A field of cotton.

Pick Cotton For Creative Upscale Southern Cuisine

In the heart of downtown Monroe, Louisiana, on the scenic Ouachita River, you can find the restaurant Cotton, an eatery that puts a fine and creative upscale twist on Southern cuisine. 

Cotton was opened in 2008 by Jay Howell, who wanted to bring life back to the beautiful and historic area of downtown Monroe. Before Howell opened Cotton, no other restaurants had been in downtown Monroe in nearly 50 years. 

The beautiful, historic J.S. Bloch Building was built in 1893 and named after Jacob Bloch, who is thought to have launched the first mail-order liquor dealership in downtown Monroe inside the building that also housed a bar and a saloon in its prime. 

Long after Bloch closed his mail-order liquor business, the historic building became a lively cotton exchange, which is how the restaurant got its name. Although the building has been renovated, its interior still has the original cast iron Corinthian support columns and window frames. The Italianate architectural style of the building has a distinct 19th century-style phase.

A dish from Cotton restaurant.


Cotton has the look and feel of the early 1900s, serving the finest modern day comfort food in the region. The menu is diverse with everything from oysters, duck wraps, and deviled eggs to a Louisiana boudin and New Orleans shrimp and grits. 

They also have the best, award-winning, signature, handcrafted cocktails and a list of more than 100 fine wines. Cotton has been nominated and voted the Best in the Delta for Southern Cuisine.

Cotton is a two-story building with three different restaurants in it. All have fine Southern cuisine, each with its own twist. Cotton, the main restaurant, takes up the entire first floor of the building and has the most extensive food menu. 

Walk upstairs, and you will find the two additional restaurants/bars – the Planters bar and Eli bar. The bars haven’t always been part of Cotton. Before they were added upstairs, the upstairs area was used for private parties and events only. They still offer an exclusive area upstairs for parties and events (that can hold up to 150 guests), such as wedding parties, corporate events, social events, and seasonal events. 

Inside Cotton restaurants.

The Planters bar was added a few years ago, and the Eli bar was recently added. Although Cotton had plenty of unique Southern character, the Planters and Eli bars have added Southern charm and brought in more business. 

Since the restaurant, Cotton, doesn’t open until dinnertime, the Planters and Eli bars are great spots for getting a signature cocktail and oysters or an order of the duck fat fries. 

The Planters bar that can hold up to 35 people has a balcony that holds up to 20 and a beautiful view of the Ouachita River, making it an ideal spot on a pretty day. The Eli bar is a lounge area that offers a view of downtown Monroe and antique furniture. 


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