It's no small feat to whip up one of The Olive Branch Café's gourmet pizzas. The painstaking process begins long before lunchtime, with chefs preparing dough fresh for the day each morning. There's barely a moment to rest before orders begin flying in and the pizza makers spring into action, showering crusts with housemade sauces and high-quality cheeses. Their brows furrowed in concentration, their hands blurs, they layer pizzas with fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and fine spanish olives. Once the pies arrive triumphantly to the dining room, the chefs turn their attention to thick muffuletta subs, plump meatball calzones, and the jambalaya pastas that caught the attention of Gambit’s Best of New Orleans guide.
Out in the casual dining room, beneath warm red walls peppered with abstract art, guests clink glasses, feeling more content than a robot in a microchip factory. There, owner Russell "Rusty" Autry often strolls around the room, greeting newcomers and exchanging jokes with regulars.
At Daiwa Sushi Bar & Japanese Cuisine, executive chef Ken transforms fresh ingredients into dishes that embody the traditional spirit of Japanese cuisine. Building upon a decade of schooling, chef Ken hand selects superior ingredients for his dishes, from top-end Japanese rice and fresh uni to ruby-red tuna steaks and jewel-encrusted salmon fillets. These ingredients contribute to hibachi dishes and sushi rolls—plated with zig-zags of sauce and curled herb sprigs—that emerge from the kitchen either piping hot or revenge cold. Inside the dining room, light fixtures shaped like flowers and walls with murals of cherry blossoms contribute to the tranquil ambiance.
With 15 finger-devouring flavors of Buffalo wings and a menu offering meaty burgers and fresh salads, Wing Zone has become a national go-to for delivery and takeout. Nosh on wings in their boneless or original style, with orders ranging from 7 ($5.99) to 50 wings ($31.99), and use the flavor's heat index (1 for mild, 4 for hottest) to determine the sauce's spiciness and ability to provide warmth when coating a body. The garlic-parmesan sauce artfully blends garlic with cracked pepper, and the hot honey-teriyaki mixes honey with ginger and soy. Wing Zone also serves a variety of side dishes, such as wedge fries ($1.99–$3.49) and beer-battered onion rings ($2.99–$4.99), which offer the occasional respite from wing munching. Savory half-pound burgers and chicken sandwiches ($7.99+) make for an adequate post-wing dessert.
Situated in a sweet spot along the bayou, Restaurant des Familles sates rumbling bellies with Cajun cuisine, including fresh and local seafood, chicken, and more. The dinner menu starts stomach engines with authentic turtle soup ($5 for a cup, $11 for a bowl), titillating the tongue while saving room for a feast or for the tongue to retract into the stomach. The crawfish-stuffed rainbow trout wears a buttery garlic sauce ($19), and the fisherman's jambalaya ($15) introduces shrimp, chicken, and sausage to one another over seasoned rice. Lunchtime Creole classics include the half po' boy, served with a cup of chicken or seafood gumbo ($12), and the prix-fixe Sunday brunch¬ ($28)—a 5-course menu—comes bearing gifts of limitless champagne (or a non-alcoholic beverage).
The health-conscious staff at City Blends Smoothie Café blends sweet yet nutritious smoothies that serve as refreshing beverages or meal replacements. Their menu unveils a wide variety of flavors—including peach mango, chocolate peanut butter banana, and orange vanilla--amped up with such nutritional supplements as protein, energy, and a fat-loss blend. They also cast a healthy spin on frosty desserts in the form of creamy frozen yogurt and snowmen with Brussels sprouts for eyes.