Red beans and rice get vegan burger treatment _lowres

Photo by Ian McNulty - The Stas burger at Avery's Po-Boys.

WILDCARD

Avery’s Po-Boys

2510 Tulane Ave., (504) 821-4110; averysontulane.com

While it’s easy to miss amid the massive construction and reliably manic traffic of Tulane Avenue, this family-run po-boy shop makes a lasting impression with a mix of faithfully wrought classics (especially the roast beef) and unique house specialties. The Stas burger ($6.50) definitely falls in the latter category. Named for a regular who ordered it every day for a week, this vegan “burger” is actually a fried patty of red beans and rice, which gives a creamy savor under its crisp edge. A splay of cucumber and tangy tomato chutney dress it up while keeping it light.

UPSCALE

Oysters with Cucumber Chili Granita

Ivy

5015 Magazine St., (504) 899-1330

Ivy is more about shared plates and small tastes than conventional dinner courses, and chef Sue Zemanick’s raw oysters topped with granita (market price, recently $12/half dozen) fits that mode well. The granita, a soft, fine slush, adds a cold, bracing sparkle and carries the subtle tang of citrus and cucumber along with a mix of hot peppers. These combine for a sweet/spicy flavor that’s a little like pepper jelly, though with a clean, refreshing finish, like a bright sip rather than a hearty slurp. It’s new to the menu, and Zemanick is now using Beau Soleil oysters from Canada while Gulf product undergoes its summer lull. Here’s to hoping the dish sticks around long enough for us to try it with local oysters too when their season arrives.

CASUAL

Smothered Okra

Sassafras Restaurant

2501 Leon C. Simon Blvd.

(504) 288-3939

sassafrasnola.com

Slotted into a strip mall near the lakefront, at first glance this restaurant looks like the sort you could find anywhere. The menu very quickly overturns this notion, however. The smothered okra ($10.99 small/$14.99 large), for instance, is a hearty, practically family-sized serving of okra cooked down to a soft (but, crucially, not slimy) texture, with loads of sausage to imbue smoky flavor and the sweet pop of tiny shrimp. It’s a dish closely attuned to neighborhood Creole traditions.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.