kebab at Tandoori Chicken features fresh ground lamb cooked in a charcoal oven. Bennachin sautees lamb strips with bell peppers in a ginger sauce and serves it with rice or broccoli. Impastato's oven-roasted leg of lamb is smothered with onions and served au jus. At O'Brien's Grille serves braised lamb shank with roasted garlic and rosemary fingerling potatoes, sauteed green beans and a Cabernet demi-glace. Wolfe's grills lamb T-bones and serves them on herb-balsamic marinated lentils, with rendered house-made tasso, Portobello bacon and rosemary lavender demi-glace. At Attiki Bar and Grill, garlic seasoned rack of lamb is served with a choice of sides like sauteed vegetables, garlic new potatoes or saffron rice with pine nuts. The lamb tagine at Jamila's Mediterranean Tunisian Cuisine is a traditional Moroccan stew served in a steaming clay pot. Casablanca's Tanzia Fassi features baked lamb served with sauteed onions, prunes, almonds and Moroccan spices. Nirvana Cuisine's lamb goa features a very spicy coconut curry sauce.

Lasagna

Lasagna isn't typically what New Orleans chefs mean by layers of flavor, but the concept fits anyway. Olive Branch Café's homemade spinach lasagna is served with garlic bread pizza. At Bravo, Mama's lasagna bolognese is a large slab of lasagna with creamy Alfredo and meat sauces. Louisiana Pizza Kitchen serves classic lasagna layered with ground beef, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Embers Steakhouse fills lasagna with ground beef, Italian sausage, ricotta cheese and tomato sauce and tops it with mozzarella cheese. Assunta's makes its lasagna with four cheeses, ground beef, ham, salami and marinara sauce. Two Tony's lasagna incorporates five cheeses, ground beef and Italian sausage. Fontina, ricotta and provolone cheeses are layered with meat sauce and pasta in Semolina's lasagna bolognese. Louisiana Pizza Kitchen Uptown's vegetable lasagna features eggplant, zucchini, red bell peppers, marinara and feta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Liver

It may be every child's worst nightmare, but liver is a taste worth acquiring. At Mandina's, calf liver is served with smothered onions, mashed potatoes and green peas. At Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar, calf liver is cooked to order, and served with a choice of homemade sides like potato salad, red beans and rice, mustard greens and chicken and sausage jambalaya. Goat liver at Salt 'N' Pepper Restaurant is 100 percent zabihah halal. Vega Tapas Café pairs its country-style duck liver pate with four mustards and croutons. Liver and onions is a homestyle lunch special at Betsy's Pancake House.

Lobster

Big brother to the crawfish, lobster makes a splash with summer seafood and grilled meats. Star Steak and Lobster's blackened ribeye and lobster tail duo is served with coconut shrimp. At Red Palace, lonk har gai cue is lobster and chicken with Chinese mushrooms, bamboo shoots and snow pea pods. Lobster is fried tempura-sytle at Horinoya. An entree for two at the Melting Pot includes a surf and turf combo with twin lobster tails, filet mignon and portobello mushrooms. Mélange Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton serves lobster macaroni and cheese with heavy cream béchamel sauce and aged Vermont cheddar cheese. Le Parvenu's namesake lobster is paneed and topped with shrimp, crab, crawfish and Cognac cream sauce. Houma House's Latil's Landing prepares a papaya-stuffed lobster tail with fire-roasted shrimp and Louisiana crawfish tails on a Creole tomato risotto in Parmesan broth. At the Pelican Club, one-and-a-half pound whole Maine lobsters are steamed to order and served with sauteed jumbo shrimp and sea scallops, with a lemon beurre blanc sauce, Brabant potatoes and maque choux. Lobster dumplings are made with lobster and white fish mousseline and served with shaved fennel, tomato concasse and lobster butter at GW Fins. Lobster cream soup is thickened with a puree of shrimp and oysters at Tony Angello's. Caribbean spiny lobster is sauteed and served with mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, grilled asparagus and demi-glace at the Royal Palm. Maine lobster adds a touch of elegance to 5Fifty5's mac and cheese made with creamy mascarpone and boursin cheese and served with crostini. Maine lobster dresses Italian in Ristorante Carmelo's lobster fra diavolo with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari and marinara over linguine.

Meatballs

Once an unsung staple of Italian home cooking, meatballs are rolling into the limelight at some local kitchens. At Café Giovanni, chef Duke LoCicero's Sicilian-style ground beef and pork meatballs are simmered in gravy and served over spaghetti with marinara. Wit's Inn serves meatball sandwiches on 6-inch or foot-long bread. Mr. Ed's Creole Grille serves meatballs on spaghetti or on a po-boy with French fries or Creole potato salad. At Lenny's Sub Shop, order an Italian meatball sandwich on fresh-baked white or wheat bread. That's Amore serves a lunch-only small- or large-sized meatball sandwich on French bread. The Italian meatballs lunch special at P & G Restaurant and Bar comes with spaghetti and salad or vegetable side. Nonna Mia Café & Pizzeria stuffs a calzone with meatballs, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Meatballs covered in marinara and mozzarella cheese sit atop the Italian baked potato at Spudley's Super Spuds. Just Italy Deli's Mangia Mangia sandwich features meatballs and housemade Italian sausage in marinara sauce topped with provolone on ciabatta bread.

Mixed Grill

The mixed grill option delivers a little extra variety when you can't decide on just one item. The Alpine Restaurant combines an 8-oz. filet mignon topped with garlic sauce, a homemade crab cake and garlic potatoes. At La Carreta, the mesquite mixed grill makes dinner for two, with carne asada, chicken and jumbo shrimp grilled with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant challenges you to the Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel special for two, with grilled steak and chicken on a heap of lettuce, peppers, onions, pico de gallo, cheese, rice, beans, sour cream and guacamole with warm flour tortillas. Make the most of Zea's rotisserie and grill with a platter including a half-rack of ribs, half a chicken and a quarter pound of the rotisserie meat of the day. At Fire of Brazil, a meal includes various cuts of beef, pork, leg of lamb, chicken breasts and linguica sausages sliced from skewers directly onto your plate by roaming gauchos. The Brazilian mixed grill at Serranos Salsa Company includes beef and chicken fajitas, Cuban pork carnitas, baby back ribs, grilled quail, shrimp Jalisco, chile-lime roasted corn, rice, beans and pico de gallo. At Salvatore Ristorante, Sal's Delight combines a petit filet, a paneed veal medallion topped with crabmeat and mushroom sauce and a fried jumbo soft-shell crab meuniere. Annadele's Plantation serves the mixed grill Bogue Falaya of lamb chops and quail with grilled asparagus, wild rice and pepper jelly beurre blanc. N'Tinis Restaurant serves a seafood mixed grill of yellowfin tuna, sea scallops and sauteed shrimp.

click to enlarge Grilled octopus is an exotic tapas dish at Rambla. - PHOTO BY SUSAN SNEE
Muffuletta

Not every city can claim a signature sandwich, but we get two: Po-boys and the mighty muffuletta. Central Grocery invented the muffuletta and it's the only item served at the market. Napoleon House Bar & Café's specialty is its Italian muffuletta, the classic cold cut and cheese sandwich with the signature olive salad. The veggie muffuletta at Chartres House Café is filled with American, Swiss and provolone cheeses and olive salad. At Come Back Inn, diners come back for the seafood muffuletta with oysters. LaBella's muffuletta is filled with Papa Joe's olive salad and Genoa salami, ham and provolone cheese on toasted muffuletta bread. Café Amelie's muffuletta is layered with Genoa salami, local ham and Italian mortadella and provolone cheeses on fresh-baked ciabatta with olive salad. La Divina Gelateria's muffalino turns the classic sandwich into a grilled panini. Verti Marte's muffuletta is grilled hot and filled with New Orleans ham, Genoa salami, Swiss and provolone cheeses and olive salad. At Butcher, the cochon muffuletta is stuffed with housemade meats, provolone cheese and pickled peppers and olives. Muffulettas come hot and melty on focaccia bread at Lazy River. Rotolo's Pizza spreads the staple sandwich fillings on a pizza with marinara, Canadian bacon and pepperoni. At Johnny's Po-Boys, the seafood muffuletta piles catfish, shrimp and oysters on a 10-inch bun. Oscar's Oscalotta tops French bread with a combination of meats, mozzarella cheese and homemade olive salad. The Courtyard Restaurant at Pat O'Brien's piles ham, salami, mortadella, Swiss cheese and olive salad on herb focaccia bread. Muffuletta's Deli boggles the mind with Mega Mini Muffulettas, featuring double the meat and cheese on smaller sandwich rolls.

Mushroom

Everyone's favorite fungus is more than a pizza topper. Chateau du Lac's friend aux champignons is a mushroom strudel served with a small salad. Louisiana shrimp are sauteed with white and imported straw mushrooms at Red Palace. La Famiglia's grilled portobello mushrooms are served with Merlot demi-glace. At Horinoya, a medley of enoki, shiitake and white mushrooms are sauteed in garlic butter sauce. Lola's Restaurant serves a portobello mushroom with asparagus, rice and black beans. Bywater Bar-B-Q serves Italian sausage-stuffed mushrooms at lunch. Louisiana Pizza Kitchen in the French Quarter crafts a portobello and shiitake mushroom pizza with red and yellow peppers, fresh basil, feta and mozzarella. At Semolina Italian Bistro, portobello mushrooms are stuffed with Italian sausage and provolone cheese and served on marinara sauce. Lakeview Harbor's seafood-stuffed portobello mushroom cap is fried and served with hollandaise.

Mussels

Mussels come out of their shells in many local kitchens. Adolfo's serves them over pasta with marinara sauce. Try a spicy mussel shooter at Ninja Restaurant and Sushi Bar. Ciro's Cote Sud serves several versions including mussels in marinieres sauce, with curry, Provencale style, or with blue cheese. Slice Pizzeria serves steamed mussels with Pinot Grigio garlic-basil broth and crostini. Steamed mussels in spicy tomato broth are a tapas option at Café Granada. Clementine's Belgian Bistro serves several steamed mussels and fries combinations, including a Provencal version with tomato, garlic and onion in the broth.

