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Food News



News Worthy Several variables determine which restaurant is reviewed in Gambit Weekly each week -- newsworthiness, budget, location and season, to name a few. On the occasion of my last-ever Food News column, here's a shout-out to 10 of my personal favorite restaurants that -- because the variables never aligned -- I've never reviewed:

1. La Crepe Nanou (1410 Robert St.), for the sexy atmosphere and sidewalk seating.

2. Dunbar's Creole Cooking (4927 Freret St.), anytime I yen for cozy food and neighborly company.

3. Mandina's (3800 Canal St.), where I first fell for turtle soup.

4. Galatoire's (209 Bourbon St.), for perfect Sazeracs and formidable shrimp remoulade.

5. Port of Call (838 Esplanade Ave.). Red meat.

6. Willie Mae's Scotch House (2401 St. Ann St.), where the lemonade is squeezed to order and the fried chicken crackles down to the bone.

7. Nor-Joe Importing (505 Frisco Ave., Metairie). My best muffaletta.

8. Jacques-Imo's Cafe (8324 Oak St.). The smothered rabbit is my latest fixation.

9. Ms. Hyster's (2000 S. Claiborne Ave.). Fantastic barbecue at embarrassingly low prices.

10. Upperline (1413 Upperline St.) Hospitable to the core.

Also keep watch on these 10 new restaurants and chefs:

1. Bank Cafe (2001 Burgundy St.). Good eats are reportedly turning up in the old Canal Commercial Trust and Savings Bank building.

2. Steak Knife Downtown (610 Poydras. St.). Formerly 56 Degrees. Same ownership and menu as the Lakefront Steak Knife.

3. Sweet Ginger (228 Camp St.). The latest installment in the Thai empire headed by matriarch Punnee Benjaray.

4. Peristyle (1041 Dumaine St.). Proprietor-chef Tom Wolfe took over Anne Kearney's kitchen last summer; a recent meal lived up to the restaurant's reputation.

5. Tan Dinh (1705 Lafayette St.). This new location is a good excuse to eat what's arguably the best Vietnamese food in the area.

6. New Orleans Cake Cafe (307 Exchange Alley). Steve Himelfarb, long known as the walkabout Cake Man, finally settled down.

7. Soul Food Kitchen (3400 Claiborne Ave.). Part-owner Dennis Dunn was once the executive chef of Southern Hospitality Catering.

8. Living Room (2800 Magazine St.). A handsome steak and seafood house.

9. Theo's Pizza (4218 Magazine St.). Billed as a &179;neighborhood pizza&178; place.

10. Vaqueros (2037 Metairie Road, Metairie). New proprietor-chef Joseph Griffo is putting a Santa Fe spin on the historically Southwestern restaurant.

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