A new family-friendly dining option, Bistro 17, has opened in downtown Tuscaloosa to offer patrons American comfort food, gluten-free menu options and fresh cocktails.

Restaurant co-owners Vincent Shakir and Raji Singh officially opened the bistro to the public on Tuesday and celebrated a successful night full of reservations, walk-ins, and excited buzz from the community.

Shakir said he has been in hospitality for over 20 years and couldn't be more excited to finally open and give guests a welcoming dining atmosphere with a level of nostalgia.

The restaurant will serve American comfort food with a healthy twist.

“We are giving beautiful nods to southern cuisine, just elevating the quality of ingredients and catering to those that have a gluten-free dietary restriction," Shakir said. "About 90% of our menu has been built completely gluten-free. Our chef has 3 children and he’s been cooking for many years in the gluten f-ee style.”

The chef does not cross contaminate, using separate fryers, skillets and different colored utensils depending on if the dish is prepared gluten-free. Although mostly gluten-free, guests with regular diets can still enjoy the cuisine and Shakir said they are often left amazed with its delicious flavors and textures similar to "normal" food.

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Bistro 17 greets guests with their staple warm arancini, which is an Italian dish consisting of risotto balls that they coat in gluten-free seasoned bread crumbs, flash fry, and serve with their house-made marinara. Other appetizers include gluten-free fried pickles, homemade meatballs, and mac and cheese egg rolls.

Dinner salads come with your choice of chicken or steak, including a caesar salad with a home-made caesar dressing and a seasonal strawberry salad with grilled chicken, crumbled blue cheese and house made candied pecans and dressing.

A few entrees include gluten-free vegetable kabobs with couscous and the chef's delicious homemade cilantro jalapeño vinaigrette, a steak frites with 24-hour marinaded steak that melts in your mouth and a turkey shepherd's pie that is a nod to Shakir's late father.

If you have a sweet tooth, you can enjoy a slice of homemade lemon icebox pie or gluten free chocolate chip cookies served à la mode. The bar serves fresh cocktails, all juices and syrups made in house, as well as craft beer and wine.

Dinner service is currently available Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will eventually expand into lunch service, remaining closed on Sundays. Reservations are recommended to ensure every guest gets a seat and feels comfortable, but walk-ins are always welcome.

“Bistro means small restaurant and the number 17 is very significant to us. Our address here is 2217 University Blvd, my wife and I got married on April 22 of 2017, my business partners' twins were born in 2017, in numerology the number 17 means complete victory, and there are even a few more things in there," Shakir says of the restaurant's name.

"But all that to say, the meaning behind it is mainly that we just want to create a family environment with love, nothing intimidating, just really exciting flavor and reasonable prices. Our hearts are really for the locals and we will welcome everybody that comes in," Shakir continues.

Check out Bistro 17 on Instagram to preview their menu and background, and stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for updates on local restaurant and retail development in West Alabama.

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