Live Oak Café
8140 Oak St., (504) 265-0050; http://oxalisbywater.com">liveoakcafenola.com
Eggs Beauregard ($10) recasts conventional eggs Benedict with biscuits and gravy, and it’s done one better at this colorful Uptown breakfast and lunch joint, which took over the former Oak Street Café spot last year. Chalk that up to the kitchen’s focus on local sourcing and house-made staples. Rather than your standard breakfast patties, the sausage is a lamb and beef blend with a pleasing, crumbly texture and mild herbaceous flavor. The biscuits are griddled crisp and stay that way underneath the thick, substantial gravy. If this sounds good, try it this month. In December, the café closes for a round of renovations expected to wrap up sometime in January.
La Petite Grocery
4238 Magazine St., (504) 891-3377; http://lapetitegrocery.com">lapetitegrocery.com
Buttered spaghetti with crabmeat ($16) sounds pretty basic, but with this dish chef Justin Devillier shows how the deft combination of a few big flavors can transform a dish. The key is colatura di alici, an Italian sauce made from fermented anchovies. It’s similar in form and function to southeast Asian fish sauces, though it’s more subtle. It doesn’t mask the delicate sweetness of the crabmeat, but rather adds a deep, layered pungency between the tender noodles. It doesn’t look like a showstopper, but it’s likely to be one of the most memorable dishes on your table.
Bywater Bo Ssam
3162 Dauphine St.
With a pair of bars, nice outdoor spaces, high style and low-watt lighting, this seductively atmospheric Bywater spot always feels like it’s as much a lounge as a restaurant. Appropriately then, much of the menu arrives as shareable portions. That applies to Bywater bo ssam ($10), chef Jonathan Lestingi’s version of traditional Korean lettuce wraps. You can get these with shrimp or mushroom, but I recommend the pork belly for the way the unctuous, salty meat plays against the spicy crunch of kimchi and the toasty rice, all folded up within butter lettuce, a wrapper that brings a crackling-crisp freshness to the whole package.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.