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VEGA TAPAS CAFÉ
2051 Metairie Road, Metairie 836-2007; www.vegatapascafe.com
The plethora of small plates at this Metairie Mediterranean restaurant makes choosing difficult: Moroccan lamb tagine, Serrano ham-wrapped quail, roasted vegetable empanadas, ceviche del dia and citrus cured and house smoked duck breast are but a few of the offerings. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tues.-Sat. Credit cards and checks. $$

VENEZIA II
587 Central Ave., Jefferson 734-3991
This family-friendly Italian restaurant offers local fare such as trout amandine and sinful Italian specialties, such as the eggplant Vatican, a hollowed-out, batter-fried eggplant filled with seafood cream sauce. Thin-crust, hearty pizzas are also available. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

VERA CRUZ
7537 Maple St. 866-1736
A favorite stop for students and neighborhood denizens for more than 20 years, this Maple Street restaurant specializes in Mexican, Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine. Lunch offerings include Cuban sandwiches, or get one with roast pork alone. Stop in for happy hour for chips and salsa and a batch of margaritas. Reservations accepted. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

VERTI MARTE
1201 Royal St. 525-4767; www.vertimarte.com
Locals revere this self-proclaimed "best-kept secret in the French Quarter." Stave off hangovers or feed them the day after with big breakfast plate or step up to the Royal Feast (roast beef, ham and turkey, topped with hot pepper cheese, black olives, grilled onions and some "Wow Sauce"). Daily lunch and dinner specials rotate and offer lots of options. No reservations. Delivery available. Open 24 hours. Credit cards for in-store purchases only. $

VIANNE'S TEA SALON AND CAFÉ
544 Gerard St., Mandeville (985) 624-5683; www.viannes.com
Treat yourself to an elegant afternoon tea. Choose from a simple scone affair or Royal Tea, complete with housemade soup, salad, finger sandwiches and dessert, plus scones, jam, clotted cream and lemon curd. Reservations accepted. Breakfast and lunch, Tues.-Sun. Credit cards and checks. $

VIC'S KANGAROO CAFÉ
636 Tchoupitoulas St. 524-4329
Hop into Vic's, Mate, for an Australian brew or glass of wine. Kitchen features a hearty shepherd's pie and assortment of bar snacks. A popular late-night spot for local restaurant workers who commandeer the pool tables and lend the caf — an appropriately raucous air. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

VINCENT'S
4250 Hwy. 22 (Pine Tree Plaza Shopping Center), Mandeville (985) 624-2300; 4411 Chastant St., Metairie 885-2984; 7839 St. Charles Ave. 866-9313
Loyal customers of Vincent's three locations agree that the crab and corn bisque served in bread bowl is a menu stand-out and the affordable fare in a casual atmosphere keeps them coming back for more. The menu combines Creole and Italian influences, with plenty of offerings for vegetarians and children. Reservations recommended for large parties and on weekends in Mandeville. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $$

VIZARD'S ON THE AVENUE
2203 St. Charles Ave. (Garden District Hotel), 529-9912
The newest venture from Executive Chef Kevin Vizard, housed in the former Lulu's in the Garden location, serves contemporary Creole cuisine with a Mediterranean influence, including satsuma-glazed pork osso bucco with sweet potato risotto. Ask for a seat along the wide windows overlooking St. Charles Avenue for a meal with a view. Reservations recommended. Delivery available within the hotel. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

VOODOO BBQ
100 E. James Blvd., Kenner 464-1880; 1501 St. Charles Ave. 522-4647; 8550 Pontchartrain Blvd., 283-8301; www.voodoobbqgrill.com
New Orleans is a stronger barbecue town thanks to Voodoo BBQ's three metro-area locations. The slow-cooked meat choices include brisket, pulled pork, jerk chicken, barbecue chicken and smoked sausage. To round out the meal, choose among the sides: Gris Gris Greens, real macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, Rattlesnake beans and corn pudding. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

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