Dear Mr. Gold:

Where do you go for Cajun, creole or New Orleans-inspired food in the Los Angeles area? I've been to the Creole Chef, Harold & Belle's, Uncle Darrow's, the Gumbo Pot in the Farmers Market, and Ragin' Cajun Cafe (terrible) and New Orleans Cafe in Hermosa Beach.

What about La Louisanne?

—Kevin, Los Angeles

Dear Kevin:

Just in time for Mardi Gras. It wasn't long ago that the Creole community in South Los Angeles was probably larger than any outside of Louisiana, with splendid restaurants to match. But it has been dwindling over the past decade or so, and a lot of my favorite old-line places, like Sid's Jase Cafe, Stevie's on the Strip and 5 C's, are gone — not to mention the short-lived Cajun-food fad that briefly brought us really good restaurants like Patout's and Orleans. I think a lot of the food at Stevie's Creole Cafe, relocated from its redoubt on Crenshaw and now an expensive supper club in Encino, is good, especially the gumbo, the smoky fried chicken and the grits casserole with andouille sausage. Harold & Belle's remains the swankest creole restaurant in town, a perfect place to drink a Sazerac with your fried crab cakes or crawfish etouffee. I love the spicy Cajun seafood at Boiling Point in Alhambra — a Louisiana Cajun joint owned by Houston-raised Vietnamese, with killer crawfish and crab. And La Louisanne, an old-fashioned creole spot near the old Wich Stand, has strong cocktails, decent jazz and good jambalaya, a perfect place for an important date. 5812 Overhill Dr., L.A., (323) 293-5073.

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