857 Fulton St., 525-8205
Steaks speak with a South American accent at this Warehouse District hotspot inspired by the steakhouses of Buenos Aires. Whether you order the familiar filet or the short ribs, the meat here is accompanied by various piquant chimichurri sauces. Pasta dishes play a supporting role, with specials changing nightly. Some of the outstanding sides include crisp fries and grilled provolone with herbs and olive oil. No reservations. Dinner Mon.-Sat., late-night Thu.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

339 Chartres St., 581-6868;
A complete line of coffee drinks, espresso and French pastries make La Boucherie a great place for Quarter dwellers to start the day, but the coffeehouse's ample menu means there's no need to leave for lunch. Choices include daily specials, salads and sandwiches like the Conti club, which layers house-roasted turkey breast, smoked bacon, Swiss and cheddar cheese on wheat bread. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Fri. Credit cards and checks. $

4526 Magazine St., 269-3777; 625 St. Charles Ave., 569-1925
The city's most intoxicating aromas can be found at La Boulangerie, a local bakery with deep French roots. The two locations prepare outstanding croissants, pastries and artisan breads each morning, while also providing the house baguettes for many area eateries. There's limited seating and a few sidewalk tables available at the Uptown venue. The Central Business District shop has sandwiches, salads and a spacious dining area. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Cash only. $

107 Carrolwood Drive, LaPlace, (985) 651-9991; 108 N.W. Railroad Ave., Hammond, (985) 419-9990;
This friendly restaurant keeps regulars coming back for big margaritas, low prices and a large menu that includes popular Mexican dishes like queso dip, quesadillas, fajitas, carnitas, enchiladas, chiles rellenos and spicy shrimp. The 10-oz. rib-eye steak is served with saut'ed onions, two cheese enchiladas verdes and a side of the house special bean dip. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

643 Lotus Drive, Mandeville, (985) 624-8667
Cuban and Mexican meet at this Northshore eatery, located close to the Causeway. The classic Cuban sandwich here is made with tender roasted pork, layers of ham and Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on French bread. Dishes of fajita-style grilled meat and onions are popular choices. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

700 Tchoupitoulas St., 613-2350;
The lobby of the Warehouse District Renaissance Arts Hotel flows gracefully into this seafood restaurant, where the contemporary art theme continues in the design of the stainless-steel exposed kitchen, dining area and bar. Chilled seafood tasting platters are a specialty. Entrees include charbroiled oysters on Herbsaint spinach and escargot in truffled herb butter. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

1410 Robert St., 899-2670;
With dining rooms that seem to be pulled straight from a Parisian restaurant, La Crepe Nanou offers classic bistro cuisine for a complete Francophile experience. At this Uptown hotspot, steamed mussels and fondue begin many a meal, which can continue with savory crepes or entrees like steak or roasted chicken. Their classic mussels are steamed in white wine with garlic and fresh herbs and served in a big bowl. Whole-fish entrees are available off the grill with a sauce of capers and lemon butter. No reservations. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit Cards. $$

3005 Magazine St., 258-5313;
The gelato options Uptown just keep getting sweeter with the opening of La Divina. Gelato and sorbets are made in-house every day from fresh ingredients like strawberries and citrus and imported items like Sicilian pistachios and French chocolate. Try the créme brulee gelato or strawberry-balsamic sorbet. For a meal, panini choices include prosciutto and chevre cheese with a spicy pepper sauce on focaccia bread or the tuna with artichoke and purple olive tapanade on ciabatta. Espresso is made from La Divina's own specially roasted blend. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

542 Jefferson Davis Pkwy., 512-1993
This Mid-City bar has a small menu from the kitchen. The most popular options include burgers and ham sandwiches, but there are also south-of-the-border options like tacos and fajitas. Hot specials include dishes like stewed pork. Or try shrimp etouffee, fried fish or New York strip steak. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Cash only. $