Noodle

Local chefs use their noodles in many creative dishes. The Siam street noodles at Hipstix Asian Kitchen are stir-fried rice noodles with coconut curry sauce, sprouts, peppers and a choice of beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu. At Thanh Thanh, the bon do hue is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup with slices of beef, lemongrass and plenty of hot peppers to give it a spicier kick than conventional pho. The sweet heat noodle at Jazmine Café mixes it up with stir-fried noodles, shrimp, chicken, cilantro and crushed peanuts. Pho Tau Bay's bun ga is a popular way to beat the heat with cool vermicelli noodles covered with fresh herbs, lettuce and sprouts, light fish sauce and grilled chicken. Both egg noodles and clear noodles combine for a slurp-worthy soup with meat and mixed seafood at Hoa Hong/9 Roses. Aja serves traditional mai fun, or rice noodles with a choice of chicken, pork, roasted pork, beef or vegetables. At Bambu at Harrah's, a Vietnamese-style vermicelli bowl is topped with charbroiled pork. Café Bamboo cooks vegetarian pad Thai with rice noodles, tofu, carrots, peanuts and bean sprouts. Chill Out Café prepares seafood stir-fried noodles with a mix of squid, crawfish, scallops and shrimp. Gimchi's yook-gae-jahng is a noodle soup with spicy beef broth, sliced beef and green onions. Traditional Japanese yaki soba is a dish of pan-fried egg noodles that Wasabi serves with a choice of seafood or chicken. Café Equator's Thai-style pad woon sen is a dish of clear noodles sauteed with shrimp, chicken, bean sprouts, mushrooms, onion and zucchini. Emperor's lo mein features chicken, beef and shrimp over noodles at Christina's Empress of China.

Onion

It may not seem too impressive on its own, but with a little help in the kitchen the humble onion emerges as a top challenger to that king of sides, the french fry. At Chateau Moanet Voila, the Louisiana onion rings are cut thick, coated in spicy breading and served with ranch dressing. Wing Zone restaurants across the area are known for mixing beer into the batter for distinctly puffy onion rings to accompany baskets of chicken wings. Phil's Grill slices onions down to soft, narrow strings, batters and fries them for an addictive side order to the burgers. Johnny & Jackie's Café and Grill in Gretna adds cracked black pepper to the batter for extra bite in its onion rings. Café Degas elevates the onion to center stage with its sweet onion and leek tart baked in a puff pastry shell, served with house-made herbed creme fraiche. Similarly, chef John Besh's restaurant Lüke prepares the traditional Alsatian flamenküche, a thin onion tart with bacon, caraway seed and Emmenthaler cheese.

Oyster

Few areas can boast as rich a seafood bounty as the Louisiana oyster harvest, and local restaurants treat the treasured bivalves to both traditional and creative preparations. A prime example of the latter category is the signature dish of downtown's Mila, the oysters Rockefeller "deconstructed" with poached oysters, spinach, bacon chips and licorice root. The fried oysters Giovanni at Café Giovanni has been a menu mainstay for 18 years thanks to a stunning presentation of five sauces painted on the plate. Oysters en brochette, wrapped in bacon and fried, are a Galatoire's classic served either as an appetizer or as a decadent entree. Charbroiled oysters cooked in their own juices with cheese, butter, parsley and garlic from Drago's Seafood Restaurant has become a local classic. Acme Oyster House locations chargrill oysters with a mix of seasoned butter and grated Romano cheese. The oysters Riccobono are a mainstay at Riccobono's Peppermill, where they are baked with mushrooms, garlic, breadcrumbs and Romano cheese and served over pasta. Flaming Torch Restaurant prepares its oyster la Madrague by placing pan-fried oysters over a bed of creamed spinach and leeks. The oyster doubloon, an original from Le Parvenu, is a cake of chopped oysters and spices, sauteed and topped with crabmeat and lemon fondue sauce. A special house breading sets apart the Southern fried oyster platter at the Quarter View Restaurant. The peacemaker from Mahony's Po-Boy Shop was a favorite at last year's Po-Boy Festival for its combination of fried oysters, bacon and cheddar on French bread. Magazine Po-Boy Shop lightens things up just a bit with its fried oyster salad dressed with a homemade remoulade. Besh Steak pays homage to its setting inside Harrah's Casino with a rendition of Oysters Casino roasted on the half shell with smoky bacon, parsley and garlic. The baked oysters Ralph at Ralph's on the Park are nestled on a bed of baby spinach, topped with bechamel sauce and enlivened with smoked bacon, jalapenos, sweet peppers and tomatoes. At Ralph Brennan's Red Fish Grill, the barbecued oysters are flash-fried, tossed in Crystal barbecue sauce and served with house-made blue cheese dressing. At Blue Plate Café, the Rocky sandwich fills French bread with fried oysters, creamed spinach and tomato and comes with a choice of fries, Caesar salad or green salad. At Coquette, roasted oysters flirt with fennel confit, Benton's country ham and horseradish. Rambla serves flash-fried oysters with corn, chorizo and spinach. Pascal's Manale is better known for shrimp, but start a meal at the oyster bar with a fresh shucked dozen. Tommy's Cuisine tops baked oysters Tommy with pancetta, red peppers and Romano cheese. Grilled oysters topped with Roquefort cheese and red wine vinaigrette is a signature dish at One Restaurant and Lounge.

Pancake

There's no arguing with the morning appeal of pancakes, a classic way to prepare for the day. Big Shirley's of New Orleans, reopened in the Carrollton area and serves a single stack of three pancakes hot from the grill topped with strawberries or blueberries on request. The sweet stack at Slim Goodie's takes a different approach, using sweet potatoes in its batter for a crowd pleaser at breakfast or lunch.

Pasta

Whether the foundation for a creative combination or the basis for a big bowl of comfort food, pasta is always popular with local diners. Laurentino's Restaurant prepares an angel hair pasta version of paella called fideua Valenciana with seafood, meats and vegetables cooked with traditional Spanish seasonings. Big local shrimp and chopped artichoke hearts come together in the sauce over the shrimp-and-artichoke pasta at Liuzza's Restaurant and Bar. Creamy Alfredo sauces the shrimp, crawfish and penne in the seafood pasta at Pizza Florence, which serves garlic bread and salad on the side. Among the many pastas at Tony Angello's, the angel hair with crab gravy stands out for its hearty seafood sauce. Martin's Wine Cellar uses slim, smooth orzo for a pasta salad of arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, olives, artichoke hearts and feta. Southern Po-boys updates shrimp Creole by adding crabmeat and pouring the tomato-based sauce over pasta instead of rice. Sam's Po-boys plays it straight with a generous Wednesday special of spaghetti and meat sauce with garlic bread and salad. The new restaurant Nonna Mia Café & Pizzeria stuffs tortellini with three cheeses and tops them with herbed Alfredo sauce. The Camellia seafood pasta mixes Gulf shrimp, lump crabmeat and Louisiana crawfish tails with cream sauce over rotini at Camellia Café. Angel hair pasta is the base for grilled chicken and sweet New Orleans-style red sauce at Fiorella's. The Isabella Pizzeria locations toss shrimp, crawfish, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, green onions, lime and parsley with linguine for their pasta cucina dish. The various La Madeleine locations use tomato basil sauce with chicken or shrimp for their popular pasta entree. Irene's Cuisine fills its cannelloni al forno with browned veal, pork, Parmesan and ricotta, rolls them in eggplant and finishes it all with marinara and a touch of besciamella. Tortellini Reggiano are tossed with shrimp, artichokes and spinach and served with creamy tomato sauce at Semolina Italian Bistro. Fazzio's serves angel hair pasta with crabmeat cream sauce. Angel hair pasta in sweet New Orleans red sauce is a bed for meatballs, Italian sausage, breaded veal or grilled chicken at Joe Sepie's Café.

Peppers

Part of the iconic "holy trinity" of seasoning for Louisiana kitchens, peppers also assume starring roles at plenty of local restaurants. Bell pepper stuffed with Louisiana crawfish and served with tomato court bouillon endures on the "classics" section of the new menu at Emeril's Delmonico. The stuffed bell pepper is a Tuesday special at Jam's Po-Boys, where it is served with macaroni and cheese, a side vegetable and salad. Joey K's features stuffed peppers as a Wednesday special, filling them with ground beef and shrimp and adding a side of cabbage, rice and gravy. The stuffed bell peppers at Mr. Ed's get a seafood filling of shrimp, crabmeat and crawfish, plus a side of mashed potatoes and vegetables. Mayas Restaurant & Bar uses a roasted poblano pepper for its chile rellenos stuffed with Creole beef or cheese with ranchero tomato sauce. Buster's Place stuffs spicy jalapeno peppers with crabmeat dressing and adds cool ranch dip on the side. Grilled peppers join artichoke hearts, onion, feta and a trio of scrambled eggs for the Oak Street shuffle breakfast at the Oak Street Café. Green peppers are stir-fried along with beef and brown sauce for a popular lunch or dinner combo plate at China Express & Smoothie House. The pepper steak at Hoshun pairs beef and green bell pepper in black bean sauce. Butcher, chef Donald Link's Warehouse District deli, stuffs a torpedo roll with peppers, hot sausage and whole-grain mustard. China Orchid mixes sauteed red and green peppers with broccoli and tofu for a vegetarian dish garnished with sesame seeds. Stop by Igor's Lounge & Gameroom any time for hot jalapeno poppers.

Pizza

Using creative topping combinations, special sauces or strictly traditional approaches, pizza parlors around town are vying to become your favorite spot for a pie. French Quarter Pizzeria loads up Canadian bacon, regular bacon, ground beef, pepperoni and sausage for its Big Easy pizza. The Mardi Gras pizza from Milano Pizzeria is a party of local flavor with its spicy bisque cream sauce, shrimp, tomatoes, green onions and mozzarella. Thin-sliced prosciutto, gorgonzola crumbles and leaves of arugula comprise a unique pizza finished with a light tomato sauce and a drizzle of olive oil at Slice Pizzeria. Mona Lisa on Royal Street uses scrambled eggs and smoked bacon to prepare a breakfast pizza for late-risers. The deluxe pizza from Mark Twain's Pizza starts with dough mixed with high-gluten flour, olive oil and seasonings and tops it with tomato sauce, meats, vegetables and cheese. Isabella's Pizzeria has an offer for the indecisive with its four seasons pizza, featuring four sections of different toppings separated by ropes of dough. The Italian all-meat pie from Italian Pie makes no bones about its focus with a combination of pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, bacon and ham. Theo's Neighborhood Pizza uses a light, crisp crust and adds olive oil, garlic, spinach, cheese, tomatoes, purple onions and bacon for its Expert pizza. Dia Roma Café takes a Southwestern approach with its fajita gourmet pizza, featuring grilled chicken and vegetables. The Chicago-style deep-dish pizza at That's Amore Pizzeria is available in single-serving format, thanks to the pizza pot pie. Fresco Café & Pizzeria on Maple Street starts with garlic herb sauce to build a portabella mushroom pizza with roasted red peppers, spinach and feta and mozzarella cheeses. The seafood pizza from Pepperoni's Café bakes crawfish, crabmeat and vegetables onto a crust with lemon dill cream sauce. Mo's Pizza wraps things up with its supreme pizza turnover, filled with meats, cheese, sauce, onion, peppers, olives and mushrooms. Alligator Pear tops a pie with shrimp, pesto, roasted tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and pepper Jack cheeses. Specialty toppings at Brooklyn Pizza include eggplant, marinated artichoke hearts, meatballs and grilled chicken. Naked Pizza's Superbiotic pie goes for the double bonus by topping the fiber-rich crust with artichoke, spinach, arugula, bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic and cilantro. The Wild Tchoupitoulas at Rocky's Gourmet Pizza has pepperoni, sausage, red peppers and jalapenos. Roman Pizza's Juan and Dee's pie is topped with pepperoni, jalapenos and extra cheese.

