There is no question that fall is a distinct favorite when it comes to seasons in New Orleans. Between the gorgeous weather, football frenzy and festivals and arts markets filling the streets, it’s a perfect time of year to be out and about with friends and family. Local restaurants are making sure food is part of the fun by welcoming the busy season with new menus, fall and winter specials, relaxing happy hours and entertainment. Here are a few favorites from around the city.

Uptown & Garden District
Located in the Lower Garden District, along the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line and minutes from downtown, is a new restaurant alive with Latin flavor. Santa Fe Tapas (1327 St. Charles Ave., SantaFeTapas.com) offers a distinctive menu of Spanish-style tapas (small plates), Southwestern classics and uniquely inspired entrées. “Spanish-style and Central American cooking marry well into New Latin,” says owner Orhan Ergund, “and New Orleans is the perfect place to meld these flavors. It’s where the South meets the West.”

Santa Fe Tapas’ new fall menu includes traditional fall flavors such as the Pan-Roasted Duck Breast served with parsnips two ways; an asparagus, haricots verts, roasted pepper salad; and spiced natural jus (see recipe on pg. 20). They also plan to introduce some more colorful fall alternatives, such as the succulent Swordfish Escbeche, served with Peruvian purple potato purée and wilted spinach. With live music Thursday through Saturday and wine tastings every first Thursday of the month, Santa Fe Tapas is a great place to share a few tapas with friends or a romantic multi-course meal with a loved one.

Magazine Street, known for its shops, boutiques and restaurants, offers a pair of gems that bookend one block of bustling activity.

Salú (3226 Magazine St., SaluRestaurant.com) and Byblos (3218 Magazine St., ByblosRestaurants.com) offer flavors both out of this world and worlds apart.

Salú’s affordable, Latin-inspired menu primarily features tapas, flavor-packed small plates ranging from Coriander Seared Tuna to their wildly famous BBQ Pulled Pork on Corn Fritter Cakes served with Cilantro-Red Onion Salad. Their fall/winter menu will include some new flavors, such as the Grilled Lamb with hints of seven spice, balsamic, rosemary and garlic, served with fava bean hummus, roasted red peppers and crumbled goat cheese. Monday through Friday, Salú also offers three-course lunches for $15 and extensive happy hour specials from 4 to 7 p.m. They host wine dinners every last Tuesday of the month, and on Thursday evenings, they offer paella (any style) and a bottle of wine for only $35.

Byblos adds Mediterranean flair to Magazine Street with favorites such as chicken, lamb and beef kabobs, creamy hummus, baba ghanuj and grape leaves. They boast an incomparable selection of side dishes and the largest selection of lamb in the city. Their new menu will feature Pomegranate BBQ Spare Ribs, a chef’s special so popular that it’s become a sweet and savory staple. A casual restaurant with upscale service, Byblos invites guests to enjoy their fresh daily specials and join friends for their happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m., which includes $10 pitchers of margaritas, mojitos and beer.

On Thursdays, they offer $2 martinis all day and belly dancing from 8 to 10 p.m. Both Salú and Byblos offer outside dining along newly restored Magazine Street, and both suggest reservations for outside dining.

Travel a little farther uptown and experience the French Continental cuisine of Flaming Torch (737 Octavia St., FlamingTorchNola.com). Just a few steps off Magazine Street, the boutique restaurant offers amazing soup and salad lunches for the wandering shopper, as well as three-course romantic dinners or holiday parties in their elegant upstairs dining room.

This fall, try the Crab Beignets – lightly battered Louisiana jumbo lump crabmeat served over corn salad and a fragrant herb aioli. Gold Medal New Orleans Wine & Food Experience award-winning chef Nathan Giles delights guests with his contemporary New Orleans twists on classic French delicacies.