601 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-8662; 3434 Hwy. 190, Mandeville, (985) 626-7004; 5171 Citrus Blvd., Suite 2000, Harahan, 818-2450; 3300 Severn Ave., Metairie, 456-1624;
Two types of coffee -- strong French roast or a milder American blend -- start the day right at these popular French-style caf's. La Madeleine offers an enticing selection of breads and pastries, plus a cafeteria-like service of salads, sandwiches (such as the chicken Cordon Bleu) and wine-inspired entrees (like beef bourguignon or salmon with white wine and capers). No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Credit cards. $

1940 Dauphine St., 743-1360
Every neighborhood should have a cozy little corner place like La Peniche. Drop by in the morning for eggs Benedict served with homemade hollandaise sauce, four-egg omelets or waffles. Sandwiches include a BLT, club sandwich, roast beef, turkey, ham or catfish. The Katherine Burger has ham, Swiss cheese and grilled onions. Entrees include chicken-fried steak, pork chops and evening specials. Everything on the menu, except specials, can be had at any time of the day. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Thu.-Mon. Credit cards. $

4238 Magazine St., 891-3377;
Taking its name from a former corner grocery at the same location, the restaurant offers a friendly but elegant ambience in which to enjoy dishes like the grilled duck breast with Satsuma reduction served over spaetzle with brown butter roasted Brussels sprouts and duck crackling. Mint and tomato braised lamb shank is accompanied by housemade ricotta gnocchi. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

25020 Hwy. 190 E., Lacombe, (985) 626-7662;
Acclaimed chef John Besh, who once worked here under founder Chris Kerageorgiou, is now the owner of this Northshore culinary landmark. Besh has left the magic intact at this French country restaurant, preserving the quality of its award-winning cuisine and extensive wine list -- much to the delight of fans of its traditional dishes like escargot Bourgogne and marinated rack of lamb with a rosemary jus. Reservations recommended. Lunch Sun., dinner Wed.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

933 Metairie Road, Metairie, 828-3080
Louisiana treats with a Thai touch include sautéed shrimp with asparagus and mushrooms. Or try one of the curries, like spicy panang curry with shrimp, chicken or crawfish. Some fusion dishes yield such exotica as the Red Hot Chili Pepper, which features butterflied jumbo shrimp and spicy green beans accompanied with jasmine steamed rice. New menu items also include flash-fried scallops with shrimp basil sauce, served with jasmine rice and veggies. Reservations recommended. Lunch Mon.- Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

3201 Esplanade Ave., 948-0077;
La Vita opened on Esplanade Ridge near the Fair Grounds just in time for Jazz Fest. The casual Italian restaurant offers pizza, salads, calzones, paninis and pasta dishes. The Pizza Pot Pie is a dish of housemade spaghetti with two meatballs covered with pizza dough and baked in the oven. The housemade gnocchi is served with a creamy tomato sauce. Other options include familiar Italian dishes like four-cheese manicotti, chicken, veal or shrimp Alfredo and Caesar salad or the Caprese salad with mozzarella cheese. Reservations for large parties only. Lunch, dinner and late-night daily, brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$

3501 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 887-9923;
Owned by the same folks behind Uptown's Bulldog pub, the main attraction at Lager's is the dizzying selection of beers from around the world. To soak up the suds, there's hearty pub grub, including waffle fries, meat pies, wings, crawfish spring rolls, plus gumbo and potato and bacon soup. There are salads and sandwiches, plus entrees including a 16-oz. rib-eye, pot roast, grilled tuna, baby back ribs and, of course, Guinness stew made with beef, potatoes, carrots, onions and celery. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

400 N. Peters St., 558-0038;
Landry's offers the full bounty of the sea, including not just Maine lobster but also Alaskan king crab legs. Local dishes include shrimp and andouille or seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee, shrimp remoulade and baked oysters Rockefeller. A range of fish dishes feature everything from salmon and halibut to mahi mahi, redfish, flounder and catfish. The expansive menu also includes salads, many Gulf shrimp entrees, fried seafood platters, pasta, steaks and chicken. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

800 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-6682; 1330 Arabella St., 899-9283;
These gourmet grocery stores offer prepared foods, catering and all the necessary ingredients for the serious home cook. The deli has sandwiches and some of its specialties include muffulettas, seafood gumbo and crawfish etouff'e. The gourmet-to-go selections are available in family-size portions. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