Po-Boy

Po-boys are the kings of the New Orleans sandwich world, and for many po-boy makers roast beef is the crowing glory of their craft. The beef at Radosta's starts as top choice rounds slow cooked with garlic, wine and seasonings in a big pot of gravy. La Bella's gives its roast beef an overnight simmer and serves it sliced thin with gravy on its most popular po-boy. Parkway Bakery & Tavern serves a debris-style beef in thick gravy on crispy bread. Café Navarre takes a similar approach for its fall-apart-tender beef, served hot in its own drippings on Leidenheimer bread. Customers can order roast beef "sloppy" or "less sloppy" at Short Stop Po-Boys, though the sandwiches are always dripping with gravy. Joe Sepie's Café adds mushrooms, steak sauce and Swiss or provolone cheese to make an Ultimate roast beef po-boy. Parasol's is known for its sloppy roast beef po-boy dressed with shredded lettuce and lots of gravy. The roast beef is a bragging right at Lakeview Deli, but the veal Parmesan po-boy with red sauce and cheese also ranks high. A sauteed shrimp po-boy from Mark Twain's Pizza is a lighter option than the traditional fried version. Fried green tomatoes with remoulade go in a po-boy at Crabby Jack's. Southside Café throws carb caution to the wind with its french fry po-boy dripping with gravy. Mr. Poor Boy turns the traditional muffuletta into a po-boy by stacking meats, cheese and olive salad on French bread. The house special at Mano's Po-Boys is a combo of ham, roast beef, turkey and Swiss and American cheeses on French bread. Stein's Market and Deli may win some po-boy converts with its Italian hoagie, which fills a Philadelphia hoagie roll with imported Italian meats, aged provolone and house-made garlic vinaigrette. Liuzza's by the Track serves a signature garlicky oyster po-boy. Order an oyster po-boy topped with Havarti cheese and bacon at Ye Olde College Inn. Bear's Restaurant fills its po-boys with house-made roast beef. R&O Pizza Place serves veal Parmesan in a po-boy dressed with lettuce and tomato. Half-and-half po-boys at Jack Dempsey's offer a combination of shrimp, oysters, catfish and redfish.

click to enlarge Chef Bob Iacovone prepares a spicy shrimp Napoleon at Cuvee. - PHOTO BY SUSAN SNEE
Pork

Versatile and delicious, pork is at the heart of many traditional Louisiana recipes and finds a place in other diverse cuisines. The jäger schnitzel with light mushroom cream sauce and spätzle is one of the traditional German pork cutlet recipes offered at Jäger Haus. The smoker at Clancy's Restaurant gives pork loin an aromatic workout before it is topped with a green peppercorn demi-glace. Guests at Café Amelie can dig into a hearty double-cut pork chop with corn macque choux and creamy grits. Cochon takes a rustic turn with its ham hock cooked with sweet potatoes, pickled greens and black-eyed peas in ham broth. The imperial pork chop at the Tea Garden is served fried with a tangy Asian red sauce. Fong's Chinese Restaurant teams up roasted pork with shrimp and chicken for its triple treat stir-fry with Asian vegetables. The smothered pork chops from Buster's Soul Food come with mashed potatoes, gravy and a choice of sides. Tomatillo's stuffs pork chops with rice, jalapenos and cheese and serves them with black beans and roasted corn. The spiral-sliced, honey-glazed, smoked ham from Heavenly Ham is a party-ready crowd pleaser. The pork tenderloin at Eat New Orleans is served with caramelized onions, baked macaroni and cheese and a side Caesar salad. Choose your preparation — grilled, fried or barbecued — for the St. Roch Street pork chops from Quarter View Restaurant. The Abita Brew Pub serves a large double-cut pork chop with root beer-rosemary glaze over a bed of andouille cornbread stuffing. China Express & Smoothie House makes a sandwich from its crispy pork chop, served on a bun or as a po-boy. The jerk pork tenderloin at Mat & Naddie's is grilled and served with braised greens and coconut milk/calypso bean congris and mango crema. Churros Café prepares traditional Cuban lechon asado by slow roasting pork that has marinated in sour orange, garlic and herbs. Roasted pork loin joins smoked ham, Swiss cheese and pickles in the Hickory Café & Grill's pressed Cuban sandwich. Cajun Mike's Pub fries boudin balls made from spicy pork and rice sausage. Café Lynn prepares osso buco using pork shank braised in brown sauce with fresh herbs. The newly reopened Santa Fe once again serves puerco con manzanas, or pork tenders with apples, nuts, herbs and brandy demi-glace. The Kurobuta pork belly at Lilette is a decadent entree of ultra-tender meat served with a tomato, cucumber and basil salad and garlic bread. Ancho-honey slaw, chili mayonnaise, imported Gruyere and pickles dress up Gott Gourmet's cochon de lait Cuban panini with pulled pork and honey-baked ham. Chickie Wah Wah's Sunday brunch features a version of grits and grillades made with pork loin and peppered cheese grits. The cochon de lait po-boy at Walker's Southern Bar-B-Que is dressed with shredded cabbage and creamy Creole mustard sauce. The Country Club's restaurant serves tasso-stuffed pork loin with thyme buerre-blanc and green beans amandine. Drop in to Déjà Vu Restaurant and Bar any time of day for a pork chop with eggs any style, hashbrowns or grits and toast. Pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach, currants and cheddar cheese is one of the changing daily gourmet-to-go dishes offered by Chez Nous. A minced mix of pork and chicken fill shumai dumplings' thin noodle wrapper at Chill Out Café. Ask for the authentic Chinese menu at China Rose and try dishes like the tender braised pork belly. At Café 59, Philippine adobo is a spicy mix of pork and chicken served over jasmine rice with a vegetable. Coquette's pork rillette is accompanied by cornichons, sour cherries and Dijon mustard. Chops Bistro & Martini Bar's pan-roasted double-cut pork chop is served with summer vegetables, sweet potato hay and green apple Riesling jus. "Five Hour Roast Pork" is served with plantains, black beans, avocado and rice at RioMar. One Restaurant and Lounge serves cochon de lait over stone-ground grits with pork crackling and sweet-and-sour red cabbage. Southern-style ham shank with lima beans is a lunch special at Betsy's Pancake House. Mexican trompo, pork marinated in sour citrus and grilled crispy, is one of several filling options at Tacos San Miguel. Caribbean-style jerk pork is one of the frequent lunch buffet items at Boswell's Jamaican Grill. Lago serves a double-cut pork chop with Creole mustard and mushroom ragout, sauteed greens and pecan sweet potatoes. City Diner doubles down on pork by wrapping tenderloin in bacon and serving it with a choice of side item.

Potato

There's no telling where a good spud will turn up, whether fried, stuffed, baked or mashed. Breakfast potatoes topped with bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers, red onions and cheddar are called glorified hashbrowns at the Garden's Edge Café. White cheddar smashed potatoes are made in-house daily at the Hard Rock Café. Potatoes are transformed into tender gnocchi at Gautreau's, where they are served with truffled Parmesan cream, wild mushrooms and asparagus. McAlister's Deli stuffs a Mexican spud with regular or vegetarian chili, cheddar and Jack cheese and sliced jalapenos. You can order your baked potato loaded with barbecued pork, beef, chicken or turkey at Corky's Ribs & BBQ. La Madeleine's crispy, well-seasoned potato galette is a popular side dish or a satisfying snack on its own. Get a New York-style nosh with a potato-filled knish from Kosher Cajun New York Deli & Grocery. The samosas at Salt 'n' Pepper Restaurant are Pakistani-style pastries stuffed with seasoned potatoes. For a starter, new potatoes are topped with ginger-dill sour cream and caviar at Olivier's Creole Restaurant. Pontalba potatoes are roasted and then sauteed with garlic, caramelized onions, mushrooms, ham and scallions at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse. Andouille sausage, bell peppers and onions liven Café Beignet's Cajun hashbrowns, served with scrambled eggs and French bread. Voodoo BBQ and Grill loads over-stuffed baked potatoes with cheese, chives, sour cream and choice of brisket, pork, jerk chicken or sausage. Port of Call tops baked potatoes with sour cream, chives, bacon bits and cheese or mushrooms. Croissant d'Or serves individual casseroles like pototo and sausage au gratin. Beef chili, cheddar and jalapenos spice up the El Toro potato at Spudley's Super Spuds. Nirvana's rugda pati are Indian potato cakes topped with curried garbanzo beans. Pat Fannie's Irish nachos feature chili and corned beef over potato skins. City Diner dresses up hashbrowns with a couple of eggs, cheese, spicy cream sauce and a choice of shrimp, crawfish or andouille.

Quail

The delicate, diminutive quail inspires preparations mixing both rustic and gourmet touches. A crispy smoked quail salad is prepared with pears and bourbon molasses dressing at Bayona. The Abita Brew Pub stuffs quail with boudin sausage before frying it and adding a blueberry glaze. The spiced cranberry Texas quail at Café Adelaide & Swizzle Stick Bar gets an andouille and red bean dressing. Latil's Landing at Houmas House plantation in Darrow builds a salad around Southern fried quail, adding pickled quail eggs, organic greens and bacon and fig vinaigrette. The Royal Palm serves grilled quail with dirty rice, collard greens and natural reduction.

Quesadilla

You don't need to speak much Spanish to know that ordering a quesadilla means a flavorful, quick Mexican treat is on the way. They fuel regulars at Molly's at the Market, which offers a choice of beef, chicken or grilled vegetables as fillings. Just next door at Coop's Place, the smoked duck quesadilla is served with sour cream and sliced jalapenos. Chartres House Café uses roasted duck and a mix of cheeses between fried tortillas. Friends Coastal Restaurant serves a hefty "quesadilla gigante" with sides of pico de gallo, peppers and sour cream. Felipe's Taqueria serves traditional chicken quesadillas grilled with cheese and salsa. Mahi mahi makes a rare finfish filling for the quesadillas at Adobe Cantina. The Checkered Parrot grills tomatoes, poblano peppers, onions and mushrooms to build its shrimp quesadilla. Cellars of River Ridge makes a shrimp quesadilla by filling pita bread with blackened shrimp, cheese, onion, diced tomatoes and jalapenos and serves it with salsa and sour cream. Smoked chicken, sauteed tomato, onions, garlic, herbs and melted cheese fill Sun Ray Grill's Southwest quesadillas, served with tomato-chipotle salsa, beans and sour cream. Rio Grande Taqueria fills tortillas with cheese and a choice of meats including carne asada, shredded chicken or beef, al pastor pork, beef tongue, chorizo or Mexican style barbecued beef.

