If you drive down Lakeshore Drive towards Cross Lake, keep an eye out for a homemade sign painted orange. That’s where you’ll find some of the best barbecue in Shreveport.
Standing over the homemade grill, you’ll meet Johnny. He has been operating Top Dog Barbecue out of his front yard for over two years. Johnny is a Shreveport native and a retired stonemason. He says he’s always had a passion for cooking and needed a project to fill his time. “First I had to make the grill,” he said, which he did with his friends, using whatever parts he could salvage. It’s quite impressive, with two racks, a cooling tray, and an oven. He also painted it in his signature “Top Dog” orange.
“I taught myself how to barbecue, I’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said as he threw two racks of ribs onto the grill. Nothing at Top Dog is store bought, even the sauce he makes himself. It sits in an old Hawaiian Punch jug, but the recipe, he says, is a secret.
When Johnny started Top Dog he was looking to provide wholesome eats for the after church crowd. At first, his customers were mostly people who lived in the neighborhood. He doesn’t advertise, but through word of mouth, he attracts people from all over the parish. “They come from everywhere,” he says. He’s in a competition with Hit Man Barbecue just up the street. It’s a friendly rivalry, as the two wave at each other as The Hit Man passes by his yard. The main difference, according to Johnny, is the cooking style. Johnny always barbecues with the lid closed, so he can’t understand how The Hit Man can cook with the doors open, “I’ve never seen that before.”
Fresh off the grill, Top Dog offers a variety of plates, from barbecue staples like ribs and sausage to more southern inspired dishes like neck bones and pig’s feet. Each plate costs around seven dollars and always comes with two sides and a drink. You can take it to go or sit and enjoy it on his patio set up right next to the grill.
You can find Top Dog at the corner of Lakeshore Drive and San Jacinto Ave. Johnny opens at 11 am on Saturday and Sunday.