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ALLIGATOR
It's always best to start at the beginning, and what better regional item to begin with? Hillbilly Bar-B-Que, which knows its way around plenty of forms of animal flesh, serves up alligator two different ways: alligator sausage and on a bun as a (very cheap) sandwich. The Corner Cafe offers alligator sausage as well, with its own barbecue sauce, as an appetizer. Jacques-Imo's Cafe, whose chef-owner Jack Leonardi is one of the more fearless in town, creates the ever-popular shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake; it's a light but filling quiche-like souffle filled with alligator sausage, shrimp, roasted peppers and Gouda cheese and topped with a tomato-cream sauce. Another favorite, this time on Bourbon Street, is the Tricou House's fried alligator appetizer, with a seasoned cornmeal breading and served with a homemade barbecue sauce.

More locally flavored approaches can be found at Sugar Magnolia, whose alligator sauce piquant appetizer features Louisiana gator tail fried and served with a Creole piquant sauce. The Gumbo Shop also offers alligator sauce piquant in a light and spicy tomato sauce, though it's offered both as an appetizer and entree. Uptown landmark Franky & Johnny's offers both an alligator soup and alligator pie for starters. Back on Bourbon Street, the Red Fish Grill prepares its barbecued alligator legs by grilling Atchafalaya alligator legs over hickory with an Abita Amber barbecue sauce and serves them over a warm apple-smoked bacon potato salad.

That's not to say that all alligator has to be cooked the Louisiana way. Trey Yuen's Chinese approach features two different styles: alligator with fresh mushrooms (marinated sliced alligator meat that's stir-fried with green onions and fresh mushrooms in a light oyster sauce with a touch of hot pepper oil) and the Szechuan Spicy Alligator (with shredded vegetables in a soy base sauce, seasoned with garlic, ginger and crushed Szechuan peppers).


ARTICHOKE
According to Food Lover's Companion, the artichoke was considered by the ancient Romans as a food of nobility. Here in New Orleans, area restaurants seem to agree, treating the precious bud like a prize. Dia Roma Cafe prepares artichokes three different ways. The artichoke special pizza also includes mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, feta cheese and a special cream sauce; the artichoke salad comes atop iceberg lettuce along with mushrooms, onions and tomatoes; and the foot-long artichoke sandwich is served with mushrooms, onions and a special sauce. Stop by Bienville Street for Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar's shrimp and artichoke pasta with the two sauteed with fresh seasonings and blended in an Italian white cream sauce over vermicelli pasta and sent out with coleslaw and garlic bread.

Artesia pairs artichoke with warm crabmeat in a salad featuring baby greens tossed in house vinaigrette with a truffle oil drizzle. Still Perkin' shows it's more than just a coffeehouse with its artichoke sandwich on focaccia bread: artichoke comes with olive oil, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic, black pepper and fontina cheese. Cafe Luna's version of an artichoke sandwich comes with a mixture of artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese and garlic on a focaccia bread. Appetizers at The Rib Room include the French Fried Artichoke Crowns, artichoke batter-fried in a Creole breading with lemon aioli. Or for breakfast, try Nick's on Carrollton's version of the eggs Sardou, where you get poached eggs on an English muffin with Hollandaise sauce, creamed spinach and, you guessed it, artichoke hearts sauce.


ASPARAGUS
When they tell you to eat your greens because they're loaded with vitamins, they're usually referring to asparagus. Herbsaint's antipasto choices include prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with sheep's milk cheese. Dick and Jenny's also offers asparagus in a key supporting role for its pecan-crusted Gulf fish, which along with asparagus comes with braised leeks and crabmeat meuniere.

Asahi puts asparagus in its Joshio Roll, along with salmon, tuna, crabstick and avocado. Bon Ton Cafe devotes a whole salad (small or large) to the succulent spear, while The French Table's side orders included Asperges Grillé, fresh grilled asparagus with Bearnaise sauce. At The Rib Room, roasted potatoes, garlic and asparagus accompany the pepper-crusted tuna steak. And at Charley G's, the tenderloin of beef comes side by side with grilled asparagus and Yukon gold mashed potatoes.


BAGELS
One of New Orleans's more popular bagel purveyors, Bayou Bagelry, offers "bagel with our schmears," meaning bagels with delicious spreads from sun-dried tomato and fresh basil to honey vanilla walnut. The aptly named Bagel Factory mass produces its own variety of the doughy, hole-y discs (12 options in all): try the whole wheat Everything Bagel, which features a sugar-free bagel with loads of toppings. Out on Veterans, Goody's Cafe offers a $1.49 breakfast: a bagel or biscuit, with sausage, egg and cheese. Breakfast time at La Chatelaine Restaurant inside the Chateau Sonesta Hotel brings the Salmon "Rose" & Bagels: smoked and cured salmon, thinly sliced and served with cream cheese, capers, chopped eggs, red onions and lemon served with toasted bagels.

Or have a little breakfast with your lunch at Cafe Marigny: the New York Classic sandwich features smoked salmon, capers, red onions, tomatoes and cream cheese all on a bagel (or your choice of bread).


BEANS
The Edge Bar & Grill offers old-fashioned butter beans, served with hot sausage and salad, for its Thursday lunch. Louisiana Purchase Kitchen has a wide range of dishes on its Tuesday lunch buffet menu, but don't overlook lima beans with bacon and onions. Coffee & Company's house and vegetarian specialties include small and large servings of black beans and brown rice.

Monday at Fury's often means white beans and rice with a choice of hot sausage, smoked sausage, a hamburger patty or pork chop and salad (lunch or dinner). Mike Serio's Po-Boys and Deli also has Monday covered with its white beans and rice with hamburger steak and a vegetable for lunch.
RioMar's Galician-style white bean soup includes onions, garlic and chorizo, all sauteed to a golden brown, with ham hocks, a chunk of ham and seasonings. Five Happiness offers house specialty, the Clay Pot of Subgum Bean Curds, braised bean curd sauteed with chicken, shrimp, Chinese roasted pork and assorted vegetables in Sa-The sauce.


BEEF
P.F. Chang's China Bistro's Mongolian Trio is a spin-off of Mongolian beef: beef, shrimp, chicken, broccoli, white mushrooms and green onions in a mild dark sauce. Tony Mandina's take includes the brociolone with pasta: choice beef rounds laid out to accent the restaurant's blend of seasonings and rolled into a loaf served in large portions. The Ugly Dog Saloon serves up an attractive beef brisket that's a half-pound of slow-cooked, dry-rub marinated beef, topped with Sassy Jones Original BBQ Sauce. Mikimoto Japanese Restaurant's daily lunch specials include spicy beef with vegetables; the shredded beef is dry sauteed with shredded carrots and celery. Wasabi appetizers include two beef versions: beef and asparagus maki, which is asparagus wrapped in thinly sliced beef served with teriyaki sauce; or the beef Beganaki, green onions wrapped in thinly sliced beef served again with teriyaki sauce.

The Palm Court Jazz Cafe's dinner entrees feature its Creole Beef Indienne, served with a mango chutney. O'Flaherty's traditional Irish beef stew is the house's secret Connemara recipe, loaded with beef, vegetables and potatoes. Or simply load up on the corned beef inside of Mr. Ed's Deli & Catering's famous po-boys, served either on a French bread po-boy or on a large bun. Baby Boomers has a wide range of appetizers, not the least of which is the hearty, spicy meat pies. Moonlight Cafe offers barbecue plates featuring brisket (as well as chicken, pork or ribs), accompanied by barbecue beans, a side of your choice, pickle and bread.

Way over on the other side of the globe is Casablanca's Moroccan Cigars: seasoned meat rolled in phyllo dough and then deep-fried with a spicy tang. Head over to Australia for Vic's Kangaroo Cafe's shepherd's pie: seasoned ground beef and vegetables in rich brown gravy and topped with garlic mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. Vesper's goes Latin with its empanada/meat turnover, where the flour dough is stuffed with seasoned ground meat.


BELL PEPPER
Stuffed bell peppers can be found all over the city, but we're particularly fond of Mandina's Restaurant's version; its stuffed bell pepper is loaded with shrimp and meat and served with baked macaroni and lima beans. Mike Serio's Po-Boys and Deli features daily lunch specials; on Tuesday, sample the stuffed bell pepper, which comes with mashed potatoes and the vegetable du jour.

Angeli on Decatur offers to top your burger with a variety of options, including roasted bell peppers, mushrooms, jalapeno peppers or onions. Offering a taste trip to Italy, the Olive Garden serves Sausage & Peppers Rustica: penne pasta in a bold marinara sauce accompanied by bell peppers, Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese. Start your feast at Franky & Johnny's with the bell pepper rings, fried on the outside, still juicy and crispy in the middle.


BREAD
New Orleans eateries take something as basic (and important) as bread and turn it into a minor miracle of eating. Try New York Pizza's Snooie Brezol, a small Italian bun topped with melted Swiss cheese, freshly sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, all sprinkled with oregano. Mama Rosa's features "homemade bread baked fresh daily," including a spinach and artichoke bread that comes in the half or full loaf. The Bagel Factory's freshly baked breads include specialty breads for carry-out (like Jewish rye, for instance, or Jewish challah -- which is served on the Sabbath, holidays or other ceremonial occasions).

Rene Bistrot's Sunday brunch menu includes the French Toast Baguette, served with bananas Foster sauce and applewood smoked bacon. Find pain perdu at River's Edge, where the New Orleans-style French toast is dusted with powdered sugar. And what better place to get bread than from a place that calls itself Your Daily Bread? With so many choices, go ahead and sample the spinach/cheese bread or the sun-dried tomato bread.


BREAD PUDDING
It may well be New Orleans' most popular dessert, and everyone's got their version. Start with something as simple as the Hotel Monteleone's Le Cafe version of bread pudding served up with a rich caramel sauce. But then you've got Cafe Rani's CCW Bread Pudding (its signature dessert), where they offer cappuccino-infused bread pudding studded with semi-sweet chocolate chips and served in a cappuccino cup and then drenched in Rani mocha sauce and frothed with Viennese whipped cream.

Rene Bistrot's white chocolate bread pudding is baked with buttery croissants and white chocolate and accompanied with white chocolate sauce. Bon Ton Cafe keeps it delightfully simple with its bread pudding parfait, cut and fit into a parfait glass and then topped with whiskey sauce followed by a scoop of pecan crunch ice cream and drizzled with creme de cacao. The dessert at Cafe Reconcile is a bananas Foster bread pudding with rum sauce, while the Ritz-Carlton Hotel's FQB serves up a melted chocolate bread pudding with caramel ice cream.

And we'd expect no less from Commander's Palace, whose bread pudding souffle ("The Queen of Creole Desserts," its menu notes) is whipped feather light with whiskey sauce added table-side.


BURGER
In between laundry loads, Igor's Check Point Charlie feeds the hungry with the half-pound Charlie Burger: charbroiled sirloin served with a choice of sauces and cheeses. Igor's has the namesake Igor Burger, which is doused in Cajun or barbecue sauce and served with steak fries. Igor's Buddha Belly Burger Bar gives a new definition to happy hour with its half-pound Cajun, barbecue or cheeseburger. Beachcorner Bar & Grill serves up the Beachburger: fresh ground meat pressed into 10-oz. patties, cooked any way you like and served with options including sauteed mushrooms or sharp cheddar cheese (and, yes, those seasonings include a dash of garlic). Yo Mama's peanut butter burger is a ground beef burger topped with peanut butter and bacon; hand him a banana and, somewhere, Elvis is smiling.

Tucker's Tavern has seven versions of the Almost World Famous Stuffed Deep Fried Burger, including "The Big Tuck": a half-pound hamburger stuffed with bacon and pepperjack and American cheeses, battered and fried, then topped with barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese. Times Bar & Grill likes to brag about its "world famous hamburgers," which include the Bleuz Burger (a half-pounder mounted high with bleu cheese and served with Romaine lettuce, fresh tomato and Spanish onion) and the GoldBurger (French-fried onion rings atop melted pepperjack cheese and drizzled with barbecue sauce). Angeli on Decatur offers a slightly more exotic version with its Mediterranean burger, a spiced beef patty, feta cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and sun-dried tomato aioli.

Goody's Cafe can go small with its mini-burgers (six to a sack) with cheese if you like. Lakeview Harbor's mushroom burger includes an 8-oz. patty grilled to order and served with your choice of lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles on the side along with a baked potato with margarine. Plantation Coffeehouse heads south of the border with its Fiesta Burger, a Mexican garden burger served on a honey wheat bun with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese and salsa. Poppy's Grill (along with its sister diner, Clover Grill) challenges you to Build Your Own Burger; get started with a 1/3-lb. fresh (never frozen, they swear) patty of pure beef and cooked under their famous American-made hub caps.

The Stationhouse Grille serves its Chili Cheese Burger -- a half-pound of ground beef cooked to order with lettuce, onions and tomatoes on the side -- covered with chili and cheddar cheese and alongside a choice of potato and a salad. The Blue Moon Tavern's namesake Blue Moon Burger positively glows with its toppings of melted cheddar cheese, bacon and grilled onions with hickory sauce. Ground Pat'i's Applewood Bacon Cheese Ground Pat'i is a traditional patty topped with crispy applewood smoked bacon and shredded cheddar cheese. For the very, very hungry Bourbon Street nightcrawlers, history beckons from the venerable Krystal, whose Combo No. 1 delivers three Krystal burgers, medium fries and a 12-oz. can of soda.
Port of Call serves up one of the most popular burgers in the city, a half-pound cheeseburger (featuring fresh ground meat) with a choice of grated cheddar, blue or Swiss cheeses, sliced onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. Dancing fools at Red Eye Grill refuel with a chargrilled hamburger, cheeseburger or even turkey burger. Lee's Hamburgers grinds its own meat, which is hand-patted and grilled with white Vidalia onions. Ted's Frostop has lunch specials aplenty, including the fully pressed Lot-o-Burger with waffle fries.
CAKE

Who says you need to be a bride, birthday boy or guest of honor to break out the cake? When you're at Stitches, save room for a big, moist hunk of Charlotte's Homemade Carrot Cake. Voodoo Barbecue brings a Texas treat to New Orleans with its zingy Dr. Pepper Cola Cake made with Dr. Pepper, chocolate and ginger. La Spiga Bakery's summer offerings include light, fluffy angel food cake with fresh blackberries and blueberries in season. If you're strolling by Maurice French Pastries' Uptown location, pause for a strawberry short cake: yellow butter cake filled with Bavarian cream and strawberries, and finished off with toasted almonds, whipped cream and more fresh berries.