Rabbit

Tender and tempting, rabbit is finding its way onto more local menus. Le Meritage prepares pancetta-wrapped rabbit tenderloin as both an appetizer and an entree along with house-made tagliatelle pasta and herb butter. Chunks of rabbit join smoked sausage in the house jambalaya at Coop's Place, and the supreme version adds crawfish, tasso and shrimp. Rustic-style Creole rabbit is simmered in gravy and topped with oyster sage dressing at Olivier's Creole Restaurant. The Three Piece at Marigny Brasserie includes buttermilk-fried Mississippi rabbit loin, front and back leg with roasted fennel mash and Dijon jus. Patois accents Mississippi rabbit with Italian sausage, fennel, grilled artichoke hearts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese polenta. Chef John Besh reinvents cassoulet with his whole roast rabbit with white beans and Jacob's andouille at Restaurant August. Rabbit sauce piquant features stewed farm-raised rabbit with onions, peppers and celery in spicy tomato broth with andouille rice pilaf at Restaurant Cypress. Ristorante da Piero serves roasted rabbit with Madeira rabbit sage glace, wilted kale, grilled tomatoes and foccacia.

Ravioli

Italian kitchens around town revel in making their ravioli creative bundles of stuffed pasta. The ravioli d'anatra at Leonardo Trattoria are filled with duck confit and topped with brandy and porcini mushroom ragout. A four-cheese blend goes into the quattro formaggio ravioli at Café Freret, which uses spinach and egg pasta and offers a choice of sauces. Andrea's pasta pillows with porcini mushrooms, fresh herbs, spinach and cheese, all topped with mushroom cream sauce. Tomato basil and cheese filled ravioli are the foundation for the blackened chicken dish at Copeland's Social City. Bacco's lobster ravioli is a blend of Maine lobster and Gulf shrimp with champagne butter sauce and caviar. Antonio's Restaurant, newly relocated Uptown from Gretna, finishes its lobster ravioli with toasted garlic and cherry tomato butter. Bistro Daisy fills ravioli with Louisiana crawfish tails and mascarpone and serves them with wilted leeks, herbs, brandy and oven-dried tomato cream. Alligator ravioli are topped with sauce piquant at 7 on Fulton. Clubhouse Bar & Grill serves fried ravioli with either ranch dressing or marinara as a dipping sauce. MeauxBar Bistro's beet and ricotta ravioli bask in a ginger-sage buerre noisette. At Orleans Grapevine, crispy lobster and boursin ravioli are served with mushroom and sweet vermouth reduction. Hostel New Orleans finishes house-made crabmeat ravioli with roasted tomato, basil and garlic in olive oil. Shrimp and crawfish ravioli are topped with aurora sauce at Ristorante Carmelo. Crabmeat ravioli are sauteed in herbed olive oil at Nuvolari's

Red Beans and Rice

It wouldn't be Monday in New Orleans without big pots of locals' favorite legume simmering away in kitchens across town. The red beans and rice special starts off the week at Mr. Poor Boy, complete with sides. Pick smoked, hot or Italian sausage to augment the red beans and rice special at the Come Back Inn on Mondays. The French Market red beans and rice is available as a half or full order with diced andouille sausage at the Lafitte's locations in the Double Tree and Pontchartain hotels. The Praline Connection serves red beans and rice with a breaded pork chop. Breaded veal adds an interesting option to the red beans and rice sidekicks at Vazquez Seafood & Po-Boy Restaurant. BreauxMart's deli section keeps it traditional on Mondays with red beans and rice served with fried or baked pork chops. Red beans and rice are served with barbecued chicken at Donna's Bar & Grill on Monday nights. Franky & Johnny's serves red beans and rice with hot or smoked sausage, salad and bread. Ted's Frostop is a quick stop for red beans and rice served with smoked or hot sausage, salad and French bread.

Redfish

Not just for blackening any more, redfish is the kingfish of many local menus. At Le Petite Grocery, it's braised with spicy tomato sauce and plated over Louisiana popcorn rice. Redfish is the main ingredient in a courtbouillon with crab, shrimp and oysters at Lüke. Emeril's Delmonico sauces its pan-fried redfish with shrimp velouté. The brick-wrapped redfish at La Cote Brasserie is served with crawfish boudin and tomato gastrique. Austin's Restaurant tops pan-fried redfish with crabmeat, button mushrooms and green onions. The Ruby at Ralph & Kacoo's is a broiled redfish filet with crabmeat stuffing, hollandaise sauce and still more crabmeat on top. Bourbon House prepares its redfish on the half shell, with skin intact for extra moist texture. The redfish "filet mignon" at the Rib Room is a broiled fillet stuffed with crabmeat and shrimp and seasoned with garlic and black pepper. The "555 wild red fish" is blackened and sits atop a bed of crabmeat, roasted peppers and mâche at 5Fifty5. Rani Café prepares redfish Chandeleur with citrus shrimp cream sauce. The Galley Restaurant offers redfish either blackened or grilled, each topped crabmeat and shrimp. A rich blue crab butter sauce finishes off the grilled redfish at Ralph's on the Park, which is served with grilled eggplant and a saute of artichoke, tomato and mushroom. The Red Fish Grill uses hickory to grill its namesake fish, and adds Pontalba potatoes with tasso and wild mushrooms. Skin-on redfish "on the half shell" is a specialty at O'Donnell's Restaurant, where it is served with a New Orleans-style barbecue butter sauce. Lemon beurre blanc and lump crabmeat are the running partners for grilled redfish at Atchafalaya Restaurant. De-No Seafood stuffs a fillet with crabmeat and adds a cream sauce for its namesake redfish De-No. Mélange Restaurant serves blackened redfish with saffron crab risotto and lobster cream sauce. Guests at the Hungry Forager find the pan-seared redfish Antiboise plated over wilted spinach with tomato and basil dressing. The redfish St. Louis at Crescent City Brewhouse is pan-seared and topped with fried oysters and spicy New Orleans-style barbecue butter sauce. Redfish on the half shell is cooked skin-on and topped with crabmeat and fresh herbs at Dante's Kitchen. J'Anita's on the Avenue (inside Avenue Pub) serves its signature redfish sandwich topped with bacon, feta and Caesar dressing. Panko-crusted redfish topped with pan-fried crab toast, smoked Gouda veloute, spinach and fried garlic cloves is a signature dish at Wolfe's in the Warehouse. Red Maple's pan-fried redfish Pontchartrain is topped with shrimp, mushrooms, sherry cream sauce and served with vegetables and fingerling potatoes. Redfish "Amer" features crawfish and mushroom cream sauce over a sauteed fillet at Oceana Grill. Brick Oven Café broils a fillet for redfish piccata, topped with crawfish in lemon butter sauce with capers.

click to enlarge Horinoya serves a variety of special rolls. - PHOTO BY SUSAN SNEE
Ribs

Where there's smoke, there's often ribs at barbecue specialists and other restaurants. House of Blues uses a Jim Beam barbecue sauce for Tennessee-style smoked ribs, served with sweet potatoes and Creole jambalaya. Fans of Bennigan's sing the praises of the kitchen's baby back ribs recipe. The pork ribs Pontchartrain are slow roasted and then grilled at Copeland's, where they have been a menu mainstay since 1983. Corky's Ribs & BBQ calls its rib combo plate "the killer," and offers a choice of wet or dry ribs served with any other barbecued meat or fried catfish. The Brewhouse ribs at Crescent City Brewhouse are smoked, roasted and then grilled over open flames and served with potato salad and Southern baked beans. The baby back barbecue ribs are available as either half or full racks at Shane's Rib Shack. Ground Pat'i Grille and Bar offers a combo plate of slow-cooked ribs and char-grilled chicken covered in house-made barbecue sauce. A hearty dose of smoke and a dry rub of spices go into the St. Louis style pork spareribs at the Joint, where they are served as a rib plate, half rack or full slab. Wet ribs at Abita Bar-B-Q get a Cajun touch with the addition of boudin dressing. Naturally, the ribs are imbued with smoky goodness at Wayne Jacob's Smokehouse and Restaurant, where they are served with garlic potatoes. Chateau Moanet Voila serves smoked pork ribs rubbed with either Texas or Thai-style barbecue sauce over a bed of french fries. Mojo Grill's South of the Border baby back ribs are coated with a tangy mango barbecue sauce.

Rice

Best known as the partner for red beans, rice also stars in a wide range of diverse dishes around town. The rice bowls at Lager's International Ale House are loaded with black beans, pico de gallo and a choice of beef, chicken or seafood. Paella Valenciana is the house specialty at Laurentino's Restaurant, and it is prepared with saffron, garlic and a mix of meat, seafood and vegetables. At Sukho Thai, pineapple fried rice is a tropical favorite made with jasmine rice wok-fried with shrimp, pineapple, egg and vegetables. The spicy basil fried rice adds chicken and shrimp to its heady blend of Asian spices at La Thai Uptown. Rice steps into the dessert role at Taqueria Corona for the arroz con leche, or Mexican rice pudding. Café Granada prepares traditional paella with fish, shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari, chicken and peas. Chorizo adds flavor to the chicken, seafood and saffron rice in Galvez Restaurant's paella Valenciana. Gimchi serves Korean dol sot bi-bim bap, a hot stone pot of rice topped with vegetables, shredded beef and egg with a spicy sauce. Paella is the house specialty at Madrid Restaurant, recently reopened in Lakeview. Liborio Cuban Restaurant dubs its seafood paella "Spanish jambalaya," served with saffron white rice, mixed vegetables, scallops, fish, shrimp and chicken and pork.

