6 Places to Find Gluten-Free Options in Monroe-West Monroe

by Jerrica B.

We all know that Ouachita Parish is home to some of the most delicious food. Our local restaurants boast a wide variety of flavors and cuisines. However, there are some whose options are limited. For those of you who have Celiac’s disease, gluten intolerance, or who just prefer a gluten free diet, there are several restaurants in our area who are happy to cater to your needs. Check out these great places:

chicken pot pie
Gluten free Chicken Pot Pie at For His Temple Foods
  1. For His Temple Family Foods (315 Wood St., West Monroe)

The beauty of this restaurant is that you can walk right in, order anything off the menu, and it is guaranteed to be gluten free. This place boasts a 100% gluten free menu. From their delicious chicken pot pie—made with gluten free pie crust—to their pecan chocolate chip cookies, all of their food is organic. Their goal is to serve only healthy, delicious meal alternatives to your everyday menu. This place is pick-up only, so it’s great for a quick stop!

Wagyu Burger
Wagyu Burger at Vieux Carre Gourmet Market
  1. Vieux Carre Gourmet Market (1623 N 18th, Monroe)

Satisfy your burger cravings here! This restaurant offers a gluten-free burger that is to die for! The Wagyu Burger is 6 oz. house ground with onion, pickles, American cheese, lettuce, and tomato all wrapped in steamed collards in place of a bun.

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Cilantro Organic Bistro
  1. Cilantro Organic Bistro (1211 N 18th, Monroe)

This restaurant offers many gluten-free options on their menu. Most of their menu changes daily, but the delicious roasted turkey sandwich can be served on gluten free bread, and it is almost always available! Also, be on the lookout for their delicious gluten free peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies. Check their website for weekly menu updates.

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Roma Italian Bistro
  1. Roma Italian Bistro (400 Trenton St., West Monroe)

People visit this restaurant for their amazing pasta dishes and Italian cuisine, but also for their casual, chic atmosphere. For their gluten free options, any pasta dish can be prepared with gluten free pasta.

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Paw Paw’s Pizza
  1. Paw Paw’s Pizza Factory Buffet  (3426 Cypress St., West Monroe)

This relatively new restaurant in West Monroe has been making big impressions on pizza lovers throughout the area. They have a gluten free pizza crust that can be used with any of their delicious toppings. It is not available on the buffet, but it is made to order. Call ahead and check availability, though, because they sell through them quickly!

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Daily Harvest
  1. Daily Harvest (1105 Forsythe Ave., Monroe)

This restaurant always has healthy foods ready to eat. Call one day ahead to order gluten free muffins, brownies, or cookies! This gives the kitchen the ability to avoid cross-contamination and it gives you the ability to enjoy a delicious, gluten free dessert!

 

BONUS:

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Gluten free cakes by Butter Bakery

For all of your celebrating and party needs, Butter Bakery, a home-based bakery, bakes and decorates gluten free cakes! They can do single or multi-tier for office parties, weddings, or birthdays. Try their cupcakes and cookies as well. Check out their Facebook page for a look at all of their amazing creations.

All of these local places offer great alternatives for gluten-free eaters, and they don’t skimp on the flavor! Give them a try next time you are looking for a delicious, healthy meal.

 

‘Rita’s on the River

by Janna J.

The Downtown River Market hosted Monroe-West Monroe’s first margarita festival, ‘Rita’s on the River, on April 2. I may be partial due to my love for margaritas, but this event was a huge success. With 12 local restaurants competing for title of best margarita, live music,  food trucks, shopping, and even a kid’s craft table ‘Rita’s on the River had all the ingredients for a perfect Louisiana Saturday afternoon.

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Avocado’s Food Truck

After making it through the first 3 of the 15 margarita samples that came with my ticket my stomach stared craving something to eat. Lucky for me there were food trucks on site. Avocado’s food truck was a crowd favorite with their tacos that complimented the margaritas perfectly. After I had a few tacos to reboots my energy I was ready to shop till I dropped at the vendor booths. The vendor booths had everything from jellies and jams, handmade jewelry, clothing, specialty wood work, to fresh grown tomatoes. It was a shopping lover’s paradise. Caster and Chicory, a local pop up beignet shop was also in attendance at ‘Rita’s on the River. Their yummy fresh beignets were hands down my favorite purchase of the day.

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Caster & Chicory Pop-up Stand

Rita’s on the River wasn’t just designed for adults with its tasty margarita’s. Thanks to a kids craft table and live music from Roses and Revolvers, Josh Ezell and Early Ray, and Mario’s Mariachi Band this was an event the entire family could enjoy.