5433 Laurel St., 897-0576
Home to the "hottest muffins in town," this patisserie serves up a variety of classic bakery fare: bagels, cinnamon rolls, quiche, scones and "quick breads" including zucchini and banana. Cakes are prepared for all occasions. Outdoor seating entices when the weather is nice; lunch choices include sandwiches and focaccia pizzas. Breakfast and lunch daily. Cash and checks. $

4410 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie, 779-9393;
The Spanish cuisine at Laurentino's offers a wide variety of choices. You'll find 30 tapas, 30 entrees, five soups and three salads. The paella Valencia includes Valencia rice cooked in a saffron broth with shrimp, mussels, calamari, chicken, andouille sausage and fresh vegetables. Among the many small plates of tapas is the garlic shrimp, which features Gulf shrimp saut'ed in olive oil with roasted garlic, cayenne pepper, Spanish paprika and flamed with Spanish sherry. Spanish soups include gazpacho, lentil soup, garlic soup and fabada, made with white beans, sausage, ham and chorizo. Reservations recommended. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

600 Decatur St., Suite 101, Jax Brewery Millhouse, first floor, 588-2853;
Creole comfort food is the order of the day at this riverside eatery from Pat O'Brien's. The menu boasts everything from gumbo and po-boys to crawfish bread, catfish strips and boudin, and diners may graze on fried pickles while waiting for an entr'e to arrive. Sandwiches include hot po-boys and a muffuletta on focaccia bread. There is outdoor seating along Toulouse Street leading up to the Riverfront. No reservations. Lunch and early dinner Wed.-Sun. Credit cards. $

4801 Magazine St., 895-2600
The good times can roll late into the night at this Uptown music spot and corner bar, and to keep up, regulars know they can always refuel at the tavern kitchen in the back room. Burgers, po-boys and quesadillas are among the specialties. During the Friday happy hour, an oyster shucker dishes out raw bivalves from 7 p.m. until the sack is empty. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

1539 Religious St., 566-9051
From the kitchen of a building noted as one of the oldest in New Orleans comes a combination of down-home and upscale cuisine, from pork chops served with mashed potatoes and brown gravy to jumbo lump crab cakes and pan-seared fish with lemon-butter sauce. The walls of this stylish restaurant are hung with enough recent chefs d'oeuvre to make Le Citron double as a veritable gallery of contemporary art. Reservations accepted. Dinner Wed.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

1 Poydras St., 561-0500
There's a lot more than breakfast and pastries at Le Croissant. Lunch and dinner feature everything from crab cakes to shrimp Creole, po-boys to paninis, Caesar salad to club sandwiches. A healthy-eating menu offers vegetable wraps on whole wheat tortillas, grilled salmon dishes and saut'ed chicken over whole wheat linguine. Desserts are less calorie free and include white chocolate pecan pie, bread pudding and ice cream. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

509 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 471-0534
Former Versailles chef Dennis Hutley is now owner of this well-loved country French cottage restaurant tucked into suburban Kenner. Choose from his frequently updated, innovative Creole-French menu, which includes dishes using fresh local seafood such as lump crabmeat and shrimp, or dig into sea scallops. One recent paneed lobster dish featured a split lobster tail cradling shrimp, crab and crawfish in a cognac cream sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat., brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

1500 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-6200
With its corner location on Carrollton Avenue and big picture windows, Lebanon offers an enticing vision of garlic-laden, olive oil-slicked delights that seems to draw passersby inside for a spell. Vegetarians in particular appreciate the comprehensive sauteed plate, which includes onions, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, yellow squash, zucchini and a spectrum of peppers over basmati rice with feta cheese and baked almonds. Others, of course, order generous plates of grilled meat with hummus and pita bread. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

Chopped onions are what set Lee's burgers apart. It's fast food but still homemade. The drive-through is convenient for days when you can't stand in line but must have your fix of The Works, a big cheeseburger dressed, with onion rings or fries on the side. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

2708 N. Hullen St., Metairie, 887-3877
Legends has a limited menu of burgers and chicken sandwiches to go along with cocktails and frosty beers. The chicken tenders are prepared fresh and breaded in-house, and served up alongside crispy French fries. No reservations. Dinner and late-night Tue.-Sun. Credit cards. $

