Food & Travel

Local Eats, Lake Charles, LA: Garden Path Groceries – The Pop-Up Restaurant That You NEED to Know About!

Born and raised in The Chuck, Garden Path Groceries offers up some of the best fresh eats in town. You can catch them at the farmer's market on Tuesday's, their pop-up restaurant on Wednesday's, and most recently, on Waitr on Thursday's and Friday's!

Garden Path Groceries is no longer operating.


Garden Path Groceries is a local food business in Lake Charles, LA, that specializes in southern vegetarian and globally inspired fare. It was started five years ago by Heather Hamilton and her mother, but now, Hamilton and her boyfriend, Ryan Tharp, co-own the business. What began as a booth at the local farmers’ market has evolved into a pop-up restaurant that Lake Charles should be proud to have. Tharp and Hamilton are dedicated to serving up fresh and deliciously healthy foods. They handle all the cooking, shopping, menu planning, and marketing for their business, enlisting help from friends and family to cashier and wait tables during pop-up sessions. Since they are a pop-up restaurant, you can find their business at different locations throughout the week.

The Food:

Garden Path Groceries @ the Cash & Carry Farmers’ Market:

GPG - Farmers' Market

At the farmers’ market, they serve a variety of packaged items such as quiche, chicken salad, salsa, pimento cheese, and soup. On my most recent visit with them at the farmer’s market, I purchased Moroccan Eggplant Quinoa, Vegetarian Chick N’ Salad, and Creole Tomato Mac N’ Cheese.

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Moroccan Eggplant Quinoa
(quinoa, eggplant, dates, dried apricot, cilantro, mint parsley, lemon juice, evoo, honey, smoked paprika, cumin, cinnamon, seasonings)

The quinoa is always full of lots of flavor! The eggplant in it is cooked to a tender perfection, and it has a sweetness to it from honey that is amazing. I love using the quinoa along with my weekly meal prep. I’ll eat it along with some chicken breast, or add some to my homemade salads.

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Vegetarian Chick N’ Salad
(chickpeas (garbanzo bean), walnut, celery, green onion, parsley, red grape, mayonnaise, honey, tarragon seasoning)

I purchased the vegetarian chick n’salad as my wild card item. I’ve had the regular chicken salad before (which, O-M-G!), so I decided to try the vegetarian version which uses the same recipe, but replaces the chicken with chickpeas. Just like the regular chicken salad, it had a refreshing flavor. I always enjoy the plump red grapes that are in it. I also used the vegetarian chick n’salad along with my meal prep. I just used it like I would use the chicken salad – spread some on whole grain toast and top it with sliced avocado, or add a spoonful to a homemade salad.

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Creole Tomato Mac N’ Cheese
(macaroni, tomato, onion, cheddar, jack cheese, butter, half/half, flour, garlic, basil, crab boil, seasoning)

MY GOODNESS THE MAC-N-CHEESE. I’d yell “stop the madness” but this isn’t madness that should stop. I love this version of mac-n-cheese. It’s so, terribly good. It’s creamy, has a spicy kick, full of flavor, added texture from the tomato – just go get you some and thank me later. Trust me. Mac-n-cheese is my favorite, and I’m super critical of it. This is some good stuff. You are welcome.

Garden Path Groceries @ the Historic Calcasieu Marine National Bank, “Lunch in the Courtyard”:


On Wednesdays, I always look forward to enjoying a Garden Path Groceries Buddha Bowl. A Buddha bowl is basically a large salad full of greens, roasted or raw veggies, protein, and grains. There are always two Buddha bowls offered on the menu, and they change weekly.

A few weeks ago, I got an exclusive interview behind the scenes with Garden Path Groceries and watched how they put together their awesome Buddha bowls. Check it out here:

During that visit, I tried the Julius Buddha Bowl, BBQ Pulled Pork & Jalapeño Apple Slaw on a Bun, and the Turkey, Bacon & Cranberry Grilled Cheese.

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Julius Buddha Bowl
(Parmesan-garlic roasted Brussels sprouts, broccoli, chickpeas, potato & carrot on caesar dressed kale)

The Buddha bowl was filled with a variety of roasted veggies, one of which was Brussels sprouts. I was born to hate Brussels sprouts…but I can’t hate these Brussels sprouts. I tried them, expecting something terrible, and was shocked to actually love the roasted Parmesan flavor they had. The purple kale in this Buddha bowl was locally sourced from  Eagle Wood Farms out of Alexandria, LA. The chickpeas were deliciously roasted as well – I could probably eat them alone as a snack.

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Turkey, Bacon & Cranberry Grilled Cheese
(with provolone & spinach on whole grain)

This sandwich brought a sense of day-after-Thanksgiving nostalgia to the summertime. It literally tasted like Thanksgiving fixings in sandwich form (which is a thing we do in my family with the leftovers!). The bold, fresh cranberry sauce enhanced all the other ingredients of this sandwich. I could eat this again. And again, please. (*Not so subtle hint to feature it on the menu soon, Garden Path Groceries! Lol.)

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BBQ Pulled Pork & Jalapeño Apple Slaw on a Bun

The pulled pork sandwich was such a simple menu item full of a ton of flavor. The jalapeno apple slaw added a delicate balance to the juicy pork, which was cooked in a savory, twangy homemade BBQ sauce. I could also eat this again…*hint*…

The Owners:

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Owners Heather Hamilton & Ryan Tharp

“Our passion stems from many places, but I guess it could be summed up by our love for food and one another. [Ryan and I] are adventurous eaters and cooks. We love to try new things and take risks. We both like to express our creativity and cooking is our main medium these days. Owning GPG isn’t always easy, there are a lot of long days and some stressful ones, but I wouldn’t trade getting to work with my best friend, on our own terms, doing something we love and others seem to really enjoy for anything!” — Heather Hamilton

Check it Out!!

I love that Garden Path Groceries offers up a different menu at every session because I get to look forward to trying new fresh flavors. So even though you may not be able to try the dishes I’ve featured here for some time, don’t be afraid to give their food a try! I have yet to be disappointed. The prices are also great for the quality of food you are getting. A fresh, healthy big Buddha bowl typically costs $9.00.

Sample Menu from Lunch in the Courtyard

You can have Lunch in the Courtyard with Garden Path Groceries every Wednesday (11 AM – 2 PM) at the Historic Calcasieu Marine National Bank, or you can find them serving lunch every Thursday and Friday in the atrium of Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. You can also purchase garden fresh goods at their booth at the Cash and Carry Farmers’ Market every Tuesday (4 PM – 6 PM).

Follow Garden Path Groceries on social media to make sure you don’t miss the awesomeness that they are serving up! Menu items are always changing! (Facebook ; Instagram)

Support local, eat fresh…and get you a Buddha bowl next Wednesday because it’ll make you smile this big:

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See you in the courtyard.



Ps – I wasn’t paid for this review. If something isn’t good, I will tell you so.



Garden Path Groceries

(337) 309 – 0205

Historic Calcasieu Marine National Bank

844 Ryan St, Lake Charles, LA 70601

Cash & Carry Farmers’ Market

801 Enterprise Blvd, Lake Charles, LA 70601

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