ChefView – Bayou Bar and Grill

Get your Cajun on!
The Bayou Bar & Grill
by Middagh Goodwin, Brandilyn Brown, Chris Murphy

Modesto misses Vito’s, but in its place is now the Bayou Bar and Grill, filling a need Modesto didn’t even know it had.

With Chef Christopher Bonora at the helm, we will now be spoiled with local Cajun food in the heart of downtown. Their menu will feature traditional dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, and oysters, but will offer pizza, burgers and pasta to satisfy even the pickiest of taste buds. Owner Mark S. Nelson and his son are leading the team at the restaurant with the ever delightful Diane Marcuerquiaga running the house.

Chef Christopher was born and raised in Modesto. He took an active interest in cooking and working in the kitchen at an early age. He opened his first restaurant (the legendary Benni’s on Yosemite), back in the late 80s, along with his brother, Daniel. Second, he opened Christopaolo’s in Ripon. He even had a pop up version of Benni’s called Piccolo Benni’s over the last few years. His place in this kitchen brings back memories as he once had Oceana Bar and Grill in the same location where the Bayou is located today. Christopher is an expert in this beautiful exhibition kitchen where you can watch all of the action. His flavors are innovative and there are no shortages of amazing flavors and smells.

You walk in the front door and you know you are at home. The décor is all Bourbon St, the cocktails are a wonderful blend from the top shelf to the “Swamp Juice”. You will not regret your choice to partake in any of the delicious delicacies that the Bayou Grill has to offer. We had to go back a second time just to sample more of what the menu had to offer.

The Jambalaya was savory with just enough of a spicy kick to make your mouth water and have you diving in for another bite. With Cajun seasoned sausage, chicken and a generous amount of clams and shrimp, it is served in a skillet over their house rice.

The Pulled Pork Po’boy will be a favorite for sure. It comes on a sweet torpedo roll overflowing with the Bayou’s own pulled pork and topped off with Louisiana Slaw. I had the Bayou Mac & Cheese (I suggest you pay the extra $2 to have them add bacon.) They have traditional favorites like Salmon Marsala and you can even get them to put grits on the side. The Grits at Bayou are right out of Louisiana. When we asked for recommendations, Chef Christopher said, “you should pay attention to the Daily Specials”. Make a note to do this fellow diners.

We also had the Mixed Fry as an appetizer and it was some of the best Calamari, Battered Shrimp, and what I believe were white fish and onion strips battered and all deep-fried to perfection. Served with Shrimp & Tartar Sauce.

Next time you feel like having something out of the ordinary do yourself a favor and head on down to the Bayou. Cocktail friends will recognize one of our favorite bartenders Ben Mello behind the counter making the house favorites and yours. Bayou has the southern feeling where you feel right at home when you walk in the door. The flavor will make you feel you are on Bourbon Street.

The Bayou Bar & Grill
918 13th St
Modesto CA 95354
(209) 360-2983



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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.