As the sun comes out, the weather warms up and the birds announce the coming of springtime once again, restaurants in the Shreveport-Bossier area are preparing their patios and porches to give patrons the premiere outside dining experience.
They’re scheduling live music performances, turning the channels on their TVs to springtime sports, readying their staffs for the busyness of crawfish season and even preparing to debut entirely new dishes on their menus. Spring is a time to sit outside, enjoy the cool breeze, share a meal with friends and family, and local restaurants are gearing up to make that experience the best it can possibly be.
Red River Brewing Company, River City Grille, SALT and Cork & Barrel are four local restaurants working tirelessly to ready their porches and patios, their staffs and their menus for the anticipated high demand for outside dining experiences this spring.
RED RIVER BREWING COMPANY
If you’re looking for a dining experience with great beer, impeccable food and an unhindered view of the downtown Shreveport skyline, look no further than Red River Brewing Company.
In 2013, Red River Brewing Company opened their pilot operation on Marshall Street and began growing their customer base for draft beers in the community. It took only three years for the brewery to see their dream of having a tap room and outside deck for their patrons realized. In April of 2016, the brewery moved down Marshall Street and officially began operating out of a location their customer base could visit when they wanted to have a couple beers, some appetizers and a good time without breaking the bank.
“The move to the new location has allowed us to try new beers, educate our customers, and provide them with a quality experience,” said Jared Beville, CEO and part-owner.
Upon moving into the new location, the brewery had a constant stream of food trucks cycling in and out to provide food for customers while they provided the beer. In September of 2017, however, popular Shreveport chef, Anthony Felan, parked his food truck, Fat Calf Boucherie, permanently at Red River Brewing Company.
Felan makes his gastro-pub, farm-to- table style food from his truck onsite, where one can order anything from the signature Boucherie Burger which has Smith Family Farms grilled beef, smoked tomato aioli, bacon onion marmalade, arugula, and is topped with a fried egg—to Beef Tartare with, once again, locally-sourced beef, root vegetable remoulade and dijon served with rustic toast.
“Our goal has been to provide the community with a warm and inviting environment through our facility and through our service,” said Beville. “Our deck provides customers with an experience totally unique to Shreveport, and we make great beer. We pride ourselves on that.”
The brewery’s signature lager “Heliopolis Helles” is a popular choice and award-winning beer. The German-style lager won a bronze medal in the 2017 U.S. Open Beer Championship. This spring, the brewery will be debuting a new beer option—a Northeastern-style IPA called “Controlled Vice.”
The picnic tables on the deck reinforce the community feel of the warm, laid-back, urban environment. In the spring, the brewery hosts outside events such as crawfish boils for customers, as well as private parties on the porch.
“We’re at the perfect location for people to come hang out on the deck and have a high quality experience at a great price point. That’s the niche we’re aiming to fill in this city,” Beville said.
RIVER CITY GRILLE
One of the the most notoriously inviting and engaging outside dining experiences in the Shreveport-Bossier area can be found at River City Grille on Benton Road in Bossier.
For the last three and a half years, River City Grille has established itself as a premiere, local outside dining location. They pride themselves on their front patio that can be covered and heated in the winter, and opened up in the spring and summer to let the breeze drift through as patrons enjoy their meals.
The restaurant serves American bar-and-grill style food and often features seafood. Crawfish season is the most popular time of year at River City Grille, as customers come to sit out on the patio and get their hands dirty with some crawfish.
“We’re a local, family-style restaurant in every way,” said Brad McLeod, General Manager of the restaurant. “We have customers and staff that have been here since the very beginning. People are always met with a friendly face here, whether it be from our staff up front or the kitchen staff in the back.”
As far as the menu is concerned, crawfish season, which generally starts mid-to-late January and can last as late as mid- July, is an exciting time for the restaurant to debut new dishes.
“We like to try new things, so our menu is always evolving. Each time we’re thinking of trying something new we have the staff try it, our regular customers, and even random customers who may have an opinion.” McLeod said.
