515 E. Boston St., Covington, (985) 893-9336
Vazquez is a comfortable spot to grab a po-boy or any of the changing daily lunch specials like red beans, pork chops, stuffed crabs or the Cuban sandwich with roast pork. Other options include muffulettas, shrimp and oyster po-boys and club sandwiches. There are also fresh desserts made daily. No reservations. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Fri. Credit cards and checks. $

2051 Metairie Road, Metairie, 836-2007;
Starting with red or white sangria, Vega Tapas Café indulges diners with Spanish flavors and creative cooking. The wide selection of hot and cold dishes includes coriander-seared tuna, seafood salpicon (chilled mixed seafood salad) and the chilled eggplant Napoleon. Also try the assorted veggies with either romesco or garlic aioli sauce. No reservations. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards and checks. $$

134 N. Carrollton Ave., 488-7991
A New Orleans tradition for generations, Venezia was completely rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina and reopened early in 2007. While the dining room and bar have been thoroughly remodeled, the restaurant's many fans have been discovering the menu of home-style Italian dishes remains much the same. A generous antipasti plate starts many a meal here, while Venezia pizza pies, pasta dishes, seafood dishes and veal specialties ensure contented customers. Reservations accepted. Lunch Wed.-Fri. and Sun., dinner Wed.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

587 Central Ave., 734-3991
Venezia II serves the same famous pizza pies and casual Italian fare that have made the original Venezia in Mid-City a local favorite since 1957. Try the house special with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onion and artichoke hearts or go for the trout Cynthia topped with shrimp and crawfish in cream sauce. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner, Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

7537 Maple St., 866-1736
Vera Cruz strives to bridge the best of Latin flavors, specializing in both Mexican and Cuban dishes. The fajitas offer a choice of grilled chicken, steak or shrimp served on a platter sizzling with the house special fajita sauce. Customary accompaniments include sautéed peppers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, two types of cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, beans and rice. The burrito loco is a large wheat tortilla stuffed with shrimp, steak, bacon, pepperjack cheese, refried beans and rice and covered with cilantro sour cream or queso crawfish sauce. Before you launch into entrees such as Guadalajara enchiladas and ropa viejo, start off with the housemade chips and margaritas. No reservations. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

444 St. Charles Ave., 585-4383
Local flavors light up the menu at the flagship restaurant of downtown's Hotel Intercontinental. Sunday morning brings a champagne jazz brunch with music, bubbly, carving stations and made-to-order omelets and desserts. Reservations recommended. Breakfast Mon.-Sat., lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

1821 Hickory Ave., Harahan, 739-9875;
A mix of Italian classics and local New Orleans favorites fill Verona's menu. Six-onion soup is made with several varieties of onion blended with cream and topped with a puff pastry. The chef's signature entrees include veal scallopini and fettuccini Alfredo plus the house specialty, shrimp Esplanade, made with Gulf shrimp sautéed in olive oil with fresh herbs, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and served with a light tomato sauce over angel hair pasta. No reservations. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

1201 Royal St., 525-4767
One of the French Quarter's best-kept secrets, the deli counter at Verti Marte is a good stop on the way home for jambalaya, a shrimp po-boy or a stuffed baked potato that's almost as big as a football. Just a few of the daily entrée specials include chicken Creole, Cajun red beans with a pork chop or smoked sausage, barbecue brisket or ribs and lasagna. Sides include salads, macaroni and cheese and more. Verti Marte also has a selection of wines and a freezer full of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Limited delivery. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit Cards. $

544 Girod St., Mandeville, (985) 624-5683; www.viannes.comThe food, tea and atmosphere provide plenty to talk about at this charming Old Mandeville spot where guests meet for tea service. High tea is a three-course affair consisting of housemade scones served with lemon curd, cream and jam, tea sandwiches and canapés and an assortment of mini-desserts. There are more than 100 loose teas served hot or iced. The lunch menu includes items like turkey salad, which serves turkey and a scoop of egg salad over organic greens with blue cheese crumbles, tomato and cucumbers. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tue.-Fri., brunch Sat.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

519 E. Boston St., Covington, (985) 898-0667; vicandnatlys.comBunny Matthews' comic strip springs to life in downtown Covington, where Matthews has created a restaurant that would do Vic and Nat'ly proud. Since 1982, Vic and Nat'ly have dispensed their wit and wisdom from a Ninth Ward bar and po-boy shop. Now, the real-life Vic and Nat'ly's dispenses po-boys that its namesakes would approve of. Fried "swimp" and "ersta" po-boys beckon from a menu that also dares you to try a "hunk-hunka boinin' wings" and "da hawt attack" combination hamburger, ham, "toikey" and bacon sandwich. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

636 Tchoupitoulas St., 524-4329
Reflecting the spirit of the owner's native Australia, this friendly pub serves a hearty menu of comfort food. Shepherd's pie with ground beef, vegetables and Guinness gravy topped with garlic mashed potatoes and cheese could fill an Outback-sized appetite. Jambalaya and pizzas offer flavors from closer to home. No reservations. Dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $

4411 Chastant St., 885-2984; 7839 St. Charles Ave., 866-9313;
Whether visiting the original Metairie location or the Uptown location on St. Charles Avenue, Vincent's guests partake in hearty Italian cuisine. Golden fried eggplant sticks with red sauce are a popular starter, as are fried oysters with roasted almonds, lemon cream sauce and fresh tarragon. Entrée specialties range from traditional lasagna to cannelloni stuffed with veal, spinach and cheese or sautéed Italian oysters over angel hair pasta. Reservations. Lunch Tue.-Fri, dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

322 Dalwill Drive, Mandeville, (985) 727-3482; 1205 St. Charles Ave., 561-1148; 1915 Hickory Ave., Harahan, 737-1901; 2309 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 828-3488;
Vitality specializes in organic coffees, smoothies, juices, teas and desserts. Fruit smoothies come with blends of everything from strawberry to pomegranate to green tea. The Palo Alto wrap combines shallot cream cheese, avocado, free-range turkey, lettuce, tomato, sprouts and sunflower seeds. The fajita panini is comprised of grilled chicken, grilled onions and peppers, cheddar cheese, guacamole and salsa. Healthy soups and salads round out the offerings. No reservations. Breakfast and early dinner Mon.-Sat., lunch daily. Credit cards and checks. $

2203 St. Charles Ave., 529-9412;
The inventive, often playful cuisine of veteran New Orleans chef Kevin Vizard is on display at his Uptown restaurant. Mainstay dishes include spice-crusted scallops with pancetta, sweet peas, fettuccini and tomato fondue. Drunken Chicken is marinated in red wine and served with pomme frites, pearl onion and crimini mushrooms. The distinctive Black and Blue dessert is a cake of dark chocolate and blue cheese with port wine reduction and chantilly cream. Reservations accepted. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

1501 St. Charles Ave., 522-4647;
A long, slow cooking time is part of the magic spell Voodoo casts over its brisket, pulled pork and ribs, while a blend of seasoning adds another layer of mojo. Side dishes like rattlesnake beans, corn pudding and macaroni and cheese make for complete meals. Voodoo also cooks up burgers and chicken sandwiches. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

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