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7724 Maple St. 314-0010
Middle Eastern restaurants are universally known for their pita bread, but Babylon Café offers another option with its special rolls that come out hot and fresh for dipping in hummus or stuffing with marinated grilled meats. Bargain prices on large platters of chicken, lamb, kebabs and gyros — plus a BYOB policy — keep checks low and the restaurant full with customers from the universities and surrounding neighborhood. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. $

310 Chartres St. 522-2426;
Chef Chris Montero's housemade pastas and fresh regional seafood are the stars of the show at Ralph Brennan's Louisiana-infused Italian restaurant in the French Quarter. Signature dishes include Bacco's lobster and shrimp ravioli, grilled tuna topped with seasonal seafood salsa and the decadent "Mr. Ralph's" ice cream sandwich. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

414 N. New Hampshire St., Covington (985) 892-5252
Look for daily specials like Monday's red beans and rice with a side salad, Friday's fried seafood and the popular Creole stewed chicken over rice. Sandwiches on fresh baked bread, soups, homemade desserts and big, meal-sized salads round out the menu at this Covington café . No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Fri. Credit cards. $

365 Canal St. (Harrah's Casino New Orleans) 533-6000;
For those suffering from a slight case of "Katrina brain," Harrah's Asian fusion dining spot is about to celebrate its first anniversary. New Orleans native Richard "Ricky" Toy creates more traditional Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes but also has his own take on the fusion side. Check out the Cantonese Barbecued Duck. No reservations. Dinner and late-night Mon.-Thur., lunch, dinner and late-night Fri.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

2001 Burgundy St. 371-5260;
Chef Aaron Burgau cooks continental food with a Mediterranean flair, including seared American red snapper served skin-on with organic baby carrots, roasted beets, Asian turnips and haricot vert served over braised beet greens with a roasted shallot vinaigrette. The Sunday brunch should begin this month. Reservations recommended on weekends. Dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

3633 Annunciation St. 899-9111
This quintessential New Orleans corner grocery specializes in po-boys and club sandwiches for neighborhood locals, workers on lunch breaks and busy folks on the go. Others get an early start with bargain breakfasts cooked up fast while daily specials keep regulars coming back through the week for red beans and rice, fried pork chops or seafood plates. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Mon.-Sat., early dinner Mon.-Fri. Cash only. $

430 Barracks St. 525-0330
It must take military precision to fit all the ingredients fueling the Barracks Street Café 's long menu into such tight quarters, but one would never know it by the relaxed vibe here. Breakfast tacos, omelets and pancakes start off the morning, while quesadillas, sandwiches, salads and wraps cover many more combinations of veggies, meats and cheese. Wash it down with a fruit smoothie. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1438 S. Carrollton, 862-9001
This Riverbend favorite blends the sweet and spicy elements of Thai cuisine in an attractive but relaxed setting. Start with the densely packed spring rolls or lightly fried dumplings before diving into sesame-battered scallops or the house rendition of the classic pad Thai with cool noodles and peanut sauce cradling chicken, shrimp and vegetables. Reservations accepted for groups of five or more. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

605 Toulouse St. 453-3125
More of an Internet-access provider than a café , Bastille serves pre-packaged snacks, soft drinks and an assortment of coffees and teas. The usage rate is $2.75 for 1-15 minutes, $3.75 for a half hour, and $7.25 for up to an hour. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Cash only. $

430 Dauphine St. 525-4455;
House favorites on Chef Susan Spicer's well-traveled menu include sauteed Pacific salmon with choucroute and Gewurztraminer sauce, peppered lamb loin with herbed goat cheese and Zinfandel sauce and the ever popular appetizer of grilled shrimp with black bean cake and coriander sauce. At lunch, try Bayona's smoked duck, cashew butter and pepper jelly sandwich. The restaurant's popular early dinner special of three courses for $29 has been extended all night long Tuesday through Thursday. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wed.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

2031 St. Charles Ave. (Pontchartrain Hotel) 524-0581;
A popular meeting place for many years, the Bayou Bar is a casual room tucked into the polished splendor of the historic Pontchartrain Hotel on St. Charles Avenue. The menu offers casual New Orleans favorites like jambalaya, po-boys and red beans and rice. No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $

