Overlooking St. Charles Avenue, Mia's Balcony offers Mardi Gras revelers a central view of grand, glittering floats and shimmering beads. But the restaurant isn’t content to host a party once a year; on the other 364 days, visitors cheer on the college, professional, and sock-puppet football games broadcast over the patio's outdoor televisions, and a banquet room is available for private soirees. While watching a Saints or LSU game or just chatting, guests can share small plates of seared scallops on the half-shell or fish croquettes or dig into substantial entrees such as pepper-jelly lamb chops. On weekend mornings, the chefs prepare brunch dishes including creole omelets and veal grillades over grits.
Local artwork, exposed-brick walls, and fireplaces set an inviting scene indoors. Bartenders fill glasses with craft beers, wine, and potent cocktails such as the French 75, a champagne- and gin-based drink based on a vintage recipe.
The family that founded China Garden Buffet did so with a passion for sharing Chinese home cooking with the community, and to that end they present an all-encompassing scope of Cantonese, Szechwan, Peking, and Hunan cuisines. With that wide spectrum of dishes on hand, the menu bulges with an expansive selection, tempting guests with simple, elegant choices such as roast pork lo mein, egg drop soup, and general tso's chicken glazed in a signature sauce with hot pepper. The chefs add a touch of showmanship to the newly renovated dining room by grilling up Mongolian barbecue dishes right before diners' two eyes, unlike the cooks at fast-food restaurants, who do everything behind a giant scoreboard often called a "menu." For convenience, the staff makes the buffet available during lunch and dinner for sit-down dining or carryout.
Creole and Mexican culinary traditions are a natural fit for one another. Both rely on a healthy dose of spice, and both elevate comfort food. At The Oyster Bar and Grille, chefs draw on the region’s bounty of seafood as well as a range of Mexican recipes. They fill homemade tacos with hot crawfish and batter farm-raised catfish in homemade corn-meal mix. Splashes of champagne make mesquite-grilled oysters sparkle at tables in the dining room, where surfboards and lifebuoys adorn the wall. Murals of beach scenes seem to admit warming sunshine, and an aquarium lets amateur scuba divers practice looking a fish in the eye. High-top tables and stools around the full bar comfortably situate diners, who can also carry po’ boys and oysters on the half shell to the outdoor patio.
At the tender age of 7, Andrea Apuzzo began honing his culinary skills at a bakery in his Italian hometown. "I was spoiled as a kid. We made our own olive oil and wine,” he says in a Gambit article. His breadth of knowledge expanded greatly when, at 14 years old, he embarked on a culinary adventure across Europe and South America. Now at the helm of his own restaurant, Chef Andrea applies the knowledge he learned amid the cream-hued rising loaves and on the chattering South American streets.
The dishes that fill tables at the eatery have been enjoyed by the likes of Queen Elizabeth, President Carter, Sophia Loren, Clint Eastwood, and one dog that figured out how to use a credit card. To share his abilities and experiments, the chef also publishes cookbooks, which detail formulas for the award-winning pastas, fresh seafood, and steaks. Chef Andrea's bistecca pizzaiola earned a place on Esquire's 2008 list of the 20 Best Steaks in America. "Like the best Italian dishes," the article says, "its simple parts add up to an unexpectedly powerful whole."
Café D’Cappuccino’s staff serves up café meals from breakfast to dinner, preparing frozen coffee, iced cappuccinos, and chai teas along the way. At breakfast, the shrimp and grits special combines pepper-grilled shrimp with gooey cheddar cheese and a sprinkling of chives, while lunchtime diners can dig into the stacks of toasty bread and bacon inside towering club sandwiches. Sautéed shrimp rear their heads again in the shrimp grand isle quesadilla, where they occupy a tortilla packed with cheddar, cilantro, onions, and mushrooms.
The expert chefs at China Inn Restaurant captivate taste buds with a diverse menu of delicious Asian fare. Each epicurean excursion begins with a tasty appetizer, such as the boneless spare ribs ($9.75) or the Chinese pizza ($5.75), which celebrates China's close proximity to Italy with flavorful scallion pancakes. Mouthwatering broths, such as the seafood and bean curd soup ($6.95/qt.) prelude an impressive spread of main courses such as the vegetarian Buddha Delight ($5.50/pt.; $7.50/qt.) or the multitextured chicken with chinese mushrooms and bamboo shoots ($6.25/pt.; $8.95/qt.). Refreshing glasses of wine ($5.50 each) cleanse palates in between bites before a dessert of cake and choice of daily-changing flavors of ice cream ($3) cap off enjoyable feastings and challenge conventional chopstick techniques.