Salad

Call for them at lunch or dinner, but don't call these creative salads mere side dishes. The Cajun kettle salad at Dry Dock Café & Bar features Cajun-spiced shrimp and remoulade sauce over greens. Maddie's Place goes Greek with a blend of spinach and romaine, red onion, kalamata and black olives and feta cheese. Steve's Diner adds fried or boiled shrimp to complete the bayou Cobb salad with bacon, egg, tomato and greens. The rainbow seafood salad at Rock-n-Sake is a sushi lover's dream with colorful tuna, yellowtail and fresh salmon mixed with vegetables, roe and ponzu sauce. The fattoush salad at Cleopatra Mediterranean Cuisine is a traditional blend of cucumber, parsley, radish, mint, toasted pita and fresh lemon. Bruno's Tavern offers a relatively light option with its Ponchatoula chicken salad of grilled chicken over a spring mix with poppy seed dressing, strawberries, blue cheese and spiced pecans. At the Audubon Golf Clubhouse, grilled pineapple chunks, diced fried chicken, toasted almonds, bacon, crumbled onion rings and mango dressing make up Keoni's Hawaiian chicken salad. Buffa's Restaurant serves a Border of the Quarter salad comprised of mixed greens, seasonal fruit, roasted pecans, sunflower seeds and Vidalia onion vinaigrette. Take a break from the pies at Milano Pizzeria with a grilled chicken salad with mozzarella cheese and house-made Creole honey mustard dressing. Martin Wine Cellar's Sena salad dresses oven-roasted chicken, golden raisins and field greens with bleu cheese, pecans and Tabasco pepper jelly vinaigrette. The Terrazu shrimp salad of butter lettuce, spicy boiled shrimp, hearts of palm, avocado and tarragon vinaigrette is a namesake dish at the new Terrazu café in the Place St. Charles building. The Rani Cobb at Rani Café is a traditional take on the classic with grilled chicken, bacon, crumbled egg, avocado and cheese over greens with an Aegean dressing. Mona Lisa in the French Quarter offers a faithful Caesar salad with hearts of romaine and house-made croutons. The crawfish and spinach salad at Bywater Restaurant, Deli & BBQ is tossed with green onion dressing and Parmesan cheese. Herbsaint serves an elegant dinner salad of arugula with roasted beets and burrata cheese. The Thai steak and noodle salad at Houston's Restaurant is a hearty serving with avocado, mango and herbs. La Divina Gelateria's salad of Italian bacon, organic greens, chevre cheese and spicy-sweet honey mustard vinaigrette makes a fine prelude to a cup of gelato. The Nutty Chicken Salad at Blue Plate Café features a chicken breast over greens topped with Thai peanut dressing. At the Marriott's 5Fifty5, shrimp remoulade and crabmeat add local flavor to the Cobb salad's familiar mix of egg and avocado. Rambla completes a tomato and onion salad with avocado and citrus-berry vinaigrette. A wedge of iceberg topped with pungent blue cheese is a classic starter at Charlie's Steak House. Shrimp and crab tossed in Creole vinaigrette are served over tomato and mixed greens at New City Grille. Bayou Coffee House & Café wrangles up a chicken Tex-Mex salad with grilled chicken on Romaine, tomato, black olives, cheddar and spicy ranch dressing plus chips and salsa.

Salmon

Versatile and flavorful, this pink-fleshed fish has spawned countless local dishes. Chateau du Lac in Metairie prepares a grilled salmon steak with tomato coulis. Hard-seared North Atlantic salmon is dusted with fennel pollen and served with saffron and leek sauce at Martinique Bistro. Café East gives a subtle Asian touch to its salmon St. Megnal with raspberry teriyaki glaze. The smoked salmon salad from Between the Bread in the CBD pairs up slices of fish with boiled egg, capers, red onion, kosher pickle and cucumbers over greens. The blackened salmon spinach salad from Gretna's Gattuso's Neighborhood Bar & Restaurant has blue cheese crumbles, diced red onions, raisins and crushed pecans. P.F. Chang's serves grilled wild Alaskan salmon with citrus soy sauce. The pan-roasted salmon at O'Donnell's Restaurant is plated with a tasso and leek hash plus fried oysters and herb truffle butter. Salmon meuniere is complemented by tasso cream and served with green chili grits at 7 on Fulton. The bistro fare at the Columns Hotel's Albertine's Tea Room features blackened salmon with black beans, corn and roasted red pepper salsa with avocado cream and pickles.

Sandwich

Po-boys aren't the end of the story when it comes to New Orleanians' sandwich affections. Even the namesake sandwich at DiMartino's Muffulettas gets some competition from the chicken parmigiana sandwich, served with potato salad. The fontina press at Terrazu is a hot combo of turkey, bacon, fontina cheese and basil pesto mayo on grilled multigrain bread. Sam's Po-boys tops its breaded chicken cutlet with cheese and Italian-style meat sauce for its chicken Parmesan sandwich. The skillet sandwich is a one-handed breakfast from Verti Marte combining egg, ham, cheese, french fries and "wow sauce" on grilled bread. The Balcony Bar & Café puts the makings of a popular dip between bread for its spinach and artichoke sandwich with garlic sauce, onions, mushrooms, cheese and tomatoes. The deluxe club sub at Lenny's Sub Shop is layered with turkey, roast beef, bacon and provolone. Curried chicken salad on croissant can be augmented with a choice of dressings like rancho pepper or roasted garlic at Welty's Deli. Kosher Cajun New York Deli & Grocery offers a taste of tradition with its J&N special, a combination of hot corned beef and hot pastrami on rye. Lafitte's Café pays homage to nearby University of New Orleans with its Privateer sandwich of Buffalo-style fried chicken with cheese, bacon and ranch dressing. The Lakeview Brew club features smoked turkey, smoked ham and bacon stacked up triple decker-style at Lakeview Brew Coffee Café. Harahan's Hickory Café & Grill prepares its grilled Uptown chicken sandwich with melted brie, smoked bacon, spinach and tomatoes. Elizabeth's Restaurant makes a mean pastrami sandwich on rye with Swiss cheese and a side of sweet potato fries. The Cuban sandwich from Cajun Mike's Pub is pressed on the panini iron until the juices from roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles are all bubbling together inside the bread. Stein's Market and Deli dubs its hot pastrami with Swiss cheese, coleslaw and house-made Russian dressing on rye the Sam sandwich. Rivershack Tavern's Ben D. Rules sandwich layers pastrami, pepper Jack and sauerkraut between toasted rye bread with Creole mustard. Pork is marinated in sour orange and pressed with ham and pickles on Chickie Wah Wah's Cuban sandwich. Café Beignet's Bourbon croissant is layered with turkey, bacon, white cheddar, lettuce and tomato and pickles. Coffea Coffee House's Cuban panini features pulled pork, horseradish mustard, provolone and pickles pressed on a hoagie roll. Rue de la Course builds sandwiches of turkey, roast beef or chicken salad on white, seven-grain or black forest bread, dressed with lettuce, tomato, red onions and choice of cheese. Chisesi ham, salami, provolone and Parmesan cheese dressed with lettuce, tomato and vinaigrette dressing comprise the Taste of Italy sandwich at Muffuletta's Deli. Garlic-scented, Italian-seasoned roast pork loin is topped with a slice of capicola and ricotta cheese on the Phillipo panino at Just Italy Deli. Caffe Angelina's house-made roast beef on ciabatta bread is dressed with lettuce, tomato, hot peppers and avocado on the namesake Angellina sandwich. Jigger's marinates chicken breasts in spicy sauce before grilling them for sandwiches. Lakeview Harbor serves its chicken sandwich topped with bacon, mushrooms and cheese on either white, wheat or pistolette with a baked potato on the side. Puccino's Roman chicken panino features sliced herbed chicken, bacon, tomato, kalamata olives, pesto, mozzarella and arugula. Prosciutto, mozzarella and house-made basil pesto fill a panino sandwich at Gelato Pazzo Café. Liberty's Kitchen slow smokes pork and serves it with Tabasco Spicy Bar-B-Que sauce on a kaiser roll with choice of coleslaw, chips or "cowboy caviar" (marinated black-eyed peas). Parrot Pete's Best Banker sandwich features turkey, cheddar cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and honey-mustard dressing on a croissant, with chips, salad or fruit on the side.

click to enlarge Copeland's Social City offers a taste of New Orleans cooking and music in a festive atmosphere. - PHOTO BY SUSAN SNEE
  • Photo by Susan Snee
  • Copeland's Social City offers a taste of New Orleans cooking and music in a festive atmosphere.
Sausage

Whether they serve upscale or down-home cooking, many New Orleans restaurants find a common link with sausage. A plate of house-made andouille and boudin sausages with beer-braised onions, greens and whole-grain mustard make a rustic start to a meal at Emeril's. At Cooter Brown's Tavern, the 9th Ward Special is a grilled hot sausage patty sandwich with cheese. Italian sausage and spaghetti comprise a rib-sticking Tuesday special at Johnny & Jackie's Café and Grill. La Boca sticks to its Argentine theme with an appetizer of traditional morcilla sausage. The jazz burger at Fat Harry's is a tavern creation blending hot sausage and ground beef topped with barbecue sauce and cheese. Jäger Haus prepares grilled bratwurst and garlic knackwurst with German potato salad and sauerkraut. House-made Italian sausage is served with fire-roasted peppers and onions over angel hair pasta at Todaro's Restaurant. Café Royale offers a Monday special of butterbeans and pickled meat with a link of smoked sausage, corn bread and salad. A Louisiana Satsuma Creole mustard graces the boudin sausage at Napoleon House. The Joint has made a major specialty of dense, spicy, smoked chaurice sausage. Johnny's Po-Boys assembles its Judge Bosetta sandwich with ground beef, Italian and hot sausage topped with Swiss and dressed to order. Louisiana Bistro's Creole boudin is served with caramelized onions, Creole mustard and cayenne glaze. Argentine choripan is a grilled Italian-style pork sausage served on a sandwich dressed New Orleans style or with chimichurri sauce at Pollos a la Brassas. Louisiana Pizza Kitchen Uptown serves a sample platter with alligator, andouille and Italian sausage and caramelized onions. Barley Oak serves a German sausage sampler including a bratwurst, knockwurst and beef frank with a selection of imported mustards.

Scallops

It's hard to beat scallops when you want to try a little tenderness on the plate. The pan-seared scallops at Cannon's Restaurant are gilded with a creamy roasted corn ragout. Sizzling scallops and steak are served on a hot plate with brown sauce and Asian vegetables at Beijing. At Hoa Hong/9 Roses, scallops join shrimp, jellyfish, squid and vegetables in vinaigrette for the refreshing seafood delight salad. Galvez Restaurant sautes scallops with oyster mushrooms and asparagus in Albarino sauce. The yu chaw scallops are stir-fried with chili and cucumbers at Aja on Magazine Street. Five Happiness sends its sizzling scallops out with sauteed snow peas, baby corn and mushrooms. Scallops and shrimp team with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and bell peppers over pasta for the rigatoni Nocerina at Fausto's Bistro. Bonefish Grill serves bacon-wrapped scallops and serves them with mango salsa. At Zoë, chef Roberto Bustillo serves seared sea scallops on Tuscan corn grits with mushroom ragout. Chef Tom Wolfe serves pan-roasted Maine scallops with truffle-scented mushroom ragout and Parmesan cheese as an appetizer at Wolfe's in the Warehouse. Scallops, shrimp and eggplant in red curry sauce fill a hollowed out coconut shell at Basil Leaf.

