WILDCARD

Fried Pork ‘Tail Tots’

Carrollton Market

8132 Hampson St.

(504) 252-9928

carrolltonmarket.com

This new Riverbend bistro took over the former home of One Restaurant & Lounge in March with an orientation toward upscale Southern and Creole flavors.

Offal would appear to be something of an outlier, but the crispy fried pork “tail tots” ($12) transform tail meat into something more elegant. These tots are fried, loosely packed, silver dollar-sized cakes made from slick flecks and squiggles of deboned pork. Pickled sweet pepper rings, wafer-thin fried garlic slices and Creole mustard sauce bring tart, sharp flavors that cut through the richness for a welcome contrast and complete an appetizer that pushes some of the same buttons as robust charcuterie.

UPSCALE

Seafood Delight

Café Minh

4139 Canal St.

(504) 482-6266, cafeminh.com

Café Minh combines Vietnamese and Creole flavors, but does so in a much more disciplined, subtle way than the typical fusion approach. That’s true of this entrée (market price), which functions as a mixed grill or perhaps a high-end seafood platter. Hunks of lobster tail, local shrimp and fat scallops are all skewered with lemongrass, grilled and arranged over grilled vegetables (recently, bell pepper, squash and green and white asparagus). Swirls of Sriracha hot sauce and a thick soy reduction decorate the dish, bring Southeast Asian flavor and keep the meaty, plump flavors of the shellfish in the forefront.

CASUAL

Don’s Special Po-Boy

Radosta’s Restaurant

249 Aris St., Metairie, (504) 831-1537

Deeply ensconced in an old neighborhood of cottages and bungalows, wedged between railroad tracks and the busy main drag of Metairie Road, Radosta’s is a grocery-turned po-boy-destination that is well worth making a special lunchtime detour to find. Behind a vintage deli case, the kitchen fields a mix of classic po-boys and only-at-Radosta’s creations, including Don’s Special ($7.50). Combining elements of the muffuletta and po-boy, it relies on melted provolone to keep a chunky olive salad stuck to sweet, fat links of Italian sausage under the crisp-crusted, soft-bodied French bread. You can order it dressed, or customize it a bit by asking for a dash of red gravy.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @ianmcnultynola.