2401 Woodlawn Ave., Metairie, 456-7470
Look for mid-week music on Wednesday and live entertainment from Friday to Sunday at this popular Metairie venue, where the kitchen also hits tuneful notes. The half-pound burger is popular, as is grilled tuna, the boiled lobster dinner and the 8 oz. filet. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner daily. Credit cards. $

348 Robert Blvd., Slidell (985) 649-1805
Steaks are a new addition to the menu at this Slidell Creole eatery, which also has a new name: known as Doug's for more than 20 years, the landmark restaurant takes its new name from Floyd Bealer Jr. and Sr. who run it together. Old favorites like the turtle soup, trout and bread pudding remain unchanged. No reservations. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

128 W. 21st St., Covington (985) 892-2373
Po-boys big enough to satisfy a bear-sized appetite are the calling card of this Northshore favorite, where the specialty roast beef po-boys move constantly over the counter either covered in gravy or homemade barbecue sauce. Shrimp, chicken and cheeseburger po-boys are also heavy hitters. No reservations. Lunch Tue.-Sat. Cash only. $

534 N. New Hampshire St., Covington (985) 875-9390
Located across from the courthouse, Beck-N-Call is a hive of activity early on weekday mornings and straight through to lunch. Grilled panini-style sandwiches are a specialty at lunchtime, as are salads and wraps stuffed with vegetables and meats. No reservations. Limited delivery available. Breakfast and lunch Mon.-Fri. Credit cards. $

501 Gretna Blvd., Gretna 366-3275
Thick-cut, prime steaks are the specialty at this West Bank beef destination, and an 18-oz. T-bone or porterhouse is up to the task of satisfying the most cavernous carnivorous appetite. The filet and New York strip are also popular cuts, served up with ample a la carte sides, while shrimp, tuna and salmon add some surf to the turf choices. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

3500 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 887-5656
This ice-cream chain is famous for its often-unusual but delicious concoctions. In fact, the most popular flavors are household words, such as Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia. Ben & Jerry's also makes ice-cream cakes, perfect for birthdays, and also has a fine selection of frozen yogurt, sorbet and coffee drinks. No reservations. Delivery and catering for parties. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

3010 Holiday Drive 394-2805;
The grilled sirloin, Monte Cristo sandwich and Kilkenny's country chicken salad are among the most popular choices at this national chain, where the menu branches off to cover a wide range of specialties. Try the boneless Buffalo wings with your choice of sauces, Bennigan's own "Oh, Baby" Back Ribs. No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $

512 S. Peters St. (Harrah's New Orleans Casino) 533-6111;
Rising culinary star John Besh — the "Iron Chef" himself — keeps the high rollers well fed at this steakhouse inside Harrah's Casino. The American Kobe beef, served with lobster and shrimp-stuffed piquillo peppers, and the cowboy steak, an aged 32-oz. prime rib steak, will make every diner feel lucky. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

733 Toulouse St. (Hotel Maison de Ville), 528-9206;
Chef Greg Picolo serves up Louisiana Creole fare starting with elegant salads and appetizers such as mussels steamed in white wine, blended with sausage and saffron and served with mashed potatoes. Creative entrees follow, including the bacon-wrapped filet mignon of venison served with grilled shrimp and asparagus. Reservations accepted. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner Thu.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

827 Toulouse St. (Hotel St. Marie) 571-2888
The lovely bistro on the ground floor of the French Quarter's Hotel St. Marie features a morning meal of breakfast favorites and lunch entrees like duck jambalaya and Cajun meatloaf before bringing out the big guns of Louisiana-influenced bistro cooking for dinner. Oysters Verdant is prepared with spinach and Pernod, while eggplant Napoleon is made with crawfish tails. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

115 Focis St., Metairie 831-6725
Take advantage of the special steak nights on Thursdays and Saturdays, where you can get a 12-oz. rib-eye with salad and potato for $10.95. The Moon Burger, a large patty dressed up with bleu cheese and whatever else you want, also is popular as are the huge cheese sticks: double-breaded mozzarella cheese deep-fried until they're crispy on the outside and gooey inside. No reservations. Dinner and late-night Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

