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Merry/Happy Chris-Kwan-Ukkah to You Vega Tapas Cafe (2051 Metairie Road, 836-2007; takes a decidedly nontraditional approach to the idea of Spanish "small plates" invoked in its name, so maybe it's fitting that the restaurant is celebrating a hybrid holiday this season. Vega Tapas marks Chris-Kwan-Ukkah (a combination of Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah) with a wide-ranging holiday menu that includes spinach salad with pecan-crusted goat cheese croquettes, dried cranberries and bacon; lobster in a tomato-saffron broth; wild mushrooms with potato cake and alioli; "carne de Rudolf," or venison stewed with winter vegetables in puff pastry; and peppermint gelato for dessert. This five-course tasting menu costs $30 per person or $45 with a wine pairing. Vega Tapas is open for dinner nightly. House Sweet House A more traditional holiday-themed restaurant happening continues this weekend at Red Fish Grill (115 Bourbon St., 598-1200; This year marks the French Quarter seafood restaurant's ninth annual gingerbread house-building workshop, an event geared toward children and their parents. Participants get instruction on the finer engineering and design points of confectionary construction and take home their own creation. Admission is $45 and includes a gingerbread house, decorations, a child-size T-shirt and photos with Santa. The next workshop is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 16, from noon to 2 p.m. Call the restaurant to reserve a spot. Pan-Latin Studies A new Uptown restaurant called Mayas (2027 Magazine St., 309-3401;, opened in November with a menu ripe with Caribbean, Central American and South American influences. For instance, the appetizers range from pounded yucca stuffed with beef to a pork and onion tamale to an avocado and mango salad with tamarind dressing. A carne asada entrée delivered a heaping portion of rice and black beans covered in grilled flank steak and onions. There is also Cuban ropa viejo, fried redfish in curry, roasted pork marinated with bitter oranges and a selection of pressed sandwiches. Mayas is housed in a former storefront that has been stylishly renovated with tin ceilings, attractive antique furnishings and a bar serving both white and red sangria. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Sunday. Lunchtime entrée prices are around $13, and at dinner, main courses range from $19 to $30. — McNulty

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