4200 Magazine St., 896-2225
Modeled like its sister Rue de la Course coffee shops, Ignatius is a fun little eatery with corner grocery charm. Abita beers are served in little brown bags, and there are pantry staples like cans of red beans and bottles of hot sauce on the walls. The menu of Creole favorites includes seafood gumbo, roast beef po-boys, red beans and rice, jambalaya and bread pudding. The crawfish etouffee is a rich and creamy version of the stew made with Louisiana crawfish tails. Lunch and dinner. Wed.-Mon. Credit cards and checks. $

2133 St. Charles Ave., 568-9786
Sit and spin takes on a new meaning at this late-night option. There are suds on tap and spinning washing machines gurgling away in the mini-laundromat beyond the pool tables. While your delicates are soaking, ask the bartender to slap a fat burger on the grill and cook you an order of cheese fries or jalapeno poppers. No reservations. Open 24 hours. Credit cards. $

2135 St. Charles Ave., 522-6602
Right next to the original Igor's, Bar-B-Q Mama offers juicy barbecue ribs, platters of pulled pork, smoked sausage and chicken and Igor's sweet barbecue sauce. Side items include mustard greens, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese and French fries. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

3400 16th St., Metairie, 455-1545;
Diners at Impastato's can dig into traditional veal marinara, veal Parmesan, pecan-smoked filet mignon and veal chops topped with sautŽed mushrooms, but they'll also find some unexpected names on the menu. Salads are named for both former Saints Head Coach Bum Phillips (asparagus, artichokes, hearts of palm) and current team owner Tom Benson (asparagus, black olives, tomatoes, artichokes, hearts of palm and crabmeat). Seafood entrees include shrimp scampi, trout amandine, Maine lobster and soft-shell crabs when available. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

539 St. Philip St., 529-8811
Locals love romantic Irene's, which, tucked away at the quiet, lower end of the French Quarter, perfumes the air around it with the seductive aroma of roasting garlic. New Orleans meets Italy meets France (with a touch of San Francisco) as cioppino gets a dose of local seafood with redfish and shrimp joining clams and mussels in spicy tomato and fennel broth on a bed of fresh pasta. The cannelloni al forno delivers housemade tubes of pasta stuffed with veal, pork, cheese and eggplant. Reservations for parties of five or more. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

8115 Jeannette St., 862-5848;
The intimate dining room at Iris is a cozy setting for the classical French dishes and occasional Asian accents of Chef Ian Schnoebelen. Try an appetizer like the green peppercorn-crusted yellowfin tuna with baby greens, prosciutto, cornichons, nicoise olives and white balsamic vinaigrette. An entrŽe of Arctic char is seared until the skin is crispy and served with water spinach, hedgehog mushrooms, tomato petals and dill butter. Vegetarians can indulge in the chef's daily selections, and the bar turns out innovative cocktail recipes using fresh fruit. Reservations recommended. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

4250 Hwy. 22, Mandeville, (985) 674-5700; 70452 Hwy. 21, Covington, (985) 875-7620
Heaping gourmet pies are the main attraction at these Northshore pizza restaurants. Spinach or artichoke with pesto or garlic-herb sauce are delicious green options. Heartier appetites can opt for the 16-inch everything pizza -- the Isabella. Or if you can't make up your mind, the Four Seasons has a quarter each of four different gourmet pies. Reservations accepted for large groups. Delivery available. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

Loaded pizzas are the calling card for Italian Pie, but it features many of the same Mediterranean ingredients in its calzones, salads, pastas and sandwiches. Specialty pies include the Combination which has pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, mushrooms, onions, peppers and black olives. The Roasted Garlic Pie comes with chicken or shrimp. The New Orleans-inspired muffuletta pizza is topped with Genoa salami, ham and olive salad. The Florentine calzone is stuffed with spinach and artichoke, a mix of cheeses and chicken or shrimp. Italian Pie also offers a small selection of wrap sandwiches. Delivery available. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $

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