Baru 3700 Magazine St., 895-2225
Bright and cheery, this delightful Latin Caribbean eatery offers fresh and tasty bistro- style cuisine and an impressive selection of tapas, ranging from ceviche and picada (a succulent combo of grilled shrimp, chorizo, red peppers and garlic sautéed in white wine and olive oil) and yellowfin tuna tartare, accented with coconut oil and soy sauce, to guacabello (a flavor-packed combination of smoky grilled portobello mushrooms tossed with ripe avocados, olive oil and lime juice and served with Creole chips). Beef shows up in a few places on the menu, including the flaky and tasty beef-filled empanadas, chuzo, grilled skirt steak marinated in mojo sauce and served with zesty chimichurri sauce, and papas fritas, otherwise known as French fries. The steak-and-cheese sandwich ($11) is to die for! Thinly sliced pieces of marinated and grilled skirt steak are artfully layered with melted cheddar, a tangy roasted pepper spread and greens gently tossed with a tangy aji sauce, then served on grilled bread. Tapas range from $5 to $12, while salads, sandwiches and wraps are $10 to $12 each.
Blue Plate Café 1330 Prytania St., 309-9500
This ultra-casual eatery boasts an impressive lunch menu, with a wide range of enticing options, including standard diner-style choices like salads, blue plates, burgers and wraps, but with a distinctly unique twist. Unassuming, cheerful and lively, this happening breakfast and lunch spot is teeming with fans of fabulous fare, generous portions and friendly service, all at prices that are hard to believe. Beef lovers will be torn between several delectable options, starting with the mouthwatering, beefy, hand-formed 10-ounce burger like the Gorda Vaca ($8.95 with fries or salad), topped with a lip-smacking combo of chili, cheddar, salsa, avocado and jalapeños. The Beast ($9.95 with fries or salad) is a satisfying combination of tender slices of roasted beef dressed with creamy brie, sautéed mushrooms and onions and a tangy horseradish sauce on an onion roll, while the steak-and-arugula salad ($11.95) flaunts a succulent six-ounce grilled rib eye atop fresh greens, which have been tossed with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. Or check out Ruth’s Ribeye, a savory eight-ounce version topped with horseradish sauce, blue cheese and crisply fried onions, served with garlic potatoes for only $12.95!
Dante’s Kitchen 736 Dante St., 861-3121
Nestled in the Riverbend area off Carrollton Avenue sits this charming and hospitable neighborhood café. Open for brunch on the weekend and dinner nightly (dark on Tuesday), chef Emmanuel Loubier has crafted a creative and innovative menu inspired by local and seasonal ingredients. Intriguing starter options include escargot with house-made bacon, basil and goat cheese, and grilled Louisiana boudin rouge with whiskey mustard and pickled onions. Stellar beef selections are available during both brunch and dinner. For brunch, enjoy classic steak and eggs ($12.50), perfectly grilled tenderloin with delicately poached eggs, topped with a rich, creamy béarnaise sauce and served over hash browns. The dynamite duo of beef dinner specials includes succulent Turbodog-braised brisket ($22), served with molasses-stewed black-eye peas, horseradish slaw and mint-and-pepper jelly, and the hard- to-resist Trois Mignons ($25), three cooked-to- perfection petite filets of beef tenderloin served atop caramelized-onion mashed potatoes and topped with pork debris, a tangy Stilton cheese sauce and classic marchand du vin.
Joey K’s 3001 Magazine St., 891-0997
If home-style cooking is your thing, then this neighborhood restaurant is right up your alley. Locals pack this hopping joint on a regular basis to enjoy liberal portions of classic comfort foods, including chicken-fried steak, breaded veal cutlet, red beans and rice, spaghetti and meatballs, fried shrimp, fish and oysters and eggplant parmesan, in addition to the lively, unassuming atmosphere and friendly service. While beef only shows up on the menu a couple of times, it’s no less special! The hamburger steak ($8.95) is a perfectly seasoned pound of ground beef topped with a yummy brown gravy and served with mashed potatoes and the veggie of the day. They also offer a sizzling grilled T-bone, which comes out juicy and cooked to perfection, paired with a loaded baked potato for $16.95. Most entrées run about $9 to $13, so taking the family out for a night of traditional home cooking done right won’t break the bank.
Rambla 217 Camp St., 587-7720
From the guys who brought us Dakota on the Northshore and Cuvee downtown comes this rustic yet polished restaurant located in the International House Hotel. Tapas and petits plats dominate the menu, which is filled with Spanish-inspired cuisine. Lunch is a great time to check out the intriguing menu, with the majority of choices ranging from $6 to about $14. Choose from tempting tapas such as patatas bravas (potatoes seasoned with spiced paprika and allioli); marinated beets with apples, goat cheese and pine nuts; seared tuna with grilled onions and smoked Romesco sauce; and a heavenly flatbread sandwich layered with Serrano ham, figs and creamy Spanish blue cheese. But if you’re on a mission for beef, try the classic steak tartare ($12), hand-chopped beef, capers and tangy Dijon mustard, or a tempting hamburger topped with blue cheese and served with crispy, hand-cut fries. However, the beef dish not to miss is the scrumptious grilled New York strip for only $16! Succulent, juicy, tender strips of beef are cooked to perfection and served over a divine combination of lardoons (tasty tidbits of fat), grilled chicory and tangy Valdeón blue cheese.
Sun Ray Grill 619 Pink St., Metairie 837-0055
Located in Old Metairie (there are two other locations, in the Warehouse District and on the Westbank, but menus to do vary slightly), this casual restaurant offers an extensive and eclectic menu filled with tasty delights such as freshly made salads, quesadillas, burgers and sandwiches, barbecue, seafood and more. Beef lovers will be hard-pressed to decide between the Santa Fe Burrito ($8.50), packed with tender slices of smoked beef brisket, seasoned rice, beans, cheese, tomatoes and a creamy chipotle aioli and rolled in a spinach tortilla, or the savory Steak & Bleu Quesadillas ($12.50), juicy filet tips that are grilled then sautéed with onions, tomatoes and spices, folded in a tortilla with melted Monterey Jack and blue cheeses and served with a delightful onion jam. Other appealing options include the Pit Smoked Brisket entrée ($14), served with red onion confiture, flame-roasted corn and mashed potatoes, the Gaucho Ribeye ($20), served on a sizzling skillet with sweet roasted garlic or the Tuscan Filet ($22), a flame-grilled tenderloin topped with a rich bordelaise sauce and served with grilled portobello mushrooms, buttermilk mashed potatoes and sautéed baby spinach with diced olives. n