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Argentine Sizzle
The wave of new restaurant openings in antediluvian New Orleans continues to bring more diversity to the dining scene. The latest example: La Boca, an Argentine steakhouse from Chef Adolfo Garcia and Nick Bazan, the owners of RioMar (800 S. Peters St., 525-3474; They plan to open La Boca at the end of May right around the corner from RioMar at 857 Fulton St., the space formerly occupied by the Warehouse District branch of Taqueria Corona, which never reopened after the hurricane. Bazan is a native of Argentina, where steak is practically the national dish, and says the meats will be prepared in the traditional Argentine way "on the grill with salt and pepper and some chimichurri on the side." Look also for gnocchi and ravioli, traditional family fare in Argentina, and appetizers like empanadas and grilled provolone with spices. La Boca will serve dinner Monday through Saturday and may stay open until midnight some days.

Mona's Makes It
The dining room of the original Mona's Cafe (3901 Banks St., 482-7743) in Mid-City was very much a cluttered and dusty worksite in late April when co-owner Karim Taha said the restaurant would reopen in just a few days. It was hard to believe, and this writer didn't believe him. Late May seemed more likely. But on April 21, Mona's surely did resume serving its gyros, falafel and hummus at the Banks Street location where the successful local chain first began as a humble pita bakery in 1987. Seating is limited to the restaurant's covered patio for now, as work continues inside, but the kitchen is turning out its signature platters and sandwiches for customers dining B.Y.O.B. style where six feet of water had stood after the flood. The attached Middle Eastern grocery store opened several weeks prior to the restaurant and is well stocked with imported foods and fresh cheese and olives.

Roux Gets Brown, Diners Get Unlimited Pours
Christopher Brown
has brought a new focus on New Orleans flavors to Roux Bistro (500 Canal St., 595-5506), the upscale restaurant in the Sheraton Hotel. The restaurant is featuring a degustation menu of crawfish beignets with a spicy remoulade, a creamy veloute soup with poached and fried oysters, a smoky cassoulet made with red beans and liberal portions of duck confit and duck sausage, and finally a slice of sweet potato pie baked inside a créme brulee with pie crust and all nestled in the custard beneath this unique dessert's crackly cap. The degustation menu is $25, and for an extra $20 diners get a wine pairing with unlimited pours of wine with each course, beginning with an aperitif of champagne. Brown was formerly chef at Pampy's Creole Kitchen (2005 N. Broad St., 949-7970), which remains shuttered since the storm, and Metro Bistro, the downtown spot that closed several years ago.


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