And all you chocoholics: we haven't forgotten you, and neither has Flour Power Confectionary. Its chocolate mousse cake is six layers of chocolate cake filled with a rich chocolate mousse, topped with chocolate ganache and garnished with piped chocolate flowers. The Michaul's Chocolate Double Dessert at Michaul's Live Cajun Music Restaurant should do the trick in getting you moving around the dance floor for a couple more spins -- it's a chocolate cake layered with chocolate mousse, with a side of hand-dipped chocolate ice cream and hard chocolate coating.


CATFISH

Charley G's serves its pecan-crusted catfish with Abita barbecue butter, topped with bay shrimp, while Mulate's The Original Cajun Restaurant sticks to its Acadian roots with catfish Mulate's, topped with crawfish etouffee. The menu at Adams Catfish House includes a whole catfish on the bone with hush puppies and steak fries, while the Cajun Catfish Restaurant offers catfish steamed or fried with either corn meal or corn flour. Aft Deck Oyster Bar offers the classic blackened catfish with almond butter sauce, with jambalaya on the side.

Bring a big appetite to Trauth's Lake House and Steamery for its all-you-can-eat country-fried catfish dinner and the standard sides. The chef's special at Smilie's is the catfish Smilie: a fillet of catfish topped with shrimp and baked with white wine and butter. The Cajun Grilled Catfish at the St. Charles Tavern is seasoned with Cajun spices, grilled 'til it's juicy and served with a loaded baked potato. Catfish Kelly comes from Russell's Marina Grill and features a seasoned and grilled fillet of catfish served with the potato du jour and vegetables.


CHEESE

Behold, the power of cheese. Mr. Gyro's Greek Restaurant, for instance, offers a simple feta cheese and olives appetizer that complements the salty goodness of this goat's milk cheese with kalamata olives and a few warm slices of pita bread. Hugh's Wine Cellar, naturally, pairs its many vintages with terrific cheese options. One is Hugh's Baked Brie in a host of flavors -- chutney pecan, raspberry walnut, lemon almond and jalapeno, to name a few. Similarly, the Baked Brie appetizer also doubles as dessert at C'est Bon Restaurant: two wedges of Brie cheese and toasted almonds wrapped in puff pastries, baked and topped with Melba sauce and walnuts.

If it's possible to be down-to-earth and sophisticated at the same time, Dino's Bar and Grill achieves it with its Fried Martini appetizer: olives stuffed with cheese, then deep-fried. Another one of the more adventurous cheese-based delights we've come across is Broussard's baked Camembert and fig marmalade pill box, on varietal greens on an orange-Guava reduction. Bayona also gets adventurous with its goat cheese crouton appetizer, with mushrooms in Madeira cream.

Finally, remember how Mom's grilled cheese sandwiches gave rise to the term "comfort food"? Though Melius' Bar and Cafe might not resemble your childhood kitchen, its Texas Cheese sandwich will bring back memories -- it's served on hearty Texas toast and is available with bacon.


CHICKEN

Chicken from the kitchen of Cafe Buon Giorno transcends the ordinary with such recipes as the coq au vin -- half a free-range chicken stewed slowly in red wine until fork tender. There's also the garlic chicken at Mr. B's Bistro, half a garlic-roasted chicken served with oven-dried Roma tomatoes, roasted garlic cloves, orzo and a rosemary-infused natural reduction sauce.

Mosca's serves a Chicken a la Grande that's big on taste: it's made with olive oil, oregano, rosemary and garlic in a dry white wine sauce. Tandoori Chicken's namesake dish is a juicy boneless chicken cooked in a butter masala sauce. India Palace's version of the tandoori chicken is marinated overnight in yogurt, mixed with spices and cooked on skewers in the tandoor (a traditional clay pot heated with wood charcoal).

Blue Tomato's Mexican-inspired menu offers the tequila lime chicken, a house specialty served with rice and beans. At Juan's Flying Burrito, Mexico goes Caribbean with the Jerk Chicken Burrito, a jerk-blackened chicken with avocado, sour cream, black beans, yellow rice, cheese, salsa and hot sauce rolled in a flour, spinach or whole wheat tortilla. For an Italian twist, visit Romano's Macaroni Grill for its chicken Scaloppine: chicken breast, mushrooms, artichokes, capers and smoked prosciutto in a lemon butter sauce, served with angel hair pasta. To sample chicken Vietnamese style, visit Three Happiness Restaurant for its tender, tangy lemon chicken, served with eggroll and fried rice.

Lucky's Bar and Grill can answer your growling stomach any hour of the day with its juicy marinated chicken sandwich fresh off the grill. At Tujague's, a house specialty is the chicken Bonne Femme, pan-fried with lots of garlic and served with cottage potatoes. The Deli Delite at the Hobnobber Cafe and Grill is a grilled chicken breast with sauteed mushrooms and onions over angel hair pasta with red sauce. Or heat up the place with Ernst Cafe's Voodoo Buffalo Wings; put out the fire on these hot, hot, hot drummettes with a side of bleu cheese.

If you've got a hankering for a mess of chicken prepared down-home style, hit Dixie Chicken and Ribs for its baked, fried or barbecue chicken served by the pound. There's also Mama's Tasty Foods for its Rona's Delight: marinated chicken served with either shrimp fried rice or fries. On Tuesdays, Schiro's Community Cafe and Bar offers a stewed chicken special with rice. Or stop by Teddy's Grill for its stewed chicken (on Wednesdays) -- chicken smothered in homemade gravy and served with macaroni and cheese. They also offer fresh fried chicken, prepared to go every day.

Billy's Place counts its half of a crispy-fried chicken with macaroni as a lunchtime favorite. Crabby Jack's is famous for its Austin Leslie's Fried Chicken, hefty servings of savory, seasoned, perfectly fried bird in portions ranging from two pieces to a whole chicken to boneless chicken tenders as well. Fiorella's also boasts its "World Famous Fried Chicken," marinated in Fiorella's own blend of spices and fried until it's just right.


CRAB

Pacific Bar and Grill has a great appetizer in the Hot Lava Crab Dip, a cheesy jalapeno crabmeat blend, baked and served with crispy fried won tons. A signature item at River 127' is its Barataria Bay crabcakes, made with jumbo lump crabmeat and fresh herbs, pan-fried in butter and served in a crab sauce. Joe's Crab Shack offers several varieties of crabs from all over; one specialty is the barbecued Dungeness crabs.

The stuffed crabs at Zeke's use Louisiana crabmeat, butter, seasoned bread crumbs, sweet onions, celery and bell pepper, all in Zeke's signature blend of spices. Cafe Pontalba's crabcakes are a blend of Louisiana crabmeat with onion, peppers and Creole seasoning topped with a homemade remoulade. La Riviera's prize-winning crabmeat ravioli is stuffed with lump crabmeat and topped with white cream sauce and parmigiano cheese. The "crab steak" at Franky & Johnny's is a big, hearty fried crabcake with jumbo lump crabmeat, and the crabcake salad at Wall Street Grill and Taproom places two lightly fried crabcakes over a bed of greens, tomatoes and avocados, topped in a white remoulade dressing.

Marisol takes crabcakes to the tropics in its Hawaiian Blue Prawn Crab Cakes with red onion, creme fraiche and Sturgeon caviar. Golden Dragon's crab Rangoon is a heavenly blend of cream cheese and crabmeat rolled into wontons, while China Blossom offers crab by way of its spicy crabclaws stir-fried in a black bean sauce with minced pork, Szechuan peppers and diced white onions. Midi South of France serves crabcakes with corn maque choux: Louisiana crab mixed with seasonings, red bell peppers, zucchini and shrimp mousse, then breaded and fried.


CRAWFISH

We'll never know which resourceful bayou-dweller pulled one of these homely mudbugs out of the silt for the first time and thought "I wonder what this tastes like," but we'll be forever grateful. You can get fried seafood at Lama's Seafood Restaurant Inc., but its hot boiled crawfish is what keeps this joint hopping. Legends Bar and Grille also offers boiled crawfish at 99 cents per pound on Fridays during the summer. Add a couple ice-cold beers, and that's what we call a summer meal.

Crawfish and pasta seem to go hand-in-claw, too. One light option for the summer at Cafe Marigny is the crawfish pasta salad -- crawfish tails and garden rotini pasta in spicy Creole sauce. Stingray's Bar and Grill offers its crawfish Esplanade entree: two pastry shells stuffed with crawfish dressing, deep-fried and smothered in a spicy crawfish sauce. You'll find a double dose of crawfish lunches at Home Furnishings Store Cafe. In this unlikely Cajun trove-in-a-furniture store, you can order the Creamy Crawfish Supreme: a linguine dish with spicy cream sauce, crawfish tails and carrots. And the crawfish Gagliano at Frank's Restaurant is one of "Frank's favorites" -- crawfish tails sauteed in butter, garlic, sweet onions, fresh sweet basil and chef's special seasonings, served over angel hair pasta with Romano cheese.

While you're grooving to the music at Lounge Lizards, don't miss its signature crawfish spring rolls appetizer, an Asian-meets-Cajun fried delight. Embassy Suite's Sugar House offers Seafood Cakes Atchafalaya, a blend of crawfish, shrimp, crabmeat and seasonings, all sauteed and placed on a red and yellow pepper coulis and served with pigeon pea rice and vegetables.

Crawfish samplers are popular with restaurants who like to show off their chefs' flair for preparing this accommodating crustacean. The crawfish dinner at Star Steak and Lobster consists of crawfish boulee, pie, etouffee, bisque and fried crawfish. Bon Ton Cafe's take on a crawfish dinner offers generous portions of crawfish etouffee, Newburg, omelette, jambalaya and bisque. Ralph & Kacoo's Crawfish Festival features fried tails, etouffee, bisque and fried crawfish balls, all with your choice of salad or coleslaw and your choice of Cajun-stuffed potato, French fries, baked potato or steamed vegetables.


CREPE

This thin, pancake-like delicacy pops up on menus from breakfast to dessert. Start off at Taqueros with a lobster crepe appetizer with chile cream sauce and grilled corn kernels. At Petunia's Cafe, fill up on the crepe St. James, loaded with shrimp, Louisiana crabmeat, onions and bell peppers with cheese sauce. The shrimp and crabmeat crepe at Dakota is filled with fresh spinach and artichoke hearts in a Brie cream.

Brennan's lets you start with the crepe Barbara, filled with shrimp and sauteed lump crabmeat, topped with hollandaise, grated Parmesan cheese and glazed -- and then finish with crepes Fitzgerald, featuring a cream cheese and sour cream filling served with a topping of strawberries flamed in Maraschino. Also on the sweeter side of the scale are concoctions such as La Crepe Nanou's crepe Lucie, filled with vanilla ice cream, Louisiana strawberries and chocolate sauce with a dollop of whipped cream. Emeril's Delmonico offers its version of the classic crepes Suzette, with an orange butter glaze and citrus chocolate ice cream.


DESSERT & COFFEE

Sometimes a caffeine or sugar jolt (or both) is exactly what you need to power you up for the drive into work in the morning -- or the car ride home at night. At any time of the day, pick up a caffe latte at Rue De La Course; the summer months are perfect for its strong, sweet iced caffe mocha. Choose one of seven flavors of Planc Coffee and Tea's iced coffee or grab an iced cafe au lait (and a bag of beans to take home) at CC's Coffee. Starbucks combines coffee with dessert with its Mocha Malt Frappuccino, a blend of chocolate malt, coffee and ice, finished with whipped cream.

After a night of gorging on pastas and cheeses at Bravo! Italian Kitchen, it would be a shame to skip the dessert tray: its Brio Trio is a sampler of tiramisu (lady fingers layered with coffee liqueur, mascarpone cheese and cocoa), creme brulee (creamy housemade custard with fresh vanilla bean and caramelized sugar) and Mike's Famous Cheesecake (served with fresh berries and creme anglaise). And dinner at Louis XVI comes to a sublime end when you finish it off with Fraises Melba a la Chantilly, strawberries served with vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis and topped with whipped cream and toasted almonds.

In case the name doesn't tip you off, Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro serves dessert. Boy, does it ever: its dense, delightfully topped cheesecakes include bananas Foster, fresh banana fudge, white chocolate macadamia, cherries jubilee, chocolate praline, white chocolate raspberry, cream caramel and turtle. There's also the giant $10 Banana Split with vanilla and chocolate ice cream topped with hot fudge, caramel, cherries jubilee, crushed pineapple, white chocolate, raspberry, glazed strawberries and whipped cream. Another sundae delight is available at Haagen-Dazs, where your favorite flavor of ice cream is smothered with either hot fudge, caramel, strawberry, pineapple or chocolate and finished off with whipped cream and the topping of your choice.

One of Gabrielle's signature desserts is the fresh fruit shortcake: a sweet, buttery biscuit topped with soft whipped cream and fresh fruit of the season -- peaches, blueberries, strawberries or blackberries. O'Henry's dessert menu includes the bananas Foster cheesecake: a thick, tall slice of New York cheesecake topped with a homemade bananas Foster sauce, sliced bananas and whipped cream. If you're at Kung's Dynasty, save room for its honey banana dessert: the banana is fried and then topped with ice cream, enough for two people. Adventurous types with a sweet tooth will want to check out Rene Bistrot's chevre cheesecake with red wine poached pears: the creamy cheesecake has a hint of goat cheese in a hazelnut crust, drizzled with a balsamic syrup.

Summertime is the season when people start hanging around Angelo Brocato's to take home their fresh fruit ices: peach and blueberry are two particular favorites. In this traditional Italian candy, ice cream and dessert shop, don't miss the pancotta, a cooked cream gelato. It's also the time of the year when the old-fashioned root beer and nectar malt, a signature offering from Ted's Frostop, tastes particularly good.

