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2031 St. Charles Ave. (Pontchartrain Hotel) 524-0581;
The Bayou Bar has been a popular meeting place for visitors and locals alike since it was opened in the historic Pontchartrain Hotel in 1947. In fact, the bar is where the New Orleans Saints first signed the historic agreement to join the NFL. Today, guests can dine in the bar on casual New Orleans favorites like jambalaya, po-boys and red beans and rice under the cypress beams of the elegant lounge. No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $

3236 Magazine St. 891-1516;
The Bulldog presents beer aficionados with one of the city's most extensive selections of brews available on draft, so it seems only fitting that the Uptown tavern supply fortifying fare to help patrons work their way through the inventory. Try a Bock Burger with hickory barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese or one of the combination platters from the Tex-Mex menu. No reservations. Lunch Fri.-Sun., dinner daily. Credit cards. $

3217 Ridgelake Drive, Metairie 833-1799
Weekday lunches are the specialty at Caddyshack Café , where each day brings an assortment of classics like red or white beans with rice and a choice of meat or big servings of Italian comfort food like veal Parmesan or spaghetti and meatballs. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Fri. Credit cards. $

116 Baronne St. 566-0055;
Just a step or two off Canal Street, Cajun Mike's is a hole-in-the-wall kind of place with plenty of personality. The "grub" features big sandwiches, wings and fries. Try a little tenderness with the house specialty chicken tender po-boy, and wash it down with inexpensive libations at the bar. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

434 N. Columbia St., Covington (985) 898-0899;
Live music and an impressive selection of brews on tap and in bottles lure patrons to Columbia Street Taproom. The grill keeps them well fed with buffalo shrimp, crawfish or calamari, burgers, po-boys and sandwiches like the Tap Room club with ham, turkey, bacon and cheddar. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104;
Cooter Brown's is into big selections, with dozens of TV screens showing practically any sporting event on the air and a beer selection that spans coolers longer than your grocer's freezer section. Variety extends to the vittles as well, where deli sandwiches and burgers compete with fresh-shucked oysters, boudin links and po-boys. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1128 Tchoupitoulas St. 558-0900
After a day of hitting the galleries and museums in the Warehouse District, Dino's stands ready in the shadows of the Crescent City Connection to slake thirsts and satisfy appetites for classic bar food. Po-boys, salads and burgers all come in ample quantity while the bar keeps the cold drinks flowing. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

3400 Hessmer Ave., Metairie 780-2266
Regulars head to The Edge for beers, sandwiches and grilled tuna steaks any day of the week, but reserve Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for the bar's special 8-oz. fillet steak served with garlic bread and garlic potatoes, all for $9. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner daily. Credit cards. $

600 S. Peters St. 525-8544;
Established more than 100 years ago, Ernst Café has no trouble keeping up with the modern crowd that visits for drinks, down-home cooking and an attractive environment for convivial times. The kitchen makes a gumbo du jour and specialties such as the Big Mama ribs and barbecue pork. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Cash only. $

4841 Tchoupitoulas St. 895-6784
Come for the jukebox-powered merriment in the always-hopping front room and stay for the classic bar food dished out from the patio grill in back. The bar's mountainous portions of gooey, waffle-cut cheese fries and overstuffed quesadillas provide the fuel to keep those nights going. No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $

4330 St. Charles Ave. 895-9582
Practically anyone in New Orleans enrolled in higher education has visited Fat Harry's for sustenance, and not all of it comes from the bar. The cheese fries are legendary here, burgers and quesadillas all help keep the beer and mixed drinks company. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1200 S. Clearview Pkwy. (Elmwood Village Shopping Center), Harahan 731-6000
Why should beer stay at the bar when it can join the menu, too? That's certainly the case with Fox & Hound's distinctive Newcastle Brown Ale cheese soup, which jumpstarts a wide-ranging menu of pizzas, barbecue platters, burgers and Firecrackers — fried chicken pieces served as platters or embedded in Firecracker Melt sandwiches. No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $

Friar Tuck's
5130 Freret St. 891-4080
Another bar and restaurant that has displayed mighty staying power through the decades, Friar Tuck's kitchen is known for its well-done bar food from the grill, including the half-pound Tuck's burger and the chicken quesadilla. Hefty portions attract Tulane law students, college kids and Uptowners. No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $

8117 Maple St. 861-0067
Grilled fish and appetizers like spinach and artichoke dip, loaded baked potatoes and chicken quesadillas keep the scene shaking at this popular Riverbend hangout, but burgers are the true specialty of the house served with thick-cut fries or a baked potato. No reservations. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $

2781 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna 393-7177;
When is a chicken wing something more than a chicken wing? Certainly when it flies to your table courtesy of "America's cheerleaders," as Hooters calls the waitresses who have made this chain world famous for more than just its food. Catch a game and sample the kitchen's burgers, quesadillas and Carolina-style roasted oysters while you're at it. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1414 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 833-0050
Sports memorabilia and more than a dozen televisions tip you off right away that "sports" is the key word in this tavern's name, but don't pass up the "grill" aspect. Try a shrimp quesadilla or hamburger or one of the daily specials such as seafood-stuffed bell peppers over pasta. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1645 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 828-3555
Give yourself a break from the traffic on Veterans with a pit stop at Jigger's, a neighborhood joint with a kitchen grilling up juicy hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. Try the bargain daily lunch specials like chicken-fried steak or fried chicken served with sides and a salad. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

