Regular lunch items, including mussels with spicy Spanish chorizo, smoked tuna salad, hangar steak with oyster dressing, and zarzuela--a tomato-saffron-laden seafood stew--are innovative and copious.
A wine list offers 30 choices by the glass, a great way to introduce your palate to some unfamiliar Galician treasures such as Albariño and Godeval. 800 South Peters; (504) 525-3474. Lunch: $8-$12.
Winnie's Artsy Cafe
For a great cheap eat, stop in at Winnie's Artsy Cafe, an art gallery cum breakfast/lunch venue with nothing on the menu for more than $10.
Co-owner and chef Mike Wingerter and his partner, David Crews, offer simple, good food--nothing fancy.
The quality is evident, especially in the sandwiches. Mike has focaccia made to his specifications by La Louisiane Bakery. TheItalian-style bread is filled with such choices as orange-jalapeño glazed turkey, stuffed grape leaves, or smoked barbecue beef. Thesandwiches are then grilled for an enjoyable Southern panini. The health-conscious can opt for fresh salads with homemade dressings.
The atmosphere is casual and fun. "In New Orleans, we like our characters," says David with a wink, theatrically lifting his chin to showcase his best profile.
Winnie's is a quintessential New Orleans cafe--a good, cheap place where there's never a dull moment. 3454 Magazine Street; (504) 899-3374. Breakfast and lunch: $5-$10.
For a more upscale but still economic alternative, head toward Esplanade Avenue and Frenchmen Street, and enter into the world of Marisol, owned by chef Peter Vazquez and his wife, Janis. The warm terra-cotta-colored rooms with large sunflower murals are as welcoming as the magical courtyard used for alfresco dining.
During happy hour, have a seat at the bar, and enjoy an extensive menu of tapas (hot and cold appetizers). At $4 a plate, this is absolutely the best bargain in the city. Whether creating tapas or a full-course meal, Peter is known for respecting the ingredients and rendering pure, clean flavors. If available, try the sautéed duck livers in almond sauce or the date-stuffed, bacon-wrapped chorizo. The sweet, fresh mussels rival the shrimp with lemon and pepper.