Don't forget that timeless union of chicory and coffee (preferably as a cafe au lait -- strong coffee laced liberally with milk) and hot, steaming beignets loaded with powdered sugar. You just shouldn't do one without the other, whether at Cafe du Monde or Morning Call Coffee Stand, both of which specialize in that potent early-morning/late-night energy kick.


DUCK

One creative take on this abundant fowl can be found at the French Table, where the Maigret de Canard Framboise places a grilled duck breast atop a bed of demi-glace topped with caramelized onions and raspberry coulis, served with Gratin Dauphinois. Another is the cinnamon-spiced duck breast at Sazerac Bar and Grill: it's a double duck breast rubbed with cinnamon and glazed with a Plaquemines Parish orange sauce on wild rice. The Bistro at Maison de Ville serves its house-smoked duck breast with a leek, Roquefort and pecan corncake, andouille sauteed greens, and a sun-dried cherry and foie gras jus. Mat & Naddie's Tea-Smoked Lacquered Duck is served with shiitake mushroom and rice noodle lo mein and a ginger orange glaze.

The roasted duck at Dante's Kitchen comes with cornbread dressing, Barq's root beer candied sweet potatoes and a red currant duck sauce, while Wolfe's offers a slow-roasted Steen's cane syrup duck with confit onion-goat cheese beggar's purse, foie gras stuffed apple and tarragon-crusted sweet potatoes and Calvados duck reduction. At Bella Luna, the oven-roasted Maple Leaf Farms duckling half is topped with Grand Marnier orange sauce and served with mashed sweet potatoes. Salvatore Ristorante also offers a roasted duckling in its signature duck reduction with green pepper corns and wild rice, finished with sweet butter.

China Town Gourmet features a hot and spicy sauteed duck Szechuan-style, while the Pelican Club's Trio of Duckling is a duck leg confit, grilled duck breast and Chinese barbecued duck with a Louisiana navel orange and honey glaze, served with coconut curry rice. Red Star Chinese Restaurant's house specialty is the Peking duck with 10 crepes, and Upperline offers its Tom Cowman's Famous Roast Duck with garlic port or ginger peach sauce. The smothered roast duck at Alex Patout's Louisiana Restaurant is slow-cooked, placed on a bed of oyster dressing and served with sweet potato praline casserole, Cajun rice and macque choux. One of the standout entrees at Zea Rotisserie and Brewery is the Twice-Cooked Crispy Duck -- a Maple Leaf Farms duckling that's roasted, crisped in peanut oil and garnished with green onion, cilantro, sesame seeds and a honey-soy glaze, served with Thai green beans and dirty brown rice.


EGGPLANT

The eggplant pirogue at Mr. Ed's Seafood & Italian Restaurant is stuffed with crabmeat dressing and topped with mozzarella cheese, while K-Paul's prepares its Eggplant Pirogue Avery Island by batter-frying the "pirogue" and filling it with julienned beef and shrimp in a sauce of julienned sweet peppers, tomatoes, jalapenos, veal glaze and butter emulsion. At the Esplanade Restaurant, the eggplant Esplanade is a batter-fried eggplant pirogue stuffed with shrimp, oysters, crawfish and mushrooms, topped with an herb butter cream sauce.

At Mona Lisa's, the eggplant Parmesan consists of thin sliced eggplant covered with homemade bread crumbs, baked with Parmesan cheese and homemade red sauce over linguini. One of the featured appetizers at Maple Street Cafe is its tasty eggplant cake in a crabmeat sauce. And, the Italian Pie offers a double dose of eggplant with its gourmet eggplant pizza -- with baked eggplant, garlic sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and feta -- and eggplant sandwich, where baked eggplant, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, tomato, onions and feta cheese are brushed with garlic butter and nestled between two slices of homemade bread.


EGGS

In the right hands, eggs can go from humble source of protein to poetry on a plate. Case in point: the eggs Elizabeth at Elizabeth's: French bread slathered in butter, grilled and topped with ham, poached eggs and hollandaise. Then there's the Begue's eggs Maurepas, consisting of poached eggs, crabcakes, choron sauce and asparagus spears.

One of the notable eye-openers at the Palace Cafe's brunch is the Palace country omelette: an open-faced three-egg omelette with hickory-smoked sweet bacon, Port-Salut cheese, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms and fresh basil. Another inspired breakfast choice is the eggs Pontchartrain at Riccobono's Panola Street Cafe. There, poached eggs are paired with crawfish saute, crawfish tails, mushrooms and green onions and served with hash browns.

The Migas at Surrey's is a three-egg dish, lightly scrambled with sauteed peppers, onions, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and tortilla chips. More down-to-earth options can be found at Maloney's 24 hours a day: its Down on Da Bayou omelette has three eggs, smoked sausage, green onions and mushrooms, topped with cheddar cheese. Looking for another good egg? Stop at Ye Olde College Inn for a seafood omelette -- your choice of fresh Gulf shrimp or oysters, simmered in a batter with onions, garlic and sherry and folded into a two-egg omelette. For a hearty breakfast on the run, dash into Dolly's Deli for a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.


ENCHILADA

Cucos Mexican Cafe offers cantina dining and plates such as the Baja, which includes a cheese enchilada, beef taco, bean tostada and Salsa Especial. For a taste of old Mexico, stop into Carreta's Grill for the authentic enchiladas El Dueno: four grilled chicken enchiladas, sour cream, asadero cheese, tomatillo sauce and cilantro. Casa Tequila's seafood enchiladas are two flour tortillas filled with crab and shrimp and topped with cheeses. And Superior Bar and Grill offers grilled shrimp enchiladas topped with pechuga, tomatillo sauce and monterey jack cheese, and enchiladas Suizas -- mesquite-grilled chicken topped with creamy tomatillo and poblano pepper sauce.


FISH

New Orleans' proximity to a major lake, river and gulf can only mean great things for lovers of fish of all stripes: fresh seasonal choices are available all over town. Case in point: the Giachino Pesce at Ristorante Filippo, a pan-fried fillet of red snapper topped with shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat and mushrooms in a white wine sauce with pasta. At Mike Anderson's Seafood Restaurant, the Howard is fresh red or black drum (whichever is in season) marinated in olive oil, herbs and seasonings and baked skin down. The pecan-crusted baby drum at Muriel's Jackson Square is served with oven-roasted pecans and crawfish relish (substituted with crabmeat from July through December) and topped with a lemon-butter sauce.

An exotic flair on mahi mahi comes in the form of the fish bhuma at Taj Mahal -- it's sauteed with fresh onions, peppers and spices. At Casa Garcia the fillet of fish "a los Cabos" is a tilapia fillet cooked in a sauce of wine, cilantro, herbs and spices. Mr. Tai's offers a Chinese take on local catches with its Sweet and Sour Fish with Pine Nuts: a deep-fried fillet coated with housemade sauce and topped off with pine nuts. Louis XVI serves up a French twist on fresh fish with the Filet de Poisson du Jour Louisiane: a fillet of whatever's fresh and seasonal, topped with sauteed banana and red bell pepper.

For a true local flavor, try the whole Gulf flounder at Middendorf's; it's stuffed with crabmeat dressing in a lemon-butter sauce. There's also the whole flounder at Bruning's: this perennial favorite is a one-and-a-half pounder that's either fried or broiled. The Fox and Hound offers a traditional British pub favorite in its fish and chips basket: Newcastle beer-battered fish, deep fried and served with tartar sauce and fries.

The Gumbo Shop does more than just its signature dish: its fresh fish Florentine is the catch of the day on a bed of seasoned spinach and topped with hollandaise. Sid-Mar's grilled amberjack is served with fettuccine or a steamed vegetable and hush puppies. At Noble Asian Bistro, the pan-seared and baked Chilean sea bass is served with three pieces of jumbo shrimp and tamarind sauce. And the special grouper is a house favorite at Jazz Seafood and Steakhouse: it's topped with crabmeat and almonds.


FROG

Margaritaville Cafe fires up a south Louisiana staple with its Spicy Buffalo Style Frog Legs, deep-fried limbs prepared Buffalo-style with Crystal hot sauce and served with a homemade blue cheese dressing. Kenner Seafood puts eight fried frog legs on platter, served with a choice of two sides and dinner bread.

Start your Herbsaint experience with fried frog legs with herbs. Fury's seafood dinners include frog legs broiled or fried. Gamay Bistro offers Abita Beer Battered Frog's Legs with corn Creole and a chipotle aioli. And no less than The Grill Room presents a civet of sauteed frog legs, Jerusalem artichoke veloute, fresh morels with pan-fried foie gras, and sauteed gnocchi and shaved black truffles.

GUMBO

Mid City Lanes offers its "Super Bowl" of gumbo, packed with turkey, andouille, smoked sausage, shrimp and oysters. Morton's of Madisonville takes pride in the housemade roux base of its seafood gumbo, while The Funky Butt offers a unique twist with "Gumbo-laya," a mound of jambalaya with gumbo poured around it. Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar uses its mollusk namesake in its seafood gumbo, along with some fat crab claws. At Liuzza's By the Track, sauteed shrimp and oysters are added to a traditional Creole gumbo teeming with sausage and chicken. For a hearty, rich version, Zoe Bistrot cooks up a duck confit gumbo with andouille. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Java House offers housemade chicken and sausage gumbo.


HEN

The fare at Marisol varies daily, but one recent dinner entree was a pan-roasted guinea hen served with pearl onions, yellow carrots and housemade fettucine. Tan Dinh offers half a rotisseried Cornish hen, surrounded by pickled carrots, daikon, cucumbers, sliced tomatoes and lettuce. Cote Sud's Cornish hen comes wrapped in bacon and is served with the vegetables du jour. Arnaud's Rock Cornish Game Hen Whitecloud is oven-roasted with Veronique Sauce and served with wild rice and water chestnut dressing. And Siam Cafe's Bird of the Golden Mountain is a deep-fried Cornish hen filled with the house stuffing, presented on a nest of seasonal vegetables, topped with golden creamed curry sauce and flamed at your table.


JAMBALAYA

Coop's Place takes the traditional Creole rice-based recipe and fills it with boneless rabbit, smoked pork sausage and tasso, along with shrimp for good measure. Feed the whole crew with the Jambalaya Shoppe's Family Meal deal, which feeds five to seven people with a bucket of jambalaya (your choice of chicken and andouille, or seafood) and sides of red or white beans, green salad and rolls. The Corner Oyster Bar & Grill spices up its jambalaya with blackened chicken complementing andouille, while Jerry's Jambalaya at Mother's Restaurant features the traditional pairing of chicken and sausage. (Look for shrimp jambalaya at Mother's on Fridays.) Olive Branch Cafe puts its own spin on the standby with pasta jambalaya, featuring chicken breast and smoked sausage simmered in a garlic cream sauce and tossed with penne pasta. Howl at the Moon's traditional andouille and chicken jambalaya comes with a side of coleslaw.


LAMB

Babylon Cafe marinates its lamb chops with rosemary and olive oil before grilling, while Lebanon Cafe's rosemary lamb chops are charbroiled 16-oz. chops. Cafe Beirut uses a spice, herb and olive oil marinade for its lamb shish kebab. Nirvana Indian Cuisine sautes thin slices of lamb in tomatoes and garlic for lamb Sikander; Daniel's lamb shank shines with a time-intensive eight-hour braising with rosemary, garden vegetables, Roma tomatoes and red wine. Hillery's on Toulouse slow-braises its lamb shank osso buco, which benefits from a marinade of basil, oregano, tomatoes and veal stock. Marisol gets into the slow-braising act, too, with a lamb shank served with saffron grilled onions, apricot raviolis, green olives and sumac jus.

At Girod Bistro, rosemary-crusted garlic lamb is served over warm lentil salad and almond cous cous. Mediterranean standby Mona's keeps devotees coming back for its lamb kebabs (prepared with parsley, garlic, herbs and spices), along with hummus with lamb plates. Byblos Market offers the grilled Kafta Burger, ground lamb and beef with parsley, onions and spices. Presentation is part of the appeal of the tajine of lamb at Jamila's Cafe -- boneless leg of lamb is baked into terra cotta dishes and served with marinated garlic, lemon, and saffron rice. Three baby lamb chops are seasoned with rosemary and oregano and served with potatoes or rice at Mr. Gyro's.

Oven-baked lamb makes an appearance at Bennachin, cooked with an apricot baste and served over cous cous or rice and broccoli. Get your greens and lamb with the warm lamb salad from Fresco's Cafe and Pizzeria, as lamb is served over mixed greens with kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions, with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Indulge in the double cut chops marinated with a mildly sweet jalapeno sauce and grilled at Nuvolari's.


LOBSTER

At Le Parvenu, paneed lobster is layered with shrimp, crab and crawfish surrounded with cognac cream sauce. Dominique's serves a whole Maine lobster poached in a lobster essence, then de-shelled and served with a fricassee of lobster, spaghetti squash and oven-dried tomato ravioli. A whole lobster tail with corn cake and nicoise olive salad is featured at Victor's, while Lilette does a lobster risotto with broccoli rabe. The humble sandwich reaches new heights with Kabby's lobster club panini, which features Maine lobster with tartare sauce, lettuce and tomato on toasted brioche. Steakhouse Chateaubriand serves a 1-3/4 lb. Maine lobster grilled and served with lemon beurre blanc.

Lemon Grass shows lobster's versatility with its lobster tortellini, featuring lobster tail and ginger tomato cream sauce. Another tantalizing ethnic preparation is Liborio's langosta ala Criollo (lobster Creole), where lobster tail is cooked in a special tomato sauce seasoned with garlic, lemon and black pepper.