The competition for the title of best margarita was fierce as restaurants such as Avocado’s, Don Thomas Cantina, Iron Cactus, River & Rail, Warehouse No. 1, Brass Monkey, The Restaurant Sage, Trapp’s, Fieldhouse, Neat, Pickle Barrel, and Taco Bandido all had their best selling margarita’s prepared for the judges. Ultimately Avocado’s took home the coveted best margarita award, with Warehouse No. 1 receiving the people’s choice award.

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Judge’s Table

If you loved ‘Rita’s on the River just as much as I did, be sure to check out the upcoming events brought to you by our friends at the Downtown River Market:

April 28-30: Spring Fling

May 7: Geeks Along the River

May 21: LA Food & Music Festival

June 4: BrewFest

And keep up with all the fun events planned in Monroe-West Monroe by checking our our Calendar of Events!

5 Quick Bites in Monroe-West Monroe

by Jerrica B.

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” – Orson Welles

One hour. That’s what most working citizens get for their lunch breaks. Sometimes we use this time to relax before we finish our work day, or we use it to run errands. Either way, we usually don’t have time for a sit down meal.

So what can we do?

I’m here to tell you that there is hope. Many of our local restaurants in Monroe-West Monroe provide delicious lunches that are served quickly and have plenty of variety. Here are just a few of our great local options:

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Cajun Turkey Poboy at Daily Press
  1. Daily Press (Monroe- 2899 Sterlington Rd., 318-329-9595; 2300 Louisville Ave., 318-855-4588; 1115 Garrett Rd., 318-605-2378)

With 3 locations right in Monroe’s busiest hubs, this restaurant is not only quick, but easy to get to. They offer salads, sandwiches, and baked potatoes. They also serve coffee and various desserts, including froyo. Try their chicken salad sandwich on a warm, flaky croissant or their delicious Cajun Turkey Poboy. Their locations are also gas stations, so you can grab bottled drinks, candy, and chips while you’re there. BONUS: Bring your receipt inside after you fill up on gas, and you get $1 off a combo meal. How’s that for a one-stop shop? West Monroe residents, be on the lookout for one in your town later this year!

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Chicken, ribs, and sausage plate with BBQ beans and potato salad at BBQ West
  1. BBQ West (West Monroe- 4900 Cypress St., 318-396-7455)

They prepare your meal right in front of you as you order. Grab a to-go plate or dine in with the Best of the Delta’s Best BBQ restaurant of 2015. Try their delicious chopped beef sandwich, or their ¼ chicken plate. Ask for fries to go with it! Note: You might have to take extra precautions to ensure that BBQ sauce doesn’t get on your clothes, but the quality of the food definitely makes it worth your while.

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Sweet & Sour Chicken & Cabbage Dinner at Cilantro
  1. Cilantro Organic Bistro (Monroe- 1211 N 18th St., 318-387-8446)

Located right inside Fiesta Nutrition Center on N 18th in Monroe, this restaurant is your go-to for quick, healthy meals. Their menu changes up every day, but they always serve vegetarian choices, gluten-free options, and a variety of other creative, healthy meals. You can pick-up or eat-in, if you’d like. If you have extra time, browse their store’s supplements, organic grocery, or natural beauty products. Follow Fiesta Nutrition Center on Instagram for daily menu updates!

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Eastern Chinese Restaurant
  1. Eastern Chinese (West Monroe- 3426 Cypress St., 318-396-8181)

Locals rave about this restaurant’s quick service and delicious food. Call in your order ahead of time for even quicker service. Check out their lunch specials for a delicious meal that won’t hurt your wallet! This place may be small, but they have big flavor. Don’t miss out on this great Chinese cuisine! Check out their menu on their website.

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  1. Big Momma’s Fine Foods (Monroe- 1118 S 2nd St., 318-388-5678)

This restaurant has your home-style cookin’ cravings covered. Fried chicken, beef tips, black eyed peas, and mashed potatoes are all on the menu. This place is one where you can just go through the line, order, and go. You can grab it to-go or eat in. Try their hot water cornbread paired with one of their delicious entrees for a soul-food experience like no other!

So next time you need to grab a quick bite, give these great restaurants a try. These are just a few of the many, great options that we have here in Monroe-West Monroe.

What are some of your favorite quick, local places? Comment and let us know!

Crawfish in the Twin Cities

by Jerrica B.

Money can’t buy happiness… but it can buy crawfish and that’s pretty much the same thing!

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Crawfish by Cecil Manning

Looking to get your mudbugs fix this season? You don’t have to go very far. Monroe and West Monroe have some of the best local selections when it comes to our favorite Cajun-style seafood. With so many competitors, these restaurants occasionally spice up the competition with special meal deals, low prices, or live entertainment. Here is our list of places you should check out:

Dine-in:
1. Fieldhouse Bar & Grill 
Check out their Wednesday Special- 3 lbs. of crawfish and a choice of 15 wings OR a 100 oz. beer tower for $25.