Seafood Platter

Salvation for both the indecisive or the massively hungry, the seafood platter brings it all together. Deanie's on Hayne maintains a lakefront tradition with its showboat for two, a loaf hollowed and filled with fried and stuffed seafood and onion rings. Frank's Place on Decatur Street adds a stuffed crab to fried shrimp, oysters and catfish piled over fries and buttered bread. Fat City Diner plays it straight with a combo of oysters, shrimp and fish. The giant seafood platter from Deanie's Seafood is built for two with a mountain of shrimp, oysters and catfish plus soft-shell crabs and crawfish dressing balls. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. calls its combo platter of fried shrimp, lobster and mahi mahi the "boat trash" platter, but it's a hit nonetheless. Ninja Restaurant & Sushi Bar takes a fresh approach with the sauteed salmon, squid, scallops, shrimp and green mussels on its hot skillet seafood platter. Jaeger's Seafood builds its regal king platter with a pound of Alaskan king crab, a Maine lobster and boiled shrimp, plus boiled potatoes and corn. The seafood platter at Jam's Po-Boys is a deep-fried tour of shrimp, catfish and oysters, plus fries, baked potato or potato salad. La Bayou adds crawfish and a soft-shell crab to fried shrimp, catfish and oysters over fries and hushpuppies on its "ultimate" seafood platter. The Corner Oyster House serves popcorn shrimp and a stuffed crab on its seafood platter, along with fried catfish and oysters. Load up the shrimp, oysters and catfish with sides like jambalaya, cornbread or macaroni and cheese at Buster's Soul Food. La Peniché is a late-night or anytime option for a seafood platter of Louisiana shrimp, oysters, catfish and a stuffed crab. Chad's Bistro hollows out a bread loaf for its seafood boat of fried oysters, shrimp and catfish. The cold seafood platter at Grand Isle features jumbo lump crab, marinated crab claws, boiled shrimp, raw oysters and sides of tartar, cocktail and remoulade sauces. The seafood market Kjean Seafood combines fried shrimp, catfish and oysters on its combo platter and offers a choice of french fries, potato salad or lettuce and tomato salad on the side. Brigsten's "Shell Beach Diet" is a seafood platter with items like paneed scallops, baked oyster LeRuth with shrimp and crabmeat, jalapeno shrimp coleslaw and no fried portions. Two Tony's seafood platter includes crabcakes and shrimp, oysters and catfish that can be fried, grilled, sauteed or blackened. Franky & Johnny's seafood platter includes fried catfish, shrimp and oysters, a stuffed crab, salad and fries or potato salad. Jack Dempsey's heavyweight seafood platter rounds up a cup of gumbo, shrimp, oysters, catfish, redfish, crawfish pies and a choice of two side items. Seither's serves a boiled seafood special with a pound each of crawfish, shrimp and crabs. The seafood platter at Smitty's Seafood is a big catch of shrimp, oysters and a soft-shell crab with choice of baked macaroni, fries, potato salad or vegetable with salad and bread.

Shrimp

Local kitchens come up with myriad menu choices for the abundant local shrimp harvest. New Orleans-style barbecued shell-on shrimp in peppery sauce was invented at Pascal's Manale. Iris in the French Quarter poaches its marinated Gulf shrimp and serves them chilled over a salad of green papaya, Vietnamese herbs and crushed peanuts. New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp at Mr. B's Bistro are blackened in their shells for a signature dish with a peppery butter sauce. The shrimp Gagliano, sauteed in butter with garlic, green onions and sweet basil and served over angel hair pasta, is a favorite at Frank's Place. Choose your shrimp fried or boiled for Big Al's shrimp salad over mixed greens with crunchy vegetables at Big Al's Seafood Restaurant. Start things off at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. with the shrimp and salsa cocktail spiced up with habanero peppers and served with tortilla chips. Shrimp are stuffed and broiled for a dinner platter at Sammy's Seafood Restaurant. The Alpine Restaurant does traditional New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp with plenty of rosemary, spices and French bread for dipping. Shrimp are done ceviche-style with a long marinade in lime, cilantro and pico de gallo at La Casa Gomez. P & G Restaurant and Bar specializes in fried shrimp piled up for platters or stuffed into po-boys. Shrimp join artichoke hearts and a creamy sauce for a popular pasta dish at Liuzza's Restaurant and Bar. The shrimp Charles at Ralph & Kacoo's are stuffed with crabmeat, deep fried and topped with more crabmeat and hollandaise sauce. The shrimp Mosca at Mosca's Restaurant are sauteed in their shells with Italian seasonings, white wine and garlic. The shrimp Anthony at Todaro's Restaurant is a bowl of angel hair pasta tossed with large shrimp, bacon, green onions and marinara. Bourbon House does a peel-and-eat rendition of barbecue shrimp with heady butter sauce and French bread. The garlic shrimp live up to their name at Lola's Restaurant, where they are seasoned with Spanish paprika and sherry. Across the street, Café Degas prepares a cool ceviche of shrimp, avocado and fresh mango marinated in lime vinaigrette. Shrimp joins the traditional BLT sandwich at 5Fifty5, prepared on house-made brioche with smoked bacon and citrus aioli. Jumbo shrimp in New Orleans-style barbecue sauce at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is a popular alternative to steaks. The fleur de lis shrimp at Drago's Seafood Restaurant are sauteed with peanuts and spicy red pepper aioli. At South Seas Asian Cuisine, the Spartan roll features tempura shrimp rolled with cream cheese, topped with crab, tuna and avocado and drizzled with eel sauce. Maximo's Italian Grill wraps prosciutto around shrimp, garlic and basil for its grilled Sicilian shrimp appetizer. The shrimp and grits at Atchafalaya Restaurant combines head-on shrimp and smoked tomato and andouille broth over grits. Yes sir, Si Senor at Cosimo's does stuff its shrimp burrito with shrimp, black beans, rice, cilantro and salsa. The shrimp Rockefeller appetizer at Mr. John's Ristorante and Steakhouse is prepared with garlic and shallots, flamed with Herbsaint and served on a bed of spinach cream. Lightly smoked tomatoes, mushrooms and herbs are simmered with shrimp for a pasta dish at the Gumbo Shop. P.F. Chang's tosses shrimp with candied walnuts and a creamy sauce, served with honeydew melon. The camarones grandes at Tomatillo's are shrimp wrapped in bacon and smothered with cheese over a bed of Mexican rice. Landry's prepares shrimp fresca with Parmesan-encrusted shrimp topped with jumbo lump crabmeat over angel hair pasta. Honey pecans and sauteed shrimp combine with brown sauce and Asian vegetables at Jung's Golden Dragon. A blend of herbs laces the New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp at the Flaming Torch Restaurant. Daniel's on the Bayou fills a chilled avocado with Gulf shrimp ceviche marinated in lime juice, olive oil, cilantro and cumin. Bacco's rendition of New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp uses a sauce with garlic, rosemary and Abita Amber beer and serves the dish with toasted ciabatta bread. China Orchid simmers Gulf shrimp with mango, broccoli, bell peppers and onion in spicy brown sauce over rice. The Ruby Slipper Café pairs New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp with creamy, slow-cooked grits. Cuvée's spiced shrimp Napoleon is layered with crisp mirliton and served with frisee, remoulade and cayenne beurre blanc. New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp are served over garlic mashed potatoes at Allegro Bistro. Lightly fried shrimp are topped with creamy wasabi sauce and candied pecans at Bambu at Harrah's. At Delachaise, Gulf shrimp Clemenceau features a golden Thai coconut curry sauce with mushrooms, peas and potatoes. New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp top savory caramelized onion and smoked shrimp cheesecake at Annadele's Plantation. Live Bait Bar & Grill serves shrimp sauteed in spicy garlic butter sauce in a po-boy dressed with lettuce, tomato and pickles. Calypso Patio Bar & Grill wraps Gulf shrimp in bacon, sautees them with peppers and onions in teriyaki sauce and serves them over bowtie pasta tossed in honey-ginger cream. Lago's shrimp spring rolls are served with a sweet chili sauce. Stop by Liberty's Kitchen on Friday for a lunch special of pan-seared shrimp over stone-ground grits with smoked crimini mushroom sauce.

Soft-Shell Crab

No hard sell is needed when soft-shell crabs are on the menu. The soft-shell De-No is fried and paired with a crawfish cream sauce over angel hair pasta at De-No Seafood. Restaurant des Familles makes a bed of artichoke hearts, mushrooms and green onions for the star attraction in its soft-shell crab Foster. The soft-shell crab platter comes with house-made potato salad and salad at Magazine Po-boy Shop. The soft-shell crab po-boy at Stanley is dressed with coleslaw, spicy remoulade and Creole cocktail sauce. A pair of fried soft-shell crabs are topped with a sauce of lemon, butter, crabmeat and crawfish for the soft-shell crab Marcello at Impastato's. Famous for its po-boy at Jazz Fest, Galley Restaurant in Metairie also serves soft-shell crabs over Alfredo pasta topped with crabmeat. Antoine's Restaurant grills soft-shell crabs and serves them with melted butter. Rajun Cajun Café's Crabby Ashley is a fried soft shell on a bed of pasta with creamy crawfish and mushroom sauce served with French bread. At Dakota Restaurant, soft-shell crab is stuffed with shrimp, crabmeat and crawfish dressing and served with toasted pecans, wild grains, asparagus and Creolaise sauce.

click to enlarge Tommy's Cuisine serves Creole-Italian dishes - PHOTO BY SUSAN SNEE
Soup

A hot bowl of soup on a sweltering New Orleans day? Sure, when it's gumbo, turtle soup, bisque or a new creation. Roasted tomato and garlic or Baha chicken enchilada soup pair well with a wrap from Roly Poly. The corn and crab bisque at Fiorella's comes with warm bread for sopping up every drop. Mandina's has served traditional turtle soup au sherry for more than half a century. Grab a seat at the bar or in the dining area for a bowl of Opelousas sweet potato bisque at Cafe Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar. Lafitte's offers both a seafood and a chicken sausage gumbo and a sweet corn and crab bisque. The beef noodle soup (pho tai) at Jazmine Café is bowl of beef slices, noodles, onions and cilantro in broth, served with a basket of bean sprouts, limes, basil and jalapenos. Doson Noodle House ladles out a variety of soups including pho ga, a chicken noodle soup. Italian wedding soup with chicken broth, meatballs, spinach, Parmesan cheese and pasta is made fresh at Bravo. The musaki soup at Lebanon Café is stewed tomatoes with chickpeas, garlic, eggplant, rosemary and spices. The Dakota Restaurant serves rich lump crabmeat and brie soup. Black bean soup with tomatoes, onions, peppers and cilantro gets some extra heat from Jamaican spices at Coco Hut. Casablanca makes traditional Moroccan harira soup with chickpeas, lentils, saffron and herbs.

Spinach

Fresh spinach muscles its way onto many local menus. Theo's Neighborhood Pizza tosses a sweet spinach salad with purple onions, dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese and pepper jelly vinaigrette. Reginelli's spinach manicotti is herbed ricotta and Parmesan cheeses stuffed in pasta on a bed of wilted spinach with creamy lemon tarragon balsamella sauce with melted mozzarella and lemon croutons. Baby spinach, diced tomatoes, cran-raisins, mushrooms and blue cheese crumbles all play a part in Cafe Freret's spinach salad. Gautreau's spinach and fried goat cheese salad is mixed with pears, pecans and cane syrup vinaigrette. Crescent City Steak House sautes spinach in olive oil with garlic. The spinach and artichoke lavash roll at Fellini's Cafe combines mozzarella and feta cheeses, mushrooms, roasted garlic and red onions in rolled flatbread. Chez Nous' changing gourmet-to-go menu features cold soups like spinach vichyssoise. Bistro Daisy's warm spinach salad is topped with bacon, toasted almonds, fried goat cheese and sherry vinaigrette. At Oscar's, spinach dip is topped with Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream and served with chips. Spinach, onions and sumac spice fill phyllo pastry triangles at Mona's Café.