Bourbon House features lobster in a traditional European plateaux de fruits de mer platter, alongside fresh shucked Louisiana oysters, Gulf shrimp, seasonal seafood salad and crab fingers; Smith & Wollensky also offers a shellfish bouquet boasting lobster, oysters, crab claws, shrimp and crab meat. For a dish that tastes close to home, French Market Restaurant and Bar prepares lobster etouffee; lobster, shrimp and crawfish all sauteed and served in a lobster tail. Or try the Creole stuffed lobster at Anthony's Seafood & Lobster House, which is a broiled whole lobster stuffed with a crabmeat, shrimp and crawfish dressing, served with steamed potatoes and corn on the cob. And for a little taste of Italy with your lobster, the Olive Garden's lobster spaghetti contains shelled lobster and fresh spinach sauteed with extra-virgin olive oil in a creamy lobster broth.


MIRLITON

The Red Maple Restaurant stuffs its mirliton with andouille, shrimp and crab and tops it with a fried oyster bordelaise. At Marco Polo's Market, mirliton is stuffed with shrimp and sausage before it's covered with buttered bread crumbs and Creole sauce. Fried shrimp shares equal billing with stuffed mirliton at La Cuisine Restaurant & Bar; La Cuisine's mirliton overflows with crabmeat, shrimp and Creole seasonings. If you'd like a lighter mirliton dish, Belle Forche's mirliton salad appetizer contains shaved peppers, toasted almonds, watercress and lime.


MIXED GRILL

Why only grill one meat when you can grill two -- or three? Louisiana Grill's mixed grill is a combo of beef tenderloin, babyback ribs and grilled boneless breast of chicken. Over on the Northshore, Dakota groups a petit filet, chicken breast and andouille, accompanied by mashed potatoes with roasted garlic-Worcestershire oil. And keep in mind that Bayona's regular specials include a mixed grill.

Salvatore Ristorante offers a seafood mixed grill of shrimp, oyster, fish and scallops. The Red Maple Restaurant serves filet mignon with wild mushroom port glaze reduction, grilled shrimp bordelaise and grilled drum with creamed pesto. "Live to eat," is the motto of Zea Rotisserie and Brewery; surely, they refer to their own Mixed Rotisserie & Grill, a half rack of wet or dry ribs, a quarter barbecued chicken and a quarter-pound of the rotisseried meat of the day, all served with your choice of two sides.


MUFFALETTA

Oscar's version of the muffaletta is dubbed the Oscaletta, served hot. At World Deli, you can eat your muffaletta in-house or get an order of 50 cocktail muffalettas catered for your next party. Johnnies' half muffalettas are a meal unto themselves, while Luigi's Fine Foods makes its own Italian olive salad to complement ham, salami, and provolone on round Italian bread. The house specialty at the Napoleon House is the Italian muffaletta, packed with ham, genoa salami, pastrami, Swiss and provolone cheese and topped with olive salad. For a break with tradition, Mr. Ed's Seafood & Italian Restaurant serves up a seafood muffaletta bursting with your favorite fried Louisiana seafood. Head to Rocky's for the muffaletta pizza, topped with olive salad, ham, salami, and mozzarella and provolone cheese.

Of course, Central Grocery remains muffaletta headquarters, as the venerable Decatur Street store is known for its traditional muffaletta, served with olive salad, provolone cheese, genoa salami, and capicola ham on a round Italian loaf.


MUSHROOMS

In all varieties and sizes, mushrooms are a popular staple in Louisiana restaurants, both in finger-food appetizers and upscale entrees. Louisiana Pizza Kitchen's portobello and shiitake mushroom pizza also features toppings of red bell peppers, fresh basil, feta and mozzarella cheese. To complement your steak at Crazy Johnnie's, try the fresh mushroom caps stuffed with crabmeat dressing or the fresh mushroom sautee; at Ruth's Chris Steak House, broiled mushroom caps with jumbo lump crabmeat stuffing are sprinkled with Romano cheese.

The Cyber Bar & Cafe at the Contemporary Arts Center grills marinated portobello mushrooms and serves them with a satay peanut sauce and carrot-cilantro slaw on ciabetta bread. At the Steak Knife Restaurant & Bar, mushroom caps are stuffed with escargot and served simmering in garlic butter laced with white wine and brandy.

On New City Diner's spring menu, portobello mushrooms are stuffed with crawfish. The Bulldog's Bock Im Stein Shrooms feature five beer-battered jumbo mushrooms stuffed with spinach, artichoke hearts, and mixed cheese, served with ranch or honey mustard dressing. The stuffing continues across the lake at Friends on the Tchefuncte, as crabmeat-stuffed bake mushrooms are topped with cream sauce.


MUSSELS

Cote Sud offers Moules Gratinees au Four, mussels in the shell baked in garlic, parsley and butter sauce. Artesia steams its mussels in a Thai curry sauce with lemongrass, basil, coconut milk and red curry. Ninja offers green mussels with vinegar sauce, while Genghis Khan broils its green mussels and serves them with garlic aioli. Nuvolari's New England clams and mussels are steamed with white wine, garlic and tomato broth.


NOODLES

If it's oodles and oodles of noodles you're craving, options abound. China Orchid's Empress Chow Mein features crispy pan-fried noodles sauteed with shrimp, roast pork, beef, chicken and fresh Chinese vegetables. The pho bo (beef noodle soup) at Pho Tao Bay Restaurant is a traditional soup served with a basket of fresh herbs, crispy bean sprouts, lime wedges and sliced hot peppers. Monaghan's Erin Rose offers Mahealani Pacific Rim cuisine, including Bun Ca Ha Noi: warm rice noodles, carrots, daikon, lettuce, cucumbers, nuoc cham and crushed peanuts, topped with sauteed catfish marinated in turmeric, dill, and scallions.

At Kyoto in Uptown, noodles marry well with ocean delights in seaweed udon, seaweed soba and seafood naueuaki udon. Bi Bim Naeng Myon at Korea House translates to cold noodles seasoned in hot spicy sauce, while Purple Roses serves a beef broth-based rice noodle soup with chicken. The Seafood Claypot Medley at Siam Cafe contains Thai glass noodles in a fish stock with green onions, sweet pepper, mushrooms and lemongrass, with fish, shrimp and sliced squid also playing a starring role.

Doson's Noodle House uses vermicelli rice noodles, green leaves and fish sauce in its Bun Tom Nuong, topped with grilled jumbo shrimp. One chef's specialty at King Buffet is the seafood fried noodles, consisting of shrimp, lobster, and crabmeat with pan-fried noodles.

Fresh fruit is served at Giacomino with the lunch plate of Spring Vermicelli: vermicelli noodles and shrimp wrapped in rice paper with sprigs of herbs and a peanut hoisin sauce served with noodle salad. And at Bangkok Thai Restaurant, pad thai noodles (served with ground peanuts, green onions, bean sprouts and egg) come with your choice of chicken, pork, beef, vegetarian, shrimp or combination.


ONION

Onion Peels at Applebee's are fried onion strips served with creamy horseradish dipping sauce; thin is also in at Anthony's Seafood & Lobster House, where Cajun Onion Straws are thinly sliced onions battered, fried and seasoned. You can also get your crunch with Patout's Cajun Bistro's seasoned, lightly battered and fried onion rings. Not to be outdone, Mr. John's Steak & Seafood House promises "colossal beer battered onion rings." Desire Oyster Bar & Bistro's Beer Battered Onion Rings are "fried to perfection" and served with a honey mustard sauce. If you want the whole onion, Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Onion appetizer fries it up and fans it out for you.

For a totally different taste, Taqueria Corona's cebollitas are charbroiled green onions.


OYSTERS

The true sunken treasure of Louisiana, these salty, slurp-friendly bivalves are being reinvented in new, inspired dishes across the city. Drago's in Fat City offers its famed charbroiled oysters, as well as the Parabola & Oysters, sauteed oysters with bordelaise sauce on top of a marinated, grilled portobello mushroom. At Riccobono's Peppermill, the oysters Riccobono come baked in a casserole with mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, bread crumbs and Italian cheese, and served with a spaghetti bordelaise sauce. At Bozo's, the oyster bar never closes. Desire Oyster Bar & Bistro pairs oysters with shrimp for a combination of 12 fresh shucked oysters and 12 boiled shrimp.

The fried oyster pirogue at New Orleans Food and Spirits comes loaded with local oysters coated in a Cajun-spice batter and fried. The whole table can enjoy the fried oysters at Pere Antoine Restaurant, where they're ordered by the dozen for appetizers or entrees. Kelsey's features Danny's Grilled Oysters, which come prepared with Stilton cheese and artichoke au gratin. Just a tease, we admit, since Casamento's is taking its annual hiatus through August, but we have to tell you about their famous oyster loafs, with fried oysters dressed or not dressed on pan bread or a sliced sandwich. One of Mimi's seafood specialties is the oysters Mimi, with the oysters baked with Romano cheese, Italian bread crumbs, bacon and garlic.

The Red Fish Grill offers barbecued oysters, with a half-dozen from the Gulf flash-fried and tossed in a barbecue sauce made with Crystal hot sauce and served with housemade blue cheese dressing for dipping. At Galley Restaurant, fried oysters are added to a traditional Caesar salad. Restaurant Indigo creates a salad made of hot smoked oysters and shiitake (mushrooms) bruschetta, served with a basil, pecan and bacon vinaigrette. Find oysters Verdant at Hillery's on Toulouse, an appetizer choice served with baby spinach and Pernod cream. And, of course, Acme Oyster House offers raw oysters, oysters remoulade, fried oyster salad, oyster and artichoke bisque, and fried oyster po-boys.

PANCAKES

Start your day off or drop by any time for a yogurt smoothie and an order of pancakes, plain or blueberry, at Barracks Street Cafe. The Trolley Special of Mo's Riverbend Cafe includes two pancakes, two eggs, and your choice of ham, bacon, country or link sausage, and grits. Coffee Pot's Creole pancakes are made with buttermilk and can be topped with strawberries, pecans, apples or bananas. Dot's Diner's many locations offer a breakfast combination of two pancakes, hash browns, grits and toast.

Breakfast spot Bluebird Cafe offers a short stack of two (or silver dollar) regular and buckwheat pancakes; regular pancakes also come in the butter pecan, blueberry, banana or chocolate chip varieties, and buckwheat can be joined by butter pecan, blueberry or banana flavors. Sunday Brunch at Albertine's Tea Room in the stately Columns Hotel includes sausage-stuffed pancakes served with whipped cream and strawberries. Snap up Gator Stack Pancakes, two fluffy buttermilk pancakes with butter and warm syrup, at Bayou Cafe.


PASTA

A popular lunch choice at Igor's Garlic Clove is the Cajun seafood pasta salad, which is served cold with calamari, shrimp, scallops and bow-tie pasta. Under the "Adventures in Pasta" section on any area Semolina menu, you'll find Thai curry shrimp pasta, which features angel hair pasta hosting shrimp sauteed in a spicy Thai curry sauce with coconut, tamarind, ground chiles, onions, garlic, sweet raisins and tomatoes. It all comes garnished with carrot sticks, basil and cilantro. The Come Back Inn II invites you to do just that for The Julia: angel hair pasta topped with a crabmeat cream sauce and either fried shrimp or catfish (served only on weekends).

At Antonio's Wine Cellar on the West Bank, discover the carbonara, linguine pasta covered in a traditional Italian cream sauce with bacon, peas, onions and Parmesan cheese. Bucktown's II Tony's Italian Restaurant and Seafood tempts you with a lasagna that bakes together five cheeses, ground meat and Italian sausage. Vincent's offers their canneloni -- housemade pasta with ground veal, pureed spinach and Alfredo cream sauce.

While Cafe Zen in Gretna specializes in sushi and other Japanese cuisine, the Lasagna of Japan boasts wasabi dumplings in a special sauce. Mr. John's crawfish, tasso, asparagus and wild mushroom risotto comes in a cream sauce and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese. At Fazzio's, you'll find angel hair pasta with crabmeat served in a housemade crabmeat cream sauce.

Meat-lovers will rejoice for Cafe Giovanni's Hunter's Cannelloni, which combines pork, veal, beef, eggplant, pine nuts and four cheeses in a housemade marinara and Alfredo sauces. The signature pasta Cappita at Cappita! Italian Bistro features shrimp sauteed in a housemade garlic-poblano cream sauce, all tossed in penne pasta. The Maple Street Cafe offers their Rigatoni Sui Sui, with rigatoni pasta served with roasted garlic, tomato, basil, butter and Parmesan cheese.


PASTRY

One of the tastiest examples of our French heritage comes in the form of pastries. In the lower Quarter, look for Croissant D'Or's strawberry Napoleon, Bavarian chocolate and lemon tart options. The sleek environs of The Wine Loft house the tempting dessert option of cream puffs with strawberries (hitting their seasonal peak now), served with champagne Anglaise. Another Broken Egg Cafe offers the Monster Cinnamon Roll, served hot and topped with a cream-cheese icing. The Opera Torte Lele at Broussard's heightens the dining drama with its coffee butter cream and praline mousse filling and orange Cointreau sauce.


PIE

While the name might not suggest it, Heavenly Ham allows you to please all your backyard-barbecue guests with their gourmet-to-go homestyle pies, with choices of apple, caramel and walnut, Southern pecan, peach praline, and cherry. The Authentic Key Lime Pie on the dessert menu at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. comes with a graham cracker crust. Camellia Grill offers a variety of pies, with the banana highly recommended. At Emeril's, the banana cream pie comes with a banana crust, caramel sauce and chocolate shavings. Finish off one of those charcoal-broiled hamburgers at Bud's Broiler with either an apple, peach or cherry pie.


PIZZA

At the Brick Oven Cafe in Kenner, the namesake Brick Oven Pizza comes topped with roasted chicken, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and herbs, housemade cheese, and Italian sausage. Dino's Lakeview imports organic tomatoes from Escalon County, Calif., for a family-recipe, hand-tossed pizza that is prepared after the sauce is marinated for four hours and then combined with cheese from the F&A Company in Wisconsin.

