Typically, when we hear the word “traditional” used to describe food, we imagine the foods we grew up around, historically passed down through our families. Crawfish, boudin and cracklins are just a few of the items that come to mind when discussing traditional foods of the Lake Area. Up until the eight years ago, dishes like kafta, ma’amoul, and shawarma were all Greek to us. Jammal Chloun, however, has created a new “tradition.” With his family by his side and a menu on his mind, Jammal Chloun arrived in Lake Charles in 2006, bringing the traditions of his home in Sidon, Lebanon to ours.
Taking his time, Jammal enrolled his children in school and carefully scouted the best locations and opportunities to lay out his dream. After a few years of rooting himself in the city and testing the waters, it was time to get serious. Jammal opened Toga Grill in 2009 with a mission to introduce the tastes of his home to the hearts and happy bellies of our city. His ambition to put smiles on the faces of his customers and create memories by maintaining his focus on making the customer feel at home opened the floodgates to people wanting to try their food.
Earning new business by the day, Jammal quickly realized he was going to need a few more hands to build Toga into a monument of success. By enlisting the help of his sons Sammie and Hadi, they quickly picked up the slack and even made time to experiment with some new menu items.
With Sammie is behind the grill and Hadi helping with orders, Jammal could fully set out on his mission. Course by course, the team proceeded to broaden the pallet of our city serving dishes that date back to the Phoenicians. Influenced by Turkish, French, Arabic and Egyptian cuisines, their menu is equally as diverse as it is harmonious. Showcasing a wealth of delectable side items that pair perfectly with every entrée and beverage, the only problem is trying not to order them all at once.
One of the legends born out of the embers of Toga’s grill is their signature lamb chops. Dusted in old world seasonings, flame-kissed to perfection and served as the centerpiece between beds of cabbage salad, seasoned crispy potatoes, and mujaddara (a mixture of rice and lentils sautéed together much like our “dirty rice”), these little chops are nothing short of divine.
Sammie’s time in the kitchen and dedication to culinary innovation sparked a new wave of dishes that brought a whole new clientele. Exploring different techniques and mastering his grill skills, he began inventing new mouth-watering specials that helped their restaurant become THE place for Greek and Lebanese Cuisine.
In its first three years of business, Toga earned several local awards and was featured in a number of local publications. No one leaves Toga unhappy; Jammal ensures every customer leaves with a smile and a memory of something tasty. But the real secret to their success is their hard work and dedication to the affordability, quality, and taste of their food. Good food doesn’t have to be expensive or unhealthy. Boasting an array of unique salads jam-packed with fresh mixed greens and veggies, as well as a plethora of seafood, lamb, and chicken entrees, you are guaranteed to find something on the menu that fits your diet plan.
But make no mistake, they DO have a fryer! From kibbeh to falafel to cauliflower and okra, Toga has some of the best fried food items in the city. Awarded for their kibbeh at Rouge et Blanc last year, they have earned their place among the local fry gods.
Using everything from taste to atmosphere to tradition, TOGA has truly etched its name into the nostalgic walls of our city’s culinary history. Don’t just try it because we want you to; try it because you owe it to yourself, and get a piece of cake for me. As always eat, sleep, drink, and Support Local!
Toga Grill, 4439 Nelson Road, Lake Charles (337) 477-4142