4401 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 734-3000
Start with Mexican, add a serving of Mediterranean and mix it all up with classic Americana and you have the eclectic menu at this popular and colorful Jefferson café . House specialty chimichangas and quesadillas fly out of the kitchen. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

3625 Prytania St. 895-7166
Though operating with a scaled-back menu these days, the Bluebird still has its fans lining up on the busiest shifts for its most popular breakfast and lunch items. Check out the huevos rancheros — tortillas layered with beans, eggs, salsa, cheese and addictive ranchero sauce — and the many vegetarian-friendly items. Breakfast is served all day, and lunch brings a selection of sandwiches and salads. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. $

830 Conti St. (Prince Conti Hotel) 586-0972;
A romantic, candlelit spot tucked away in the heart of the French Quarter's Prince Conti Hotel, the Bombay Club serves inventive cuisine amid British imperial elegance. The Asian-fried calamari is tossed in a sweet and spicy chili sauce, fennel-crusted swordfish comes with wild rice, tomato broth and avocado sour cream, and linguine with lamb meatballs is served in a pesto cream sauce. Reservations recommended. Brunch Sun., dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit cards. $$$

401 Magazine St., 524-3386
The Bon Ton Café helped turn the Creole sensibilities of New Orleans on to the delights of authentic Cajun cuisine when the restaurant first opened in 1953. Housed in the historic 1840s Natchez building, the restaurant still showcases those traditional flavors with turtle soup and fried catfish fingers to start, entrees like redfish Bon Ton and soft-shell crab Alvin, crabmeat au gratin and buttery crawfish etouffee. Reservations accepted. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Fri. Credit cards. $$$

144 Bourbon St. 522-0111;
Bourbon House is best known for its seafood, particularly the raw oysters served at its crescent-shaped oyster bar or those included in the giant Plateaux de Fruits de Mer, a collection of cold seafood served for two or up to eight people. Big picture windows frame the passing Bourbon Street crowds, while inside diners pour over menus featuring classics like the fish Iberville with shrimp, oysters, long beans and a lemon beurre blanc. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

3117 21st St., Metairie 831-8666
The staff may be fun-loving here, but they never clown around when it comes to the seafood. Start with chicken and andouille gumbo with okra or raw oysters on the half-shell, then move on to a hearty platter with two main items (choose from shrimp oysters or catfish) served with French fries or potato salad. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon-Sat. Credit cards. $

3413 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 828-8828;
Casual yet stylish, this popular Italian restaurant chain offers house specials like crispy shrimp with charred tomato in a lemon-butter sauce or Bruschetta Gamberetto Caprese with shrimp, tomatoes, cilantro and basil on Tuscan bread to start and entrees like the roasted pork tenderloin with mushroom Marsala sauce. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

605 Lapalco Blvd., Gretna, 433-0333; 2904 Severn Ave., Metairie 885-5565; 9647 Jefferson Hwy., River Ridge, 737-8146;
Breaux Mart, a classic neighborhood market, prides itself on its "Deli to Geaux" as well as weekday specials and, for Carnival season, king cakes. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

2805 Williams Blvd., Kenner 466-2097
Look for the miniature Statue of Liberty out front and eager diners ready to chow down on lusty Italian fare at this popular Kenner café . The wood-fired oven turns out crisp pizzas that are perfect as entrees or for sharing as appetizers, like the classic pizza Margherita made with fresh tomato, cheese and herbs. Pastas like spaghetti carbonara and veal and chicken dishes are served in generous portions on the substantial menu. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

723 Dante St. 861-7610;
Chef Frank Brigtsen blends Creole and Acadian flavors at his acclaimed Riverbend restaurant to put his own stamp on the south Louisiana dining experience with dishes like roast pork tenderloin with sweet potato dirty rice and pork debris sauce or blackened yellow fin with smoked corn sauce, red bean salsa and avocado sour cream. Brigtsen's seafood platter offers portions of grilled drum with shrimp and corn macque choux, crabmeat thermidor, oysters Rockefeller, baked oyster with bacon and leeks, deviled crab and eggplant caponata. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tue.-Sat. $$$