Steak

While it might be considered all-American grilling fare, a steak in New Orleans isn't something easily replicated in your backyard barbecue pit. At Vizard's, the namesake steak, Vizard's Cut, is a rib-eye cap sauced with Creole bordelaise. The Cajun filet at Star Steak and Lobster House is stuffed with seafood dressing. La Petite Grocery pan roasts a bone-in rib-eye and serves it with picholine olives, roasted tomatoes and a potato galette. Crazy Johnnie's Steakhouse keeps it simple with a grilled prime-cut filet mignon topped with garlic butter. The carne asada at Baru Bistro and Tapas is grilled skirt steak served with hogao con chorizo. Feelings Café fills a 6-oz. prime filet with blue cheese and tops it with melted cheese and sauteed mushrooms. The 8-oz. filet at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse comes with flash-fried oysters and is finished with bearnaise sauce. The Rib Room at the Omni Hotel slow roasts prime rib and serves it au jus with horseradish and a baked potato. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse sears a New York strip at 1,800 degrees and tops it with butter. Gordon Biersch's tops an 18-oz. bone-in rib-eye with gorgonzola butter. Crescent City Steak House serves a T-bone with Lyonnaise potatoes. The bistec relleno at Churros Cafe is a sirloin steak rolled with ham, bacon, onions, olives and parsley and simmered in garlic, onion, tomato and herb sauce. The Creole Skillet's filet Rockefeller features twin 4-oz. petite filets with flash-fried oysters, creamed spinach and spiced hollandaise. Elizabeth's Restaurant smokes rib-eye steaks and also serves them with hollandaise. Besh Steak serves a 30-day aged prime New York strip with blue cheese butter and onion rings. The 9-oz. filet at Chad's Bistro is topped with a lump crabmeat bordelaise. Mediterranean Café grills a filet with mustard sauce and mushrooms. Some call a bone-in rib-eye a "cowboy steak," but Morton's Steakhouse calls it Chicago style. The bistro-style hanger steak at Etoile is served with roasted shallot sauce, garlic potato fries and asparagus. At Jacques-Imo'sCafé, the Carpetbagger steak is stuffed with oysters. Hostel New Orleans' Raging Bull is a grilled flat-iron steak topped with compound butter and served with Brabant potatoes sauteed with Nieske's applewood smoked bacon. A sizzling halo of garlic butter hovers over T-bone steaks served at Charlie's Steak House. If the 24-oz. porterhouse at Shula's Steak House sounds too light for your training table, order the 48-oz. version. Outback Steakhouse offers either a 7-oz. or 9-oz. Victoria filet topped with blue cheese or horseradish crumb crust. Skirt steak is marinated Cuban-style in sour orange and served with Argentine chimichurri sauce at Mojo Grill.

Sushi

Seafood fans let the good times roll at area sushi restaurants. The FEMA Roll at Sushi Brothers features soybean paper wrapped around salmon, snow crab, asparagus, avocado, crunchies and special sauce, with more spicy tuna and smelt roe on top. Little Tokyo serves white tuna tataki with ponzu and avocado sauce. Roll up to Mikimoto's pick-up window for an assorted sushi platter including a California roll, soup and salad. Rock-n-Sake's Dragon Roll is a snow crab, avocado and asparagus roll topped with barbecue eel, avocado and house-made eel sauce. The Futo Maki at Miyako is crabmeat, omelet, avocado, cucumber, squash, burdock root and oshinko. The Decatur Roll at Sekisui Samurai features spicy crawfish with crunchy and cilantro inside, topped with garlic and white tuna seared with fajita seasoning. Sake Café offers a Tiger Roll featuring salmon and tuna rolled inside seaweed and topped with more salmon and tuna, barbecued eel, avocado, crunchies, masago, scallions and eel sauce. Wasabi's chirashi sushi dinner features sashimi slices of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, octopus, whitefish, shrimp and egg custard served over sushi rice. Uni, or sea urchin, is a delicacy in Japan, and Sake Cafe Uptown serves it topped with a quail egg. Sliced mango, salmon and tempura shrimp are topped with sweet sauce in the mango salmon special roll at Hana Japanese Restaurant.

Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads are not sweet and not bread, but that hasn't kept the mysterious delicacy off local menus. Vega Tapas Café sautes veal sweetbreads and serves them with crimini mushrooms and Serrano ham over sherry butter. La Boca offers an Argentine preparation of sweetbreads, called mollejas. La Crepe Nanou's traditional le ris de veau features sweetbreads with lemon caper butter. At Bayona, diners can order veal sweetbreads either as an appetizer or as an entree with either lemon caper or sherry mustard butter as a sauce. Patois serves sauteed sweatbreads over beluga lentils and wilted spinach with country ham reduction. Crispy sweetbreads are served over polenta with mushroom ragout at Upperline. Tommy's Cuisine sautees sweetbreads with capers and serves them over eggplant with white wine sauce.

Taco

There may not be as many taco trucks roaming the region, but there are plenty of restaurants offering tacos of all sorts. La Casa Gomez features tacos Puerto Vallarta, which are grilled shrimp wrapped in flour tortillas and served with lettuce, sour cream, homemade guacamole and pico de gallo. On Thursdays Melius Bar and Café fills a taco plate with three tacos, Mexican rice and beans. Tacos de brisket is oven-roasted brisket served in flour tortillas with sides of onions, cilantro, avocado, jalapenos and homemade tomatillo sauce. Mama's taco plate at Nacho Mama's Mexican Grill allows diners to choose hard corn, soft corn, flour or wheat tortillas and a variety of fillings including beans, vegetables, chicken, beef, shrimp, pork or steak. Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant provides a seafood take on tacos with fried or grilled grouper filling flour tortillas with cheese, shredded lettuce and shrimp sauce. Juan's Flying Burrito's Mardi Gras Indians tacos fill grilled corn tortillas with roasted corn, pinto beans, grilled squash, Jack and cheddar cheeses and spicy slaw. The taco salad at Lafitte's Café is refried beans, seasoned beef, shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, sliced tomatoes and black olives served in a fried tortilla shell, and topped with sour cream, black olives and guacamole. Taqueria Corona offers a long list of tacos including rib-eye carne asada tacos featuring grilled, marinated steak served with cebollitas, pico de gallo, cilantro and onions. J'Anita's fills the kitchen nook at Avenue Pub during the day, but during late-night hours the grill serves bar noshing items like mini-tacos covered in cheese sauce. Fish tacos feature tilapia topped with lettuce and cilantro-lime cream at Calypso Patio Bar & Grill.

click to enlarge Matt Schafer, Karen Theriot and Nick Powers serve a wide selection of beer and German cuisine at Barley Oak. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Matt Schafer, Karen Theriot and Nick Powers serve a wide selection of beer and German cuisine at Barley Oak.
Tamale

Packing tamales in cornhusks for steaming is an art, and there are a number of local restaurants that practice this artistry. El Gato Negro serves pulled pork tamales with Mexican rice and beans. La Macarena Pupuseria and Latin Café offers a tamale and pupusa platter including one chicken tamale, two pupusas, salsa, refried beans and sweet fried plantains. Adobe Cantina's tamales La Carreta delives two tamales in cornhusks with enchilada sauce and a chile relleno. Liborio Cuban Restaurant fills homemade corn tamales with pork. Huevos starts the day with a tamale breakfast featuring three pork tamales topped with two poached eggs and salsa verde. Customers at Guillory's Grocery can order homemade hot tamales by the dozen. Fiesta Latina's tamale de pollo is a Central American-style tamale filled with chicken and potato and topped with tomato sauce.

Tomato

Is it a fruit, or is it a vegetable? While the debate rages on in perpetuity, New Orleans restaurants and diners simply consider them delicious. Mike's American Grill creates a roasted tomato and paneed eggplant stack with garlic ricotta cheese and basil. La Boca makes a salad with sliced tomatoes, blue cheese and shaved red onion in olive oil. DiMartino's Muffulettas serves fried green tomatoes. Saltwater Grill makes a fried green tomato and shrimp remoulade po-boy with cornmeal-battered tomatoes, fried Gulf shrimp and homemade remoulade. Chef Paul Prudhomme layers cornmeal-battered fried green tomatoes with sauteed Louisiana shrimp and adds caper and dill remoulade sauce at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. Keith Young's Steakhouse offers broiled tomatoes as a side dish. The Sound Café fashions a plate of sliced Creole tomatoes and cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, black olives, a baguette and hummus. Grilled shrimp and fried green tomatoes in remoulade sauce is offered as a po-boy at Mahony's. The tomato and crab salad at Eleven 79 features sliced, vine-ripe tomatoes with jumbo crabmeat and balsamic vinaigrette.

Trout

Trout has been a mainstay on New Orleans menus as a versatile, tasty-but-not-overpowering freshwater fish. At Kjean Seafood, diners can enjoy trout on a po-boy or as part of a platter. Lightly breaded silver rainbow trout is paneed and served with vegetables and salad at Le Citron Bistro. Grilled trout Timphony with vegetables, pasta and salad is a signature dish at Timphony's. Joey K's Restaurant serves trout Tchoupitoulas with a pan-fried fillet topped with shrimp, crabmeat and served with mixed vegetables and new potatoes. Embers Steakhouse makes trout etouffee and also serves a trout fillet broiled in lemon and butter and served with a baked potato. Head to Lil' Dizzy's Café any time of year for the Jazz Fest favorite trout Baquet topped with crabmeat and lemon butter. All week, Rajun Cajun Café serves an all-you-can-eat fried trout special with hush puppies, fries and potato salad. Zea Rotisserie Grill serves Idaho trout fillets crusted with pesto and complemented by a choice of two side dishes like Thai snap beans, dirty rice or buttered sweet potatoes. Salvatore Ristorante's namesake trout specialty features a sauteed fillet topped with creamy garlic, crabmeat, shrimp and mushroom sauce, served with vegetables and garlic potatoes.

