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  • Resturants: Ethnic and Specialty
Altos Latin Bistro reminds us that authentic Spanish dining is a romance of flavors; a cuisine built on vibrant spices; a food celebrating the bounty of the Mediterranean. How do we know? Hey, it says so right on its decorative, leather-bound menu.

Not that you'll have any doubts after delighting in this colorful eatery's mouthwatering tapas, paellas, crema de mariscos (creamy seafood soup) and serrano ham-wrapped, Manchego cheese-stuffed shrimp. This is the type of stuff that makes us wonder what Christopher Columbus was thinking when he left Spain in search of a more exciting world.

Lamb chops, for example, practically dance under a "drunken" sauce of chile negro, garlic, beer and spices topped by cotija cheese. Wild mushrooms and guajillo peppers are rarely so well-respected as when they're served in Altos' soup touched with fennel and dry Spanish sherry. And what more could we want from beef than Altos' signature juicy filet mignon, topped with guajillo peppers, garlic, almonds and warm cabrales cheese?

Hello, Columbus!

We like this spicy Cajun stuff. Like grilled shrimp dipped in rémoulade, an infernal mix of mustard, mayonnaise and horseradish. Or hot boiled Louisiana crayfish, bobbing with new potatoes and corn in fiery spiced broth.

Other Cajun places around town may not believe how much we like the heat -- why else would they be so timid in turning it on? Not so at Justin's, where the good times roll in a heat wave of assertive flavors, always-fresh ingredients and creative menu choices.

Confederate catfish is a treat, blackened or grilled with shrimp in herb beurre blanc. So is Mardi Gras meat loaf, alligator tail meat ground with Cajun spices. And only Justin's can tempt us with palmetto chicken, encrusted with pecans in a roasted red bell pepper coulis, or Terrebonne tournedos, tenderloins in Creole mustard au jus.

The party never ends at this French Quarter playhouse, flocked with photos of the New Orleans Saints and a mural of street musicians. The joint rocks with zydeco music, and we eat to the beat, spooning brandy and chocolate bread pudding in a boisterous strawberry sauce.

Justin's is our best buy for a bit of the bayou.

Readers' Choice: Voo Doo Daddy

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