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8140 Oak St., 866-8710;
Even in New Orleans, there are few restaurants where live music accompanies the food service on a daily basis, but you can get plenty of both at Oak Street. Pianist Charles Farmer plays jazz standards and show tunes while the wait staff serves up Eggs Beauregard -- biscuits topped with sausage, poached eggs and gravy -- donuts and thick pancakes with pecans. Farmer keeps the music flowing through lunch, which features a variety of po-boys and club sandwiches. It now serves espresso. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash only. $

920 Gravier St., 589-0077;
Downtown office workers duck into Obee's for breakfast croissants with eggs and cheese and a choice of ham or sausage or for more traditional breakfast combos. The whole wheat breakfast croissant sandwich is filled with a choice of eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, cheese and a seasoning blend of your choice. The Spicy Bird is a deli-style sub made with Italian bread, smoked turkey breast, provolone cheese, capicola ham and pepperoni. Limited delivery available . No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Mon.-Fri. Credit cards. $

739 Conti St., 525-6002;
Oceana Grill draws on the bounty of the sea for its mix of Creole and Cajun dishes. The redfish Amer features sautéed redfish topped with a crawfish cream sauce. From deeper waters, the chef's La Boheme special tops grilled ahi tuna with New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp. Appetizers include everything from crab cakes to alligator sausage and oysters on the half shell. Fried seafood like catfish and oysters come in po-boys or on platters with jambalaya and a vegetable on the side. Landlubbers can dig into smoked duck or garlic filet mignon. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily, late-night Sat., brunch Sat.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

131 S.W. Railroad Ave., Pontchatoula, (985) 386-4077;
Nestled among the antique galleries and the quaint facades of quiet Pontchatoula is the innovative cooking of O'Donnell's kitchen. Creative dishes include crispy jumbo lump crab cakes served with a roasted corn salsa and chipotle lime butter. The grilled Colorado lamb chops are served with Yukon gold potatoes and rosemary, honey and port wine reduction. Lunch features sandwiches and entrée salads as well. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

Citywide; The casual, collegiate vibe of this popular chain is emphasized by the coating of peanut shells crunched on the floor, plus the all-important free birthday steak for those in the know. The menu strikes a local note with its version of crawfish Monica, made with crawfish tails in a spicy cream sauce over pasta. Steak lovers make a beeline for the 12-oz. New York strip steak, served with two side dishes ­ plus, there are all the usual suspects like burgers, jalapeno poppers and cheese sticks to soak up the beer, which flows freely in the genial pub environment. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

2712 N. Arnoult Road, Metaire, 780-8588; www.okinago.comOki Nago offers everything from individual pieces to the all-you-can-eat buffet spread. The buffet has a wide variety of new and traditional Japanese dishes including cold noodle salads, pickle salads, shrimp dishes, breaded and fried meats in the katsu-style, yakimeshi, which is a Japanese version of fried rice, and a host of other popular dishes. Dombuimono dishes feature bowls of rice topped by meat or omelets. There is also a large selection of rolls and sushi from the sushi bar. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

714 St. Peter St., 524-3500From calas for breakfast to crawfish pie for dinner and back to the calas for dessert, the Old Coffee Pot is a Creole affair. The traditional rice cakes are sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with syrup. Breakfast also features eggs Jonathan, a variation on eggs Benedict that adds tomato and Gulf shrimp, all served with grits or home fries and toast or a biscuit. Lunch and dinner both offer plenty of fried seafood, filling po-boys and on top of salads. There are also familiar dishes like seafood or chicken and andouille gumbo, crawfish etouffée, shrimp Creole, bread pudding and bourbon pecan pie. Reservations recommended. Breakfast and lunch Wed.-Mon., dinner Wed.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

1995 Barataria Blvd., Marrero 348-2008; 5163 Gen. DeGaulle Drive, Algiers 393-1107;
This duo of casual eateries serves up gourmet pizzas and more on the West Bank. The hefty meatball or chicken Parmesan subs are always popular choices, while specialties like muffuletta subs, pasta jambalaya and a kids menu keep families coming back. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

204 Decatur St., 525-7734;
The Creole rabbit with oyster dressing is a perennial favorite at Olivier's. Starters include a gumbo sampler (three kinds) and new potatoes with caviar. Entrees include classic shrimp Creole, crawfish etouffée and Creole rabbit. For dessert, try homemade bread pudding or fruit cobbler. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Thu.-Tue. Credit cards. $$

2250 Hwy. 190, Covington, (985) 246-7889
Hibachi items and sushi make up the menu at Omikoshi. There's a long list of regular and special rolls. Off the grill, there's chicken, steak, shrimp and scallops and all sorts of surf and turf combinations like shrimp and steak. The kitchen also cooks teriyaki dishes. For dessert, there's fried ice cream and even fried cheesecake. Reservations recommended on weekends. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

8132 Hampson St., 301-9061;
There isn't a bad seat in the house at this intimate Riverbend café, but a special treat for couples or solo diners is to sit at the tiny food bar looking directly into the open kitchen. From there, you can watch as chef Scott Snodgrass prepares dishes like pan-seared scallops with garlic and eggplant confit, a salad of Asian greens with grilled shrimp, goat cheese and blood orange vinaigrette and flounder with caper and tomato ragout over a risotto cake. Reservations recommended. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

720 Orleans Ave., 523-1930;
Locals and visitors in the know duck into this casual yet sophisticated wine bar just behind St. Louis Cathedral not only for its selection of wines by the glass and bottle but also for its bistro cuisine. Calamari is sautéed and served with sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and green onions in a Dijon-vermouth beurre blanc with herb and ricotta crostini on the side. Pan-seared ahi tuna is sesame crusted and presented on top of coconut-pineapple basmati rice with stir-fried vegetables and a Japanese ponzu sauce. No reservations. Dinner nightly. Credit cards. $$$

2027 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-9540
Oscar's is best known for its juicy burgers and over-stuffed baked potatoes, but also notable is the bar and grill's version of a local favorite sandwich. In addition to olive salad, the Oscarletta features Italian salami, mortadella and ham, plus Swiss and Monterey jack cheeses. No reservations. Lunch Tue.-Sat., dinner daily, late-night Fri.-Sat. Credit cards. $

60 Park Place Drive, Covington, (985) 893-0505; 830 E. I-10 Service Road, Slidell, (985) 649-4329; 1601 Barataria Blvd., Marrero, 341-5544; 2746 Severn Ave., Metairie, 455-6850;
The justly famous Bloomin' Onion is a great starter, and better if you have friends to help. The Outback has many familiar dishes, even if you have to adjust to the Aussie names. For example, the Kookaburra wings look suspiciously like Buffalo wings. The portions are ample at this steakhouse chain, whether you order a burger, rack of ribs, or a "Hooley Dooley" Caesar salad or rich desserts. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$


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