French Quarter
As New Orleans’ historical center, the French Quarter is mired in tradition – and so is its food. Since 1840, Antoine’s Restaurant (513 Royal St., AntoinesRestaurant.com) has prepared excellent French-Creole cuisine, offering a signature New Orleans experience in their 14 historical dining rooms. Always popular is the famous Oysters Rockefeller, a secret family recipe invented at Antoine’s in 1889.

Antoine’s currently offers a $20.11 three-course lunch special, which includes your choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert. Offered Monday through Saturday for parties of 15 or less, and exclusive of tax, gratuity and alcohol, the $20.11 fall menu is sure to liven up your lunch hour. Twenty-five-cent martinis are featured daily with the special. Similarly, Antoine’s traditional Reveillon menu will be offered throughout December [excluding the 16th, 24th and 31st] for lunch or dinner.

Another French Quarter favorite, Arnaud’s Restaurant (813 Bienville St., ArnaudsRestaurant.com), revels in the traditions that make up the culture of New Orleans. “Traditions are never more important than during the holidays,” says owner Katy Casbarian, “and we honor them in a big way, adoring these months in particular.” The classic Creole restaurant will be magnificently decorated for entertaining throughout the holidays, and Arnaud’s will be open for business on Thanksgiving with a special menu. They will also offer a traditional Reveillon menu from December 1 through 23.

While at Arnaud’s, be sure to try the Shrimp Arnaud, which features the first Creole Remoulade Sauce, created in 1918. Casbarian also recommends the fluffy Pommes Soufflé, served with béarnaise sauce.

For more worldly French Quarter flavors, experience the Mediterranean- and Asian-inspired cuisine of famed chef Susan Spicer at Bayona (430 Dauphine St., Bayona.com). According to Regina Keever, partner at Bayona, “Spicer’s dishes are prepared with cherished local and seasonal ingredients. Bayona has many talented, passionate cooks and servers that strive to make every dish a memorable occasion. It takes nearly 50 in-house staff to deliver a Bayona dish to your table.” This commitment to excellence explains why Bayona is consistently a top-rated New Orleans restaurant.

This season, try the ever-popular Peppered Lamb Loin with Goat Cheese and Zinfandel Sauce from the signature menu or the Rabbit with Fall Root Vegetables as an autumn special. Bayona offers both signature and daily menus, allowing for fresh experiences every time you dine.

Wow your friends and family this fall at Ralph Brennan’s casual seafood restaurant, Redfish Grill (115 Bourbon St., RedfishGrill.com). With a festive atmosphere and a menu featuring the delectable dishes of Chef Michael Gottlieb, Redfish Grill offers an unforgettable dining experience. Highly recommended this season are the BBQ Blue Crab Claws served with a cheddar-scallion drop biscuit.

Mid-City & Metairie
Along with Redfish Grill, Ralph Brennan brings New Orleans four other delightful dining experiences across Mid-City and Metairie. In Mid-City, enjoy a day of fine art and food at Café NOMA (inside the New Orleans Museum of Art, 1 Collins Diboll Circle, CafeNoma.com). Warm up with the Butternut Squash Soup, or enjoy a flatbread pizza or specialty sandwich.

Overlooking City Park and its towering, ancient oaks is Ralph’s on the Park (900 City Park Ave., RalphsOnThePark.com). This season, their globally inspired local cuisine will feature Gnocchi served with Swiss Chard, Sweet Potato and Black Truffles, as well as a Pumpkin Crème Brulée with Housemade Candy Corn.

In Metairie, tempt your taste buds at Heritage Grill (111 Veterans Memorial Blvd., HeritageGrillMetairie.com) with the Grilled Cheese and Lake Pontchartrain Crabmeat Sandwich.

Or try the Wild Mushroom Bruschetta with Herbed Mascarpone or the Homestyle Chicken Potpie with Creamy Sage Sauce at café b (2700 Metairie Road, cafeb.com).

Ralph Brennan continues a reputation of success with each of these restaurants, and from November 25 through the end of December, you can share the experience with friends and family – buy $100 in gift cards and receive a $25 bonus gift card for yourself.