In addition to the new options that may make their appearances with the the start of crawfish season, springtime starts the weekly “Thursday Night Live” nights on the patio where crawfish platters are discounted and live music is played while customers enjoy an evening out.
“With the action of Benton Road right off the patio, the atmosphere of nights enjoying a meal out there is always fun,” said McLeod. “We have a passion for good food, good service and a great experience for our customers.”
Sharing the historic Barnwell Center with the new Shreveport Aquarium is SALT, a new restaurant that boasts a patio courtyard with the only riverfront outside dining experience on the Shreveport side of the Red River.
When dining on the patio at SALT, customers find themselves in a lushly landscaped space with cafe string lighting and lit up trees overlooking the river. The entire south wall of the restaurant is a sliding glass door which is opened on spring nights with nice weather to give patrons dining inside the restaurant the feeling that they are actually dining outdoors.
“The ambiance and the atmosphere really draws people in,” said Jake Wood, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Shreveport Aquarium. “Putting a restaurant in with the aquarium completes people’s experience at the aquarium as well as gives us the opportunity to start a conversation about sustainably sourced food that goes hand-in-hand with the conservation efforts of the aquarium.”
Serving a New-American style of food, the Louisiana Seafood Mac and Cheese skillet as well as the sliders and flatbreads are all popular items on the eclectic SALT menu.
“We’re just starting out here, and so our menu is making constant changes. Our goal is to cater our menu to what we see our customers wanting in a unique, Shreveport dining experience.” Wood said.
In the spring, the restaurant has plans to implement live music on the patio as well as TVs for customers to come, eat and keep up with all of the springtime sports.
As the restaurant grows and hears feedback from the community, they’re making constant tweaks and improvements to the overall dining experience.
“We keep our ear to the ground to find out specifically what kind of experience the people in this community want to have and what will leave our customers wanting to come back for more,” said Wood.
CORK & BARREL
Cork & Barrel, a pub and grill on North Airline Drive, is yet another option in the Shreveport-Bossier area with phenomenal outdoor dining.
Rustic, barrel-top tables and decor on the patio, complete with flat screen TVs and music, create the casual atmosphere that keep customers coming back.
Peter and Debbie Stapa, who moved to Bossier City from South Africa in 1994, opened Cork & Barrel four years ago and have been thrilled to see the growth coming to North Bossier.
“We love the community and seeing the ways it’s growing and changing,” said Peter Stapa. “We’re proud to have created a unique atmosphere here at the restaurant with great food and great service.”
The restaurant’s most popular spring item on the menu is the Barrel Burger. The burger consists of the customer’s choice of cheese, a fried egg, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, jalepeños and a jalapeño mango sauce. Accompanying their diverse menu with burgers, po-boys, and fresh fish dishes, the restaurant also has a wide variety of wine and keeps over 35 beers, both imported and local craft beers, on draft.
In addition to the laid back atmosphere on the Cork & Barrel patio, the patio is animal-friendly.
“People bring their dogs out to sit on the patio with them all the time. Because the patio overlooks a pasture with some trees in the distance, we’ll have customers who come out, order their food, walk their dogs around the pasture and then come sit back down and eat when the food is ready,” said Peter.
As spring approaches and crawfish season begins, the restaurant is preparing to have live music on the patio on Friday nights.
“In the spring we have local acoustic bands come out on the patio for entertainment,” said Debbie. “It really contributes to the overall, unique dining experience.”
“The restaurant business is always unpredictable,” added Peter, “But things are going fantastically. We love it out here!”
While each of these restaurants share a passion for outside dining, they also share a love of the area and a pride of being local.
“Shreveport has a such a rich history, and we’re excited to be a part of that with Red River Brewing,” Beville said.
SALT, while a new restaurant in the area, is working to keep alive the vision of the historic Barnwell Garden & Art Center in which it resides.
“The original goal of the Barnwell Center was to gather the community together. By opening SALT within the building and creating a place for people to gather and share a meal, we’ve found a way to honor the original vision of the center and the heritage of the building,” Wood said.
Shreveport-Bossier is full of local options with a passion for the area, for the people and for creating outside dining experiences enjoyable for the entire community.