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Unknown Food Critic: 4 restaurants around the lake

Brisbi's Lakefront Restaurant & Bar 7400 Lakeshore Dr., New Orleans, 504-304-4125

NEW ORLEANS -- With the Fourth of July holiday weekend upon us, many will be hitting the road. But even if you don’t have beach plans down the coast, you can still catch a cool breeze, a waterfront view and a relaxing meal at these four spots around the lake.

Brisbi's Lakefront Restaurant & Bar

7400 Lakeshore Dr., New Orleans, 504-304-4125

The revival for New Orleans lakefront dining is entering its second season thanks to a pair of restaurants that opened directly on the water here last summer. The Blue Crab is one, with its old-fashioned New Orleans seafood house menu and fishing camp atmosphere. Meanwhile, Brisbi’s is the more contemporary of the two, with an updated menu and a more modern look. It also has the larger deck, which functions like an elevated, covered patio with tremendous views of the lake. A second bar below the restaurant is literally steps from the docks.

Friends Coastal Restaurant

407 St. Tammany St., Madisonville, 985-246-3370

The name is the same, but that’s about it for this new Friends. A huge, multi-story restaurant emerged last year on the riverfront spot that was long home to the old restaurant. Upstairs there’s a huge dining room and bar with decks overlooking the water, while at dock level there’s an open air bar, room for bands and even a small playground for kids. The menu mixes bar and grill basics with Louisiana flavors.

Middendorf’s Restaurant

30160 Hwy 51, Manchac, 985-386-6666

For those who have been to Middendorf's, the name is synonymous with its uniquely-thin, fried catfish. Its location between two lakes may sound remote, but it is centrally situated for road trips to the Northshore or up toward Baton Rouge. The addition of the waterfront dining deck was a stroke of genius that brings a whole new appeal to this old favorite, while the flavors and laid back mood that has people lining up outside its door on busy weekends is the same as it ever was.

Crab Trap Seafood Restaurant

105 Gary Rd., LaPlace, 985-224-2000

Crab Trap is another familiar name that’s back in a new incarnation. The original Crab Trap was wiped out by Hurricane Isaac in 2012, but now it’s back in a new location just across the street in the little lakefront community of Frenier, right outside LaPlace. The setting is as rustic as a fishing camp, and the boiled seafood is as expertly done as ever. Now, there’s also a larger menu of fried seafood, broiled flounder, shrimp stew and other classics.