200 Gerard St., Mandeville (985) 624-3388;
You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, as the saying goes, but to make this cozy, Mandeville café 's popular Floridian omelet you also need to spread the cream cheese, pile on the Monterey jack and add a portion of crabmeat. Reservations accepted Mon.-Fri., call-ahead seating Sat.-Sun. Breakfast, brunch and lunch daily. Credit cards. $

2701 Airline Drive, Metairie 833-1288
No flood could stop pizza as good as those baked up at Brooklyn Pizza, which resumed business last fall in a mobile kitchen parked on Airline Drive and plans to reopen in its original space this month. The pizzas are as good as ever, done in the New York style with a thin crust, plenty of cheese and your favorite toppings. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Fri (temporary hours only). Credit cards. $

819 Conti St. 581-3866;
This grande dame of the French Quarter emerged from Katrina with a new renovation in its dining room but the same commitment to fine Creole dining. Try the pompano Broussard's with scallops and shrimp in a puff pastry shell with mustard caper sauce. Three-course special menus are available for $28.50. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wed.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

3151 Calhoun St., 861-0906; 605 Lapalco Blvd., Gretna 393-8160; 2008 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie 899-2837; 2800 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Kenner 466-0026; 3001 Ormond Blvd., Destrehan 725-1116; 4101 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 837-9419; 6325 Elysian Fields Ave. 282-6696; 9327 Jefferson Hwy., River Ridge 738-2452;
A New Orleans tradition since 1952, Bud's is still stoking its distinctive charcoal fires at many of its locations, including the recently reopened Calhoun Street restaurant. Order by the numbers for burgers topped with a hill of grated cheddar and Bud's distinctive barbecue sauce. Call out "No. 6!" for the fully dressed cheeseburger or "No. 7!" for the broiled hot dog with chili and cheese. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Cash only. $

365 Canal St. (Harrah's New Orleans Casino) 533-6000;
This 400-seat buffet inside Harrah's isn't your ordinary buffet, because it spans the culinary spectrum. Indeed, there seems to be something for everyone, from smoked salmon to Tur-Duck-Hen. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; 5135 Canal Blvd. 488-4180;
The seemingly endless row of beer taps dispense a veritable world tour of international brews, while the kitchen of these popular taverns Uptown and in Mid-City provide plenty of cheese-laden Mexican specials, burgers and sandwiches. Get the crawfish banditos — tortillas stuffed with crawfish, cheese and green chilies and then fried — the steak fajitas or a Triple Bock chicken sandwich with barbecue sauce and cheese. No reservations. Dinner daily, lunch Fri.-Sun. $

1036 W. Airline Hwy, LaPlace 652-3544;
Specializing in prime steaks and Louisiana seafood, Bull's Corner has been a dining destination in the River parishes since 1984. Start with the crabmeat and brie dip or fried alligator tenderloin, try the surf and turf pasta with filet mignon tips, shrimp, mushrooms and garlic tossed in fettuccine in a red wine cream sauce or head straight for Bull's selection of "Prime Time" steaks, ribs and chops. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

3218 Magazine St. 894-1233; 1501 Metairie Road, Metairie 834-9773
Byblos takes familiar Middle Eastern favorites to new heights in its stylish and polished dining rooms. While kebabs, falafel and hummus dips are all well represented, Byblos also draws from wider eastern Mediterranean traditions with dishes like the lamb tatatour drizzled with tahini sauce and a char-grilled lamb chop. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

2020 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 837-9777
For an authentic taste of the Middle East on the go, locals head to the deli counter at the back of this bright, airy market. Sandwiches are prepared to order from meats roasting on spits while fresh salads, stuffed grape leaves and daily specials beckon. The gyros plate piles the succulent slices of meat high and pairs it with creamy hummus, a crisp salad and pita bread. Inside dining is also provided. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

3162 Dauphine St. 944-4445
Bywater BBQ is open every day but Wednesdays, but has retained just about everything else that keeps the neighborhood well fed. That includes three special night: Tuesday's Mexican night, Thursday's steak night (a 12-oz. rib-eye for $10) and Friday's seafood night featuring fried catfish. Reservations accepted for parties of six or more. Limited delivery available. Lunch and dinner Thu.-Tue., brunch Sat.-Sun. Cash only. $


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