Lola’s, New Orleans
From the homemade sangria to the vibrant, come-as-you-are atmosphere, Lola's is everything a Spanish joint seated in New Orleans should be. A bit off the tourist path, the restaurant doesn't attempt to "wow" with flashy decor, but the simple wooden tables and terra cotta hues give the space a bit of Old Word authenticity. The outdoor dining area, which overlooks the Esplanade, offers terrific opportunities for people watching, always special in the Big Easy. As for the fare, appetizers like garlic mushrooms and bone garlic soup prep the palate for heaping portions of paella (the chicken and sausage is excellent) or calderata (Andalusian lamb stew.)
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.