The Cajun Pizza at Milano Pizzeria in Metairie comes with a housemade Cajun sauce, shrimp, crawfish, chicken, andouille sausage, green onions and mozzarella cheese. Directly across from the Fair Grounds, find the garlic shrimp pizza at Enzo's, which comes topped with roasted garlic, grilled shrimp, onions and tomatoes. Mark Twain's Pizza Landing prepares The Mysterious Stranger with spinach, feta cheese, Canadian bacon or charisse (hot sausage), and your choice of vegetables; select an artichoke as your vegetable choice for just $1 extra. The tomato basil pizza at Figaro's Pizzeria comes with a roasted garlic cream sauce, tomato slices, basil, more garlic and a pecorino Romano (cheese made from sheep's milk, an Italian tradition). Hell's Kitchen offers its "All That" Pizza, loaded with Italian sausage, pepperoni, ground beef, onions, green peppers and black olives.

And remember -- they may be represented in categories other than this one, but you won't want to forget about Italian Pie, Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, New York Pizza, Rocky's Old New Orleans Bar & Pizza Joint, Dante's Pizzeria and Italian Grille and R&O Pizza Place.


PO-BOYS

The styles of po-boys offered around town are as flexible as a chef's imagination. One example: VooDoo BBQ's list of Jamm'in Po-Boys, all served with lettuce, tomato and "reggae" coleslaw; a popular choice is a molasses and pecan chicken salad po-boy. At Ricca's Sandwich Shop, the Iris Po-Boy combines roast beef, turkey and Swiss cheese. Short Stop Po-Boys' varied menu includes the Four Meat Special: ham, lunch meat, bologna and salami on either French bread or a bun, coming in sizes of small, regular and king.

Among the many po-boys at Johnny & Josie's is Josie's Combo Special, which blends roast beef, ham and cheese on your choice of French bread, a bun or whole wheat. The famed Judge Bosetto po-boy at Johnny's Po-Boy Restaurant in the French Quarter consists of ground beef, Italian and hot sausage and Swiss cheese. On the list of "over-stuffed po-boys" at Danny & Clyde's is the D&C Special, which combines roast beef and ham on your choice of French bread, bun or sliced bread. The Jukebox Cajun Diner boasts the Sloppy Roast Beef Po-Boy, prepared in the traditional New Orleans style with housemade gravy.

Paul's Cafe in Ponchatoula offers a large variety of over-stuffed po-boys, with fried shrimp a popular choice. In Uptown, look on the wall for the menu at Domilise's Po-Boys, where'll find a shrimp po-boy on French bread dressed with mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles and the signature housemade sauce. At the Magazine Po-Boy Shop, hearty appetites will appreciate either a veal Parmesan or Italian sausage po-boy. The signature po-boys at Johnny & Jackie's in Gretna include the Italian Combo, featuring meatballs, Italian sausage, provolone cheese and red gravy. Guy's Po-Boys dares you with a fried potato po-boy. Go south-of-the-border with Cafe Hola!'s chicken fajita po-boy: seasoned chicken breast strips marinated and then grilled. The vast menu at R&O Pizza Place includes a roast beef po-boy served hot, with the beef chopped up and covered in a housemade gravy.


POMPANO

A trio of French Quarter institutions offer one of the sea's most-prized catches: pompano. The pompano David on Arnaud's dinner menu features the pompano fillet brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, garlic and herbs before it's grilled (skin-on). Galatoire's pompano dinner entree is prepared with a sauteed crabmeat meuniere. Antoine's offers several pompano dishes, including one as grilled fillet in a white wine sauce, topped with a large broiled mushroom.


PORK

In the list of "Big Plates" at Cobalt, you'll discover a jerk-rubbed pork porterhouse served with rum-baked black beans, sweet, fried plantains and Fidel's Apple-Jicima Slaw. The Bombay Club offers a pork loin soaked in apple and Creole mustard and served with Creole-style white beans. The smoked pork loin at Clancy's comes with a Creole mustard and green-peppercorn demi-glace. The lechon asado at Vera Cruz offers a lean cut of pork roasted with garlic and caramelized red onions. The pork chop on Gamay Bistro's menu is marinated and grilled and then topped with an andouille cornbread dressing, asparagus and corn-curried sauce.

Fong's Chinese Restaurant in Kenner offers Fong's Triple Threat: a combination of shrimp, roasted pork and chicken (white meat) all stir-fried with traditional Chinese accompaniments. The Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery is home to the pate chaud, a French puff pastry made with pork and onion or Chinese barbecued pork. The Pupuseria Divino Corazon on Belle Chasse Highway offers yuca con chicharron; yuca is a crisp, white root indigenous to South America (though often imported here from Africa), and, for this dish, is combined with pork cracklin' and cabbage.

On Tuesdays, Two Sister's Restaurant features breaded pork chops served with white beans and mustard greens. Causey's Country Kitchen showcases its rural roots on Friday's with pigs feet served with rice and potato salad on the side.

Offering breakfast 24 hours a day, Clover Grill offers a pork chop and eggs dish that offers a center-cut pork chop, two eggs and your choice of hash browns, grits or toast. The pulled pork sandwich at Silky O'Sullivan's comes with a pickle spear and coleslaw. Cajun Mike's Pub & Grub offers a cochon de lait po-boy, with roasted pork piled high with French fries, pickles and gravy on the side. The Cellars of River Ridge prepares a pork cordon bleu sandwich, with your choice of white, wheat, rye or pita breads.


POTATO

McAlister's Deli on Airline Drive offers a variety of "Texas-sized" spuds, including Spud Max: a baked potato loaded with diced ham, turkey, bacon, cheddar and Swiss cheeses and sliced jalapenos, served with red onions on the side. The potato sandwich at Flyin' Cow features steak fries topped with gravy and typical dressings, on your choice of a housemade bun, French bread of wheat French bread. At Friends of the Tchefuncte, share for an appetizer the sweet potato hushpuppies. When you're in the Irish Channel, try the gravy cheese fries at Parasol's.

The Potato King royal menu of all-things-spud includes a order of mushroom skins -- potato skins filled with mushrooms cooked in butter, all covered in your choice of cheddar, Swiss or mozzarella cheeses, with chives. Spudly's Super Spuds boasts the Beef It Up, a potato hosting diced roast beef smothered in sauteed onion, mushroom, bell peppers, all topped with a housemade cheese sauce, mozzarella cheese and chives. At Corky's Ribs & BBQ, the kitchen prepares a stuffed barbecue baked potato that comes loaded with your choice of barbecued beef, pork, chicken or turkey with margarine and cheddar cheese.


QUAIL

At Emeril's, the dinner entree of crispy butter-stuffed quail comes with potato gratin, spinach-apple salad and mustard jus. Restaurant August offers buttermilk-fried bobwhite quail with wild onions and a balsamic fig reduction. Pan-roasted quail is combined with grilled foie gras at Brigtsen's and is served with roasted vegetables and apple-cider pan gravy. Commander's Palace serves Jack Daniels Lacquered Mississippi Quail, with blue crab and black pepper brioche stuffing, green apple braised cabbage, and toasted pecan-molasses demi-glace. A boneless quail is stuffed with shrimp and eggplant stuffing, baked and then topped with a roasted garlic butter sauce at C'est Bon Restaurant.


QUESADILLAS

Choose your own quesadilla fillings at Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar and Restaurant (Uptown location coming soon), with options of cheese, shrimp, mushrooms, steak, chicken or crawfish. Sun Ray Grill's portobello mushroom and basil quesadilla features sauteed tomato, portobello mushroom, onion, roast garlic and basil all folded into a spinach tortilla with melted mozzarella. It comes served with Mediterranean salad with ranch dressing. Coffee Rani in Covington offers a smoked cheese and veggie quesadilla, served on a whole wheat tortilla. It combines smoked Gouda cheese, mushrooms, sauteed spinach, peppers and onions, and is served with a pesto-yogurt spread with brown rice.

The Mexican fare at Nacho Mama's includes a grilled veggie quesadilla that is served with pico de gallo and sour cream. El Patio Mexican Restaurant's quesadillas come on a flour tortilla stuffed with melted cheese and green onion, garnished with guacamole and sour cream, all served with rice and beans. The choices include avocado, shredded chicken or ground beef. The spinach quesadillas at Adobe Cantina & Salsa come two in an order and are served with a guacamole salad.


RABBIT

The dinner menu at Palace Cafe holds a paneed Mississippi rabbit entree fully deboned and filled with smoked tasso and Gruyere cheese before it's paneed and brushed with a Creole mustard brandy cream sauce. It's served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and honey-tarragon glazed baby carrots.

Rene Bistrot boasts a rabbit loin and braised leg with olives, tomatoes and Anson Mills polenta. The rabbit sausage appetizer from Martinique Bistro comes with legumes and two mustards. Alex Patout's Louisiana Restaurant boasts a rabbit sauce piquant, with the meat cooked slowly in traditional sauce piquant, all served with sauteed spinach and macque choux. The Grill Room offers a shoulder of rabbit braised in red wine with a roasted loin and rib, along with a potato puree, roasted parsnips and chantelles. It's served with Creole mustard and tarragon jus.


RAVIOLI

Regardless of whether these little pockets of flavor are prepared simply or stuffed with complex fillings, ravioli in all its incarnations represents Italian comfort food at its finest.

Impastasto's Restaurant offers a straight-from-Grandma's kitchen ricotta ravioli with housemade pasta, spinach and imported cheeses, all topped with a light tomato gravy. Verona puts an excellent twist on classic ravioli with its fried ravioli appetizer: cheese ravioli seared in extra virgin olive oil and served with marinara.

To marry ravioli with seafood can be an inspired choice, as seen at Bacco: its lobster ravioli features housemade pasta filled with Maine lobster and Gulf shrimp, tossed in a champagne butter sauce and garnished with caviar. One of the signature dishes at Carmelo Ristorante is the housemade crabmeat ravioli and shrimp tossed in its "aurora" sauce: a light tomato sherry cream sauce. And one of the more inspired ravioli dishes we've noted is Gautreau's roasted garlic and mascarpone ravioli with escargot in parsley sauce.


RED BEANS AND RICE

So closely linked with New Orleans culture that revered musician Louis Armstrong signed his personal correspondence "Red Beans and Ricely Yours," this combo dish has moved from its traditional Monday slot to every-day menu at many eateries.

At the Half Shell, the traditional simmered beans are served over white rice with a length of grilled smoked sausage. Zachary's Creole Cuisine slow-cooks the spiced beans with ham and sausage in the pot, then serves it over white rice and pairs it with golden fried chicken and cornbread. Lafitte's Restaurant offers guests and visitors to the Pontchartrain Hotel its French Market Red Beans and Rice, beans simmered with onions, celery, bell peppers, garlic and sliced andouille sausage served over white rice. At Cafe Pontalba, diners get soulful with the Cajun Combination: red beans and rice with smoked sausage, jambalaya and a cup of gumbo.

Kabby's Sports Grill combines local favorites in its Bayou Combo, offering jambalaya with its red beans and smoked sausage as well as French bread to make sure you savor all the bean gravy. Polynesian Joe's gives purists a choice of red beans and rice alone or edified with smoked or hot sausage or a pork chop.


REDFISH

Although redfish gained national prominence after Chef Paul Prudhomme perfected his blackening technique, local restaurants have found a host of ways to make the Sebastes marinus a star. Oceanaire Oyster Bar and Seafood Room, for instance, sautes a redfish fillet with crawfish tails and mushrooms and serves it in a light cream sauce as a signature dish. Jack Dempsey's Restaurant also looks to the seas for accompaniment, broiling its signature redfish, then topping it with crabmeat au gratin.

The Rib Room, on the other hand, prepares a fillet of farm-raised redfish by pan-roasting it, then serving it with sauteed jumbo lump crabmeat that has been enhanced with lemon meuniere. NOLA also roasts its redfish, but over a cedar plank and with a citrus-horseradish crust. It's served with a lemon-butter sauce and Vietnamese seafood salad. Belle Forche looks to the garden for accompaniment, oven-roasting its redfish and serving it with stewed okra, tomatoes, corn and saffron.

Johnny Ryan's New Orleans Restaurant & Bar takes a different approach, coating its fresh Gulf redfish in a potato and andouille crust and serving it up with a light tarragon butter sauce.

Fried food enthusiasts will welcome Cafe Atchafalaya's redfish Louisiana, which features butterflied redfish that's lightly seasoned and fried in peanut oil until the skin is crispy, then topped with shrimp and crab cream sauce. Casting its line in a different direction, Old Nawlins Cookery cuts the ocean perch into bite-sized pieces and marinates it in Louisiana hot sauce before battering and deep frying it to a golden brown for redfish beignets. They're served with housemade garlic mayonnaise dipping sauce.


RIBS

Damon's Grill won't disclose exactly what makes their ribs taste so special (their recipe is a secret), but the restaurant does say it starts with the meatiest ribs and has them trimmed to its specifications before it cooks them on an open-flame grill and then smothers them with a special barbecue sauce. They're served sizzling with coleslaw and a baked potato.

Bennigan's goes for the smaller rib size with its "Oh, Baby" Back Ribs and Shrimp, featuring a slab of grilled ribs basted in tangy barbecue sauce and served with a choice of a half-dozen golden fried butterflied shrimp, a skewer of eight Cajun-grilled shrimp or a skewer of fire-roasted salsa shrimp. That meal is served with two choices from the sides menu of coleslaw, French fries, baked potato, garlic mashed potato, corn and black beans, broccoli, cinnamon apples or dinner rolls. New to Copeland's is a pound-and-a-half rack of imported Danish baby back ribs that is slow-cooked to a smoky flavor then wood-grilled and served with the restaurant's signature barbecue sauce and French fries.

It's hard to talk about barbecue anything without mentioning Corky's, which serves Memphis-style barbecue pork ribs that it claims are "world famous." The dry ribs are sprinkled with a secret blend of dry spices then cooked in a charcoal pit until they're nice and tender. They are served with the perfunctory barbecue beans, coleslaw and housemade bread.

Other restaurants like to add another New Orleans favorite -- liquor -- to their rib recipes. The Steak Pit favors Jim Beam bourbon in its barbecue sauce, which it applies to a half slab of slow-cooked baby back ribs and serves with N'Awlins Filthy Rice. House of Blues makes its slow-cooked baby backs sing with a special Jack Daniel's-infused barbecue sauce backed by mashed sweet potatoes and turnip greens.


