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The catfish at Barrow's Catfish on Earhart Boulevard is based on a family recipe that goes back to Barrow's Shady Inn, a pre-Katrina restaurant in Hollygrove.

Barrow’s Catfish

8300 Earhart Blvd., (504) 265-8995

In the world of pre-Katrina New Orleans, Barrow’s Shady Inn was known for its catfish in the way that some restaurants are known for their fried chicken or gumbo. Last year, the next generation of the same family, the Barrow Johnsons, reincarnated its spirit at a new location just down the road. The focus is firmly on catfish, served in big platters with a full flavor, crisp edge and that signature cayenne bite. The short menu has a few other dishes — shrimp and oysters, Monday red beans — but make no mistake, those who remember the old place are coming to reconnect with the catfish. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. $$


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Boiled crawfish at Bevi Seafood Co. 

Bevi Seafood Co.

236 N. Carrollton Ave., (504) 488-75034701 Airline Drive, (504) 885-5003

At both locations, Bevi shows the blueprint for a smart, subtle reinvigoration of the old boiled seafood market. Justin LeBlanc, an experienced chef, adds just enough of his own culinary sensibility to make the menu stand out, with boiled shrimp remoulade po-boys and pork-smothered cheese fries next to a superlative seafood gumbo. The line of people waiting for the doors to open to get first crack at the crawfish is a sign that the traditional side of the business is well-tended, too. Hours vary by location. $


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Clesi's Restaurant & Catering on Bienville Street in Mid-City specializes in a niche dubbed "Southeast Louisiana tailgate" food.

Clesi’s Restaurant & Catering

4323 Bienville St., (504) 909-0108

Short of scoring an invite to someone’s house, Clesi’s is the optimal place to feast on crawfish. Like a backyard boil itself, this eatery is mostly outdoors, and it’s social. The bar, kitchen and small dining room are all in a building that feels like a base camp for the main area of operation. That's the terraced stretch of patios, lined with tables and overlooking the boil rig. There’s a sense of fun extending from yard games to the tailgate-casual menu of fried seafood, po-boys and jambalaya cheese fries. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun. $$


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A trio of oysters from different waters in Louisiana share the plate at Elysian Seafood, which has oyster bars at St. Roch Market and Auction House Market.

Elysian Seafood

2381 St. Claude Ave., (504) 609-3813; 801 Magazine St., (504) 372-4321

The modern food hall is a natural for an oyster bar, as Elysian Seafood has demonstrated twice now at St. Roch Market and the related Auction House Market. No frills, step-right-up service is just right for raw oysters, and this outfit sources an impressive regional variety. More than oyster bars, though, these are seafood counters with menus of ceviche, crabcakes, chilled seafood salads and sandwiches that sync with the casual vibe, too. Lunch and dinner daily (breakfast at St. Roch Market) $$


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Felix's Restaurant & Oyster Bar added a lakefront location in New Orleans, with a deck facing the sunset.

Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar

7400 Lakeshore Dr., (504) 304-4125; 739 Iberville St., (504) 522-4440

This longtime landmark of the French Quarter is as good as I’ve ever seen it, and it vaulted into new territory by planting a large oyster bar on the lakefront last summer. Take a seat at the counter here with a view toward the sunset and the aroma of the chargrilled oysters sizzling at the grill beside you. There just aren’t many places in the city that combine natural beauty and delicious bounty like this. New Orleans needs more opportunities to reconnect with the lake. Another dozen sounds like a great start. Lunch and dinner daily. $$


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Kung fu tuna is a swirl of sauces and seared rare fish at Seither's Seafood in Harahan.

Seither’s Seafood

279 Hickory Ave., Harahan, (504) 738-1116

With crawfish and crabs, sriracha, avocados and gusto, Jason Seither has created a restaurant like no other. It is a casual spot for po-boys and platters, with an oyster bar for some cold ones and a well-spiced boiling operation, all tucked deep into Harahan. The specialty dishes bring flavors by the fistful and the playful blend of Louisiana tradition and cooking show bravura will have you reaching for your camera and asking for another round. This is a New Orleans seafood joint you won’t forget. Lunch Tue.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sat. $$


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Louisiana blue crabs get a garlicky coating with egg and peppers and herbs for a salt baked crab dish at TD Seafood Pho House in Harvey.

TD Seafood Pho House

1028 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, (504) 302-1717

This is a Louisiana-Vietnamese cultural crossover, a place to eat with a spoon, chopsticks and lots and lots of paper towels. The pho is deeply flavorful and the banh mi are quick and well-made. Then come the trays of boiled seafood, the crawfish, shrimp and crabs all glistening with garlic butter, Viet-Cajun style. Try the salt and pepper crabs, with a savory crust and a tangle of herbs and peppers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. $



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