2. Riverside Coney Island
3. Trapp’s
4. Catfish Charlie’s
5. Cormier’s
6. Crawfish City
7. Cheniere Shack
8. Miletello’s Sport’s City Grill
9. For the Love of N’Awlins
10. The Madhouse Sports Grill
11. The Fish House
12. Magic Grill West Monroe

Carry-out:
1. Captain Avery’s Seafood
2. Randall’s Fine Meats

When it comes to crawfish, Monroe-West Monroe restaurants don’t play. Whether you are want to dine-in or carry-out, live crawfish or boiled, the options are endless, so go out and try them all!

Skye Hensley Crawfish
We’re waiting…. by Skye Hensley

The Green Beans Are Amazing

By Georgie H., Haleigh H., and Sheila S.

bbq food, louisiana bbq, monroe louisiana
BBQ Pit in Sterlington, LA

Georgie, Haleigh, and I made the short trip up Hwy. 165 North to Sterlington for lunch at the BBQ Pit. We chose a cozy booth near the back of the restaurant and settled in for lunch on a chilly February day.

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Inside the BBQ Pit

Owner Matthew Springfield took over the BBQ Pit in 2012. He came from banking, but was no stranger to the restaurant business. He formerly worked at The Fish House, a restaurant located across the parking lot from his own. He and his staff focus on delivering good food and great service on a consistent basis. And on our visit, they certainly succeeded.

It had been a while since Georgie had been here, and Haleigh and I were first-timers. So when Bridget, our server, came to take our order, we asked for a few suggestions. The first thing she said was “Our green beans are amazing.” Now, I don’t know about you, but when someone describes green beans as amazing, I get curious. We all did. She offered samples, and, of course, we accepted. And she’s right. Their green beans are amazing.

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Amazing Green Beans

We ordered the Loaded Pit BBQ Chips topped with Pit-Loaded meat. Pit-loaded is a mix of all the meats served at the BBQ Pit like chicken, sausage, beef, and pulled pork. The chips are homemade potato chips, deep fried, and served with your choice of Ranch or BBQ Ranch. (Choose the BBQ Ranch. You’ll thank us!)

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Pit-Loaded Chips

Georgie ordered the Pit-Loaded Sandwich. That’s the same delicious mix of meats that we had on our chips. It comes on Texas Toast with oneside.

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Pit-Loaded Sandwich with (again) Amazing Green Beans

The green beans were so amazing that Georgie ordered those along with a side of onion rings to share. We were thankful that she did.

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Giant onion rings

Haleigh tried the Pulled Chicken sandwich on Texas Toast with a side of fries. The chicken had a great smoky flavor.

pulled chicken, chicken sandwich, bbq, louisiana bbq, bbq pit, monroe louisiana
Pulled Chicken Sandwich

I ordered the Pit Plate with beef brisket and sausage. It came with two sides, so I chose fries and BBQ Beans. The beef was tender and had great flavor. The sausage was tasty and cooked perfectly. The beans are seasoned nicely with just the right texture and BBQ flavor.

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Pit plate with beef brisket, sausage, BBQ beans, and fries

The dessert options are enticing. We tried the bread pudding. They also have Banana Pudding and pies like Key Lime, Lemon Meringue, Pecan, Turtle and more.

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Bread pudding with Praline Sauce

Fans of Pork Rinds, can also pick up a bag to go…if they have any left.

pork rinds, bbq pit, monroe louisiana
BBQ Pit Pork Rinds

The BBQ Pit is located at 8825 Highway 165 North, Suite 4, in Sterlington, Louisiana. They are open Monday-Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm. They are closed on Sundays.

Catfish Charlie’s…Homemade, Big, & Fresh

By Harolyn F. & Scott B.

We love our local food, and today was no exception.

catfish charlie's, monroe Louisiana
Catfish Charlie’s

We dined at Catfish Charlie’s which is located in the Office Depot Shopping Center on Louisville Avenue in Monroe. Doug Wood opened the restaurant 7 years ago with the motto “homemade, big and fresh”. Growing up Doug’s grandfather owned Harry’s Seafood and relatives also owned Bend of the River Restaurant so the restaurant has been a family affair for the Woods.

Kim Romero who is the General Manager is a delight and if you are not sure what to eat she can give you so many suggestions you end up wanting a little of everything on the menu.

catfish charlie's, monroe louisiana
Catfish Charlie’s menu

Unique to their restaurant is the thin & crispy fried catfish and hand cut mozzarella cheese sticks battered and fried.

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Hand cut and battered Mozzarella Sticks

Did we mention the great homemade desserts such as Ooey Gooey Cake. Need we say more? Yum.

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Ooey Gooey Cake

Daily specials include gourmet burgers, all you can eat thin and crispy catfish, 14 oz hand-cut ribeye steak, Catfish D’Arbonne or fish tacos.