SALAD

New Orleans' salad offerings are enough to make you green with envie. Le Pavillon Hotel's The Crystal Room offers La Salade du Chef, a house specialty that includes Asian marinated seaweed, shredded chicken and bok choy, all served with a ginger peanut sauce. Without a doubt, the most interestingly named salad in town would be Houston's Evil Jungle Thai Noodle Steak Salad, a marinated and grilled filet chopped with fresh noodles, avocado, mango and mint. Seafood restaurant Rio Mar has unique salad selections, including one featuring hearts of palm, avocado and grapefruit and another with roasted beet, Cabrales blue cheese, almonds and an aged sherry vinaigrette. Frosty's Caffe tops romaine lettuce with mango, avocado, roasted peanuts and a light house dressing. Tony Angello's complements its Italian fare with an out-of-the-ordinary brisket and tomato salad.

If something a little more traditional is what you hunger for, then thank God -- and Friar Tuck's -- for the Freret St. Chicken Salad, a grilled or fried chicken breast on a bed of lettuce, mushrooms, green peppers, red onions, three cheeses and crotons, served with a choice of dressing. The shrimp Caesar at Sophisticated Salads has seasoned shrimp, Parmesan cheese, croutons and classic Caesar dressing. Cafe Banquette's D'Angelo Cobb Salad includes tomatoes, avocados, bacon and eggs. Cafe Latte's Bluesy Salad is a popular lunchtime choice: spinach, carrots, blue cheese and walnuts are topped with a grilled chicken breast and served with poppy seed dressing. Cafe Ya Ya's Ya Ya Chef Salad combines roast beef, ham, turkey, American and Swiss cheeses, boiled egg, tomatoes and cucumbers over salad greens. In addition to its daily specials, Mr. Roo's Deli & Catering offers a club salad filled with fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and egg. Kenner's Cafe d'Cappuccino serves grilled chicken on a bed of lettuce and tomato, topped with guacamole. New summer salads at Caddyshack include the boiled shrimp Caesar and the grilled chicken Caesar salad. Beach House offers salads topped with a choice of baked or fried chicken or grilled shrimp and a variety of housemade dressings. A newly revamped menu at Covington's Back Porch Grill includes the Back Porch Garden Salad, a mix of field greens, romaine lettuce, julienned carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers with choice of salad dressing.

Many establishments take the greens global. Santa Fe's namesake taco salad features a wheat tortilla brimming with straw potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, beef, beans, and cheeses. New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co.'s Oriental Chicken Salad includes a marinated and grilled, thinly sliced chicken breast mixed with carrots, tortilla crisps and Asian sesame ginger dressing and peanut sauce. Known mostly for their wraps, Kokopelli's brings the salad Southwest, with a Southwestern Greek Salad featuring mixed greens, tomato, red onions, black olives, pepperoncini, feta cheese and roasted red pepper, tossed with a roasted chile, lime-cumin vinaigrette. PJ's Coffee & Tea locations serve a Greek salad with feta cheese, black olives, cucumber, tomato and onion accompanied by pita wedges. Lei into Mother Cluckers' Aloha Salad, mixed greens with hearts of palm, mandarin oranges, pineapples, tomatoes, sesame seeds and shredded Jack cheese. For its Boston Salad, Reginelli's starts with the eponymous Boston lettuce and adds hearts of palm, avocado, cucumbers, vine-ripened Roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts and roasted walnuts, all topped with a honey Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Closer to home is the Ponchatoula Strawberry Spinach Salad of Cafe Gumbolaya, where the berries join baby spinach, spicy nuts, tomatoes, cucumbers, fried green tomatoes and grilled chicken in a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette.

Cafe Degas paints a pretty picture with La Salade Nicoise au Thon Poele: yellowfin tuna, baby greens, potatoes, marinated olives, haricots verts and anchovies. Marigny Brasserie's Serrano Fig Salad has endive and aged Manchego goat cheese wrapped in Serrano ham with mixed greens and candied pecans, all tossed in a fig vinaigrette.

Turkey gets the salad treatment at Chateau Coffee Cafe with the smoked meat wrapped in baby Swiss and served with walnuts and sliced apples on romaine lettuce. For a salad twist on a local favorite, Hero's All-American Grill presents Popcorn Shrimp Remoulade, popcorn shrimp tossed with romaine, croutons and the house's special remoulade dressing. Have your fried oysters at Cannon's atop romaine and surrounded by croutons, Parmesan cheese and the house's signature Caesar dressing.


SALMON

Lee Circle Restaurant gives salmon special treatment, curing the fish in star anise and wasabi before wrapping it around field greens with soy vinaigrette for an appetizer. Boule also looks to Asian influences with its ginger-cured salmon, which is grilled to order and served on top of a housemade sweet potato cake with grilled vegetables and topped with a cucumber relish. Sara's, whose menu mixes Asian with Creole, offers a fresh Atlantic salmon fillet that is coated with a black and white sesame seed crust and quick-seared before being baked. It's served over wasabi bearer Blanca and jasmine rice, plus stir fry. Another spicy option is La Thai Cuisine's pan-seared Thai-spiced salmon drizzled with sweet chili soy sauce and served with lemon grass rice pilaf, portobello mushrooms and grilled asparagus.

Samarai Sushi Restaurant keeps it simple but elegant with grilled salmon served with a sauteed mushroom cream sauce and rice. For a touch of French refinement, Louis XVI Restaurant presents Saumon Grille a la Provencale: grilled Atlantic salmon accompanied by layers of vegetables, tomato coulis and pistou sauce (a mixture of crushed basil, garlic and olive oil). Equally refined and more than a little decadent is the salmon mousse appetizer at Feelings Cafe, a creamy spread of spiced pink salmon with caviar.

The new Lulu's In the Garden at the Garden District Hotel slow-roasts the pink-fleshed fish and dresses it up with black olive tapenade, creamy polenta and arugula for a special presentation.


SANDWICH

The Earl of Sandwich could not have imagined how his answer to munching while playing cards would develop over the centuries. Modern-day sandwiches have been transformed into culinary masterpieces, such as the chicken cordon bleu sandwich at Samuel's Avenue Pub, which dresses breaded and fried ham, chicken and mozzarella cheese with tomatoes and onions in po-boy fashion. No less an artwork is the tenderloin filet that's dressed with baked brie, caramelized onions and roasted garlic aioli and served on a whole wheat bun at Allegro.

Martin Wine Cellar creates a different kind of sandwich picture with the Cedric (named after the business' owner), which layers thinly sliced roasted chicken breast, Swiss cheese, fresh spinach, red onions, tomato and mayonnaise on seven-grain bread. The Rachel at Kosher Cajun New York Deli and Grocery also looks to fowl for its inspired hot turkey and sauerkraut sandwich served on toasted rye bread with Russian dressing. Turkey invites along a few friends in Da Club at True Brew Cafe and Theatre, a double-decker sandwich on toast that piles on ham, Cajun roast beef and smoked turkey, along with tomatoes, lettuce and low-calorie mayonnaise.

Hooters heads north for inspiration for its Buffalo chicken sandwich, made with a fried boneless chicken breast shaken in the restaurant's special wing sauce and served on a bun; you can dress it up with pickle, lettuce and tomato and choose between side options of coleslaw, baked beans or potato salad. Also looking north is Fortissimo Food and Wine Emporium's New Yorker, which piles Boar's Head Premium New York pastrami onto a seeded bun and covers it with melted Swiss cheese and horseradish mayonnaise, then serves it with a side of housemade coleslaw. Grand Central Station's Box Car Special features barbecue beef, ham and cheese in a small, medium or large po-boy.

Diners can choose vegetarian or meat-lovers fare at The Apple Seed Shoppe with choices that include grilled turkey breast or cucumber, egg salad and cheese sandwiches served on whole wheat bread with canola mayonnaise, tomatoes and alfalfa spouts. Back to the Garden seeks its protein from vegetables with its tahini-rich hummus sandwich that's served in a pita pocket with alfalfa sprouts, carrots and red cabbage. Another vegetarian delight is a portobello mushroom sandwich dressed with melted provolone cheese, red onions, lettuce, tomatoes and Creole mustard, all on a honey-wheat roll at Gattuso's Deli.

For a taste from Italy, Cafe Satora offers Italian grilled panini sandwiches on focaccia bread such as the Club Panini, which stars marinated grilled chicken, bacon, mozzarella cheese, avocado, red onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise and honey-Creole mustard.

Lulu's in the Quarter offers vegetarians and meat-eaters alike tasty choices in sandwiches, including one that features roasted vegetables and farmer's cheese on multi-grain bread and another that combines shrimp with bacon, lettuce, tomato and Creole mustard on sourdough. Those who visit The Dock on Lake Pontchartrain can set sail with a Yacht Club Sandwich: a hearty combo of turkey, ham, bacon, lettuce and tomato on your choice of toast, wheat bun or French roll, plus French fries.


SAUSAGE

At Crescent City Brewhouse, one of Brewmaster Wolf Kohler's personal favorite dishes is named in his honor. Wolf's German Sausage Platter serves up the brewhouse's own pork sausage with traditional sauerkraut and house potatoes, undoubtedly best washed down with a house-brewed premium beer, perhaps the Munich-style Black Forest.

The Jimani makes Shelly's Chicago Style Italian Sausage Sandwich with a hearty base of Italian sausage, dressed up with marinara sauce, provolone cheese and grilled onions on a choice of French or rye bread or a bun and served with coleslaw. Landry's Restaurant serves an Italian Philly sandwich in which mozzarella cheese and red gravy blanket Italian sausage joined by bell peppers and onion.

Cafe DiBlasi stays true to its roots with Misto Italiano, which features Italian sausage, a meatball, paneed veal and veal daube (in which the beef is cooked in a tomato-based red gravy and sliced thick), all served with spaghetti and tomato sauce. Dante's Pizzeria and Italian Grille mixes its Italian sausage with beef, Canadian bacon, cheeses and just a touch of tomato sauce, stuffs the combo into a pocket of fresh dough and cooks the turnover to a golden brown. Giovanni's also rolls out the dough -- either a 10-inch French sesame seed loaf or a bun -- and places Italian sausage and meatballs on it along with melted provolone cheese and Italian red gravy for a filling combination po-boy.

For a totally different presentation of the spicy meat, The Marigny Brasserie starts with Louisiana andouille sausage and mixes it with both Idaho and sweet potatoes in a hash that is then topped with three eggs. Dorignac's Lunch Counter gives customers a mouthful of goodness (and the strength to wheel around filled grocery carts) with a breakfast combo that includes Creole sausage, bacon, grits, hash browns and eggs cooked any style.

At Patout's Cajun Bistro, the influence for Boudreaux's Boudin is strictly St. Martinville, centering on Cajun sausage made from pork and rice that is served with Creole mustard sauce. Remoulade also keeps its Taafe's Smoked Boudin appetizer simple, serving the Cajun hot sausage with crackers.

The Bangers at McNulty's Bitter End Spirits and Food are grilled green onion sausages that are sliced and served with Dijon mustard sauce. La Carreta takes diners' taste buds south of the border with its Choriqueso: Mexican sausage served with melted cheese, pico de gallo and tortillas.


SCALLOPS

New Orleanians do like their bivalves, and restaurants here have found delicious ways to serve these little mollusks, including the Scallops Picata at Maximo's, which are seasoned with garlic, capers, lemon and wine. Stella! gives its diver scallops a big culinary voice by pan-searing them and serving them with jumbo Gulf shrimp, truffle-scented new potato hash and caviar butter. Diners at 56 Degrees may not want to come up for air when they dig into the diver scallops sauteed with baby bok choy and served over crispy egg noodles. It is all topped with tomato-and-onion concasse laced with sesame oil.

At Kanno Sushi, the smoked scallops are specially prepared with sea salt in a soy sauce vinegar and stand on their own, while at Lola's they're combined with other water-bred delights in the seafood paella, which includes scallops, shrimp, fish, squid, mussels and vegetables that are seasoned with garlic, saffron and herbs, then cooked slowly.


SEAFOOD PLATTERS

Sometimes one choice of seafood -- or indeed, a single serving size -- just isn't enough. Big A's Serious Seafood Platter at Jaeger's Seafood Beer Garden on the Lake bills itself as "the biggest platter anywhere," one that can feed an entire family. It comes with plenty of fried catfish, fried shrimp, oysters, trout, crabcakes, softshell crabs, shrimp croquettes, oysters bordelaise, plus French fries, onion rings and hush puppies. Of more modest proportions, but still a mighty feed for one, is West End Cafe's platter, which offers oysters, shrimp, fish, stuffed crab and French fries, and a jumbo platter that adds softshell crab.

The Praline Connection adds fowl to its sea-worthy delights in the Connection Platter, a fried combo plate featuring softshell crawfish, catfish, spicy wings, chicken livers, dill pickles and okra. And the See-Food Platter at Rivershack Tavern adds alligator sausage and fresh fries to its self-described "massive combo" of oysters, catfish and shrimp. The traditional platter is traded in for a bucket at Abita Brew Pub, which fills the container with fried catfish, crawfish tails, oysters, shrimp and French fries. The deluxe seafood platter at Beau Rivage's Port House is always a good gamble: Maine lobster, assorted oysters, jumbo shrimp langoustines, Kona crab and king crab remoulade, all with cocktail sauce and mignonette.

Different takes on the standard are represented by Andy Messina's Restaurant, which offers a cold seafood platter of crisp lettuce topped with raw oysters, boiled shrimp, lump crabmeat and crab claws with remoulade and cocktail sauces and is served with a hot cup of seafood gumbo. Brigtsen's, always opting for out-of-the-ordinary presentations, loads up its platter with grilled drum fish with shrimp and pistachio lime sauce, baked oyster Bienville, baked oyster Fortuna with shrimp and crabmeat, crawfish Thermidor, crawfish potato salad and ratatouille.


SHRIMP

At Serrano's Salsa Company, Camarones a la Parilla features the popular shellfish grilled and topped with a spicy blend of Serrano peppers, tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Don's Seafood serves fresh Gulf shrimp lots of ways, including stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat dressing, then fried golden brown and served with coleslaw and Cajun fries.

