Lola’s Restaurant

3312 Esplanade Ave., (504) 488-6946; lolasneworleans.com

The paintings on the wall may change from time to time, but when you walk into Lola’s it smells precisely as you remembered and it sounds the same too. The aroma is garlic, used in profuse fistfuls across the menu. The sound is from the open kitchen where cooks fire off hot pans of paella (and its noodle-based cousin, fideua). All the round the room, there’s a familiar mix of families, young couples on date night, and neighborhood regulars going after the ceviche and chilled mussels, the grilled squid, the lamb stew and inexpensive wines. Getting a table usually means waiting outside for a spell, a phase of the evening that often has the feel of an ad hoc neighborhood cocktail party under the Esplanade Avenue oaks. Dinner nightly. $$$

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