A Fresh, Clean Start
It's a warm, bright November afternoon when I stroll into the nearly-finished El Cabo Verde Restaurant situated neatly in the Provenance neighborhood of Shreveport. The thick wooden tables are all daintily appointed with a single cactus or succulent, and the white walls and chairs gleam in the afternoon sunlight that streams through the inviting front windows. The culinary team is tweaking their final finishing touches and cleaning Nopales in preparation for their full-force opening next week. Every detail has been considered and pondered-- a testament to the dedication and style of the husband-and-wife team of Gabriel and Brooke Balderas.
For those uninitiated, Chef Gabriel Balderas is the source in North Louisiana for delicious, authentic, fresh, and responsibly-sourced Mexican cuisine. Don't expect to find plates of reheated refried beans and rice here or sombreros on the walls. Diners are implored to come with wide-open minds ready to experience the fine food the diverse Mexican country is known for. As evidenced by his elevated dishes, Balderas is no slouch in the kitchen by any stretch.
Named one of Louisiana Cookin' Magazine's 2016 Top Chefs to Watch, he has proven himself time and again in the culinary scene of the region and made quite a name for himself in the process. Until recently, Gabriel was being hired as a private and guest chef for some of the most cultured dining groups in the area. His roasted tomato and roasted tomatillo salsas gained such a reputation that he began jarring them and selling them to local retail markets.
But this sort of pitch-perfect dining experience does not just happen, and surely does not come easily. Indeed, every detail of the experience has been meticulously considered. The Balderases guide themselves by a few simple but very meaningful rules. They desire to use sustainably and responsibly farmed produce and meat, and they desire to be your guide to an authentic but modern take on traditional Mexican favorites. If they do not absolutely believe in something, they will not serve it.
In fact, this sense of care and authenticity has worked itself into the very fabric of the restaurant itself. The dining tables and bartop are handmade by Gabriel and his brother using local Louisiana oak. The lovely white banquette that lines the wall is no different, and the wall that divides diners from the open-air kitchen is adorned in hand-stamped and glazed tiles imported directly from Mexico. Authenticity without a hint of kitsch is the sense that permeates the entire space.
El Cabo Verde is located at 1023 Provenance Place Blvd, Suite 210 in Shreveport, Louisiana. The doors will officially open for business for all shifts beginning Monday, November 7. Hours will be Monday-Thursday 11am to 9pm, Friday 11am to 10pm, Saturday 10am to 10pm, and Sunday 10am to 9pm.
The menu is tidy yet diverse with options for vegetarians as well as families with children. A weekday lunch menu will run from 11-3 Monday through Friday. Diners will be treated to their own personal dish of chips and the two legendary salsas while they peruse the offerings that range from Roasted Vegetable Tacos to Enchiladas both made with homemade corn tortillas. In fact, the attention to detail and freshness is so great that the masa for tortillas is being ground on-site. A curated wine list will showcase wines from South America as well as a selection or two from Mexico, an emergent hot-spot for fine wine, and an array of Mezcal and Tequila should delight any spirit aficionado. Nightly rotating specials will also be offered, and Balderas has plans to change the menu seasonally to showcase ingredients at their peak.
The location will also offer a Mexican-style brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings beginning at 10, serving delightful versions of Benedicts alongside the more traditional Chilaquiles and Juevos Rancheros. Don't forget the drinks. Brunch will feature a Bloody Maria, house-made Green Chile Michelada, and a Mango Mimosa.
As with everything the Balderases do, there is no doubt that the dining experiences at El Cabo Verde will be spectacular, and above all crafted with care, authenticity, and the assurance that no corners have been cut. It is an all-around fantastic addition to the emerging quality Mexican cuisine of the area, and I expect this place to be very popular for years to come. Start planning your visit now!