When you walk into the new Bossier City restaurant The People’s Market (2369 Airline Dr #500, Bossier City) for the first time, you may need some help getting your bearings. A quick look at the chalkboard menu shows that, first and foremost, The People’s Market is a health food restaurant. They’ve got special menus for folks who are on the keto diet and the Paleo diet. There are quinoa bowls, root vegetable salads, fitness shakes and grab-and-go meals for customers breezing through following a workout (appropriately, The People’s Market is located between a gym and a martial arts academy – take a wrong turn on your way to the restroom and you could end up in a jiu-jitsu class).
But let your eyes wander to the bottom-left corner of the chalkboard menu, to the section called #CHEATDAY, and you’ll see it there: the $20 burger. A $20 burger? No, not a $20 burger – the $20 burger. I’m not aware of any other burger in Shreveport-Bossier that so much as drifts close to this ostentatious price point. Could a hamburger possibly be good enough to be worth $20?
For me, to my surprise, the answer turned out to be an emphatic “yes.” This is a profoundly good burger built out of some of the best ingredients in the world by a chef who has clearly sat awake at night obsessing over what kind of cheese to put on the thing (it’s Swiss raclette). The beef patty is American Wagyu (some folks call this Kobe beef, but as has been heavily documented, there is very little Kobe beef in America), the bun is toasted Gambino’s bread. Other toppings include bacon, red peppers, caramelized onions, avocado slices, and a perfect over-easy egg. Even with all of these toppings, the biggest flavor on the burger is the beef. It’s some of the best-tasting beef that I’ve eaten in Shreveport-Bossier…and it’s on a hamburger.
What the heck is going on? Why is this burger here, beside the quinoa bowls?
“I’m an idealist, not an idiot,” says Doug Mercado, the affable owner of The People’s Market. “There’s really nothing wrong with a burger every now and then. If you’re gonna have a burger, having it with us is going to be cleaner, healthier.”
Here’s the thing about it: This burger could easily be a fraud or a gimmick without the involvement of a chef who knows what he or she is talking about. That’s where 26-year-old Chef Seth Stefanik comes in. Previously a cook at several high-end resorts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he is the kind of guy who likes to talk about the genetics of the world’s tastiest cattle. He’s in the kitchen at The People’s Market making such unexpected items as really, really good borscht soup (he recommends it as a side to a grilled cheese made with that exceptional raclette cheese) and experimenting with making his own bread from a 30-year-old French sourdough starter. If he decides to stay in Shreveport-Bossier, I expect that local food lovers will be hearing a lot more about this young chef.
Finally, I’ll just say this: I’m not crazy. A $20 burger isn’t something that I could afford to eat on a regular basis. But sometimes, you’ve got to treat yourself. And, to burger lovers in Shreveport and Bossier City, I can say with no hesitation: If you want a transcendentally good hamburger, head to the new health food place. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