The Catfish D’Arbonne comes with one catfish fillet, fried or grilled, on a bed of rice and smothered with a delectable crawfish cream sauce.

catfish d'arbonne, catfish charlie's, monroe louisiana
Catfish D’Arbonne

The fish tacos are a fried taco shell filled with grilled catfish and a spicy coleslaw. They are served with fries and hushpuppies.

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Crispy Fish Tacos

If you are looking for healthier options but just as tasty as any other dishes try the grilled Ahi Tuna or Salmon and grilled vegetables.

Catfish Charlie’s is a restaurant that is spacious, family friendly, and very affordable with meals prepared fresh and served quickly.

The restaurant also has banquet space with accommodations for 100 in large room and 60 in smaller room. They are open for business Monday-Thursday 11am-8:30pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-9pm, and Sunday, 11am-3pm. They offer Dine In, Take Out, or Drive Thru service.

Cheniere Shack Restaurant

by Alana C. & Ruth C.

Cheniere Shack menu
Cheniere Shack menu

Ruth and I headed out for late, late lunch to a local favorite, The Cheniere Shack (pronounced Shin-e Shack).  We just missed the lunch time specials which seemed tempting on this very cold day.  They have 6 choices such as red beans and rice to a patty melt from 11AM – 2 PM for just $6.39.  What a deal!  They offer hot water cornbread with their red beans and rice.  That is truly a southern delicacy you can’t find everywhere.  We missed that time frame so we ventured into the full menu.  Our waitress Danielle, said boiled crawfish is their most popular item, then fried fish, boiled shrimp, and the po-boys –  that is any of those are a hit.

They have a selection of appetizers but we saw one we had not seen on any other menus around town – fried banana peppers.  Oh, were they good!  They give you ranch and another special dipping sauce that were both complimentary to the peppers.  If you’ve never had banana peppers, they are not spicy hot, they have a little bitty kick to them with a sweetness.  This is the only place I have ever had these.  I know I will be back for some more.

Basket of Fried Banana Peppers
Basket of Fried Banana Peppers

We enjoyed them and quick as we were popping them into our mouths, out came our main entrees.  Ruth chose to combine two favorites, by getting the crawfish poboy.  The crawfish are fried, and there was a mound of them.  Alone they were enough for 2 meals!  I told her to try the special sauce that comes with it and just eat some plain as she couldn’t close the poboy to eat like a sandwich.  She loved them with just a little dipping and still had more than enough left to carry home for another meal tonight.

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Crawfish Poboy

The French bread of the po-boys comes from Gambino’s bakery out of South Louisiana.  It is perfect for a po-boy or as the bread with your meal, which is what I had.  I enjoyed the shrimp sampler, to try the shrimp four different ways – fried, boiled, grilled, and blackened.  I gave Ruth one of each to try, too.  This may be why she carried home over half a po-boy!  Ruth’s favorite was the blackened with the kick of spices that it had to it.  My favorite was the grilled as they were flavorful and not overcooked.    My meal came with a salad and a choice of potato – baked, fried, or fried sweet potatoes.

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Shrimp Sampler

We were stuffed, but know that their desserts are famous, especially the pies.  It’s the meringue!  I don’t know if I ever have seen meringue piled so high.  We went through the list of options – lemon, lemon ice box, chocolate mousse, pecan, and coconut.  They also have a homemade coconut cake by Mrs. Terry that is about 5 layers high.  I’d say it’s almost 12 inches high!

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Desserts (Look at the size of that cake!)

If you like coconut (unfortunately, we don’t), it’s a must try.  I have testimony from my coconut nutty friends that it is unbelievable.  We chose lemon ice box, since it’s a true Southern dish.  It was fresh and tangy lemon throughout.  The crust was like a vanilla wafer cookie that we loved.  This type of pie does not require meringue, but the amount was just right for our over the top finish to lunch.

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Lemon Ice Box Pie

If you have kids, they have to get a whoopie pie.  It’s not a pie, but two homemade chocolate M & M cookies with icing in between.  You might want to send them home with grandparents after the sugar rush, but they will love it too.  I know mine do, as Mr. Robin and Mrs. Terry always make sure they get one somehow!

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Whoopie Pie Cookies

Cheniere Shack is the off the beaten path neighborhood restaurant, where most the folks eating there know each other by name.  You’ll enjoy a casual dining experience with large portions for a reasonable price.  During crawfish boiling season, you better arrive early, as they go through crawfish as quick as the season comes and goes.  You might even find you make a new friend with some of the locals before you leave!
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Alana and Ruth

Cheniere Shack is located in West Monroe at 7975 Cypress Street. They are open Monday-Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm and Friday-Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm. They are closed on Sunday.