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Noche, 1000 Virginia Ave., 404-815-9155. The nuevo New Mexican chow at this boutique cantina, while extremely inconsistent, combines campfire flavor with comfort food accessibility. Stylishly fitted out and moderately priced, with good service, it may be considered a flashier alternative to Sundown Cafe. -- EM
Nuevo Laredo Cantina, 1495 Chattahoochee Ave. 404-352-9009. From its obscure location on Chattahoochee, Nuevo Laredo offers home-cooked Mexican food that is as sabroso (delicious) as it is sana(healthy). The food on your plate looks fresh, not as if it's sat under a heat lamp for even a second. Although somewhat crowded on weekend nights, service is quick and the food is well worth the wait. So have a beer and soak up the atmosphere of Catholic kitsch. - KL
Taqueria del Sol, 1200-B Howell Mill Road at Huff Road, 404-352-5811. Spin-off of popular Sundown Cafe is long on informality and comfortingly Americanized Mexican and Southwestern fare. It's decidedly short on glitz, and guests order at the bar and carry their own drinks. Seafood specials can be really special. Old favorites -- spicy turnip greens, jalape-o slaw and carnita tacos -- are still worth saying "Ole" to as well. -- EM
Tortillas, 774 Ponce de Leon, 404-892-0193. So many burrito shops have opened in town that we tend to forget the original and, in many ways, still the best. Nobody's pinto beans come close to Tortillas. You don't have to endure oniony seasonings, you get flawless guac and green sauce, and you still get plenty of bad attitude and crummy ambiance. -- CBB
Zocalo, 187 10th St., 404-249-7576. Midtown's former monument to mucho-Mexican mole has been mainstreamed and Americanized. The city's best stuffed peppers, the still-peppy chicken mole and a collection of 150 tequilas don't make up for greasy tacos, hard-edged service, hard-to-read menus, inappropriate music and uncomfortable chairs. Note that visitors with hotel room keys get a 10 percent discount. -- EM
Casbah, 465 N. Highland Ave. NE, 404-524-5777.A fun place to take yourself, and not just for a special occasion, this comfy, affordable North Highland harem features belly dancing, notable sweet-spicy salads, first-rate couscous and more-or-less traditional versions of Moroccan poultry pie and lamb with apricots and honey. -- EM
Imperial Fez, 2285 Peachtree Road, 404-351-0870. Atlanta's most luxurious interpretation of the Casbah, this carpet-lined, pillow-strewn hideaway serves authentic prix fixe Moroccan in a five-course ceremony complete with hand-washing and belly dancing. Take your shoes off and stay awhile. -- SSS
Coast 92, 625 Crossville Road, Roswell, 770-649-6739. The second shopping-center venture for Dick and Harold Marmulstein (Dick and Harry's) features solidly prepared fresh-seafood platters, steamed crabs, sushi and all the trimmings in a visually bizarre, not to say amusing, underwater setting. Keep your eyes shut, your mouth wide open and enjoy superlative specialties such as the jumbo lump crab cakes, shrimp crunch rolls, fried shrimp and Key lime pie. Moderate prices. No reservations. --EM.
Indigo Coastal Grill, 1397 N. Highland Ave., 404-876-0676. Reopened after yet another makeover, the restaurant's once funky decor has been smoothed to a near-corporate sheen. Fried seafood, big salads, comforting side dishes (couscous, cheese grits, shoestring fries) and gooey desserts are still tops. Service by a clean-cut, knowledgeable staff who's textbook sharp. -- EM
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, 600 Ashwood Parkway, 770-399-9900. Lavish chain-link offers first-class seafood in a variety of preparation styles, though with an emphasis on those of the Northwest and Pacific Coast. Despite the glass domes, privacy booths, snappy linens, heavy flatware and list of 30 to 40 varieties of fresh seafood on offer daily, prices are moderate at the big-volume fish house. Valet parking. Reservations encouraged. Smoking permitted in bar only. --EM.
Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, 2830 Windy Hill Road, Marietta, 770-984-8899 and other locations. Who'd have thought a chain serving enormous volumes of food could be this good? Spectacular etouffee, lovingly prepared gumbos, delicately broiled seafood and mountains of fried stuff are turning out crowds that cause 90-minute waits. Go early. Real early. -- CBB
Uncle Bud's, 725 Concord Road, west of South Cobb Drive, Smyrna, 770-434-1881. Updated, corporatized catfish barn, replacing two franchise stores, serves reliable, affordable catfish meals with all the fixings, including memorably good hushpuppies and cole slaw. Swift, upbeat service and squeaky-clean (if a little too kuntry-kute) surroundings add to the family-style fun. -- EM
Atlanta Grill, the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, 181 Peachtree St., 404-221-6550. A clubby, semi-casual Southern steakhouse has replaced the once fiercely formal restaurant. Expensive grilled beef and super-size spuds are perhaps the most reliable offerings at this corporate attempt to please road warriors, conventioneers and expense-account hosts seven days a week, three meals a day. -- EM