321 Magazine St., 581-9680
Duck into this Central Business District doorway and imagine you've just strolled into a Havana caf'. It's easy to conjure the scene with the Cuban d'cor and the aromas emanating from the kitchen. A popular dish is the traditional ropa viejo, or beef brisket stewed with onions, olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onion and served with black beans and rice. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Sat., dinner Thu.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

1500 Esplanade Ave., 569-8997
This neighborhood breakfast and lunch joint on the edge of Treme keeps locals happy with hearty, inexpensive takes on New Orleans favorites. Waffles are topped with strawberries or bananas and served with a side of ham, bacon or sausage. Lunch options include po-boys, gumbo and other daily soup selections, a salad bar and plates such as trout Baquet, pork chops, rib-eye steak or shrimp or catfish platters served with a salad and two sides. Reservations accepted. Breakfast Mon.-Sat., lunch Mon.-Sat. $

3637 Magazine St., 895-1636;
Lilette features chef/proprietor John Harris' refined French cooking combined with Italian and Spanish influences. An appetizer of steamed New Zealand cockles places the clams and sweet onions in a bacon-scented white wine broth and is served with ricotta bruschetta. Sweet and sticky fried beef short ribs are served with a hearts of palm and cucumber salad dressed with lime-ginger vinaigrette. Entrees include a braised veal osso buco with spinach-ricotta gnudi, san marzano tomatoes and a veal jus. Changing seafood dishes include fish such as cod, grouper and yellowfin tuna. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

590 Asbury St., Mandeville, (985) 727-1532
While offering a range of sushi and Japanese cuisine, one of the more uncommon rolls is the Burning Man Roll, which has sesame spicy tuna inside and peppered tuna, avocado, green onions and hot sauce on the outside. More conventional options include appetizers like gyoza dumplings served with ponzu sauce, seaweed salad, udon noodles in broth served with tempura, or nebeyaki, the same udon noodles served with assorted seafood. Entrees range from slices of raw fish in sushi or sashimi to cooked dishes in the teriyaki style. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

310 N. Carrollton Ave., 485-5658; 1521 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, 831-6788
There's nothing little about Little Tokyo's signature "love boat" for two, which includes tempura shrimp and vegetables, chicken and beef teriyaki, sashimi, sushi and fresh fruit. The large sushi bar features an extensive list of fish and rolls, while salads, noodles and cooked dishes balance out the menu. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

1518 N. Lopez St., 218-7888
Liuzza's new menu is here, with new hot sausage po-boys and the grilled snapper dinner. Luckily, its famous Creole gumbo didn't go anywhere. Other sandwiches include garlic oyster, barbecue shrimp, fried catfish, roast beef po-boys and hamburgers. The bar is open on Sundays but the kitchen isn't. No reservations. Lunch and early dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

3636 Bienville St., 482-9120;
Some things almost never change. Post Katrina, Liuzza's business is back to normal, serving beer and soft drinks in its famous frosted mugs, as well as the bushwhacker frozen drink. The busy dining room is still a good place to bite into a Frenchuletta -- Liuzza's take on the muffuletta -- served hot on a formidable length of French bread with grilled meats, imported cheese and housemade olive salad. The popular crawfish Telemachus is also back, with crawfish in cream sauce over pasta, served with garlic bread and coleslaw. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sat. Cash only. $$

517 N. New Hampshire St., Covington, (985) 892-4992
A historic train depot building is now the scene for informal but carefully prepared meals near the Covington courthouse. Try the Cobb salads or pressed focaccia sandwiches at lunch or come at dinnertime on Friday or Saturday for specials like oysters Rockefeller, crab cakes and baked trout with seafood stuffing. Reservations recommended for dinner only. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Fri.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

3312 Esplanade Ave., 488-6946
Seafood, meat or combination paellas are the specialty at Lola's. Studded with chicken and sausage or shrimp, scallops and mussels, they are available for one or in sizes large enough for several people to share. Tuna, trout, roast duck and rack of lamb are staples here, too. The menu also includes dishes like ceviche, saut'ed mushrooms and garlic soup. Lola's offers wine, but diners are still welcome to bring their own bottles. No reservations. Dinner nightly. Cash and checks. $$

