MIDDLE EASTERN_lowres

Leonor Zamora, here with her son Ronald Alvarez, provides Latin American food at its finest at LA COCINITA ESCONDIDA.

BABYLON CAFE

7724 Maple St. 314-0010

This Uptown favorite serves the full palate of Middle Eastern flavors, from beef-stuffed grape leaves to kebobs. The sandwiches are served on homemade bread baked by Chef Najah, and are filled with both veggie options like eggplant, feta cheese and roasted garlic, and gyro meat and chicken shawarma. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

BYBLOS

1501 Metairie Road. Metairie

834-9773

2020 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 837-9777

3218 Magazine St. 894-1233

3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie (Lakeside Shopping Center) 830-7333

The four branches of Byblos vary in their offerings; for example, the 2020 Veterans Memorial location includes a grocery full of specialty cheeses and meats, and the new location in the Lakeside food court has a condensed menu. But they all have Lebanese favorites such as lentil stew and Mediterranean staples including pita sandwiches, stuffed grape leaves and spinach pies. The desserts wrapped in phyllo dough are not to be missed. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

CAFE ARABESQUE

211 LaSalle St. 524-6455

www.cafearabesque.com

Don't be fooled by the name; Cafe Arabesque has a very continental vibe. Check out the Spanish-inspired Friday special, the seafood paella: seasoned saffron rice, olives, mushrooms, artichokes and peas topped with shrimp, smoked oysters, chicken, scallops and mussels. Delivery available. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Credit cards and checks. $

CASABLANCA RESTAURANT

3030 Severn Ave., Metairie

888-2209

www.kosherneworleans.com

Chef Linda Waknin gives New Orleans a truly unique dining experience with the only Moroccan and North African menu in town. Try the Harira soup, made with chick peas, saffron and fresh herbs, then move on to the Cornish Hen El Morocco, which is stuffed with rice, almonds and raisins. Reservations recommended. Lunch Sunday through Friday, dinner Saturday through Thursday. Credit cards. $$

DIXIE GYROS

110 Carondelet St. 523-6614

Take your pick of beef, lamb or chicken gyros, served in a pita or French bread. There are beignets in the morning, and plenty of options for health-conscious lunchers, such as the Greek salad and falafel sandwich. Delivery available. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

LEBANON'S CAFE

1500 S. Carrollton Ave. 862-6200

Don't worry; Lebanon's moved next door into the old Cavallino space, but that's the only change. That means vegetarians can still enjoy the Sauteed Plate, which includes a garden's bounty of sauteed onions, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, yellow squash, zucchini and red, green and yellow peppers placed atop basmati rice, crowned with feta cheese and baked almonds. Try the 12- or 14-oz. filet mignon or the 12-oz. tuna steak. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

MONA'S CAFE

504 Frenchmen St. 949-4115

3149 Calhoun St. 861-2124

3901 Banks St. 482-7743

4126 Magazine St. 894-9800

If you're looking for an affordable, quick bite with an exotic Mediterranean flair, check out Mona's. Choices include tabbouleh, parsley salad, lamb, chicken and beef gyros as well as hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel and stuffed grape leaves. The dessert menu features Burma, a specialty of shredded wheat squares flavored and soaked with honey. No reservations. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $

PHOENECIA

4201 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 889-9950

Hummus, baba ghanoush and tabouleh are the expected staples of this Middle Eastern eatery, but expect the unexpected too, in salmon kebabs and falafel with halloumi cheese. Spicy shrimp, chicken or beef kebabs, lamb chops, grape leaves and several vegetarian options round out the offerings. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$