WILDCARD

Szechuan Stir Fry

Mondo

900 Harrison Ave.

(504) 224-2633

mondoneworleans.com

Like Bayona, its big sister in the French Quarter, Mondo runs all across the globe for its flavors and inspirations. That explains why, between the wood-fired pizzas and the Mexican-style roasted pork shoulder, this stir fry ($21) comes along with a full dose of Szechuan flavor, starting with the famously pungent, tongue-tingling qualities of this regional Chinese cuisine. Fat shrimp and slender, Japanese eggplant taste sweet beside the pulse of Szechuan peppercorns, which imbue the broth-like sauce. Crisp bok choy, earthy shitake mushrooms and wisps of fresh cilantro add contrast and the sticky, short-grained rice becomes a mellow, grounding foundation for all the bold flavors.

CASUAL

Iskender Kebab

Mezze Mediterranean Restaurant

4330 Magazine St. (504) 267-3696 mezzenola.com

Like its recent predecessor at this address, Mezze is a Turkish restaurant. That means that while the format may be familiar from many other local Middle Eastern restaurants, the particulars are highly distinctive. The Iskender kebab ($16) dish is a good example of the Turkish approach. It starts with donor kebab, a pressed mix of beef and lamb roasted on the rotisserie and sliced thin to order. This gives the trademark variation in texture, from crisp and char-marked to tender. For the Iskender preparation, the meat is layered over slices of airy, crusty bread and soaked with a buttery-smooth tomato gravy. Hearty and filling, it’s comfort food with a different accent.

UPSCALE

Crabmeat Remick

Red Maple Restaurant

1036 Lafayette St, Gretna, (504) 367-0935

theredmaple.com

Even as old dishes are getting fresh looks, it’s still rare to find a rendition of crabmeat Remick ($11). But this Gretna dining stalwart recently added it to the rotation and sticks with a traditional preparation, banking on the appeal of very large lumps of crabmeat, bound in a chili-spiked mayonnaise sauce, aromatic with paprika and smoky bits of bacon under a bubbly, casserole crust. Spoon it over small toast rounds and share it as a very rich first course.