So many great restaurants have opened in New Orleans during 2012, and as relatives and friends come to town for the beginning of the holidays, November and December are the perfect time to find your new favorites. Here are three new restaurants to try – until next month rolls around.

In the touristy stretch of North Peters Street across from Canal Place, there’s a bastion of local food and drink that’s turning out some of New Orleans’ most innovative bar food and cocktails. The bar is St. Lawrence, and it’s tucked away inconspicuously amidst T-shirt shops that sell horrendous “Sexy 1,” “Sexy 2” shirts and places where people go to dance on bars. Chef Caleb Cook, who honed his skills under Susan Spicer at Bayona, prepares dishes that are fresh, local and unexpected in this part of the French Quarter. A steak salad features Two Run Farms steak on a bed of greens with a roasted tomato vinaigrette, crumbled blue cheese and the star of the show, pickled okra. There are large screens for watching football and appetizers to match, with killer tangy wings and the best fried egg rolls in the city, here packed with corned beef, cabbage and Gruyère cheese. The melted mild ingredients and crispy wonton blend into the most delectable bar food of all time. Never have you tried an egg roll like this – but you should. Daiquiris here are all handcrafted and made with fresh fruit. Currently in the machine, a Pimm’s Cup that’s unreal.

Restaurant Borgne in the CBD is the newest favorite for game-day dining thanks to its proximity to the Superdome, plus simple and delicious fare at reasonable prices. Chefs Brian Landry (formerly of Galatoire’s) and John Besh both grew up fishing on Lake Borgne, and Landry’s menu reveals his passion for Louisiana seafood, as do the dining room’s oyster shell columns and rippled silver walls reminiscent of a sun-drenched lake. You will find a touch of Isleño influence here as well, a cuisine native to St. Bernard parish that originated with immigrants of the Canary Islands and has since blended in with Creole cooking. Smoked pork empanadas and crabmeat croquetas with rémoulade play up the Spanish flare on the appetizers menu. Daily lunch specials at only $10 include heartier options like Wednesday’s ragout of rabbit with orecchiette pasta. Go here when it’s packed and you’ll see plates and plates of toasted bags arriving at each table. It is the Fish In A Bag, cut open by your server tableside to reveal a steaming, incredibly tender local sheepshead accompanied by caramelized onions, fennel and glorious crab fat. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to come across such a deceivingly simple yet amazingly prepared fish as this (Cochon’s fish of the day fisherman style is also another), and it’s impossible to imagine going back to a traditional trout meunière or amandine anywhere after this experience.

Chef Chris DeBarr’s Serendipity in the American Can Company is a stellar new addition to the Mid-City dining scene. Bar Tonique’s Ed Diaz created the cocktail program at the sleek new restaurant, with its humongous black bar and lounge area that features lots of classic favorites such as champagne cocktails and fruity cobblers, and there are plans for late-night dining. DeBarr’s cuisine doesn’t stray far from the exotic eccentricities of his Green Goddess days, with a tasting menu of favorites such as beet gnocchi. Shrimp Wearing a Grass Skirt looks exactly like the name thanks to a healthy dose of ketaifi pastry and melds the flavor of shrimp with a coconut slaw and caramelized pineapple. The lamb baklava is another wild adventure, with ground lamb highlighted by curry, curried walnuts and saffron honey served with crab-boiled pickled mirlitons that radiates a spicy, almost chocolate-like warmth between flaky sheets of filo dough. The restaurant is home to a large and beautiful wine bottle chandelier and selection, and DeBarr constantly circles around the dining room to share stories and talk current events.

Borgne | 601 Loyola Ave. | 683-3160 |

Satsuma Maple | 7901 Maple St. | 309-5557 |

Serendipity | 3700 Orleans Ave. | 407-0818 |

St. Lawrence | 219 N. Peters St. | 525-4111 |

Try This

Satsuma Maple has all the juice and delicious lunchtime staples as its Bywater flagship, but in a sunny, colorful new home on Maple Street.