Welcome Back, Rueben I had just about given up on Liuzza's by the Track (1518 N. Lopez St., 218-7888), which had been one of my favorite casual restaurants for years. I celebrated with other regulars when it reopened a few months after Katrina, but then it seemed to sink into a long losing streak. Some of my favorite menu items disappeared and consistency was out the window. But there have clearly been some changes lately, and some improvements over even the pre-storm days. The specials board is once again packed with enticing options and now includes side dishes like jalapeno cornbread, spinach with garlic and sweet potato-and-sausage hash. The portobello and strawberry salad is back, as are the freshly cut French fries. Best of all? The return of Liuzza's Rueben sandwich with chopped pastrami and buttery, grilled rye. The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, so go early if you want dinner.
Shelling Out for Fishermen
Muriel's Jackson Square (801 Chartres St., 568-1885; www.muriels.com) has been working with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board (www.louisianaseafood.com) to support the state's hugely productive but fragile fisheries. Just as he did with Louisiana crab in the spring, chef Guy Sockrider has composed a four-course menu featuring local oysters available nightly for $38 through the end of October. Muriel's will donate a portion of this special menu's sales to the seafood board's Back to the Dock program, which provides grants to fishermen rebuilding from the 2005 hurricanes. The meal includes an appetizer of fried and champagne-poached oysters; a salad with smoked oysters; an oyster and artichoke pan roast topped with Grana Padana cheese; and a sparkling rose sorbet for dessert.
Howl at the Moon
Moonlight Café (1921 Sophie Wright Place, 561-1255), long a popular stop for late-night eats in the Lower Garden District, is back open with a new menu featuring both smoked barbecue and a few vegetarian options as well. The kitchen is open until 3 a.m. nightly serving garden burgers, pulled pork, brisket and smoked chicken, po-boys and salads with a unique tea- and honey-based dressing. Weekend breakfast service is also new, with dishes like grillades and grits. In honor of Halloween, the café will show late-night horror films and serve $1 draft beers each Tuesday in October beginning at 11 p.m. McNulty