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Gambit's 2012 Winter Restaurant Guide: Mexican/Southwestern 

CUCOS 2766 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna, 393-7766; 5048 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 454-5005; Chimipoquitos are miniature deep-fried burritos accompanied by salsa and ranchero sauce. Corn, beans, rice, lettuce, pico de gallo, sauteed onions and peppers, ranchero sauce and shredded cheese comprise the Meatless in Seattle burrito. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

EL GATO NEGRO 81 French Market Place, 525-9752; 300 Harrison Ave., 488-0107; This cantina is known for its inventive margarita menu and authentic Mexican fare. Diners can order tacos and burritos or opt for entrees like the Mexican-style rib-eye steak, center-cut pork chops or snapper a la Cancun. No reservations. French Market Place: breakfast Sat.-Sun., lunch and dinner daily. Harrison Avenue: lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

FELIPE'S TAQUERIA 301 N. Peters St., 267-4406; 6215 S. Miro St., 309-2776; The super burrito is a 12-inch tortilla filled with melted Monterrey Jack cheese, rice, beans and a choice of meat or grilled vegetables. The flautas are fried corn tortillas filled with chicken or pork and served with pico de gallo and sour cream. No reservations. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

GEORGE'S MEXICAN RESTAURANT 1461 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, (985) 626-4342; The pork plate features pork that is marinated for 12 hours before being cooked. It's served with black beans. Guacamole is made table side with fresh avocados. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

IZZO'S ILLEGAL BURRITO 4316 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite A, Metairie, 889-5505; 70488 Hwy. 21, Suite 100, Covington, (985) 327-5114; The Illegal burrito is made with two 13-inch flour tortillas packed with rice, beans and toppings. Grilled tacos feature two corn or flour tortillas with a selection of chicken, pork, steak, ground beef or vegetarian fillings. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

JUAN'S FLYING BURRITO 2018 Magazine St., 569-0000; 4724 S. Carrollton Ave., 486-9950; Mardi Gras Indian tacos are stuffed with roasted corn, pinto beans, grilled summer squash, Jack cheese and spicy slaw. Red chile chicken and goat cheese quesadilla features grilled Creole chicken breast, salsa fresca, chile-lime adobo sauce, and Jack, cheddar and goat cheeses pressed in a flour tortilla. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

LA CARRETA 107 Carrolwood Drive, LaPlace, (985) 651-9991; 108 NW Railroad Ave., Hammond, (985) 419-9990; 1200 W. Causeway Approach, Mandeville, (985) 624-2990; The fajita platter includes a choice of grilled shrimp, steak or chicken with onions, peppers, tomatoes, beans, guacamole, sour cream and tortillas. Ceviche al oregano is lime-marinated mahi-mahi served with avocado on a crisp tostada. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

NACHO MAMA'S MEXICAN GRILL 1000 S. Clearview Pkwy., Harahan, 736-1188; 3242 Magazine St., 899-0031; Pork carnitas and cheese are rolled up in fried corn tortillas, served with ranchero sauce and topped with pickled vegetables, crema and cotija cheese. The shrimp chimichurri features jumbo shrimp baked with garlic and parsley. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards.  $$

PUPUSERIA DIVINO CORAZON 2300 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna, 368-5724 Traditional Salvadoran pupusas are thick corn tortillas stuffed with pork, beans, cheese or a mixture of the three. The taco ranchero plate features a choice of sauteed beef or chicken strips served with onions, bell peppers, guacamole and two flour tortillas. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

SANTA FE 3201 Esplanade Ave., 948-0077; The menu mixes traditional Southwestern dishes, like batter-fried chile rellenos with poblano sauce and classic enchiladas, with more highbrow dinner cuisine. Roasted New Zealand spring lamb is served with red wine reduction and chorizo and wild mushroom risotto. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun., brunch Sun. Checks and credit cards. $$

SUPERIOR GRILL 3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; Smoked brisket enchiladas are topped with ranchero sauce and Monterey Jack cheese and served with rice and beans. The shrimp brochettes feature grilled shrimp stuffed with poblano peppers and Monterey Jack cheese, wrapped in bacon and served with marinated green onions. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sat.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

THE VELVET CACTUS 6300 Argonne Blvd., 301-2083; Lou Lou shrimp enchiladas are topped with jalapeno cream and served with rice and stewed black beans. Chicken Pablo is a mix of smoked chicken, roasted portobello mushrooms, grilled onions and pico de gallo served with paella-style rice. No reservations. Lunch Fri.-Sun., dinner daily. Credit cards. $$


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