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NOLA in ATL 

Superior Cajun and Creole cuisine has never exactly flourished in Atlanta. Nonetheless, if your soul hungers for the balm of a Sazerac or a bowl of gumbo, these five restaurants can inspire you to let the good times roll.

Emeril's

A recent meal at the local arm of the Food Network chef's ever-growing empire revealed an incremental improvement from my last visit almost two years ago. The place still oozes corporate oiliness, but if you order the truest New Orleans-style dishes, you'll be surprisingly happy. My ideal meal here? The andouille and boudin sausage starter; a bowl of seafood gumbo hearty with oysters and shrimp; and bread pudding drenched in caramel sauce to finish. 3500 Lenox Road, Suite 100. 404-564-5600. www.emerils.com.

Fontaine's Oyster House

Note the emphasis of the restaurant's name: You want to make your meal about bivalves at this rowdy watering hole at the juncture of Virginia and North Highland avenues. The supply of Apalachicola oysters from the Gulf are tenuous after the hurricanes, but there's a healthy selection from other parts of the country to slurp. 1026 1/2 N. Highland Ave. 404-872-0869.

French Quarter, Too

When I crave etouffee and red beans and rice, this is where I head. Louisianan chef/owner Jim Savoy's dishes have an honest Cajun zing. Keep Wednesdays in mind for peel-and-eat crawfish night. A recent move to Alpharetta from Johnson Ferry Road means intowners have an extra hike to quell their N'Awlins yearnings. 10595 Old Alabama Connector, Alpharetta. 770-645-7810. www.frenchquartertoo.com.

Front Page News

I'm more inclined to join the animated atmosphere here when I want Bourbon Street revelry, not a memorable meal. Bite the hair of the dog back with the Bloody Hot, a genuinely spicy Bloody Mary revved with Tabasco. 1104 Crescent Ave., 404-897-3500; 351 Moreland Ave., 404-475-7777. www.newsyoucanswallow.com.

Huey's

This south Buckhead mainstay has shifted from late-night hangout to white tablecloth breakfast and lunch. But you can still savor a plate of quintessential beignets buried in powder sugar with a cup of chicory coffee alongside to cut the sweetness. 1816 Peachtree Road. 404-873-2037. www.hueysrestaurant.com.

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