1905 W. Thomas St., Hammond (985) 419-0027;
Relax in authentic Mexican furniture and enjoy the Monterrey's shrimp entree with jumbo grilled shrimp, steamy rice, a rich adobe sauce and steamed vegetables. On your next visit, try the Carnita's: succulent pieces of pork tenderloin served with beans, pico de gallo, guacamole salad and flour tortillas. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

1200 W. Causeway Approach, Mandeville (985) 727-7212; 1340 Lindberg Drive, Slidell (985) 847-0020; 2320 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 837-6696; www.carretarestaurant.comThis friendly restaurant with quick service and good prices gets a resounding thumbs-up from those who dine there. Loyal fans come back for the con queso, and the chiles relleno is a spicy entree to enjoy while listening to live tunes. Reservations accepted on weekends. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $

1201 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey 368-2100; 3300 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 887-7788;
This franchise boasts no canned ingredients, salsa made every hour, and tortillas served less than three minutes after they are made. Compose your own combination plate with a choice of enchiladas, tacos, chiles relleno, chimichanga, tamales, or flautas — or try one of the signature combos. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

1300 Gause Blvd., Slidell (985) 641-4706; 2000 S.W. Railroad Ave., Hammond (985) 345-2634; 5953 W. Park Ave., Houma (985) 868-0800
Get the party started with one plate that has most everything — the nine-layer dip will let you try it all before you decide what variation of corn or flour tortilla you want to put it with. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

2018 Magazine St. 569-0000;
Get a power (chord) lunch with a gutter punk that will cost you spare change instead of asking for some. The Gutter Punk burrito is $6.50 and is stuffed with ground beef, pinto beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, salsa fresca and hot sauce rolled into your choice of grilled spinach, whole wheat, or flour tortilla. Add veggie sides for 50 cents each. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

108 N.W. Railroad Ave., Hammond (985) 419-9990;
Try the dinners for two off the mesquite grill with carne asada, chorizo, chicken breast and shrimp accompanied by grilled onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. The large margarita (44 oz.) will also take care of both of y'all. No reservations. Lunch and dinner. Days of operation vary. Credit cards. $$

643 W. Causeway Approach, Mandeville (985) 624-8667
Melt-in-your-mouth roasted pork, along with ham, Swiss cheese, pickle and mustard on French bread, combines to make one of the best Cuban sandwiches around. Stop in for the friendly service, homey atmosphere and, of course, Gomez. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

701 Tchoupitoulas St. 523-8995;
The siren call of waitresses draws you in, the nachos get you to stay, and the happy hour margaritas render you unable to leave. Enjoy your Corona and fish taco while eavesdropping on businessmen four tables away. Try specials such as amberjack spinach salad or stick to the tasty regular menu. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

2345 Florida St., Mandeville (985) 674-1400
This hot mama spices up the Northshore with delicious chimichanga and enchilada plates. The pleasant atmosphere is great for families and revelers alike. Even the place out back where smokers are sent is quaint. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit cards and checks. $

69292 Hwy. 21, Suite 300, Covington (985) 893-9895
A Southwestern restaurant that doesn't own a freezer or cook with animal fat?! Yes, but it's not all innocent — just try the Homewrecker burrito full of rice, beans, your choice of meat, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and lettuce. It's good food in an eclectic environment. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

3242 Magazine St. 899-0031
The open-flame grill licks all of Mama's shrimp and bacon quesadillas with a little smoky love. Get a fajita with some ice-cold Coronas and watch your lunch break fade into a full-on siesta. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun. Credit Cards. $

4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 780-2358;
Leave it to a Louisiana-based Latin food franchise to name itself after a pepper. Try the crab meat and bacon quesadilla or the Ecuadorian ceviche and see why this local favorite could become a national contender. A selection of 50 tequilas and 40 rums will help fine-tune your favorite cocktail. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

Superior Grill
3636 St. Charles Ave. 899-4200;
Ah, the building at 3636 St. Charles has a long and fondly regarded history as a meeting place, from its early days as Que Sera. Once you've conquered nostalgia, check out Superior's sublime top-shelf margaritas, the brocheta — butterflied jumbo shrimp stuffed with cheese and poblanos and wrapped in bacon — and the sizzling fajitas. A rollicking atmosphere makes Superior a popular weekly destination. Reservations accepted for parties of 10 or more. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

1827 Hickory Ave., Harahan 738-6722; 3535 Severn Ave., Metairie 885-5088; 5932 Magazine St. 897-3974
This joint has burritos so big they'll have you looking for some help in eating them. And, thankfully, it hasn't forgotten about good old gazpacho. The beans are so good that you'll be screaming Òpork fat rulesÓ before the night's over. No reservations. Hours vary by location. Credit cards. $

1432 St. Charles Ave. 525-9996
Authenticity is the rule at this upscale restaurant, which seeks to take diners' concept of Mexican fare way beyond the basic taco and burrito. Chilpotle steak features filet mignon stuffed with chipotle chile, served on an open-face quesadilla and topped with tomato-chipotle sauce and cotija cheese. Pescado a la Parrilla is a grilled fish fillet with either poblano chile cream sauce or sauteed red onions with chipotle chile and is served with sauteed vegetables and fresh fruit. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

7537 Maple St., 866-1736
Chef Jean-Marlon Yazir and Sous Chef Jason Morrison promise a continuing array of new items on the menu. You can go for traditional Mexican fare such as quesadillas and nachos or try a Caribbean quesadilla filled with lobster, steak, chicken, mango and cheddar and jack cheeses. It's served with teriyaki-honey barbecue dipping sauce. The grilled tilapia presents a fried or grilled fillet topped with crawfish green mole. Reservations accepted except Thursdays. Lunch Thu.-Sat, dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

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