Deanie's Seafood Restaurant prepares its barbecue shrimp "the New Orleans way," starting with jumbo shellfish that are sauteed (with heads on) in a unique blend of seasonings that beg to be mopped up with French bread. For a totally non-traditional take, Tea Garden Chinese Restaurant sautes its shrimp and serves it with carrots and baby corn that have been cooked in brown honey sauce and surrounds it all with broccoli, then places crispy honey walnuts on top.

China Rose also likes to dress its shrimp well, offering several outfits such as sesame-crusted shrimp, a version of the shellfish served with garlic sauce, and another that features fresh jumbo shrimp that is spiced with salt and pepper, battered and deep fried, then served with red and green bell peppers. A coconut batter is used for the fried shrimp at Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar, then it is served on a bed of lettuce with Chinese mustard and marmalade-horseradish dipping sauces.

The versatile sea creature is given a grand toast at Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro, which offers an appetizer of spicy jumbo fried shrimp with lettuce and tomato relish drizzled with basil-garlic dressing and served in a martini glass. Customers go mad for the Angry Shrimp at Doc Smith's Lounge, an appetizer in which a quartet of shrimp are coated with Cajun seasonings, grilled and served on a skewer. Basil Leaf also employs a skewer in its kebab, but adds grilled filet mignon to the shrimp, brushes it all with truffle oil and coriander and serves it with sauteed coconut pineapple rice.

For Stephos Bacon Wrapped Shrimp appetizer at Katie's, the chef puts water chestnuts in bacon and wraps that around peeled jumbo shrimp (with their tails on), flash fries them and serves them with remoulade sauce. The spring roll appetizer at 9 Roses blooms with shrimp, pork, lettuce, mint and vermicelli wrapped around steamed rice and dipped in peanut sauce. For a heartier shrimp craving, The Alpine's signature barbecue shrimp is served in the shell with a unique butter-pepper sauce and French bread for dipping. It comes with a house garden salad.

Those who like to mix it up a little bit can choose the stir-fry shrimp at Rag's Too Old Fashioned Po-boys, which puts broccoli, onions and teriyaki sauce in the pan with shrimp then serves them on rice or pasta with a side of French fries. Uglesich's Shrimp Uggie starts with marinated shrimp, then sautes the crustaceans with crushed red peppers, hot sausage, onions and bell peppers.


SOFTSHELL CRAB

Softshell crabs -- in which the creatures are caught after they've molted one shell and before they've fully grown another -- are known for their flavor and tenderness. Aurora Seafood & Steak House serves a softshell crab hollandaise, two fried softshell crabs on a bed of French-fried eggplant slices, garnished with large shrimp and topped with hollandaise sauce, served with a house salad. Carmine's Italian & Seafood Grill, "home of the famous seafood stuffed artichoke" also offers a softshell crab Parmesan. Tortorici's pledges fresh softshell crabs paneed and topped with a lemon-butter and garlic sauce, served with Italian roasted potatoes and vegetable du jour. Sugar Magnolia tempts the tastebuds with a mesquite wood-smoked softshell crab, finished over a hickory wood grill and served over vegetables, along with jambalaya risotto tapped with crawfish brim butter.

Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar serves a fried seafood combo featuring softshell crab, and Restaurant Des Familles offers a softshell crab Foster: a batter-fried softshell crab topped with green onions, artichoke bottoms and mushrooms that have been sauteed in butter and wine. At Panasia Thai Restaurant, the deep-fried softshell crabs come with three flavor sauces: oyster, chile and basil.


SOUP

If you think a bowl of soup might be too hot for summer fare -- think again. At Antoine's, they're thinking vichyssoise, the classical cold potato soup, flavored with chicken broth and finished with heavy cream. One of Commander's Palace's specialty dishes is its Turtle Soup Au Sherry, a classic spiked with sherry. At Marisol's, variety is the spice of life -- and so is the Thai crab and coconut soup with ginger and basil. Michael's Mid-City Grill on Canal Street offers a number of homemade soups, including two traditional favorites: black bean soup topped with Monterey Jack cheese and chives and baked potato soup graced with cheddar cheese, chives and bacon.

Remember dining at Deja vu Restaurant & Bar in the French Quarter, where you dipped into the potato bacon soup -- again and again? Sure you do. Chez Nous Charcuterie, the French bakery and caterer with take-out gourmet delicacies, offers diners on the go a cool vichyssoise, a cucumber dill soup, and roasted eggplant and curry soup in addition to a fine range of gumbos. In Kenner, diners can dock at the Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar and start with artichoke oyster soup before the main meal. The soups of the day at Poydras Diner include Monday's creamy potato bacon and Thursday's creamy shrimp corn potato chowder. Mande's proffers its corn crawfish chowder, which is similar to creamy New England clam chowder except bursting with crawfish tails and corn.


SPINACH

In our city, one can find the leafy vegetable in restaurants of Cajun, Greek, French, and Middle Eastern fare, to name but a few. Zea Rotisserie Cafe beckons with a spinach salad with pepper jelly vinaigrette. Dixie Gyro, best known for Greek fare, invites with its spinach pie, lightly seasoned spinach and feta cheese baked in layers of phyllo dough and served with tzatziki sauce. Or, try the spinach pie plate, also a lightly seasoned spinach dish stuffed between layers of phyllo dough and baked to a golden brown. Coffee Cottage wakes up the palate with spinach and artichoke omelette, sauteed onions and artichokes served with creamy spinach.

Fellini's Cafe offers shady outdoor dining and spinach and feta triangles, phyllo dough triangles stuffed with sauteed spinach and feta cheese, baked crisp and golden and served warm. Cafe Roma's spinach sandwich is a creative feast of spinach, mushroom, onion, feta cheese, tomato, and mozzarella cheese served with a special sauce between thick slices of homemade bread. Michaul's Live Cajun Music Restaurant does more than fais do do; the house's prime rib spinach salad is served with toasted sweet pecans, blue cheese; six ounces of tender prime rib drizzled with pepper vinaigrette. India Palace entreats with a special Near East treat and house specialty -- the Saagwala, spinach blended with a touch of creamy curry sauce, which comes with your choice of chicken, lamb or beef.

Royal Blend Coffee and Tea features a spinach delight salad, fresh spinach leaves accented with tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, poppy seeds, mushrooms and sprouts. And Hillery's on Toulouse's spinach salad surprises with blueberries, blue cheese and pecans in a blueberry vinaigrette.


STEAKS

The "steaks" are high this summer, with a plethora of dining establishments vying for meat-lovers. Red Steer Grill rustles up a country fried steak, topped with white gravy, served with salad and toast, and a choice of mashed potatoes, baked potatoes or fries. Among Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse house favorites is the bacon-wrapped tournedos, seared in a cast iron skillet, served on goat cheese, new potato mash, touched with a wild mushroom demi-glace and finished with a saute of rock shrimp. Top of the Dome Steakhouse offers a horseradish-crusted prime rib, accompanied by mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. Crazy Johnnie's Steak House's specials include the filet Mischa, grilled filet tips topped with garlic cream sauce and served with rice pilaf. Grab a friend and grab Ruth's Chris' porterhouse for two. All of Mr. John's Steak & Seafood House's steaks are USDA prime; choose filet mignon, New York strip, top sirloin or ribeye.

The Embers Bourbon House prime rib dinner boasts a 28-oz. prime rib served with a house salad and baked potato. Crescent City Steaks, recommended for old-style ambiance alone, features both prime-aged rib eyes and filets, with an option for a delectable Bordelaise sauce. The eyes of Louisiana are on the Lone Star Steakhouse's 20-oz. T-bone, essentially two steaks in one. If you're thinking about Luther's, you're probably thinking barbecue beef, pork or turkey; think again, and you'll find chicken fried steak with Texas toast, fries and salad. Charlie's Steak House offers T-bones or filets prepared to order with a choice of sides, including fries, potatoes au gratin or sauteed mushrooms.

Chateaubriand's summer specials include the plank steak salad with blue cheese in an elegant dining atmosphere. Snug Harbor, traditionally regarded as a house of jazz, sizzles to the beat of a steakhouse stomp, with a New York Strip, aged prime, cut fresh and grilled to beat the band. The Morton's The Steakhouse menu offers several classics, including the filet Oskar, which comes with asparagus, jumbo lump crabmeat and sauce bearnaise. Roadhouse Grill promises a seasoned, slow-roasted (for six hours) prime rib served in its own juices with a side of horseradish sauce, and available in small, regular or "roadhouse cut." Smith & Wollensky boasts a wide menu of USDA prime steaks, dry aged and butchered in-house. Saia's Beef Room urges diners to try the beef tenderloin filet, grilled at more than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and served on a hot plate with butter.


SUSHI

Summer means sushi. Metairie's Sake Cafe beckons diners with a sushi-bar tiger roll: shrimp, tuna tucked inside a roll and topped with shrimp, tuna, eel, and crunch tempura and served with an eel sauce. Rock-n-Sake drums up a cucumber outside roll: sea eel, fresh salmon, yellowtail, tuna, snowcrab, avocado and asparagus wrapped in cucumber and served with mayo on the side; the Hawaii 5-0 roll "surfs" up coconut tempura shrimp and cream cheese rolled with mangos and avocados on the outside. Kyoto in Uptown serves up a sashimi and sushi combo.

Sapporo's sushi comes with soup and salad; the assorted sushi includes California roll, eel, squid, whitefish, fresh salmon and shrimp. Asahi kicks in a special Jazz Roll, tuna tataki and red spicy avocado wrapping in rice with wasabi on the outside and snowcrab on top. Hana Japanese Restaurant offers a summer sushi and sashimi deluxe, large portions of more than eight different kinds of fish and other seafood. Inside are fresh cuts of sashimi of tuna, salmon yellowtail, whitefish, shrimp and crab; five pieces of nigiri sushi and a six-piece order of California roll, with crab, avocado and smelt roe inside. Horinoya Japanese Restaurant offers a lengthy menu, including six-piece rolls with provocative names like "Dynamite," "Rainbow," and "Rock & Roll." Little Tokyo in Metairie lists such offerings as the Boston Handroll, the Louisiana Roll and -- more specifically -- the Metairie Roll; that one's got to be good.

Mikayo Sushi Bar & Hibachi features an alphabetically listed menu of sushi, from the AAC Roll to the yellowtail roll -- and a separate list of Mikayo's special rolls. Kyoto II affords its guests a sushi a la carte listing, including raw sweet shrimp, baby octopus and giant clam. Veteran's Express Sushi Bar has the summer getaway for sushi lovers on the go: sashimi, a California roll, and a crunchy roll (lathered in tempura butter, snow crab and asparagus). Osaka Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar invites you to try its summer California roll, avocado, cucumber, smelt egg and crab stick. Wasabi Sushi & Asian Grill's chirashi sushi, includes tuna, salmon, egg custard, octopus and more served over rice. (Bottles of sake are available, too!)

Kenner's Little Tokyo II offers fresh yellowtail sushi, fresh nigiri with Asian chili sauce, fresh green onion and Ponzu sauce, topped with toasted sesame seeds; its tempura salmon roll contains snowcrab and fresh salmon dipped in tempura batter and drizzled with eel sauce. Over on Magazine Street, Sake Cafe Japanese Restaurant offers the Rocky II roll -- tempura shrimp, snow crab, avocado, asparagus, with marble seaweed, topped with an eel sauce -- and the Rocky III roll -- spicy tuna and avocado, crunchy and masago inside with soybean sheet outside.


TOMATOES

Trucked in from vineyards to local restaurants, the tomato provides optimal options for fine dining. Hedges Bar & Grill starts the summer with a vine-ripened tomato layered with fresh mozzarella, eggplant caponata and extra virgin olive oil. K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen features fried green tomatoes with crawfish magnolia: tomatoes seasoned and dipped in cornmeal batter, deep-fried and layered with fresh Louisiana crawfish and creamed sauce piquant. The 201 Restaurant and Bar graces its menu with a tomato stack salad, featuring fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and crouton rounds stacked on herb greens and drizzled with Balsamic syrup. Vega Tapas Cafe serves a tomato Napoleon, encrusted in polenta, and stacked with goat cheese and baby spinach.

 

TAMALES

There's no such thing as a great Mexican restaurant that doesn't serve a great tamale. Chevy's Fresh Mex takes the challenge with fresh hand-rolled tamales, three tamales hand-rolled in corn husks, with a choice of chili, meat sauce or chicken with a fresh tomatillo sauce. Phone ahead, fax ahead or walk up for a take out, 'cause that's the only way you'll get Maw Maw's Kitchen to serve you her New Orleans hot tamales, one dozen all counted, with crackers. Finally, there's Manuel's Hot Tamales, featuring beef tamales cooked gourmet-style with chili and cheese.


SWEETBREADS

A number of upscale area establishments offer the misnamed delicacy this summer. Bayona's sweetbreads come with sherry-mustard or a lemon-caper butter. Eleven 79 serves both classical Italian and New Orleans cuisine, and its Heart of Sweetbreads comes with capers and tomatoes. Peristyle's list of starters features the crispy sweetbreads: crispy veal sweetbreads, Parma prosciutto, and port syrup served over roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and port braised shallots. Wolfe's pan crispy sweetbreads are served on goat cheese topped with caramelized orange peels, citrus Brioche, Micro lettuces and balsamic caper butter sauce. Across Lake Pontchartrain, La Provence in Big Branch lures gourmets to its quiet, reclusive environs for the Ris de Veau Grenobloise, veal sweetbreads with lemon butter and capers.


TROUT

When you're hungry for fish in New Orleans, shout, "Trout!"

Fausto's Bistro serves a pesca Siciliana, a fresh fillet of trout sauteed in a light lemon herb sauce, flamed with white wine and topped with large shrimp capers and Italian herbs. Crustacean's & More offers trout po-boys and a trout plate. Emeril's Delmonico brings white tablecloth diners a broiled rainbow trout, served with crabmeat Imperial, fried green tomatoes and horseradish-lemon butter sauce.

