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What's in a name? Or, more specifically, what's in a label? In New Orleans, labels are a sticky wicket, particularly when it comes to the culture and its cuisine. Surely, there are some blurred lines that separate Cajun and Creole from something as nebulous as "Louisiana Contemporary." Can't we just call it "food" and move on?

We could, but then we'd be denying all those differences that make dining in New Orleans so very special. More than labels, the cuisine listings that mark the Winter Restaurant Guide are guidelines -- ways to comb through many different ways we break our bread, whether it's French or naan -- in the Crescent City.

Of the seasonal guides we produce, this is the one to use if you're feeling in a particular mood for a particular food. Here's to a perfect match ... ..



American
More than just burgers and not exactly diners, our American is as down-home familiar as all-day breakfasts, chunky blue-cheese salads and super-stuffed potatoes.

American Contemporary
This is where fusion takes familiar ingredients into unimagined realms of flavor, such as salmon served with sauerkraut, scrambled eggs on pizzas and chipotle Caesar salads.

Bagels
If it's round and boiled with a hole in the middle, you're in the right place.

Bar & Grill
Where more drinks come from the tap than from a sommelier and where food tastes better in a pair of blue jeans

Barbecue
Sticky and sweet, meaty and smoky, a pile of cole slaw and a ladle of beans ... you get the picture.

Brewpub
It's homebrew with a legitimate label and contemporary American eats to match.

Burgers
All-American, all-beef, all day

Cafe
They simmer a soup and build a sandwich as well as they pull an espresso and pour on the froth.

Cajun
The Acadiana roots show through in dark roux, while a Prudhommian flair for blackening counts, too.

Caribbean
Jerk chicken, curry goat, ackee and salt fish

Chinese
The many ways of China are represented, from straight-up stir fries to dim sum for dinner.

Coffee & Dessert
A cup of java (or several) and a pastry make even Mondays and exam weeks bearable.

Creole
With many Cajun-Creole hybrids in the bunch, gumbos, turtle soups and paneed meats tend to rule the roost.

Deli
There's only a counter between you and the sliced meats and cheeses, plate lunches and prepared foods, olive salads and cheesecakes.

Diner
American-style eats with an attitude, often served late into the night

French
Coq au vin, moules, pate, Champagne ... bon appetit

Gourmet-to-Go
Bring 'em in, pack it up, move 'em out in gourmet fashion ... unless they'd like to stay and eat for awhile.

Greek
Sun-drenched salads and spit-roasted meats

Indian
Try a mango lassi or steamy chai tea while you wait for heady curries, peppery lentils and soft, stuffed naans.

Intercontinental
Not exactly fusion cuisine, these restaurants tend to feature one continent per plate, but a worldly variety on the menu.

Italian
It would take years to taste all the red sauces, antipasti plates and wedges of tiramisu.

Japanese
Bring on the wasabi; sushi takes the day.

Korean
Opera singers and whole roasted fish, or tableside grilling for the wary

Latin American
Guanabana juice, black beans with rice and tres leches cakes

Louisiana Contemporary
Creole traditions meet cutting-edge ingredients and today's techniques, like foie gras with lobster cream, Brie-stuffed duck breast and crabmeat with lemon confit

Mediterranean
The cuisine of garlic and capers, lots of olive oil and roasted peppers

Mexican and Southwest
Tacos, burritos, flautas and quesadillas, all washed down with an ice cold Corona

Middle Eastern
Vegetarians adore this category of fried chickpeas, stuffed grape leaves and tangy yogurt dips.

Music & Food
Where the music might be the reason for eating

Neighborhood
Those places where red beans on Monday and a perfect brisket is sacred and where your father might have eaten before you.

Pizza
From caviar and capers to the plain cheese pie -- they're all here.

Sandwiches & Po-Boys
The heart and soul of comfort food

Seafood
The prime suspects are the swimmers, the bottom trollers and the shell dwellers -- grilled, broiled, boiled or fried

Soul
What real soul does to food: fried chicken, turkey necks, smothered okra and ham hocks

Steakhouse
Let the meat speak for itself.

Thai
While paht Thai might have the final say, don't forget the coconut soups, the minty beef salads and that orangey bittersweet tea.

Vegetarian & Health Food
For the meatless, or when the rest of you have had your fill of cream sauces and can't eat another fried morsel

Vietnamese
Steaming bowls of pho, stretchy spring rolls, tangy fish sauce, icy coconut desserts

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