Restaurants come and go. But sometimes, restaurant closures bring good things. Bright ideas, new concepts and ultimately great food can emerge in the vacant spaces that old eateries leave behind.
Take Prairieville’s new smokehouse, Tchew’s, for example.
Fashioned out of an empty Sonic location, Tchew’s opened recently and is already making a splash in the booming culinary landscape of the Baton Rouge suburb. Using the unique layout of the fast-food tenant that came before it, this barbecue restaurant presents an interesting dining experience full of family-like camaraderie, flavorful combinations and more meat that you could ever dream of.
Tchew’s opened in mid-April and is the brainchild of Kyle Rome, Brittany Rome and Dustin Kelley. Kyle Rome, who formerly ran the food truck Red, White & Que, says this new restaurant is similar to that mobile eatery, doling out mega barbecue dishes but with the kind of inventive twists food trucks are known for. The team has focused on a few classics and mixed them up, incorporating unique ingredients and interesting additions to the plates to make the dishes all their own.
The result? Seriously good food. Take The Rachel. Loads of pulled pork and a heaping pile of mac and cheese are drenched in barbecue sauce and stuffed between two pieces of Texas toast. I don’t know if calling it a sandwich does this meal justice—the sheer size alone makes it less of a portable meal between bread and more of a mound of savory goodness. The traditional smoky flavor of the meat is certainly present, while the creamy mac and cheese and tangy barbecue sauce create a fresh experience.
The thoughtful use of ingredients doesn’t stop with Tchew’s entrees. Even its sides present interesting updates to the classics. I tried out the Tchew’s sampler plate, loaded with five different meats and five sides. From a potato salad made with Creole mustard to coleslaw marinated in cane vinegar, it seems every aspect of Tchew’s menu was meticulously thought out.
That creativity is met with pure barbecuing talent and quality cuts of meat. Tender brisket, juicy sausage and smoky pulled pork bolster the menu, among other delectable meat offerings.
But what really sets Tchew’s over the edge can somewhat be attributed to the space. The former Sonic’s unique layout has created a familial vibe at Tchew’s. Customers walk inside the small kitchen area to order their meals, chatting with the friendly staff. They then settle in among the plethora of picnic tables outside and eat to the soundtrack of light blues music and families conversing. Eating at Tchew’s truly feels like a family reunion, minus your aunts talking about the news or your grandmother asking when you’re going to settle down and find someone.
All in all, this addition to Prairieville is welcomed. With innovative food and a warm atmosphere, Tchew’s just might stick around for a while.
Tchew’s is at 17334 Airline Highway and open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.