Let Cafe Sbisa reel in your trout Eugene, pan-seared fillet of trout topped with shrimp, crawfish and crab fingers in a champagne cream with herbed rice and asparagus. Venezia vouches for its trout Cynthia, fillet trout topped with shrimp and crawfish in a cream sauce. Barreca's Restaurant invites you to Metairie Road for its trout etouffee, a boneless fillet of fresh speckled trout, pan-fried, served over a bed of angel hair pasta and topped with crawfish etouffee.

Joey K's takes a fried trout fillet and tops it with shrimp and crabmeat in a cream sauce then serves it with vegetables and new potatoes. Sammy's Live Oak Market and Deli in Bucktown serves an all-you-can-eat fried trout lunch and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, along with baked macaroni and fries.

What's in a name? When Restaurant Mandich serves its namesake trout dish, you know you are getting a fresh fillet, broiled with a crispy crust, topped with a light lemon sauce.


TUNA

If the bulk of your experience with tuna has come in a can, you owe it to yourself to look more closely into this low-fat, high-protein, flavorful fish. The Ristorante Da Piero offers a grilled tuna steak with roasted bell pepper sauce, thyme, lime juice, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. GW Fins' bluefin tuna is wood-grilled with creamed leeks, portobello mushrooms and Yukon Gold potatoes, while the grilled tuna Montego at Bull's Corner is a yellowfin tuna fillet, seasoned with Jamaican jerk spices, char-grilled and served topped with roasted red bell pepper, vine-ripened tomato and corn salsa.

The Indian-Crusted Wood-Grilled Tuna at 124 Restaurant and Spirits is a fresh ahi tuna fillet crusted with Indian-inspired spice rub, grilled over a wood flame and set on a lemon-scented yellow curry sauce and Israeli couscous. It's all tossed with finely diced sauteed vegetables and topped with caramelized Gulf shrimp. Etoile offers a citrus-crusted ahi tuna with mussels, leek and basil risotto cake, grilled eggplant and a spicy tomato sauce.

Some inventive takes on tuna include Mandeville's Cypress Bistro's sesame-encrusted ahi tuna, set on wasabi mashed potatoes and asparagus with teriyaki and beurre blanc sauces. The Veranda's grilled tuna steak takes an Asian turn with cracked black pepper honey sauce, soy bok choy and whole wheat soba noodles. The tuna tartare at The Marigny Brasserie is yellowfin tuna tossed in a chive-lime dressing and served with red remoulade slaw, Cajun caviar, goat cheese, pickled ginger and wasabi aioli.

Tuna goes well in exotic salads, too, as evidenced by the tempura-fried tuna salad at Alonso's Grappa's House, which pairs the fish with mixed greens tossed with a chunky pepper vinaigrette, diced tomatoes and shaved red onions in a crispy flour tortilla bowl. And Restaurant Cuvee offers an elegant prelude in its salad of pepper-crusted tuna carpaccio with hearts of palm and teardrop tomatoes, baby arugula and honey-lime dressing.

TURKEY

The day after Thanksgiving is a whole six months away -- far too long to wait for a killer turkey sandwich. Pick up a Ciabatta Turkey Melt at la Madeleine -- it's smoked turkey and bacon served hot with melted Provolone cheese on ciabatta with honey Dijon, leaf lettuce and Roma tomatoes. Or go for the simple, down-home delights of a hot turkey po-boy at Weaver's (it's also available with bacon). The Turkey B.L.T. at Pete's is an old-school sandwich consisting of roasted turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato with honey mustard mayo on Texas toast. Paradise Cafe's grilled turkey po-boy comes with mushrooms, red onions and Swiss cheese on white or wheat bread.

Espresso Yourself offers a smoked turkey and ham combination sandwich, not to mention a Thankful Turkey Salad: sliced smoked turkey and cheddar cheese on a bed of mixed greens, tomato, cucumbers and egg, all topped with walnuts. Another inspired choice is the Turkey Cobb Salad at Foodies Kitchen, which also features apple-smoked bacon, crumbled blue cheese, avocado and jalapeno corn relish on seasonal greens with Russian dressing.

Then there's the old favorite: the turkey plate, with a variety of sides. Hit JuJu's Kitchen on Wednesdays for its Baked Turkey Wings special, and you won't leave hungry.


VEAL

One of the featured meat entrees at Austin's Restaurant is the veal Austin, paneed baby white veal with lump crabmeat, button mushrooms and green onions. At Christian's, enjoy the veal Madeira: pan-sauteed baby veal garnished with mushrooms in a light Madeira demi-glace sauce, served with angel hair pasta.

"Osso buco," or "bone with a hole," is a favorite way to prepare veal, and the osso buco at Sal & Sam's Restaurant is a collar of white veal served with angel hair pasta and sauteed eggplant, topped with mozzarella cheese in a light marinara sauce. Cafe Volage's version of that dish offers a braised veal shank in a scallion, mushroom and red wine finish with a demi-glace, while the osso buco at Anselmo's is served with your choice of angel hair pasta or asparagus. Andrea's osso buco Milanese consists of braised veal shanks in seasoned brown sauce.

The Downtown Veal at Cypress Bistro Downtown is veal medallions topped with lemon-caper butter over pasta, and one of the Sunday brunch choices at Coffee Cove is the traditional veal grillades and grits. Pampy's Chef's Specials include a grilled veal chop atop wilted spinach and the potato of the day, topped with a mushroom and roasted tomato Madeira sauce. Pascal's Manale capitalizes on its famed barbecue shrimp with its veal Gambero dish: paneed veal served with the popular crustaceans.

One of the favorite offerings at Mother's Restaurant in Gretna is the veal parmigiana breaded with Italian seasonings, while Barataria offers a veal vinaigrette: veal paneed with avocado, tomato, basil and shaved Romano cheese. Finally, Patton's Restaurant serves a veal, leeks and Roquefort dish with paneed veal cutlets over roasted garlic mashed potatoes with creamed leeks and Roquefort cheese sauce.


VEGETABLES

Now that you're all grown up, you have no excuses to avoid the garden-grown crops that are so good for you -- not when there are this many restaurants around town that make veggie dishes tasty enough for even the most die-hard of carnivores.

Take the Athena's Choice sandwich at Cafe Arabesque -- it's stacked high with spinach, mushrooms, artichokes, tomatoes, mozzarella, feta and basil pesto sauce, heat-pressed on Roma bread. Among some of the other fabulous veggie-sandwich finds out there are the Hard Rock Cafe's Natural Veggie Burger: a patty made of rice, cheese, vegetables and spices served on a toasted bun with all the trimmings and a Cajun mustard mayo, and La Nouvelle Cafe's roasted vegetable sandwich on fresh French bread. Presto! Espresso's panini sandwich offerings include the grilled Mediterranean vegetable served on fresh focaccia.

Traveling south of the border, the vegetarian fajitas at Country Flame include fried maduras (plantains) or yuca (yucca) with smothered onions, green peppers and your choice of beans or rice on flour tortillas, served with all the fixings. Old Dog New Trick's rancheros have tofu or eggs made with a chile tortilla, black beans, grilled vegetables, cheddar cheese and tomatilla salsa.

The traditional Southern specialties at Pampy's Steak and Seafood include smothered cabbage or okra (slow-cooked all day long) or seasoned mustard greens (the latter is also available at Pampy's Express); all come with a pork chop or chicken breast. Similarly, the down-home country sides offered at Mr. Ed's Deli & Chicken Cafe include fried okra and green beans. Piccadilly's sides include green beans, butter cauliflower, squash, broccoli, boiled navy beans with salt, corn, fried okra, turnip greens, carrots and cabbage.

One of the popular vegetarian entrees at Peacock Fine Indian Cuisine is the jhalferzi: shallow fried vegetables sauteed with onions, tomatoes and bell peppers. The Mango House Restaurant's calabasa is a baked squash entree filled with vegetarian stuffing, while the Orleans Cafe has a vegetarian lasagna loaded with roasted zucchini, squash, eggplant, basil and feta cheese, and comes drizzled with pesto.

Finally, for a unique shellfish-free way to get your crab on, try Orleans Grapevine's vegetarian crab cakes, served with a mango salsa with jicama and tarragon slaw.


VENISON

This rich, flavorful game meat is known as a heart-smart choice because it's so low in fat. Whether it's cooked in a barbecue pit at deer camp or served with delicate sauces in gourmet restaurants, the nutritious and versatile venison is a perennial favorite in Louisiana. At Broussard's, a venison chop is among the main components of its Wild Game Grill: quail breast and boar sausage make up the other two, served on apple red cabbage and topped with a Grand Veneur pepper corn sauce. Among the fine-dining options at the Bistro at Maison de Ville is the venison osso buco entree, served with risotto Milanese and sauteed spinach, while Vaqueros' juicy grilled venison comes with griddled corn cakes, crispy carrot strings and a berry demi-glace. Mat & Naddie's offers venison medallions with blackberry demi-glaze. Bistro Moise's lunch menu includes venison meatloaf served with garlic-roasted mashed potatoes, the vegetable du jour and bread.


WAFFLE

Nothing goes better with the Sunday paper and a good cup of coffee like a steaming waffle straight out of the iron, butter melting into its little square recesses and just waiting for a good dousing of syrup.

What do you do if you're in one of those gotta-have-one moods? If you're staying at the Hotel Monteleone (or just like to visit), you head into Le Cafe for a Belgian waffle with bananas or strawberries and whipped cream. Cafe au Lait's breakfast options include a decidedly Southern pecan waffle topped with fruit, while La Peniche takes the decadence a step further with its famous pecan, peanut butter and banana waffle.

Angeli on Decatur serves up waffles, and for an extra buck, will top them with your choice of pecans, strawberries or raspberries. Finally, the Quarter Scene Restaurant gets tropical with its Carribean waffle: a malted (heart-shaped!) wheat flour waffle topped with mixed fruit, whipped cream and chopped pecans.


ZUCCHINI

Now's the time to enjoy the many recipes for this summer squash, which can show up in everything from appetizers to desserts. On the light side, the Sporting House Cafe's Infamous Lulu White entree features grilled zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash, onions and bell peppers over mixed greens with a tomato vinaigrette. Joey K's gives its Trout Tchoupitoulas a seasonal kick by pairing the lightly floured, pan-fried filet, which is topped with shrimp and lump crabmeat, with a summery medley of zucchini, squash and new potatoes. There's also Chef Palmer's Vegetarian Plate at Cafe Negril: a healthy combination of zucchini, carrots, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash and eggplant served over rice and peas and topped with fried plantains.

Whether during a lunchtime buffet or off the menu - at night, manager Gabriel Costa invites diners to - achieve Nirvana. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Whether during a lunchtime buffet or off the menu at night, manager Gabriel Costa invites diners to achieve Nirvana.
Bourbon House Executive Chef Jared Tees - welcomes diners to experience the latest Brennan - family endeavor. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Bourbon House Executive Chef Jared Tees welcomes diners to experience the latest Brennan family endeavor.
Cafe Volage Chef-owner Felix Gallerani - toasts New Orleans' heritage with his French cuisine - with a Creole flair. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Cafe Volage Chef-owner Felix Gallerani toasts New Orleans' heritage with his French cuisine with a Creole flair.
Raise a glass at Alonso's Grappa's House - with sous chef Tyrone Davis and Executive Chef - Gary Netter. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
Panasia Thai Restaurant Chefs Phannee - Yaisomanang and Roger Soriano bring the flavors of - Thailand to St. Charles Avenue. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Panasia Thai Restaurant Chefs Phannee Yaisomanang and Roger Soriano bring the flavors of Thailand to St. Charles Avenue.
Jarnail Singh of Tandoori Chicken shows - off his restaurant's signature dish and other Indian - selections. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Jarnail Singh of Tandoori Chicken shows off his restaurant's signature dish and other Indian selections.
Downtowners flock to Johnny Ryan's for - contemporary fare such as the sesame-crusted ahi - tuna. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Downtowners flock to Johnny Ryan's for contemporary fare such as the sesame-crusted ahi tuna.
Two gentle women of Verona Restaurant, - Kris Thoman and Jennifer Pecot bring the - Mediterranean to Harahan. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
  • Tracie Morris/Young Studio
  • Two gentle women of Verona Restaurant, Kris Thoman and Jennifer Pecot bring the Mediterranean to Harahan.
Walk right on up to order breakfast and more at - Goody's Cafe. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
Rocky's Old New Orleans Bar & Pizza Joint's Dean Garafano serves up a bigger piece of the - pie. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Rocky's Old New Orleans Bar & Pizza Joint's Dean Garafano serves up a bigger piece of the pie.
Cappita! Italian Bistro's popular dishes - include sauteed lamb with sundried tomatoes over - penne pasta. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
  • Tracie Morris/Young Studio
  • Cappita! Italian Bistro's popular dishes include sauteed lamb with sundried tomatoes over penne pasta.
Cafe Sbisa's Chef Alfred Singleton Jr. - serves up barbecue shrimp with a smile. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Cafe Sbisa's Chef Alfred Singleton Jr. serves up barbecue shrimp with a smile.
Never shop on an empty stomach -- stop by - Dorignac's lunch counter first. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
Creole classics are a specialty of Pampy's - Executive Chef Chris Brown. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Creole classics are a specialty of Pampy's Executive Chef Chris Brown.
Behind-the-scenes work makes for a memorable - meal at Bayona. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Behind-the-scenes work makes for a memorable meal at Bayona.
There's always room for seconds from the buffet at - Maloney's Restaurant. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
Italian Pie's Ray Huang and Sonia - Waldthausen slice it any way you like it. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Italian Pie's Ray Huang and Sonia Waldthausen slice it any way you like it.
Noble Asian Bistro offers fusion with a - flair. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
'Tis the season for summer rolls with peanut sauce - from La Thai Cuisine. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
Sizzling steaks and a classic atmosphere bring - diners to Crescent City Steaks. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
After sampling the spices of Serrano's Salsa - Company, cool down with an array of - margaritas and other specialty drinks. - TRACIE MORRIS/YOUNG STUDIO
  • Tracie Morris/Young Studio
  • After sampling the spices of Serrano's Salsa Company, cool down with an array of margaritas and other specialty drinks.

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