Chef Gabriel Balderas and his wife and partner, Brooke, are detail-oriented people. This fact is in evidence everywhere you look inside of their soon-to-open second restaurant, Zuzul Coastal Cuisine. The Balderases, who also operate El Cabo Verde in south Shreveport, have gone to great lengths to transform a shopping center storefront that once housed a doomed location of Halal Guys into an intimate, charming space that brings to mind coastal Mexico.
Hand-painted Talavera tile covers the bar and the dining counter. Cobalt blue fish scale tile, which looks as though it must have been a nightmare to install, catches the eye near a five-seat bar. The tables were custom-built by a family member using 100-year-old, reclaimed wood. The tables and chairs have a modern look that contrasts nicely with the ancient feel of the tile.
“We wanted to do something that Shreveport didn’t have already,” Brooke Balderas told me during a recent walk-through of the space. Brooke designed the restaurant interior. “We wanted it to feel light and airy; to me, El Cabo Verde represents the land and Zuzul represents the sea, the air, the water.”
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As for the menu at Zuzul Coastal Cuisine, it will focus on responsibly-sourced, seasonal seafood. The Balderases, who are active members of Slow Food North Louisiana, are advocates for better seafood. Zuzul’s main focus will be seasonal seafood – the idea of sourcing and serving different types of seafood when they’re at their peak. Think fat crabs or prime oysters.
“As consumers, we’ve been trained to want salmon or sea bass 365 days a year, but it doesn’t work like that,” Gabriel said. “There’s a season to it, there’s a time when they’re big, when they’re prime and taste the best.”
There’ll be a seasonal bar program designed to complement the menu. One of the most interesting aspects of the restaurant is its truly open kitchen; there’s seating for about 15 folks at the bar, which will present an uncluttered view of the kitchen team at work.
Zuzul Coastal Cuisine’s opening date is a moving target – as they always are – but the restaurant is currently hiring staff and undergoing inspections, with all signs pointing towards a November opening.
20×49.com is a publication of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.