Tuna

Tuna are very fast swimmers, but not quick enough to escape many a menu in New Orleans. Little Tokyo serves up a spicy tuna salad. Yellowfin tuna is grilled with lemon and butter or blackened in an iron pan at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. The tuna tataki salad at La Thai Uptown is sesame-crusted tuna served on mixed greens with sweet soy reduction, lime wasabi aioli and cilantro. Yuki Izakaya prepares spicy tuna tataki. Mr. Roo's Deli and Catering grills tuna and serves it with garlic butter sauce over pasta. Kyoto's tuna tataki ginzan is thinly sliced tuna over a bed of greens with spicy avocado sauce. Daisy Dukes blackens sushi-grade tuna and serves it with white wine mushroom sauce. The 8-oz. tuna steak at Beachcomber Bar and Grill is grilled to order and served with homemade tuna sauce on a bun or on a salad. The Gulf Coast tuna tartare at Le Meritage is prepared with avocado, sesame and spicy aioli. Sekisui Samurai's Ocean Pyramid features layers of avocado, tuna, salmon, yellowtail and tobiko. The blackened tuna remoulade at Southside Café is yellowfin tuna blackened to temperature and served with homemade white remoulade sauce. The appetizer menu at Lilette boasts a tuna carpaccio with orange, nicoise olives, mint and olive oil. Yellowfin tuna steaks are crusted with sesame seeds at Morton's Steakhouse. Chops Bistro & Martini Bar serves blackened yellowfin tuna nachos with tomato concasse, spinach chiffonade, melted pepper Jack cheese and chipotle sour cream. At Dino's Bar & Grill, grilled tuna steaks are glazed with feta vinaigrette, topped with feta and served over mixed greens. Tuna steaks are grilled and served on a salad or whole wheat or sesame seed bun at Red Eye Grill. Dish on First serves pepper-crusted ahi tuna with mango and pineapple salsa. Harbor Bar & Grill tops blackened tuna with tomato, bacon and artichoke hearts. Blackened ahi tuna is served with corn and tomato salsa and sweet potatoes at New City Grille.

Turkey

Ah, the Zen turkey koan: If turkey is so healthy, why are the birds so fat? La Macarena Pupuseria and Latin Café features a Mayan-style roasted turkey sandwich with hand-pulled, tender, oven-roasted turkey and gravy served with sweet fried plantains. The turkey burger at Lager's International Ale House is topped with caramelized onions. The Audubon Golf Clubhouse serves a clubhouse turkey Reuben, which is smoked turkey piled high on house-made cabbage slaw with Thousand Island dressing over rye bread. Sound Café's Bird's Grocery is turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, red onions and olives on a bed of spring greens, topped with balsamic vinaigrette. Heavenly Ham's turkey Ranch Wrangler is smoked turkey and peppered bacon on French bread with cheddar cheese, cucumber, red onion, lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing. The turkey O'Toole sandwich at Bennigan's is sliced turkey breast, melted Swiss cheese and smoky honey Dijon dressing served on a homemade soft pretzel roll. Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro features a hot turkey French dip with thinly sliced roasted turkey breast, Swiss cheese and garlic mayonnaise served toasted French bread with Cajun dipping sauce. The turkey special sandwich at Gattuso's Neighborhood Bar and Restaurant is smoked turkey breast with melted Swiss cheese, avocado, sprouts and honey mustard served on a honey wheat roll. At 13 Monaghan, open-face turkey melts are made with sourdough bread and topped with red pepper sauce. St. James Cheese Co. makes a turkey melt with Brie and chutney on a baguette and serves it with chips or salad. At Dorignac's Jezz's Kitchen, the baked turkey weekly special is served with gravy, cornbread dressing and sweet potato casserole.

Veal

A staple meat in Italian cooking, veal is tender and flavorful. La Famiglia serves veal Marsala with Marsala wine, mushrooms and lemon butter sauce or tomato and Parmesan cheese. The veal picatta at Austin's Restaurant is sauteed white veal served with angel hair pasta and topped with a lemon and caper butter sauce. Veal chops with a choice of baked potato or sweet potato and a dinner salad are available at Keith Young's Steakhouse. Andrea's Restaurant features veal chop Valastona: baby white veal chop stuffed with fontina cheese and prosciutto, coated in bread crumbs, pan seared, baked and topped with a butter, wine and mushroom cream sauce. The veal parmigiana at Pascal's Manale is veal in Italian red sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and served with pasta. Mr. John's Ristorante and Steakhouse offers paneed veal topped with crabmeat and lemon butter and served over linguine in a bolognese sauce. The osso bucco at Eleven79 is from the shank, Milanese style, and served with pappardelle pasta. The 12-oz. veal rib chop at Bon Ton Café is grilled and served with mushrooms in Cabernet wine sauce. The daily jazz brunch at the Court of Two Sisters features veal grillades with gravy and corn grits. At Café DiBlasi, the namesake veal dish features pan-fried breaded veal topped with crabmeat and lemon cream. Anselmo's veal Filippo features rosemary-breaded veal topped with crabmeat and lemon butter sauce served over angel hair pasta.

Vegetables

Summer is the perfect season to enjoy some light, fresh vegetables. The vegetarian plate at Pyramids Café combines hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh and falafel. Korea House prepares seafood and vegetables over rice in a hot stone pot. Try a roasted vegetable sandwich with roasted eggplant, portobello mushroom, tomato, zuchinni, yellow squash with herbed goat cheese from New Orleans Cake Café and Bakery. Baru Bistro and Tapas offers a mazorca tapa, which is roasted corn mixed with pink sauce, Salao cheese and crunchy potato sticks. Surrey's Café and Juice Bar marinates tofu in soy and ginger, sautes it with poblano peppers, mushrooms and onions and serves it over rice. The Mediterranean veggie from Covenant Cafe is sprouts, roma tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, feta cheese and Greek dressing served on toasted wheat bread. Among the vegetarian options at 13 Monaghan is the house-made black bean veggie burger served on French bread. Everything is vegetarian at Café Bamboo, including vindaloo style fiery curry with onions, tomatoes and serrano peppers. Dick & Jenny's vegetable plate includes paneed eggplant, garlic mashed potatoes, tomato confit and mushroom gravy.

Waffles

New Orleans cuisine has its French, Spanish and African influences, but what about those waffle-loving Belgians? At Begue's in the Royal Sonesta, breakfast lovers can feast on waffles with Vermont maple syrup, or turn them into an early dessert with some bananas, blueberries or strawberries with whipped cream and pecans. The Royal American Womlette at Fat Hen Grill is a six-egg omelet baked on a Belgian waffle with bacon, ham and American cheese. Mat & Naddie's serves Mat's fried chicken and pecan wild rice waffles, which is free-range chicken breast fried in duck fat and served with Gruyere mornay sauce and a drizzle of real maple syrup. Top a thick Belgian waffle with strawberries, bananas or pecans at Caffe Latte Da. Puccino's serves a buttermilk waffle sandwich filled with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and ham or bacon.

Wings

Hot chicken wings were made famous in Buffalo, but New Orleans restaurants have put their own stamp on this zesty dish. NOLA features Miss Hay's stuffed chicken wing served with homemade hoisin dipping sauce. The khan pooug ke at the Korean House is fried chicken wings with hot-and-sour sauce. At the Wing Zone, diners can try a variety of styles from teriyaki to Cajun and spice levels from mild to nuclear. Chicken wings at Gordon Biersch are glazed with sweet chili and ginger sauce. Hooters offers Nearly Famous Chicken Wings with a selection of 10 sauces. Fox & Hound Pub & Grille's Buffulo chips are boneless wings served with celery, Ranch dressing and a choice of hot sauce. Outback Steakhouse's Kookaburra wings feature a not-so-foreign spicy sauce, plus celery and blue cheese dressing. Squeal Bar-B-Q serves smoked wings with eight-pepper sauce. Live Bait Bar & Grill serves wings with a choice of Buffalo, barbecue, Teriyaki or sweet chili sauce.

Wraps

These wrap artists know how to roll. French Quarter Pizza's Toledano wrap comes with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, garlic, sweet basil pesto and melted mozzarella. The chicken Caesar wrap at Dino's Bar & Grill wraps grilled chicken, romaine lettuce and Caesar dressing in a spinach tortilla and serves it with Cajun seasoned fries. Roly Poly offers an extensive menu of wraps including the chipotle cheesesteak, a grilled roll of sliced grilled sirloin, melted cheddar and Jack cheese, onion, mushrooms, green pepper and mild chipotle ranch dressing. The roasted chicken wrap at Italian Pie features marinated grilled chicken breast, red onions, green and red peppers, feta and mozzarella cheese and pesto aioli wrapped in Mediterranean flat bread. Rendez Vous Café cuts hot sausage into strips and wraps them in a garlic herb tortilla dressed with mayonnaise, shredded cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato are squeezed into a tomato basil wrap at the Olive Branch Café. Ernst Café serves a New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp wrap in a garlic and herb tortilla with tomatoes and a choice of dressing. McAlister's Deli slices grilled chicken and rolls it in a wheat wrap with fat-free chipotle peach sauce, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and tortilla strips. The chicken feta wrap at Pizza Florence is marinated chicken with roasted red pepper, red onion and a combination of feta and whole-milk mozzarella. Grab a grilled turkey club wrap dressed with mayo, lettuce, tomato and pickle plus your choice of a side at Mr. Roo's Deli and Catering. Maddie's Place dishes up a chicken salad wrap on whole grain tortilla stuffed with chicken salad, cranberry relish, lettuce and tomatoes. Caffe! Caffe!'s chipotle chicken wrap is sliced grilled chicken, shredded Swiss cheese, mixed greens and homemade chipolte mayo served in a whole wheat wrap. The chicken Caesar Wrap at Fellini's Café is warm pita bread filled with sliced chicken breast and tossed with homemade Caesar dressing. Gott Gourmet's shrimp BLT wrap features jumbo shrimp sauteed in Tabasco and butter, mozzarella, applewood-smoked bacon, roasted peppers, avocado, roasted tomatoes, chili aioli, organic greens and chipolte cream cheese. Cellars of River Ridge serves an applewood-smoked portobello wrap filled with baby spinach, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and sun-dried tomato spread. Vitality Juice Java and Smoothie fills its garden wrap with shallot cream cheese, avocado, tomato, cucumber, sesame seeds, soy Swiss cheese, shredded carrots, baby greens and sprouts. O'Henry's Southwest grilled chicken wrap combines fajita-grilled chicken, Monterrey Jack and cheddar cheese, roasted corn, black beans, lettuce, tomato and onions in a garlic-herb tortilla. Turkey, Swiss cheese, avocado, carrots, tomato, lettuce and ranch dressing fill a wheat or tomato tortilla for Caffe Latte Da's California wrap.

Zucchini

Last but not least, zucchini flavors everything from bread to soup in local dishes. Laurel Street Bakery features a zucchini bread. The crepe Provencale at La Crepe Nanou features ratatouille made with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onion and sauteed mushrooms. Bennachin's offers jambo, which is sauteed zucchini and squash in ginger sauce. Jamila's Mediterranean Tunisian Cuisine gives local flavor to zucchini bisque by adding crawfish.



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click to enlarge At Café Giovanni, general manager Nial George, chef Duke LoCicero and Brad Akers present innovative Italian dishes.
  • At Café Giovanni, general manager Nial George, chef Duke LoCicero and Brad Akers present innovative Italian dishes.

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