2 Poydras St. (Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel) 561-0500; The sports bar at the Hilton satisfies all-American appetites with heavyweight contenders from its menu of bar-style appetizers and burgers, while the po-boys and other casual New Orleans specialties ensures the home team is well represented as well. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $

811 Conti St. 299-8496
Tucked away beside the back bar in the French Quarter's Erin Rose pub, the Little Grill may be small in size but delivers the big flavors of the proprietor's native Greece. Pork souvlaki as a pita sandwich or as part of a platter is the specialty. Appetizers provide more familiar bar fare. No reservations. Lunch Tue.-Sat., dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit cards. $

1701 Lake Ave., Metairie 828-9446
The day starts early and the night ends late at this neighborhood joint, famous for its French fries smothered in Swiss cheese and brown gravy. The kitchen begins serving omelets, egg specials and other breakfast fare at 6 a.m. on weekdays and stays open for sandwiches and bar food for lunch, dinner and late-night meals all week. No reservations. Breakfast Mon.-Fri., lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

3535 Severn Ave., Metairie 888-5858
You needn't sing for your supper at Mulligan's, the Metairie sports bar with the decor of Saints' black and gold, but you can do karaoke on Friday nights and have supper to boot. Big burgers grilled to your specifications are the star of the menu. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

2027 Metairie Road, Metairie 831-9540
Half-pound burgers are served with chips or loaded baked potatoes at this popular Metairie Road tavern with the wrap-around bar. A lighter option is the Oscar salad of mixed greens, cabbage, carrots, mozzarella and cheddar with a choice of turkey, ham or grilled chicken on top. No reservations. Lunch Tue.-Sat., dinner daily. Credit cards. $

838 Esplanade Ave. 523-0120;
Hamburger heaven might just be located at the edge of the French Quarter. Huge, hand-formed patties are cooked to your specification, topped with raw onion, sliced tomato and grated cheddar or mushrooms at your request, plus a steaming baked potato on the side. Enjoy one of the bar's many South Seas-inspired cocktails, like the giant Monsoon. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

852 S. Peters St. 593-9393; 1057 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 833-6900
Burgers, beer and billiards could be the marching orders at the two locations of the Red Eye Grill, where patrons focus their gaze on lunch, dinner or late-night bar food. Popcorn shrimp, grilled tuna and grilled chicken are all available either as sandwiches or salads. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1855 Dock St., Harahan 729-4442
The decor and attitude might be offbeat and whimsical at this hopping Harahan hangout (the owner stained the cypress lumber at this former bank office with Grand Marnier and installed video poker machines in its vault) but the food is serious business. There's familiar bar food, but also "flats" — flat-bread sandwiches like the Southwest-style chicken with peppers, cheese and a chipotle spread. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

3655 18th St., Metairie 456-2618
If patrons aren't looking at a TV at this lively sports bar, it's probably because they're preoccupied with one of the kitchen's signature Shooter burgers, an 8-oz. beef patty cooked to order and plated with a mound of French fries. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1229 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 831-4002
The Thursday steak night is the major-league deal at this popular Metairie sports bar. For $10 (or $15 for to-go orders), Sidelines cooks an 8-oz. fillet mignon to your liking and serves it with Cajun creamed potatoes and French bread. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

3805 Hessmer Ave., Metairie 455-2231
Those in the know take a turn off Veteran's Boulevard for Sports Center Bar and Grill, home to a generous Saturday special steak night. Priced between $8-$11, the meal is rounded out with a loaded baked potato. Look for all-you-can-eat crawfish nights when spring rolls around. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

3941 Houma Blvd., Metairie 454-6266
Stitches takes America's favorite sandwich to another level with its Triple Bypass Burger: a bacon cheeseburger crowned with a hot sausage patty, dressed as you like it, and teamed up with a pile of fries. There is less-decadent fare on the bar menu, but those who tackle the Triple Bypass can take heart that East Jefferson Hospital is right across the street. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

5216 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 888-5242
For a burger that can swamp even a gator-sized appetite, belly up to the bar at this Metairie mainstay and order the namesake Swamp Burger. Weighing in at a full 10 ounces, plus all the fixings, it's the heavyweight on the menu of quesadillas, cheese fries and other classic bar food. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1827 Front St., Slidell (985) 639-3335; 1896 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville (985) 626-1161;
Times Bar & Grill has a big menu, and not just in terms of selection. Sure, there's a big choice of wraps, salads, seafood platters, burgers, desserts and even a kids menu. But big is the only way to describe the Hulk — a 1-lb. char-grilled burger that could land your picture on the "Hulk Hall of Fame" if you can finish it. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

401 Andrew Higgins Drive 569-8459;
Surrounded by galleries and condos, the Ugly Dog turns out succulent barbecue with the flavors and portion sizes one would expect from a rural roadside joint. Whether you get the chicken, ribs or brisket, the heaping platters come with sides like chili beans with sour cream, cheese and raw onions. Late hours and pool tables keep the bar business active as well. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

531 Metairie Road, Metairie 831-8705
This neighborhood gathering spot exudes the comfort and conviviality of an English pub, with an extensive selection of liquors and beer available. Winston's puts a little English on the bar menu as well, serving fish and chips with beer-battered cod and waffle-cut fries. The half-pound Forest Hills Burger is another house favorite. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

727 St. Peter St. 522-1125
Nestled amid one of the French Quarter's most bustling blocks, Yo Mama's is a place to duck into until the wee hours for a massive burger and a cold drink. The bar menu features such creations as the peanut butter and bacon burger or the Bullfighter burger with sour cream, salsa and avocado dressing up the beef. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $


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