I’m not going to try and b.s. you, folks: I wouldn’t know authentic Peruvian food if it bit me on the face. But I do know when something tastes delicious, and if the cooking at newly opened El Mono (2400 East 70th Street, Shreveport) is representative of the culinary traditions of Peru, then the Peruvians have it very, very good as far as food goes. Like their Facebook page here.
There has been a great deal of change in Shreveport-Bossier’s restaurant scene in 2017. But the out-of-nowhere opening of El Mono in the former location of Gerald Savoie’s long-running Cajun eatery may be the most unexpected shift so far: A space that once brought South Louisiana to Shreveport now brings us South America. And the food here isn’t just interesting or exotic, it’s also outstanding.
The menu is huge – presenting around 80 or 90 options, I’d guess – and diverse. There are a number of vegetarian options, but there are also anticuchos (Incan grilled meat skewers featuring, among other things, beef heart). There are lots of the kind of starch-and-meat platters that you may recognize from the cooking of the Dominican Republic (arroz con pollo, fried plantains, steaks served with plantains and Chimichurri sauce) as well as Peruvian seafood options that boggled my mind (Chaufa de mariscos is described as “Chinese-inspired, Peruvian-style seafood fried rice”). For adventurous eaters, this place is an incredible gift to the community.
Whether you’re adventurous or not, I would highly recommend what is billed as one of Peru’s most popular dishes: lomo saltado ($10.95 at lunch, $13.95 at dinner). It’s basically a South American steak frites platter. Stir-fried strips of steak are served with home fries, onions and tomatoes in an outstanding sauce that tastes like garlic and cilantro and soy sauce. Make frequent use of the house-made aji verde sauce, a creamy cilantro sauce that goes really well with the home fries.
Even the non-alcoholic beverages here are really interesting. I enjoyed a miti miti ($4.50), a mixture of a homemade Incan purple corn drink called chicha and a made-from-scratch passion fruit juice called maracuya. There’s also Inca Kola, a popular canned soda brand from South America.
Visit the official website for El Mono here or check out the menu here.
If you enjoy this kind of local food coverage, download Eat Here: A Food Lover’s Guide to Shreveport-Bossier.