Some chefs credit their Michelin-starred mentors for shaping their culinary vision and style. David Guas gives biggest props to his 69-year-old aunt Boo, a cooking-school teacher who hails from Abbeville, Louisiana. Her Cajun-country influence is the reason he keeps his zesty jambalaya extra-moist—unorthodox trick: a little tomato purée—and his crawfish étouffée stays on the mild side (dress it up with hot sauce if you like). Not everything nods toward Louisiana: A BLT with roasted tomatoes is simply a really terrific BLT, and a kale Caesar has nudged its way onto the menu. Guas spent most of his career as a pastry chef, so the sweets cases at these homespun cafes—holding fabulous cookies (try the salt-topped chocolate Doppios or the Oreo-like Dat-os) and pralines—are as much of a draw as the savory stuff.
Also good: Muffuletta; gumbo; shrimp roll; biscuits with cream cheese and pepper jelly.