21516 Hwy. 36., Abita Springs, (985) 871-8171;
Opened by a husband and wife team right after Hurricane Katrina, this renovated country inn has quickly become a dining destination on the Northshore. At dinner, try the yellowfin tuna tartare with satsuma, soybeans, ponzu and toasted sunflower seeds or the molasses glazed red snapper with Brussels sprouts, shiitake mushrooms and bacon lardons. Brunch is a picture of country grace on Sundays, with dishes like grillades and grits or French toast with homemade strawberry jam. Reservations recommended. Lunch Fri., dinner Wed.-Sat., brunch Sun. Credit Cards. $$$

69368 Hwy. 21, Covington, (985) 875-1100;
Longhorn is big on flavor and sweetens the deal on filets by wrapping them in hickory-smoked bacon or topping them with blue cheese. Steaks like the rib-eyes, New York strips and prime rib also can stand alone. The Longhorn also offers all sorts of fish dishes, shrimp, chicken and a kids' menu. For dessert, the Caramel Apple Goldrush is a big, sweet pile of apples coated in cinnamon with ice cream and caramel sauce. The Chocolate Stampede is a mountainous pile of cake, mousse and icing. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

1119 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, (985) 624-8099;
While the Pizza Grill offers thick or thin crusts and gourmet pizzas like the portobello pie with portobello mushrooms, pesto, Roma tomatoes, smoked bacon, Asiago cheese, caramelized onions and herbs, the menu covers a lot of bases. There's a wide range of salads, sandwiches, wraps and a kids' menu. Desserts include hand-dipped shakes with add-ons like Oreos and Butterfingers. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$

2101 N. Rampart St., 944-7068;
Loretta's is a good choice when you're in the Marigny and are looking for a good cup of joe and some hearty and affordable fare. From the bakery side, try treats like banana bread, muffins, cookies and pralines. Daily lunch plates include specials like red beans with smoked sausage or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans. No reservations. Breakfast Mon.-Sat., lunch Fri. Credit cards and checks. $

1851 Florida St., Mandeville, (985) 626-8101
Head out to Louie's for a medley of Italian-style classics and fried Southern comfort food. Veal and eggplant Parmesan dishes are big hits, served in the traditional fashion -- battered, fried, doused in marinara and mozzarella and served over angel hair pasta. For seafood lovers, $10 buys an all-you-can-eat fried shrimp or catfish meal. No reservations. Breakfast Wed.- Sat., lunch Tue.-Sat., dinner Wed.-Fri., brunch Sun. Checks $

337 Dauphine St., 525-3335;
The menu changes seasonally at Louisiana Bistro, but for a little spontaneity opt for the "Feed Me" menu and let the chef put together a tasting menu of three to five courses. One constant is the Creole surf and turf, a succulent pan-seared filet mignon complemented by crawfish tail scampi. There are also entrees like roasted rabbit, duck confit and pan-roasted Gulf fish. Reservations recommended. Dinner Wed.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

95 French Market Place, 522-9500; 615 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-5900
The Louisiana Pizza Kitchen offers gourmet pizzas like the Kitchen Sink, which piles on pepperoni, Italian sausage, bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms, Kalamata olives and mozzarella cheese. There is also a large menu of salads, pita wraps, calzones and pasta dishes. The chicken Marsala features roasted chicken with Roma tomatoes, red onions and mushrooms in a wine and pesto cream sauce, served over fettuccine and topped with Parmesan cheese. The French Quarter location offers favorites like crawfish etouff'e pie and has a very large wine list. Reservations for large parties only. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

701 Tchoupitoulas St., 523-8995;
The surf may not be up around here, but spirits are still high at this lively downtown hangout. Spicy riptide chicken wings are served either wet with sauce or dry with a rub of seasoning and specialties like southwestern-style burgers and baja rolls with chicken, avocado, black beans, cheese and salsa in flour tortillas are bestsellers. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $

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